President’s Letter – TRENDS 2018

Look to qualified sales staff and installers for stellar projects

Architects and designers – have you ever experienced a project where the tile installation didn’t meet your expectations? If you have, and the issue was an installation failure or poor-quality appearance, I have good news. You can greatly reduce the chances of a repeat performance by selecting and working with qualified and certified professional installers. 

It is a fact that to be among the most successful sales professionals, extensive knowledge of the product and how it is best used is essential. Since you design beautiful buildings and assemble timeless palettes of color and texture to enhance the spaces in which we live and work, I’d like to recommend that you seek out the true sales professional – one who has achieved Certified Ceramic Tile Specialist or CCTS for short. 

The individuals who have invested in this certification – established by the Ceramic Tile Distributors Association (CTDA) – have taken their role in the ceramic tile industry very seriously and have distinguished themselves among their peers. This certification requires extensive knowledge, not only of the rich history of tile, but the current methods of manufacturing the different types of tiles along with their physical and performance properties. A thorough understanding of all the applicable manufacturing and installation industry standards is also required to gain CCTS. 

The CTDA created and administers this certification to meet a critical need in our industry: the need for those selling and servicing the design and architectural community to be thoroughly knowledgeable of the different types of tile and their recommended use and proper installation. They also should understand all the industry standards that determine the quality of product and the allowable manufacturing tolerances, so they can assist you in making the best-informed choices for your projects. No one wants the unenviable experience of selecting the perfect color, size and finish tile only to see it installed and THEN learn that it does not have the proper slip resistance or abrasive resistance needed.

As an installation professional, I’m always surprised at how often I meet sales representatives who have experience in sales, but no knowledge of tile or the industry at large. This is why the CTDA created this much-needed certification. It is important that the person you rely on for advice about tile knows enough to give you professional advice about more than what colors and sizes are available in any particular series.

I strongly recommend that distributors make a commitment to train their sales and showroom personnel to prepare to take the CCTS exam. This investment in their employees will undoubtedly improve company performance and profit. The knowledge they gain from taking the test will positively impact the installer, the consumer and the industry.

I encourage the design community to insist on working with CCTS professionals and I encourage all sales professionals to invest in the Certified Ceramic Tile Specialist credentials. Visit https://www.ctdahome.org/content/education/ccts.asp or the shortened URL –  http://bit.ly/2u8Tmjd – for details on the program and a list of companies who have CCTS professionals. 

And to pull through that quality and knowledge into your installation, visit these links to learn more about qualified tile installers:

https://www.ceramictilefoundation.org/find-certified-tile-installers or http://bit.ly/2IGtXkr for Certified Tile Installers, http://www.tilecertifications.com/ for those installers who have been certified through the Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers exams in higher-level installation practices like grouts, large-format tile and substrate preparation, membranes, mortar (mud) floors, mortar (mud) walls, shower receptors and thin porcelain tile.

The NTCA’s Five Star Contractors are required to employ CTIs and exhibit other marks of excellence to receive this distinction. Locate one under the Find a Member at the NTCA website, www.tile-assn.com or directly at http://bit.ly/2u79ba6. 

Other qualified setters and contractors have successfully completed Union Journeyman Tile Apprentice Programs, received TCAA Trowel of Excellence certification, or attended IMI Contractor College. Also see Scott Conwell’s story in this issue that supports the practice of connecting and working with quality installation companies. 

I hope we all work to leave our mark on history, by creating timeless quality installations that will inspire for generations to come. 

Keep on tiling!
Martin Howard,
President NTCA
Committee Member, ANSI A108
[email protected]