Surfaces Launches the Murano Glass Collection

Miami-based Surfaces, Inc., one of America’s premier producers and suppliers of glass tile, has announced its new glass wall tile, the Murano Glass Collection. Inspired by the time-honored art of Venetian glass blowing, the product is distributed by Elida, (Surfaces Southeast, Inc). This unique range is designed by master glass artisans; every component is hand-cut and individually fused, creating an exclusive look.

According to Albert Claramonte, Surfaces’ president, “The Murano wall tile collection, is a genuine a work of art made affordable for everyone to experience. The techniques used to create this product have been honed over centuries; however, we are the first company in the glass tile industry to mass-produce products via this process. Each individual strand of glass is hand-cut and fused together by Elida Glass artisans, creating limitless visual combinations and individuality.”

Despite the “one-of-a-kind” production process of a hand-made product, controlling the sizing of each individual piece is not an issue. This is attributable to rigid quality control techniques that also assure ease of use and installation on the jobsite.

The line consists of 72 SKUs offered in 9 colors and blends, 4 sizes (2”x2”, 4”x4”, 2”x6” and 3”x12”) and 2 finishes, shine and frosted. The Murano Glass Collection is available in the U.S. through Elida’s master distributor (Surfaces Southeast, Inc.) or Elida’s retail partners. All 72 SKUs are stocked domestically, with efficient delivery to any part of the U.S. The possibility to combine multiple sizes, colors and finishes on the same project make each installation even more unique. “Design possibilites with Murano are limited only by one’s imagination,” concluded Clairmonte.

The collection also offers affordable marketing tools such as display vehicles and attractive sample boxes.

About Surfaces

Miami-based Surfaces is constantly creating new products. The firm created the first iPhone App for the tile industry. Additionally, Surfaces created a brand new nationwide program at Lowe’s to sell 100% recycled glass produced with discarded automobile windshields. Surfaces, in the past has also successfully created the exclusive Britto Glass Collection in partnership with world-renowned pop artist Romero Britto, as well as backsplash kits under the DIY Network brand. And, Surfaces recently forged an agreement to market a line of glass mosaics in conjunction with Crayola, LLC, the Easton, Pa.- based brand known for its iconic art tools that inspire kids’ creative expression, which has 99% name recognition in U.S. consumer households. For more information, please contact Nauro Rezende at Surfaces, Inc. [email protected] 305-372-9787 or visit the Surfaces website:

3009 NW 75th Ave., Miami, FL 33122 – Phone: (305) 372-9787 – Fax: (305) 372-9683

[email protected] –

ARDEX Americas joins Canada Powerhold Network

ArdexARDEX Americas and POWERHOLD Canada are pleased to announce a strategic partnership. This partnership strengthens the relationship with key distributors of ARDEX and HENRY products in Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Ontario, Canada.

Powerhold operates in a way that is very similar to ARDEX Americas,” said ARDEX Americas General Manager, Jesse David. “Like us, Powerhold provides quality products and value-added services to its customers. Both organizations support the installation community, providing education and training.”

The Powerhold brand was established in 1999 by a group of the largest floor covering supply distributors in the world. Known as the F.C.D.A. (Floor Covering Distributor Alliance), these wholesale distributors sell all of the products needed to install any type of flooring.

“As we develop our business in this key geography, we are excited to be partnered with such a strong and well respected group of distributor partners,” said Bill Manus, ARDEX Canada Business Manager.

Green Tip – July 2012

Understanding the Technical Criteria of Green SquaredSM/
ANSI A138.1

Section V: Innovation

By Bill Griese, Tile Council of North America, LEED AP BD+C

The ANSI A138.1 standard for sustainable tiles and tile installation materials establishes criteria for products throughout their full life cycle. Over the past several months, we’ve reviewed the first four sections of the standard. This month, we’ll have a look at the fifth and final section, Innovation.

Key in the development of sustainable products and operations are progressive thinking, technological advancement, and outstanding achievement beyond that which is required. ANSI A138.1 allows the opportunity for products to achieve conformance, in part, through their innovative achievements. This may involve exceptional performance above the requirements set forth in other sections of the standard and/or innovative performance in categories not specifically addressed by the standard.

