I recently visited the Cement Masons and Plasterers Training Center of Washington, and was impressed by their facility, faculty, and curriculum. I was reminded, during the visit, of the importance of crafts education programs as opportunities to promote your brand. The importance of training the trades can be especially important if you are introducing a new product; no one wants to lose a bid because contractors don't have experienced mechanics.
The Training Center I visited had recently conducted hands-on training with eight different types of cementitious toppings with dyed and polished finishes. This is a relatively new and growing product category where the training attracted journeymen as well as apprentices. Seeing the results side-by-side indicated some clear winners and losers: the concrete slab used as a substrate for the toppings had cracks that telegraphed through most of the toppings, While some of the toppings may have been innately better, the toppings that performed best were installed under the watchful eye of a manufacturer's technical director who was on site during the training program. The biggest losers, however, were the manufacturers that had not donated time or trainers; they may have missed out on an entire generation of brand awareness and loyalty.
Consider providing incentives for your local reps or distributors to help locate and participate in educational programs. Programs are typically sponsored by unions, community and technical colleges, and other industry organizations. Chusid Associates can help you locate these organizations and to design curriculum materials you can offer. - Michael Chusid