NTCA Five Star Contractors: “Integrity, Professionalism, Craftsmanship”
By Lesley Goddin
When it comes to “qualified labor,” there are few contracting firms or installers more qualified than the NTCA Five Star Contractor. These contractors are the cream of the crop, adhering to a mission statement, code of ethics and number of criteria that ensure their customers that they are not only qualified contractors, but that they excel in their field.
The newly-minted Five Star Mission statement reads:
“A working group of recognized elite tile contractor professionals/experts in various market segments assembled to identify tile contractor challenges and issues, provide best practices and consensus processes to elevate the members of the group. Long term goals of group efforts include tangible benefits such as awarded projects, higher profits, recognition by peers, customers and suppliers, discounted pricing or rebates, and extended warranties. The group will be responsible for developing training initiatives for leaders and key employees of the members, establishing award recognition, and best practices in both business and in the field.”
The Five Star Contractor program is open to all contractors – residential, commercial, union, non-union, large or small.
“In my first year, 2008, the program had nine members,” said Jim Olson, NTCA assistant executive director in charge of the program. “As of July 2014, we have 38 Five Star Contractors. The program has not only grown in size, but the application process has become more stringent as we grow.”
NTCA is reviewing applications from three contractors with hopes to add them to the program in the near future, bringing the total to 41 Five Star Contractors. The program goal is to have 50 Five Star Contractors by the end of 2015.
Distinguishing between “low” or “qualified” bid
“Our industry does not have a national licensing program and the end user has a difficult time distinguishing between lowest bid and lowest qualified bid,” Olson added. “The NTCA hopes that the Five Star Contractor program is one of the vehicles that will help bring qualified labor to the masses.”
Five Star Contractors make a monetary commitment to the program and are required to complete a rigorous peer-approval process, demonstrating their commitment to training, service, quality, safety, fiscal responsibility and superior job performance. They also agree to attend two industry events, board meetings or Five Star conferences per year. Additional qualifications for applicants in 2014/15 include:
A minimum of 10% of installers must be CTEF certified (CTI – Certified Tile Installers) or have completed a three-year apprenticeship program approved by the Department of Labor upon submission of the Five Star Contractor application
Must commit to Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT) certifications within 12 months of acceptance in Five Star Program
A “Large Project” (LP) section has been added to the application for those Five Star applicants who wish to be referred for large commercial and unique projects.
Code of Ethics for NTCA Five Star Contractors
Each applicant is asked to read, sign and date the Five Star Code of Ethics before their application is accepted. The NTCA Five Star Code of Ethics is derived and adapted from the Model Code of Ethics by the American Subcontractors Association. It states:
Competition. NTCA Five Star Contractors compete fairly for contracts, avoiding any practice that might be construed to be in violation of the letter or spirit of the antitrust laws. Firms avoid any activity that could be construed as bid shopping or peddling. Firms do not knowingly violate any law or regulation governing the competitive process.
Qualifications. NTCA Five Star Contractors seek to perform contracts only for projects for which the firm has technical competence and experience. Firms do not accept contracts for which they are not qualified. Firms assign staff to projects in accordance with their qualifications and commensurate with the demands of the services to be provided under the contract.
Standards of Practice. NTCA Five Star Contractors provide materials and services in a manner consistent with the established and accepted standards of the construction industry and with the laws and regulations that govern it. Firms perform their contracts with competence, reasonable care and diligence. Firms establish prices that are commensurate with their services. They serve their customers with honesty and integrity.
Conflicts of Interest. NTCA Five Star Contractors endeavor to avoid conflicts of interest, both corporate and individual. Where a corporate conflict exists, NTCA Five Star Contractors will disclose such conflicts to their customers or prospective customers. NTCA Five Star Contractors regularly educate their staffs about personal conflicts of interest and have established a procedure for internal disclosure.
Public Safety. NTCA Five Star Contractors assure that the safety of their employees, the employees of others on the job site, and the general public are protected during the provision of their services.
Service Providers and Suppliers. NTCA Five Star Contractors treat their service providers and suppliers in an equitable manner, assuring that they are provided clear direction and prompt payment for service provided. Firms do not knowingly violate any law or regulation governing such relationships.
Employees. NTCA Five Star Contractors comply with the letter and spirit of laws relating to working conditions, equal employment opportunities, and pay practices. Firms do not knowingly violate any law or regulation dealing with public information. NTCA Five Star Contractors assure that all public statements and disclosures they make are truthful. Firms also protect the proprietary interests of their customers.
Compliance with Laws. NTCA Five Star Contractors do not knowingly violate any law or regulation.
Image of the Construction Industry. NTCA Five Star Contractors avoid actions that promote their own self-interest at the expense of the construction industry and upholds the standards of the construction industry with honor and dignity.
Internal Procedures. NTCA Five Star Contractors have established internal procedures under which their failure to conform to the above practices will be handled. Each year, the NTCA reviews this code of ethics and its internal procedures with each of its Five Star Contractors. If an employee, customer or other individual becomes aware of a circumstance in which NTCA Five Star Contractor or an employee of that firm fails to conform to the above standards, he/she should immediately report such circumstances to Jim Olson, NTCA assistant executive director.
Benefits to the industry benefits to the contractor
Being a Five Star Contractor not only benefits customers, it benefits the contractor as well, with quarterly cash rebates from Crossville and Florim (1% each) as well as MAPEI and Schluter (2% each); and product vouchers to use towards all products from Daltile, MAPEI, LATICRETE, Custom Building Products, TEC (including Grout Boost); select products from Schluter; and all products from TexRite in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma.
In addition to product discounts and benefits, Five Star Contractors have a unique ability to market their companies; network with other Five Star Contractors, receive business and technical training and be referenced in qualified labor language in the MasterSpec by ArCom.
For more information on the Five Star Contractor program, contact Jim Olson at [email protected] or phone 601-939-2071.