To celebrate its 20th anniversary, the Tortilla Industry Association invites all producers of flatbreads to join the organization.

It doesn’t matter if a company produces pita breads, lavash, naan or other types of ethnic flatbreads. The Tortilla Industry Association’s board of directors voted unanimously to expand the eligibility for membership to include producers of all types of flatbreads.

Since there are many similarities in baking equipment, ingredients and materials used by the producers of all these breads, the board made the move because its directors believe that all flatbread bakers would benefit from attending TIA events, as well as exploring the latest in new products, ingredients equipment and services.

Both new and existing members will have a chance to get together at TIA’s 20th Annual Convention, which runs from Sept. 19-21 at Bally’s Hotel and Casino on the famed Las Vegas Strip. In conjunction with the annual convention, TIA also will hold its “World’s Biggest Tortilla” contest, which last year was won by La Tortilla Factory of Santa Rosa, Calif.

By joining TIA, the association notes that flatbread producers can enjoy substantial savings through the association’s “members only” discount programs on business insurance, where TIA members have saved between $5,000 and $125,000 a year. TIA also offers truckload and LTL shipping, corrugated boxes, equipment leasing and financing, and more.

Moreover, children of TIA-member companies are eligible for TIA’s Scholarship Fund, which has been expanded this year to provide five scholarships of $1,000 each.

Last year, in an effort to reach out to tortilla and flatbread producers across the nation, TIA tried something new in a series of “Membership Open House” luncheons and dinners. They were held in San Antonio, Chicago, Atlanta and Dallas, and were considered a huge success, the organization says.

According to Jim Kabbani, TIA’s executive director, members enjoyed having TIA answer their questions about all the new TIA member benefit programs, as well as having the association ask for their suggestions on how to make membership in TIA even more useful and valuable. Several new members joined at each event, too.

This year, TIA is expanding its Open House series by having it in more cities. As a special bonus, any producer who attends an Open House lunch or dinner will receive a free day-pass to the 2009 TIA Convention in Las Vegas.

The association will have Open House meetings in the New York City area in April, Los Angeles in June, Denver in July, Atlanta in August, Albuquerque in October and Houston in December.
Check back with TIA on its Open House, its annual convention and other events by going towww.tortilla-info.comfor specific dates and locations. Open House invitations will be mailed to those on the TIA mailing list that are within a reasonable driving distance of each event.