Countdown to Our Convention
By Roberto Quiñones
Executive Director
Tortilla Industry Association

Have you been Reaching Out? The Tortilla Industry Association has. In fact, during the past year, TIA has been “Reaching Out” to all our members and friends in the industry, and soon we will get to meet again at our 18th annual Convention and Trade Exposition at the RIO Hotel in Las Vegas!
Following the format that was so well-received by attendees and exhibitors alike, the convention will be held Sept. 11-14 and feature an ideal mix of speakers, seminars, and the latest products from our industry suppliers.
There will be a wide range of seminar topics covered so that every attendee, regardless of his or her function within the company, will be able to participate and bring information back to their jobs. Along with business topics covering marketing, strategies for valuing your businesses, and commodity price management from experts in their field, our partners from the American Institute of Baking will provide a session on leadership.
On the operations side, along with more topics addressing the improvement of tortillas, we will go from the basics of wastewater treatment solutions and lowering production costs to the latest in automation and robotics in manufacturing lines. The agenda outlining topics and speakers will be updated on our Web site, , along with all other information anyone may need to register and attend.
“Our industry partners really stepped up this year to provide seminar support,” states Mark Rice, co-chair of TIA’s Education Committee, “and we had more topics than time available. We may consider bringing back our spring technical symposium in 2008 due to the interest from both members and exhibitors.”
Since many attendees need to unwind before the seminars begin, a golf outing will be held the day before the convention starts at the Silverstone Golf Club. Our golf chair Tim Hulsey and convention chair (and local resident) Gus Gutierrez promise “there will be no wind this year!”
As has been the tradition, along with exceptional entertainment, our annual banquet will set the stage for honoring 2007 inductees into the TIA Hall of Fame. Existing members of the Hall of Fame have long histories and notable accomplishments in the tortilla industry. They are well-recognized by their industry partners and often have created sizable companies through humble origins and family involvement. Others are known for their contributions to the tortilla industry through research or innovations in creating products, equipmen, and ingredients.
For example, in 2006, Jose Valdez, Sr. of Casa Valdez, Inc. and Ralph Waniska of Texas A&M were inducted into the Hall of Fame. Valdez started his tortilla career at age 8, eventually opened a family business and continued to grow it to become the Idaho Small Business Person of the Year in 1989. Waniska had a notable career in both the corporate and academic worlds, choosing research in food science and technology. After much pioneering work studying the evaluation and production of tortillas, his research contributions led the industry in helping everyone make better tortillas.
These individuals were honored for their lifelong passion to achieve within their chosen areas and improve the industry. They embody the spirit of a humble industry expanding to supply a growing traditional and mainstream customer base that loves our products, and future (international) generations that will consider them just part of their normal diet.
I look forward to continuing the passion at this year’s event and seeing everyone we have been reaching out to all year. We have used all your feedback to continue to improve the event and have worked to make this YOUR best convention! Make sure you invite others to attend!