A product may earn up to two elective credits through exceptional conformance if quantitative criteria already addressed by the standard are greatly exceeded. Usually, the magnitude to which these criteria must be exceeded is defined as one and a half times the most stringent threshold already established. Otherwise, specific requirements for exceptional conformance are defined in the standard’s appendix.

Another elective credit may be earned if a product possesses an ecological attribute not addressed by the standard, is manufactured in a facility with ecological processes not addressed by the standard, or belongs to an organization with an innovative corporate governance strategy not addressed by the standard. An ever-evolving list of approved innovations is managed by the ANSI A108 Committee which has jurisdiction over ANSI A138.1. Innovations not included in this list can be added if they are submitted to and approved by the Committee.

A fourth and final innovation elective credit may be earned upon the calculation of carbon footprint and the development of a greenhouse gas reduction strategy for a product or its manufacturing organization.

This concludes our overview of the technical criteria in ANSI A138.1. In future months, we will dive deeper into the standard’s product conformance scheme and Green Squared® certification requirements.

Business Tip – July 2012

Go ahead, Tweet it: seven ways to capitalize on the social power of your satisfied (and not-so-satisfied) customers

Ron Kaufman, author of the New York Times bestseller Uplifting Service: The Proven Path to Delighting Your Customers, Colleagues, and Everyone Else You Meet (Evolve Publishing, 2012, ISBN: 978-09847625-5-2, offers seven tips to take advantage of the rich network of fans, friends and followers on social media to spread your message and gather information to make you better at what you do. Read the highlights here and visit for the whole story. — Lesley Goddin 

We love telling people about our latest experiences, and we love hearing about what others have experienced. But author Ron Kaufman says many companies are missing out on tapping the social power of their satisfied customers.

“Companies should be saying to their customers, ‘If you did not enjoy our service, please tell us. If you did enjoy our service, please tell someone else,’” Kaufman said. “Tell happy customers to be social about their great experiences and encourage unhappy customers to come to you via social media so that you can make it right and improve your overall service.”

Kaufman notes that a lot of customer service is already being done online, customer to customer, through comments on articles, user forums and message boards.  Companies that embrace this behavior can improve their service and save on costs.

Kaufman said customers will “go out of their way to help a fellow customer find a solution, but for companies to do that back-end customer service there would be a cost. By engaging your customers to help each other, you can defray your costs, improve your customer satisfaction, and stimulate a loyal community by encouraging people in your online social space.”

How do you keep your customers spreading great things about your company while bringing their complaints only to you? Read on for Kaufman’s advice.

Make it easy for them to go social. Provide links in post-service surveys where people can share experiences and encourage them to do so. Kaufman’s website,, offers a Spread the Word section that makes it easy for people to share their experiences.

Say thank you. Show a little love for the love your customers show you. Try a message of gratitude that says, “Thank you so much for spreading the word. As one of our happy customers, when you tell other people about us, it helps us grow and serve you better.” Don’t incentivize this behavior; it tarnishes the genuineness of the comment.

Invite them to reach out. Create a ‘Thanks for Being Social’ promotional piece that includes the company’s Twitter handles, Facebook pages, Yelp and TripAdvisor pages, helpful Twitter hashtags, etc., with a line that reads, ‘If you enjoy our service, please let the world know.’ Leave it with the customer after a job, or post it beside the cash register.

Ask how you can improve. Welcome good and bad instant feedback via social media. “Hear them out, provide them with great service, and then THANK them for sharing their experience with others via Twitter, Facebook…” Kaufman said.

Encourage them to recognize great one-on-one service. United Airlines’ “Outperform Recognition Program” encourages MileagePlus members to enter an exemplary employee’s name via a mobile app; both member and employee can win prizes in a random drawing. “Social programs like these boost employee morale, get customers focused on what employees are doing right, give employees another ‘measurable’ feedback for giving great service, and create a lot more ‘social input’ from customers to the company,” said Kaufman. Compliments received during this process can also be used in publicity campaigns.

Funnel customer questions through social media – then share the best answers. Ask customers to post questions on your Facebook wall, and answer them there for everyone to see. This shares useful information with other customers and enables your company to gather information.

