President’s Letter – January 2014

dan welch imageWhether you own a mature business or are just getting started, one thing you’ll eventually have to face is the day you don’t own it any longer. For some of us, it’s the day we retire. For others, it could be the day we die.

Every business is different, with one owner, several owners, family business, partnerships, and more. However, the fact remains, someday, you won’t own the business. So, what have you done to plan for that day? How is your plan communicated to employees, your vendors, your customers? Will you stay involved after retirement? Do you plan to cash out? Is the business your source of retirement, or have you planned and saved outside of your business?

I pose these questions to TileLetter readers  after a recent visit with Tim Curran (family owners of Crossville, Inc.). Tim’s family’s business, The Curran Group, is a fifth-generation family business that still faces many of the challenges that we face at Welch Tile, a second-generation multi-family member business.

I met Tim during an NTCA Five Star meeting at Crossville’s facility in Crossville, Tenn. When he gave a presentation on “Business Succession Planning,” every note of his talk rang true. He is challenged with family dynamics, shareholder disagreements, uncomfortable feelings, and tough decisions, just like any family would be. But the Curran Group’s approach is unique, and it speaks to the resilience of a fifth-generation organization. Tim inspired me to travel to his office with my family, to have an open discussion about family business strategy. He was gracious enough to welcome my request, and I am thankful he did!

Smart, enduring decisions are based on facts, not feelings. It takes a strong leader to separate family from business, and a business cannot survive without all team members pulling in the same direction. My family came away from the meeting with a confirmation that we are here to lead and manage our business for a period of time, and the jobs we individually choose to execute within the organization are compensated to the level as if we worked for someone else.

When it is time for a family member to retire, it is that family member’s responsibility to plan for the event. For a business to survive five generations, it cannot continually afford to “pay off” retiring shareholders. When it is time to retire, family members need to plan for it in advance. Understand the plan will change. Discuss options openly with your family and pre-fund transfers if possible. Also consider life insurance plans to fund the unforeseen. And most important, have a plan communicated to your leadership team and employees.

As your business moves into this new construction economy (post 2008), think about how you plan to retire. How do your employees plan to retire? Does it align with your company benefits? Remember, the ability to retire is only as strong as the plan and funding for that plan. If you’re depending on your business to fund your retirement, can it do so without you? Can it continue without the cash you take?

Thank you,
Dan Welch
[email protected]

Editor’s Letter – January 2014

“Do what you love to do and give it your very best. Whether it’s business or baseball, or the theater, or any field. If you don’t love what you’re doing and can’t give it your best get out of it. Life is too short. You’ll be an old man before you know it.”
– Al Lopez

Lesley psf head shotHappy New Year one and all!

We find ourselves with a blank canvas stretching before us – 12 months of 2014. What are your plans to make it a good year, both personally and professionally? With what attitude will you enter the new year?

I’d like to draw your attention to one new section in TileLetter: Qualified Labor. We are dedicating some ink each month to bringing you news about certification events that are upcoming – or notable ones that have been held recently, like the Albuquerque certification for TWENTY local installers held last month.

Now that qualified labor language is in both the TCNA Handbook and is part of Master Spec, it will be easier for the A&D community to recommend qualified labor on their jobs. And why wouldn’t they? With highly technical products in the marketplace, like huge porcelain panels, A&D professionals aren’t going to want to specify beautiful product and leave its installation to the unskilled. Be sure you are taking full advantage of educational opportunities sponsored by manufacturers and suppliers as well as taking part of the NTCA workshops in your area. We list the upcoming ones in each issue of TileLetter, or you can go to to see a list of workshops planned for the year, as well as a list of upcoming webinars.

0114_qualified_installerAnd if the workshops weren’t enough value in themselves, this year, NTCA is giving away a free NTCA membership at each workshop and giving you a chance to win a free trip to Coverings in April or Total Solutions Plus in October. We offer 70 workshops this year, so you have a one in 70 chance of winning – you can’t beat those odds! If a workshop is in your area, be sure to attend!

Also consider VALIDATING your skill with a Certified Tile Installer evaluation or if you are already a CTI, with ACT – or Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers – credentials. This is a tool that sets you apart from the competition and brands you immediately as the cream of the crop to potential clients. To help prepare you for the tests, this year there are a number of pre-test programs in select cities around the country that give you a sense of what will be asked for and expected on the test to increase your chances of passing. Look for more information in the Qualified Labor section of this issue.

It may only be January, but I have Vegas on my mind – that’s the site of the 25th edition of Coverings this year, from April 29-May 2. Those of you in the West who have longed to visit Coverings, now’s your chance. It promises to be a winning experience!

It’s my privilege and pleasure to begin this new year with you and journey along its winding paths together. Here’s to a prosperous, passionate and powerful year for us all!

God bless!
[email protected]

Standards development essential to industry growth

Letter from the Publisher

bart_0114I would like to wish everyone a healthy and prosperous 2014. As I spent time enjoying family and friends over the holidays, I took a moment to really think about the role the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) plays in our industry. Our staff regularly discusses how we can add programs and services that will increase value to our membership. And we are open to ideas from our own members if you wish to share them with us.

