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Thoughts from Cersaie 2010
The Cersaie 2010 Tile Expo in Bologna, Italy was a cautious success for Ideal Tile and the tile industry in general. It was evident that the continuing global recession and its impact on the tile industry has compelled many manufacturers to innovate their new lines, making them more practical, cost-effective and (here's the buzz-word of the decade) "greener".

In some ways, the onus is now on the European manufacturers to reduce prices, eliminate non-performing series, and (here's the big one) extend payment terms towards the few worthy importers in their stable. Not only does the sluggish global economy compel manufacturers to do this, but so does the increasing competitiveness of China in the tile industry. Remember ten years ago at Coverings or Cersaie? The Chinese pavilion was infinitesimally small (in some cases, nonexistent) on the convention floor. In 2010, Chinese companies have dwarfed Turkey, Brazil and the U.S. in terms of product and presence at these expos.

But, there is a sense of optimism that has been missing for the past two years at these trade shows. Smaller, nimbler companies with low overhead are emerging as a viable alternatives to the larger stalwarts of the industry. Their products are just as good, if not better quality, and their customer service is personal and immediate. And the prices are phenomenally below the average "big company" prices.

Hence, what we've seen at Cersaie 2010 can be a boon to those importers that have survived the storm: quality products, increasingly from smaller companies, and competitive, if not rock-bottom prices. There will always be a market dominated by larger legendary companies with the capital to survive these economic downturns, and there will always be a market for certain name brands...and that's a good thing!

The great thing about our industry is that it is now forced to become a big tent. Smaller, homegrown companies can now get their foot in the door with larger importers and distributors. This, in turn, creates a new paradigm for this centuries-old industry; a new sense of evolution, not necessarily toward big and expansive, but to smaller customizable companies with low costs, thus the ability to produce less expensive (but higher quality) products.



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