Make talking about your brand irresistible. Provide service so great that customers simply can’t resist telling people about it. In a blog post on The Huffington Post, Chris Hurn, CEO of Mercantile Capital Corporation, shared how the Ritz-Carlton staff went above and beyond after his family accidentally left his young son’s favorite stuffed animal behind after a recent stay. The staff found and safely returned the stuffed animal and took pictures of its extended stay to show Mr. Hurn’s son what a great time his stuffed-animal friend had while staying a bit longer at the hotel.

“That blog post was seen by a portion of The Huffington Post’s 26 million monthly readers and was then tweeted, retweeted, and posted by many on Facebook,” Kaufman said. “Taking photos of a stuffed animal in funny situations didn’t cost Ritz-Carlton a penny, but it delivered social value in a huge way!”

“Your customers’ voices are vital to your organization,” Kaufman concluded. “Social media provides an incredible opportunity to engage those voices, to turn one customer’s great experience into an advertisement that attracts new customers and gets current customers thinking positively about you. It’s an incredibly advantageous way to address customer concerns and improve your company’s service culture in real time.”

Ron Kaufman is a premiere thought leader, educator, and motivator for uplifting customer service and building service cultures in many of the world’s largest and most respected organizations. Find out more about Ron at 

Ask the Experts – July 2012


I’m looking for a technical answer to my question as soon as possible. Please tell me the standard procedure for installing tile in an elevator. Are technical advisories available?


This is a commonly-asked question due to potential risk involved when installing tile in elevator floors.

The most important step prior to the tile installation is to determine if the elevator cab was designed to accommodate tile as a finish floor material – most often they are not designed for floor finishes that include tile or stone but are designed for other finishes such as carpet or vinyl. This is due to the extra expense required to stiffen up the substructure to make it strong enough not to deflect or bend excessively under maximum load capacity. This added expense can be between $5,000 to over $10,000 and is usually why the design professional is often forced to choose the less-expensive alternative.

The tile contractor should consult the general contractor, architect, or the design professional responsible for the elevator cab to find out whether or not tile is listed as an accepted floor finish product. Many tile contractors have installed tile or stone in elevators that were not designed for such and found themselves trying to repair broken tiles and cracked grout joints, only to have an ongoing issue due to excessive substrate deflection.

If the elevator cab floor has been properly designed and has tile or natural stone listed as an acceptable finish, there are several commonly used methods available such as: direct bond the tile to the elevator cab floor using epoxies; using a scrim-faced, crack-isolation membrane bonded to the substructure with a primer material or a highly modified tile-setting thin-set material; or 2.5 galvanized wire lath with stainless steel mechanical fasteners/screws then skim-coated with highly-modified thinset and direct-bonded to the wire lath.

None of the methods are found in the ANSI or in the TCNA Handbook. As always, follow the product manufacturer’s directions for the products chosen. Complete warranted systems are available from several setting-material and crack-isolation membrane manufacturers.

– Gerald Sloan, NTCA presenter and trainer 

President’s Letter – July 2012


I have had the great pleasure of traveling to and for NTCA-related events over the past few years. These have been tremendously gratifying experiences as I have worked alongside great thinkers to better our industry and have been fortunate to have witnessed the results of our efforts.

Each time I travel has also been a humbling experience for me. Every time I leave the cocoon that is my little tile world in North Carolina, venture to the airport and fly off to the next working venue, I gain a perspective that is really striking. This was evident once again as I had some “observation” time recently in the Atlanta airport while waiting to return home from our recent TCNA Handbook Committee meetings. I watched thousands of travelers and employees walk across beautiful tile floors. Every trip to or through a major city makes me realize that we are all “small fish in a big pond” as my grandmother used to say. The immense melting pot of America causes me to stand amazed at the sheer number of people who populate our great nation and the unique way each of them must impact their immediate worlds. I often wonder if they have any influence beyond that or if they even care to.

Many times I think of the ways all of us, in and out of the tile industry, impact our surroundings. Sure, we influence those we see every day: family, friends, coworkers, etc. But does influence go beyond that? It is certain that our actions affect each other, so it is important to remember the golden rule to “do unto others” as we interact with those around us. Before I get too philosophical here, the point I’m leading to is this: as a NTCA member, you may or may not know that your influence can and should be profound.

