January 8, 2024 | Mark Paradies

Global TapRooT® Summit History: 1994-2023 (and Future 2024)

Summit reception fun

TapRooT® Summit History (+ Future)

We started planning the first Global TapRooT® Summit (back then, it was just called the TapRooT® Conference) in 1993. That was over 30 years ago! Ever since the success of the first Summit in 1994, we have been improving each year throughout the Summit’s history. Our goal is to make the Summit the best place to:

  • Meet and network with performance improvement experts.
  • Benchmark best practices from around the world.
  • Learn the latest techniques for performance improvement, incident investigation, and root cause analysis.
  • Improve your safety, risk management, human performance, quality, operational excellence, CAPA, and maintenance/reliability programs.
  • Have fun and be inspired while learning.

We have developed an outstanding event that you will enjoy, plus you will go back to work with valuable best practices to share at your company. How valuable will these best practices be? So valuable that we provide this guarantee:


Attend the Global TapRooT® Summit. Go back to work and implement
your road map to success. If you don’t save 10 times the cost of your
attendance at the Summit, let us know and return your Summit materials,
and we will refund 100% of the Summit registration fee. 

This guarantee shows how certain we are that you will learn valuable best practices to take your facility’s performance to the next level.

Below is a history of the Summit from 1994-2023 and a preview of 2024. Reading about past Summits is like a walk down memory lane. Do you recognize anyone from past summits in the pictures below?

1st Summit – 1994 – GATLINBURG

Our first Keynote Speaker was Dr. Charles O. Hopkins, University of Illinois, a human factors expert and my mentor.

Dr. Charles O Hopkins - Human Factors Pioneer

He spoke to the 33 participants about applying human factors to improve human performance. (Yes, we talked about improving human performance about a decade before it was cool.)

We held many sessions on root cause analysis and incident investigation and shared ideas on improving all types of performance.

We had a pre-breakfast three-mile run, and we ended the Summit with a steak cookout at Cades Cove in the Smoky Mountains. How did we pull it off? Seriously, I look back and don’t know. But we knew we would do it again.

2nd Summit – 1995 – ORLANDO

Disney was a great place to hold the second Summit. The Orlando Summit was the first Summit to include pre-Summit TapRooT® Courses. With 77 people attending the Orlando TapRooT® Summit, we invented the Name Game as a way to maximize networking.

3rd Summit – 1996 – NASHVILLE

Our third Summit institutionalized sponsoring a social activity/reception. In Nashville, the choice was clear – the Grand Ole Opry.

Again, the number of people attending grew. Plus, as usual, we were ahead of our time. The 1996 Summit had a session dedicated to learning from medical errors at hospitals (three years before the publication of Lucian Leape’s call to action: To Err Is Human – Building a Safer Health System).

4th Summit – 1997 – SAN ANTONIO

Commercial Electrician, Lighting & Sign Contractor San Antonio, TX | FSG

1997 was the first Summit in Texas and the first Summit with over 100 participants. It was bigger and better in every way. More networking, learning, speakers, tracks, and pre-Summit Courses. And everyone enjoyed the Alamo reception (yes, we ate inside the Alamo). The Riverwalk was just outside the hotel.

5th Summit – 1998 – DALLAS

The Southfork Ranch hosted the 1998 Summit. Yes, we had the reception in the TV JR house pictured above. Everybody had a blast.

The 1998 Summit was also the start of presenting TapRooT® Users with Success Story Awards – a great way to share best practices.

Award Presentation

In the early years, we held the Summit every 14-16 months. Thus, after the November 1998 Summit, we skipped 1999 and held the next Summit in March of 2000.

6th Summit – 2000 – GATLINBURG

Remember the Y2K scare? Well, we overcame it and had the 2000 Summit.

Austronaut Mike Mulane

Above are Mark Paradies and Linda Unger with Shuttle Astronaut Mike Mullane, our Friday keynote speaker. He explained the first Shuttle disaster and how Summit attendees could achieve operational excellence.

