Creating excellence for Northern California Tile & Stone
Northern California Tile & Stone, with offices in Sacramento, Calif., and Reno, Nevada, has been in business for about 20 years, with a tradition of excellence and high compensation.
“Like a professional sports team, everyone is highly compensated and expected
to perform well,” said Roger Leasure, NCTS President. “It’s not uncommon for the office to be open and people working at 5:30 a.m., or for staff to be answering or sending emails on the weekends. The field operations on jobs are getting things done over weekends because of the size and scope of our jobs. We authorize overtime almost weekly, and the aggressive installers eat it up.”
This high-paying company had several tile setters break the six-figure mark on their paychecks in 2018, excluding benefits. “We work to identify our top players and make sure they are happy and content while identifying our bottom players and replacing them,” Leasure added. “We are constantly looking for energetic, well-qualified individuals to add to the team; we like to look at it in terms of building a ‘Super Bowl team’ around here,” he said.
The company specializes in large, complex, fast-paced commercial projects – mostly mall renovations and expansions, casinos, hotels and resorts, multi-family, government courthouses, spas and high-end commercial workout facilities. NCTS also focuses on thin-brick veneers, thin-panel porcelain, cut-to-fit solid surfaces, and honeycomb slab stone veneers.
NCTS became a NTCA member five years ago, with a desire to up its game during a period of explosive growth. “We realized we don’t get paid for estimates or how much paper we push,” Leasure explained. “We emphasize that we only get paid by how much tile and stone gets installed on a monthly basis. We use this idea as a mantra inside the company to keep people focused on where we are putting our energies on a daily basis. In that regard I try to put the field workers above other aspects in the company hierarchy because they are your business. If they are not installing a quality product consistently, you are not in business.”
Benefits of NTCA and CTEF
Leasure said The Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) and the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) are doing a great job of educating owners on the importance of properly training their installers, and of providing the necessary schooling.
“We saw enough of an impact from the CTEF and NTCA education that we decided to start our own in-house school,” he said. “We tailored our concept based on what we saw in the CTEF courses because one thing is true — when your installers know how to do a quality job and perform well on projects for your clients, your work begins to sell itself.”
In 2018, NCTS joined the ranks of the best of the best, the NTCA Five-Star Contractor community, calling the continuing education that NTCA Five-Star Contractors are privy to, “priceless.” The education offered in Nashville during the 2018 NTCA Five-Star Contractor Summit provided a big boon to business.
“The class ‘How to Put Yourself in a Better Position Contractually’ opened my eyes to how we were leaving beneficial items on the table and not pushing risk off our plate,” Leasure said. “Prior to this class I was resigned to the fact I should just blanket sign every contract a general contractor gave me, and if we performed fast and clean, they would treat us fairly. Since the class I have developed a list of 35 items and clarifications on our proposal that gets incorporated into our contracts as an attachment. We have had great success in crafting beneficial deals, which can take months of negotiation. Although it’s sometimes tough and contentious work, it gives us leverage on the critical items that come up on all jobs like labor rates, change order processing, reasonable billing times on change orders, payment terms, and jobsite scheduling/coordination.”
Leasure added, “It’s easy to get caught up working IN your company instead of ON your company and the time with the NTCA Five-Star team and other business owners allows you to work ON your business. It’s also easy to think you have it all figured out…and that the way you manage your logistics, prep and plan your projects, or even float your decks is the only way. When you talk to other business owners and if you have an open mind you will find they have some slick ideas and tools that you never thought of.”
NCTS employs CTEF Certified Installers (CTI) with a goal of identifying 5-10 installers annually, and encouraging them to get certified. “We started the process a few years ago and we believe that this is a critical part of any tile company that wants to consider themselves as quality,” Leasure said. “This process has benefited our company by setting an example to other installers of what it means to be quality. It sets a standard that others want to aspire to, as long as you focus on weeding out the low performers and adding new blood to the ranks on a yearly basis. Our clients see the quality of expertise and knowledge of the installers. When it comes time to recommend a tile contractor for their high-end or difficult projects, they want you to be that contractor.”
NCTS takes tremendous pride and receives great joy in the art of the finished product. Leasure said, “I just took the wife and kids to dinner at a big casino and was showing them the 1” x 1” glass mosaic, stone counters, and large format floors, with pride. The entire casino was covered in our products. We just finished a large spa in another casino that was highlighted on a local news report. It was fun to see all the emails flying around with links to the story. Everyone gets excited when their work gets recognized, especially when they put in so much hard work in an effort to complete a high-end project with over 30 different types of tile and stone.
“The fact that we completed a million-dollar scope of work in 35 days and to see the level of quality of the finish product, fills me with pride and confidence that our installers can tackle projects that give the GC and the office staff concern,” he added. “There was a lot of project management and pre-planning before we even started, so we knew we had a challenge with the install on our hands. We love a good challenge!”
Cache Creek Spa
This recently completed renovation of the Cache Creek Spa saw the space expand from 5,000 sq. ft. to over 12,000 sq. ft. NCTS installed over 50 different tiles and stone, including a 12.5 ft. high pink Himalayan salt block wall. Many of the materials had to be shipped from overseas, which was one of the major difficulties.