You can have impact in your tile sphere of influence that is immediate and lasting. Your professionalism is on display as you interact with those around you and you carry the banner of the NTCA. In doing so, it is imperative that you strive to provide your customers with the best possible installations, service and quality through each of these interactions. Whether you realize it or not, your daily commitment to these efforts does have a power to influence, not only yourself and your business, but those with whom you come in contact.

You also may not be cognizant of it, but those same efforts have a profound national influence as well. By employing the best practices developed through NTCA’s  work in helping to shape our industry globally, you spread the results of those efforts. You are the feet on the ground that make it happen. You shape our industry daily and your efforts do not go unrecognized. Without you there would be no “us”, and we appreciate all that you do.

I hope that you think about this often. You are indeed one of many, but remember what Mac Anderson said, “Sometimes one single choice not only changes the direction of our lives, but that of many, many others.” Thank you for choosing to be a part of the NTCA and, as such, influencing the direction of our industry.

All the best,

Editor’s Letter – July 2012

If you read last month’s Business Tip, you’ll remember that it was written by Steve Rausch who represents the Substrates and Specialty Products Division of USG Corporation out of Alpharetta, Ga. You’ll also remember that he’s  the author of the Rausch Ravings blog (

On Monday, June 25, I read his blog on “How to Handle Stress.” It contains some balancing wisdom I thought was essential.

We all work hard. There never seems to be a lack of opportunities to do a little more or work a little harder at your business. And doing so is often part of the formula that distinguishes a successful business from a floundering one.

But there’s insight in the saying about “all work and no play.” And since it’s summertime, and vacations are on people’s minds and calendars, I wanted to pass on this story from Steve’s blog for your reading pleasure:

I did not write this story, just received it from a friend and thought it worthy to pass along to everyone reading my blog. I had intended on writing about vacations; seems like many are interested in that subject right now, but my take was going to be on those who avoid vacations and seem to wear that like a badge of honor – that they don’t take a vacation. Well, it just isn’t healthy and it is really not good for your company! They provide vacation time for a reason. I believe this below story very well points out that exact reason!

A young lady confidently walked around the room while explaining stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone was sure she was going to ask the ultimate question: “Half empty or half full?” However, she fooled them all. 

“How heavy is this glass of water?” she inquired with a smile. 

Answers called out ranged from 8 ounces to 20 ounces. 

She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you’ll have to call an ambulance. In each case it’s the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” 

She continued, “That’s the way it is with stress. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won’t be able to carry on.” 

“As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we’re refreshed, we can carry on with the burden – holding stress longer and better each time. So, as early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don’t carry them through the evening and into the night… Pick them up tomorrow.

“Whatever burdens you’re carrying now, let them down for a moment. Relax; pick them up later after you’ve rested. Life is short. Enjoy it and the now ‘supposed’ stress that you’ve conquered!” 

Relax today – stop and smell the roses and other flowers you pass so often without notice. — Steve

Thanks, Steve for the reminder. Happy flower smelling, everyone!


QEP Co., Inc. Adds Roberts 9 In. Flooring Cutter and 13 In. PRO Flooring Cutters

QEP Co., Inc. is pleased to add Roberts 10-60 9 In. Flooring Cutter and the Roberts 10-64 13 In. PRO Flooring Cutters to our professional line of Roberts Branded Tools.

The compact, powerful design of the Roberts 10-60 9 In. Flooring Cutter makes this the fastest, most convenient way to cut laminate and engineered wood planks during flooring installation. The heavy duty steel “T” base provides maximum stability while cutting. In addition, this cutter comes complete with a “V” support and a plank support arm that add extra holding power to minimize plank movement. It has a cutting capacity of up to  3/8 inches on standard 8-1/2 inch wide planks, but the heavy duty 4mm thick tungsten blade is strong enough to cut narrower planks up to 5/8 inches thick.

The Roberts 10-64 13 In. PRO Flooring Cutter is a guillotine-style cutter manufactured to cut precise, clean-edges on all types of flooring materials. The large cutting table stabilizes longer planks while the extendible handle provides extra leverage for more cutting power. This extra power is great not only for cutting laminate and engineered wood but also for cutting a variety of other flooring materials such as vinyl flooring, vinyl siding, VCT tiles and rubber or foam tiles. The cutting guide quickly swivels and locks in place for accurate angle cuts and because it is fully adjustable, it is easy to maintain perfectly square cuts, even after years of use.