7th Summit – 2001 – GALVESTON

2001 Summit almost didn’t happen. Two days before the Summit, a tropical storm dropped two FEET of rain on Houston and Galveston! But the show went on…

At the Summit, we had great Keynote Speakers. That’s Mark and Ed with one of the keynote speakers. Also, Dr. John Grout talked about how mistake-proofing (Poka-Yoke) fits into an improvement program.

8th Summit – 2002 – GATLINBURG

Back to Gatlinburg for the 8th TapRooT® Summit. That’s Linda, below, introducing one of the Best Practice Session Speakers, Dave Prewitt, VP from Alaska Airlines. Our Keynote Speakers included presenters from the NTSB and Tennessee OSHA.

Participants said it couldn’t get any better. But they were wrong. We continued to improve!

9th Summit – 2003 – DALLAS

We liked the Southfork Ranch so much that we returned in 2003. Of course, there were great Keynote Speakers. We also had the first TapRooT® Advisory Board Dinner. Below is Linda Unger with some of the TapRooT® Advisory Board members.

10th Summit – 2005 – SAN ANTONIO

Wow! Interesting keynote speakers, great networking, and tons of best practice sharing. We had the reception at Bighorn Saloon and a Riverwalk Cruise for the Advisory Board Dinner.

The Summit that couldn’t get better (according to the previous year’s participants’ feedback) hit a new high (according to 2005 Summit attendees).

11th Summit – 2006 – GATLINBURG

Mark Paradies - Keynote Speaker

That’s Mark Paradies, one of the Keynote Speakers, providing advice on improving performance. Everyone went home with many new best practices to share.

12th Summit – 2007 – SAN ANTONIO

Back to San Antonio for the 2007 TapRooT® Summit – the first Summit with more than 200 participants!

General Session Participants

We had Heinz Block present about the development of Equifactor® Equipment Troubleshooting. Plus, we had an Olympic three-time gold medalist, Josh Davis, talk about achieving success and how to inspire your kids.

Linda Unger, Josh Davis, and Mark Paradies

Each year, the Summit gets better and better.

13th Summit – 2008 – LAS VEGAS

2008 marked the 20th Anniversary of System Improvements. And the 2008 Summit was bigger and better than ever!

Elvis stopped by the reception to sing us a few tunes. Plus, we had great Keynote Speakers, including one of the operators on duty at Three Mile Island during the accident and an Apache helicopter pilot from the Gulf War who had been wrongly prosecuted for a human error.

14th Summit – 2009 – NASHVILLE

Yes, the Great Recession struck. But we still had over 200 people attend the TapRooT® Nashville Summit. Despite tropical storms, the Great Recession, and COVID, we have NEVER canceled a Global TapRooT® Summit. Our loyal clients know the Summit’s value and strive to attend regardless of weather or economic conditions.

Mark Paradies, E.D. Hil, and Linda Unger

The Keynote Speakers included Mile Kelly and E.D. Hill from Fox News.

Ken Reed is showing off his disco moves

As usual, we had a great reception with a Disco theme. We even got Ken Reed to dance! (That will never happen again.)

15th Summit – 2010 – SAN ANTONIO

Jeff Skiles - Miracle on the Hudson

The Keynote Speakers at the 2010 Summit included the co-pilot of the “Miracle on the Hudson” flight – Jeff Skiles. As usual at the Summit, there was great best practice sharing, networking, and benchmarking for all.

Plus, the reception was a Halloween costume party. What fun!

16th Summit – 2012 – LAS VEGAS

Back to Las Vegas! This was the first Summit with over 300 participants.

We had Ken Mattingly, an Apollo Astronaut, as our closing Keynote Speaker, plus a great reception at Margaritaville!

17th Summit – 2013 – GATLINBURG

Another great Summit in Gatlinburg, TN. Bill Rancic, the first winner of the TV show The Apprentice, shared insights on the competition and motivated us all to give our best effort to make improvements happen.

18th Summit – 2014 – AUSTIN (Horseshoe Bay Resort)

This was our first Summit at the Horseshoe Bay Resort (the site of this year’s Summit). Below is a picture from the “Name Game.” Meeting people is how we start every Summit.


