There’s something for everyone at Coverings ’17

Coverings offers something for everyone in the tile & stone industry. From live installation demonstrations and tours of the show floor, to networking events and live installations, your four days at Coverings will be packed with things to see and experience. Check back often at to learn details about the programs and for updates to the 2017 agenda.

Audio Tours

New in 2017! Attendees have the opportunity to receive a guided audio tour via the official Coverings mobile app. The pre-recorded tour provides insights into booths and pavilions, extending a thorough introduction to the show floor. With each tour operated through your mobile phone, you have the ability to move the tour at your own pace, or break up the tour across several days.

Coverings Connect

The social media lounge will be refreshed in 2017 as Coverings Connect. The space
will allow attendees to relax, charge personal devices, and network with others. Coverings Connect will present a series of educational seminars, called “Byte” sessions that have a digital focus. Additionally, from 4 – 5:30 p.m. every afternoon, a bar will be located in Coverings Connect, offering a happy hour for you to enjoy a beverage and meet other attendees.

Appreciation Days

Join us for our segment-focused Appreciation Days created to facilitate enhanced learning and networking opportunities for attendees. The Coverings Appreciation Days feature tailored guided tours of the show floor, lunch, focused education sessions and more.

NASCAR Racing Experience

New for 2017, attendees can enjoy a NASCAR Racing Experience right on the show floor at Coverings. With the NASCAR Racing Experience, attendees will have the opportunity to find out what it’s like to be a NASCAR driver. Racers with the fastest simulator times each day will win two tickets to the NASCAR events of their choice.

Coverings Installation and Design (CID) Awards

The Coverings Installation & Design Awards celebrate outstanding achievements in the design and installation of tile and stone in both residential and commercial projects. The installer and designer of prize winning projects each recieve $2,500 and a one-night stay in Orlando and more. Submissions are closed, but some see the stunning winners!



Coverings Rock Stars – An Emerging Leaders Program

The Coverings Rock Stars program is to recognize and engage with the best and brightest young talent in the tile and stone industry, sharing their successes and vision for future generations. The program underscores Coverings’ mission to support the growth and success of the industry by recognizing top-notch talent and fostering networking and educational opportunities.




The CTEF Certified Tile Installer (CTI) program is the only third-party assessment of installer skill and knowledge which is recognized by the tile industry. It also offers Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT) testing. CTI testing and ACT will be offered at Coverings.

Installation Design Showcase – Tiny House Edition

The Installation Design Showcase is a must-see attraction. For 2017, three tiny houses will be featured onsite at Coverings. NTCA Five Star Contractors and leading designers will partner together and collaborate to showcase the synergy between beautiful design and exceptional installation. Each tiny house will highlight a different design aesthetic and feature tile and stone in a live installation.

Live Installation Demonstration Stage

One of the most popular features at Coverings, these live “how-to” classes offer attendees an up-close look at how top contracting pros handle a variety of challenging tile installations. Attendees will see exactly how to install a wide variety of new products and learn techniques to make tile and stone installation more successful.

SFA & the Stone Zone

The Stone Fabricators Alliance (SFA) is an organization dedicated to the education of the fabricator. The SFA will present ongoing demonstrations and educational “how-to” topics in their booth that are specifically designed for fabricators and installers. They will also be featuring products that were “born on the SFA” (products designed by fabricators for fabricators).

Happy Hours!

Back by popular demand, afternoon happy hours will take place on the show floor from 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM on Tuesday through Thursday. Bars will be located in the Tile Council of North America and Ceramic Tile Distributor’s Association booth, the Installation Design Showcase booth and the Social Media Lounge. Grab a beverage and make new connections!

Art Tile Village

The Art Tile Village is a popular destination at Coverings year after year. Located in the Tile Council of North America Pavilion, stop by this space to see the largest assembly of decorative tile artisans under one roof.  Attendees can see tiles from an extensive collection of art studios.

Arizona Tile Celebrates 40 Years in Business

In 1977, after 10 years of playing football at the collegiate and professional levels, Heisman Trophy winner John Huarte decided to focus his leadership and team-building skills on a new business endeavor. He took a leap and signed a lease on the back of a cardboard box and opened the first Arizona Tile location in San Diego, California.

