May 29, 2018 - 22.51

Giving Back During Coverings

Trade shows are a great mix of education, networking, and mingling. While the immediate impact of a show like Coverings on a community like Atlanta can be felt in the restaurants and hotels, trade shows are increasingly looking for ways to more directly impact the communities they visit in a positive way.  MAPEI has a rich history of working with the trade shows at which we exhibit to give back as with AEC Cares, an offshoot of AIA's Conference on Architecture.
While Coverings has historically involved the community with efforts such as tiled benches (local architectural students) and tiled doghouses (homeless pets), 2018 marks the first time an event has been planned to let show participants help the community directly.  The idea started modestly enough with a conversation between two former colleagues from Florida Tile and me about how to give back to Atlanta community.  We kicked around some great ideas like trying to work on Habitat for Humanity homes while we were in town, providing breakfast to the homeless, or collecting donations of socks and hygiene items at the show. Ultimately we put together a small task force and settled on an event at the convention center where we would build hygiene kits for Clean the World which would then be donated to local veterans groups.  Clean the World recycles unused soap and shampoo from hotels into new bars and bottles which then are transported around the world to help with sanitation and self esteem.  They were an excellent group to work with and provided logistics support, materials, and coordinated the donations to the local veterans organizations. The task force was composed of MAPEI, Florida Tile, the National Tile Contractor's Assocation, and members of the tile press.  The group decided to add an element of competition by having each group prepare 200 hygiene kits.  The team with the fastest time would win bragging rights until next Coverings.  In addition to providing financial support, MAPEI also committed to providing t-shirts to each participant.  Coverings show management provided us a space for the event and the logistics of moving the individual elements in and the finished kits out.  Florida Tile had their employees write encouraging notes to the recipients that were included with each kit.  It truly was a team effort. Deciding when to have the event proved surprisingly tricky.  Because the show itself goes from Tuesday to Friday, Monday made sense but we had to accomodate the educational sessions that day as well as a full slate of technical meetings from the ANSI A108 committee, the ISO TC 189 technical advisory group, and NTCA's technical committee.  Ultimately we decided to have the event at 4:00 PM with 2 and a half hours available since we weren't sure how long the pack would take. After some introductory comments from Ashley Donaldson of Florida Tile and explanation of how the event would work from me, we were ready to get started!  Weeks of planning and harassing our friends and acquaintances to participate came down to this moment.  I yelled 'go' and 4 teams began to furiously assemble their kits.  We didn't need 2 and a half hours.  The NTCA team needed less than 14 minutes to make short work of their 200 kits to emerge victorious. When it was all done, despite some good natured accusations of foul play suspected of the NTCA team, everyone agreed that our first attempt at a community service project was a great start.  The MAPEI team of employees and contractors all said that they would do it again.  We hope that the event in 2019 in Orlando will be even larger to allow more participants and benefit more members of the community.  Hope to see you there!
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