19th Summit- 2015 – LAS VEGAS

Another great Summit in Vegas! Captain Richard Phillips was our closing speaker. No wonder they made a movie out of his heroic experience!

And below is Linda Unger giving out Success Story Awards…

20th Summit – 2016 – SAN ANTONIO

Great Keynote Speakers, including Mike Durrant (Blackhawk Down), made the 2016 TapRooT® Summit in San Antonio another success.

21st Summit – 2018 – KNOXVILLE

2018 was the first Summit in our hometown – Knoxville, Tennessee. People loved it! Downtown has many activities and dining within walking distance of the Knoxville Convention Center.

Once again, we had great speakers, including Inky Johnson, Carl Dixon, and Mike Williams. Mark Paradies interviewed Mike about surviving the Deepwater Horizon accident. He was one of the folks who was left behind by the liferafts and had to jump from the deck of the Deepwater Horizon. What an impactful discussion. Here are some highlights from the 2018 Summit in a video…

22nd Summit – 2019 – HOUSTON

2019 was the first Summit held in Houston, and it was great! We had Astronaut Jim Wetherbee speak about high-reliability lessons learned from space.

At the reception (western theme), we got Michelle, Mark, and Ken to back up Carl Dixon signing the Eagles tune, Take It Easy.

23rd Summit – 2020 – AUSTIN (Horseshoe Bay Resort)

Another great Summit. This Summit ended at the start of the COVID pandemic. We were lucky to complete the Summit just before the restrictions started. Nobody caught the dreaded virus – perhaps because we used up gallons of hand sanitizer. We bought the last of the supplies in Knoxville and brought it with us so every attendee could have all they needed. (The sanitizer was almost as valuable as toilet paper!)

On Thursday, participants from overseas left to get home before the airports closed. Driving back to Knoxville on Saturday, the roads were empty. On Monday, after the Summit, the nationwide shutdown started.

24th Summit – 2021 – KNOXVILLE

The 2021 Global TapRooT® Summit was a HYBRID Summit (held virtually and in person). Once again, we had some great Keynote Speakers, including Shannon Miller.

Mark Paradies, Shannon Miller, and Linda Unger

This was our first comeback from COVID Summit, and we didn’t know what to expect, but the combination of virtual and live (although difficult to pull off) was a great success.

25th Summit – 2022 – KNOXVILLE

Yes, the 2022 Global TapRooT® Summit was held for the second straight year in Knoxville, Tennessee, because of the difficulty in planning Summits in the post-COVID world.

Once again, we had great Keynote Speakers, including Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin, who spoke about ship collisions in the Pacific.

Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin

And great Best Practice Tracks with over 40 talks.

26th Summit – 2023 – HOUSTON

2023 Summit Margaritaville Lake Resort

The 2023 Global TapRooT® Summit was held at the Margaritaville Lake Resort, Lake Conroe, near Houston, Texas. The Summit felt like we were back to normal after COVID.

2023 Summit

And everyone had a great time and took home valuable lessons learned.

But what about the 2024 Summit? Read on…

27th Summit – 2024 – AUSTIN (Horseshoe Bay Resort)

April 29 – May 3 at the Horseshoe Bay Resort near Austin, Texas.

YES! We are returning to the Horseshoe Bay Resort near Austin for the third time. That’s how much we like it. The Horseshoe Bay resort is an easy drive from Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas + lots of locations across Texas and Oklahoma.

And we know you will enjoy the hospitality at the Horseshoe Bay Resort.

Want to find out more about the 2024 Summit? CLICK HERE for the Complete Guide to the 2024 Global TapRooT® Summit.

Keynote Speakers

Once again, we have great Keynote Speakers, Best Practice Breakout Tracks, pre-Summit Courses (11 this year), and networking planned, so make your travel planned and GET REGISTERED! 

You can be sure that your time will be well spent. How do we know? Because that’s what people tell us after every Summit. Twenty-six Summits have been completed successfully, and we know the 2024 Summit (number 27) will be even better!

So join the crowd below by saying “Yes!” to participating in the 2024 Summit.

Summit - Hands in the air
Who says the Global TapRooT® Summit is worthwhile? Past Summit Attendees!
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