John Huarte accepting Heisman Trophy, 1964

John and Eileen Huarte, 1987

First Lease

Forty years later – With hundreds of employees, nearly half of which have been with the company for over a decade, and many who have been with the company since the beginning, unparalleled customer service, and products from around the world – Arizona Tile has become one of the leading tile and slab distributors in the U.S. “Our success solely comes from the vision that John and (his wife) Eileen Huarte had for this company when starting it – the sensibility that our relationships with our customers and our fellow employees are the most important aspect of what we do.” Said company President, Bob Traxler.

Arizona Tile strives to provide a uniquely positive experience for each customer. The company prides itself on providing customers with ideas and information they may need in order to move forward with their projects. Whether a customer is working on a large commercial project, or creating a small mosaic design on a table, the company endeavors to provide that customer with the best experience they possibly can.

“We’ve stayed focused on taking care of our customer needs as best as we can, and they’re satisfied and become a referral service,” said founder John Huarte. Beyond assisting with products, the company strives to meet the necessities of their customers by listening to what their product and location needs may be. This has helped Arizona Tile identify which markets would benefit from a nearby showroom, as well as pinpoint which types of products customers are most in need of.

Ontario, CA Quartz Warehouse

Originally Arizona Tile began as a ceramic tile supplier. As their customer needs changed, the company evolved to accommodate those needs. In 1993 Arizona Tile introduced slab materials to their inventory. At that time the company had twelve slab colors available. In 2017 the company is now one of the largest slab distributors in the United States offering over 235 slab products. In addition to slabs, the company also distributes several various natural stone, porcelain, glass and mosaic tile products that you won’t find anywhere else on earth.

Still, the company’s executive team attributes much of Arizona Tile’s success to the dedication of their employees. John Huarte states “There’s a sports element to our teamwork. People aren’t perfect, and they’re going to make mistakes, but you have to learn from them. And I think without ever even talking about it, from my examination, (the company) has naturally followed that sports culture.”

John’s disposition has also had a great impact on the way the company operates, and has a significant impact on how employees work together. Eileen Huarte recalls,

“John’s always been an extremely humble man. And when he was in leadership (at Arizona Tile) that meant that there was no such thing as a closed door. He was accessible, and he was willing to do anything. If he was in the warehouse and saw somebody loading boxes of tile, he would be right there to help move the job along. If the showroom needed to be cleaned he jumped right in and cleaned it, and had the showroom ready on Monday morning for customers. And I think that everyone else around him picked up on his energy and we had a lot of great people early on who didn’t think of themselves as having just one title or as wearing one hat. They recognized that they were a part of something here, and we all wanted to make this good.”

John Huarte, Arizona Tile Founder




It’s that willingness to help others that sets Arizona Tile apart in the industry. A willingness to help their customers achieve the design they’re looking for, a willingness to grow as their customers grow, and a willingness to grow a team of dedicated employees who can assist customers long term.

“We have always seen ourselves as a company serving our customers in the western United States. But we continue to grow our footprint geographically. And as our customers have continued to grow and have started moving eastward, I think there’s more call for us to grow and to cast our eyes a little further east, and as time goes on, I think we will. The single thing that drives (our growth) more than anything else is our wish to create opportunity and value for both our employees and also our customers,” said company President, Bob Traxler.

Austin, TX Location – Opening 2017

Tempe, AZ Showroom

San Diego, CA Location – First Arizona Tile Showroom

This growth is evident as the company excitedly awaits the opening of their newest branch in Austin, TX at the start of 2017. John Huarte’s son, and Arizona Tile’s Vice President of Operations, Mark Huarte, adds “We’re excited to announce the building of our Austin, TX location and our intent is to continue that path with another store.”

As Arizona Tile celebrates 4 decades of dedicated service to their customers, they look forward to growing from their roots. “Growing from that humble mindset that really was the formula of our success.” – Bob Traxler, President.

About Arizona Tile

Founded in 1977 in San Diego, California, Arizona Tile has grown into a nationally recognized commercial and residential distributor with more than 25 showrooms throughout seven Western states. Arizona Tile is one of the largest independently-owned importers of stone in the United States, offering more than 230 varieties of granite, travertine, onyx, slate, marble, limestone and quartz, plus medallions, porcelain tile and other design creations. Founded by John Huarte, former NFL player and Heisman Trophy winner, the company is still family-owned after 40 years.


Contractors, installers speak out about new OSHA silica rule

Last week in TileLetter Weekly, we reported on the new OSHA ruling and regulations to protect workers by limiting their exposure to respirable crystalline silica, and thus curb lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease .

