Now I am not a handyman with the tools, far from it. Personally, I envy those individuals who, with hammer in one hand and a saw in the other, look at a pile of material and not only see the finished product, but also do the work themselves.

Having worked in an administrative role for a renovation firm, I learned a fair amount about home renovations, the products and the work involved to install them. From a deck, a new bathroom or kitchen to a full renovation or addition the knowledge was endless.

In the nine years I was with the firm, I learned enough to know that personally I am better-off hiring an expert as opposed to doing it myself and then paying someone to undo my mistakes. However, for those individuals who have both time and patience there are professionals who are willing to share their expertise free. Their only payback is to know they have helped someone, somewhere, do their pet project correctly, they pay-it-forward.

I have listened to Shell Busey of HouseSmart on the radio on many occasions and in fact, I have had the privilege of meeting and talking to him in person as well. Shell does love to give advice on his web site, over the radio and in person. However, I have found an online forum that is of particular interest to me and not because I am planning to do any projects of that caliber any time soon.

North American Tile, formerly Ontario Tile, is the brainchild of Harry Dunbar, whom I had become good friends with online in another forum he managed, over 8 years ago. Harry, then, was working full-time, paying for, and managing two online forums as well as being a well-rounded family man.

Harry of course eventually dropped the chat forum to dedicate himself to his truelove, Ontario Tile while continuing with his selfless contributions to aide others.

The forum originally started out as just a way for professionals and the do-it-yourselfers in Southern Ontario to unite and share ideas and advice. Today the forum has members from all over North America, which prompted the change in name

I queried Harry recently about taking his forum to the next level and creating an RSS feed. I also suggested he think about hosting a talkchat or even a podcast. Harry got right to the point as he told me that he is already too busy with just the forum as it is. To take on any extra duties such as learning the technology needed as well the extra influx of new listeners and questions the shows would bring would detract from the value his forum already offers.

North American Tile memberships and advice are still free. As a marketing tool, you could not ask for a better promotional package.

As his tag line states, “This forum is for sharing information and ideas which contribute to the ceramic tile trade, not only for the professional … but also for the “Do-It-Yourselfer”. Enjoy!”

My hat is off to Harry and North American Tile for a job well done and his gracious attitude of always paying-it-forward.


Allan Herman, Creative Visual Marketing Services Incorporated (CVM Inc.)