In speaking with a contractor member the other day, he shared with me that he didn’t think most of our members were aware of the efforts made behind the scenes when new installation methods are developed and approved or when existing methods are modified or changed. He noticed what he felt was a discrepancy or outdated method in the TCNA Handbook and wanted to know the process to get this changed. As we talked, I thanked him for bringing this to my attention, and it hit me – this was a perfect way I could share why it is so important as a contractor to support the efforts the NTCA makes on your behalf.

The NTCA has many active participants and voting representatives on the TCNA and ANSI A108 Committees. Some of these individuals have been approved as members on their own while others have been appointed to represent the association by our Board of Directors. Both the chairman and vice chairman of the ANSI A108 Committee are NTCA members. We work closely with other labor organizations and associations to make sure the voice of the contractor is recognized and respected on these committees.

The tile industry is changing every day. New products enter the market and recommendations to install them are provided to the suppliers of these products. Most often, the contractors who install these products have no field experience to rely on, so they assume some risk until enough field experience can help determine if a standard should be developed. In some instances, this risk can be very costly, and all efforts should be made to minimize it.

This is where an association like NTCA can provide the most benefit. We have several experienced technical representatives who can help draft correspondence to the appropriate people, and can assist in product and installation recommendations.

Like any successful organization, the committees responsible for developing and maintaining our standards require an equitable balance of professionals representing the key components of our industry. They also consist of leaders of other trades that impact and affect tile and stone. This balance allows for thoughtful and open discussion, and aims at increasing the use of our products in residential and commercial projects, while creating overall consumer confidence. The NTCA plays an integral role in this effort, and if you are a contractor you can take solace in knowing this is a core strategy of our association. If you would like to know more information about the role we play in standards development or about joining the NTCA, contact me at [email protected]. I would love to hear from you.

– Bart

MAPEI introduces MAPEI Ultralite Mortar Pro

ultralite-mortar-proMAPEI has introduced MAPEI Ultralite Mortar Pro, a professional-grade, lightweight, single-component mortar that can be used for medium-bed and non-sag applications as well as for thin-set installations. This thixotropic mortar is geared to large-format tile installations on walls and floors. A green product that can contribute to LEED with more than 20% recycled content, the lightweight mortar with Ultralite Technology™ provides twice the coverage of a standard thin-set mortar per pound (0,45 kg), providing transportation savings and makes hauling it on the jobsite easier for installers. This polymer-modified mortar is formulated with Easy Glide Technology™ for ease of application.


American Bullnose Company

American Bullnose Company produces custom-fabricated bullnose and related trim tile for manufacturers, distributors, dealers, and contractors throughout North America, with seven locations serving all major U.S. markets. With American Bullnose, bullnose is available for every tile, whether it’s a few pieces for a special order or several thousand for stock. The company’s proprietary glazing and re-firing process results in a hard, long-lasting, high-quality finish that will not scratch, wear, or wash off. And because bullnose is fabricated from the customer’s field tile, back orders and dye-lot issues are virtually eliminated.


wedi launches new Riolito Shower Base

wedi launches the brand-new, single-slope, 32” x 60” Riolito Shower Base within its Fundo Riolito family of linear drains. This traditional single slope base  is perfect for installations atop plywood floors, and can be used with wedi curbs. It has a 32″ width, making it ideal for tub replacements or for use with wedi Full Foam Curb to create a 36” x 60” shower. Other Riolito Shower Base options offer a mild four-way slope which guarantees a level perimeter and seamless floor level entry installations into subfloors. Visit for the complete line of factory-integrated linear drain shower designs.


Crossville launches Reclamation

reclamationCrossville launches Reclamation, the brand’s first digitally-produced porcelain tile collection. The look is inspired by urban renewal and reclaimed materials – the essence of “industrial chic” from aesthetics to textures, blending modern style with a hint of nostalgia for versatile applications in residential and commercial settings. It’s available in four colors derived from the evolution of industry in America, with 16 different facings that interpret the look of wood, metal and concrete with a contemporary twist. Available in 12”x24” and 24”x24” field tiles, along with a 6”x24” graffiti-inspired etching accent and a 4”x24” bullnose.

Coverings ETC introduces Topaz Blue

Coverings ETC introduces Topaz Blue, the latest color in its Bio-Glass collection – and it’s made from 100% upcycled bottles taken from recycling centers, with no added colorants, epoxies or resins. Topaz Blue joins five other sustainable colors including White Diamond, Oriental Jade, Fossil Amber, Malachite, and Emerald Forest. Red Dot Design award winner Bio-Glass is stain proof and scratch resistant, making it ideal for kitchen counter-tops, backsplashes, vanities, and wall coverings. It is available in sheet sizes measuring 110″ x 49″ x 3/4″ thick. Bio-Glass is durable as granite and, being closed surface, is easily maintained.

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American Marazzi Tile introduces Perseo

American Marazzi Tile introduces Perseo, which interprets classic marble with sumptuous color movements accented by natural veining, created by advanced digital print technology in a porcelain tile. Each of the five colors in the collection corresponds to a particular type of genuine marble from ancient buildings, available in 24″ x 24″ rectified formats. Perseo offers 45% recycled content, no VOC emissions, and low lifecycle costs.



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