Q.E.P. Co., Inc., founded in 1979, is a world class, worldwide provider of innovative, quality and value-driven flooring and industrial solutions.  As a leading worldwide manufacturer, marketer and distributor QEP delivers a comprehensive line of hardwood flooring, flooring installation tools, adhesives and flooring related products targeted for the professional installer as well as the do-it-yourselfer.  In addition the company provides industrial tools with cutting edge technology to all of the industrial trades.  Under brand names including QEP®, ROBERTS®, Capitol®, Harris®Wood, Nupla®, HISCO®, Vitrex®, PRCI®, Porta-Nail® and Elastiment®, the Company markets over 5,000 products.  The Company sells its products to home improvement retail centers, specialty distribution outlets, municipalities and industrial solution providers in 50 states and throughout the world.

New American Swedish Institute features handmade tile installation Art tile unites old with the new

The Handmade Tile Association (HTA) congratulates the American Swedish Institute (ASI) on the Grand Opening of the Nelson Cultural Center (NCC) on June 30 and welcomes this opportunity to congratulate HTA member, North Prairie Tileworks on their stunning tile installation for the center.

The ASI commissioned North Prairie Tileworks to create the tiles using their famed Turnblad mansion Swedish wood stoves as inspiration. “There is a wealth of classic design features displayed on the Swedish stoves,” according to Roger Mayland of North Prairie, “but the challenge for Charlie Henriksen, as the primary designer on this project, was to bring out the few key elements that unite the past with the new tiles.” Henriksen hand sculpted each of the designs in clay, created the molds and oversaw the precise and potentially temperamental firing and glazing processes. The tile installation is an ideal representation of the unique artistry and creativity present throughout the HTA’s membership.

The Handmade Tile Association (HTA) is one of the nation’s premiere tile artist collectives. Based in Minnesota, it boasts a membership of more than 100 tile makers nationwide, with about half the membership working locally. HTA members are active nationwide creating public and private installations, participating in juried art shows and tile festivals throughout North America, and showing their work in galleries and museums. The 11th Annual Minnesota Tile Festival will be held later this year at the American Swedish Institute on September 15, 2012. It is one of largest in the country, attracting tile artists from all over the United States.

Please contact Josh Blanc at [email protected] for more information or  Phone: 612.781.6409

Crossville Products Honored with International Green GOOD DESIGN™ Award Program recognizes companies worldwide with the best sustainable designs

Crossville’s Bluestone and Mixology tile collections have been named winners of 2012 Green GOOD DESIGN™ Awards bestowed by The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies and The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design. The annual awards recognize 120 products from across the globe that are leading examples of sustainable design.

The European Center’s International Advisory Committee selects products based on design processes that emphasize overall environmental responsibility. The GOOD DESIGN awards date to 1950; this is the fourth year for the sustainable design award category.

Bluestone is a popular porcelain tile collection manufactured at Crossville’s U.S. manufacturing facilities through processes certified by Scientific Certification Systems (SCS). The line holds Green Squared certification and contains a minimum of 20% recycled content. Mixology, designed by Mikeal Jensen, Residential Design Director for Crossville, replicates cast metal with 50% SCS-certified, post-consumer recycled content.

Jury members of The European Center’s International Advisory Committee are design industry leaders from across the globe who review products, programs, people, government, environmental planning and architecture to determine the outstanding achievers. The European Centre and Chicago Athenaeum’s environmental conference will exhibit the 2012 Green GOOD DESIGN products throughout the U.S. for a year, beginning at the University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana in September 2012.

About Crossville Inc.
Founded in 1986, Crossville Inc. is a U.S.-owned and operated manufacturer of award-winning tile collections for residential and contract applications.
An industry innovator, Crossville is the first U.S. tile manufacturer to achieve the following:
– produce large format tile on site,
– manufacture tile with certified recycled content,
– develop the Tile Take-Back™ Program for recycling fired porcelain tile
– achieve certification of its waste recycling programs
– achieve TCNA’s Green Squared certification for all of its U.S.-produced tile lines,
– distribute a complete line of large format, 3mm-thin porcelain panels (Laminam by Crossville)
– become a net consumer of waste.

For more information on Crossville, visit

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