The rule contains key provisions, set to take effect on June 23, 2017. The rule:

  • Reduces the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for respirable crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an 8-hour shift.
  • Requires employers to: use engineering controls (such as water or ventilation) to limit worker exposure to the PEL; provide respirators when engineering controls cannot adequately limit exposure; limit worker access to high exposure areas; develop a written exposure control plan, offer medical exams to highly exposed workers, and train workers on silica risks and how to limit exposures.
  • Provides medical exams to monitor highly exposed workers and gives them information about their lung health.
  • Provides flexibility to help employers — especially small businesses — protect workers from silica exposure.

Jeremy Waldorf of Legacy Floors in Howell, Mich., wears a respirator specifically designed to protect against silica. Waldorf purchased it online for about $45.

Tile contracting companies and individual installers spoke out recently about the provisions of the rule and what it will mean for them and their businesses.

Jesse Boswell, owner of ReTile in Mesa, Ariz., said, “I believe it is a necessity to protect workers from dust . I wish it didn’t have to get to the point where government had to step in. And it is unfortunate that not all tasks in construction have the necessary dust control available yet. It will be difficult to comply with this ruling without wearing a respirator full time.”

Phillip Kozey, controller at Stuart Tile Company and NTCA Michigan co-State Ambassador with cousin Todd Kozey, said, “I’m 36 years old and was diagnosed with COPD last year. But I was hand-making thinset in a wheelbarrow with Portland silica sand and liquid latex when I was 9 years old. I’m glad they’re coming out with these new laws. I just started using a mask and respirator about a year ago.”

Chris Wood, of Chris Wood Fixit in Russell, Ontario, recommended some products that really help with dust collection, like the Wale Tale and ARDEX dust collector. “It’s so nice to be able to mix indoors, and you know, not get COPD,” he said. “I do strongly believe in the dust systems. They are a game changer.”

James Woelfel, NTCA board chairman, with Artcraft Granite, Marble and Tile Co., also from Mesa, Ariz., stressed the importance of safeguarding employees, while pondering how the provisions of the new rule are to be measured and enforced.

“First and foremost, our company wants to make sure our employees are safe from external factors that could cause injury or illness,” he said. “That being said, how does OSHA intend to enforce a standard that technology has not caught up to? How do we measure a cubic foot of air outside in the wind? How is OSHA showing small businesses to be flexible?”

Calling the ruling “onerous,” Woelfel added, “It is so easy for people not in the fight everyday mandate a regulation or a process, to continue to pile on regulations that will eventually strangle our companies. We are investing in technology every day to reduce dust and other by-products from our jobs. Here in Arizona we actually have to have a license to be able to be tracked by the state environmental department in regards to creating too much dust.”

Martin Brookes of Heritage Marble & Tile in Mill Valley, Calif., and NTCA’s 2nd vice president, also felt the burden of the legislation. “We implement PPE and safety meetings to make our workers aware of silica and other airborne particulate that could be detrimental to their health and safety,” he explained. “I’m all for the welfare of the worker as this keeps them healthy, and in turn productivity is not affected. In my opinion the legislation takes it too far, and is more for a revenue stream than to help the worker. The money would be better spent in educational campaigns to make the workers aware rather than a “gotcha” approach which does nothing but hurt the business owner.”

Martin Howard of David Allen Company (DAC), and NTCA’s current president echoed safety program strategies voiced by Woelfel and Brookes, as well as noting that DAC has a dedicated full time safety director. “We want to educate and train our employees to be safe at all times from all jobsite dangers,” he said.

He related tales of three on-site monitoring surveys by independent engineers DAC conducted to understand the exposure to crystalline silica its workers experience, intentionally making conditions worse-case.  “All three produced results that were below the old OSHA standard, some by a large margin,” he said. With the new ruling, he said that “if exposure limits reach a level less than half the old standard, a whole series of precautionary steps must be implemented along with air quality monitoring for the balance of the job. This is a very expensive process that would seem to be unnecessary. The number of exposure cases resulting in sickness under the old standard was very small, and most could be attributed to a lack of enforcement of the standard. Instead of starting to enforce the reasonable standard they are regulating an unreasonable standard that is almost impossible to measure.”

He added, “I think many of the preventative tools and methods prescribed in the new standard are common sense, and if enforced, could achieve a reduction in illnesses without lowering the parts per million in the air to an immeasurable level.”

Do you have an opinion on the new OSHA silica rule, or have found workable ways to reduce your exposure to silica? Send your thoughts to [email protected]Lesley Goddin