John Jones, who worked for Morris Tile Roanoke, Va., is retiring after 32 years of dedicated service. Jones was hired 32 years ago by Robbie and Harvey Morris to open a Morris Tile branch in Roanoke, Va. He ran this successful branch for 32 years and has retired to enjoy and explore life as a successfully retired tile man.
From left to right, David and Chris Jones honor their dad, John Jones, on his retirement after 32 years leading Morris Tile Roanake.
He started his career in the tile business 45 years ago, working for a company named Marsteller that sold tile and stone materials. He spent many years after that at Valley Tile in Roanoke. He agreed to start the branch for Morris Tile, and the rest was incredible history. As a result, his coworkers and family will always consider him to be “The Tile Man.”
Jones built a legacy of being the main contact in a large geographic area for tile, but he also left another legacy that extends Morris Tile into the next generation. In the late 80s, he employed his son, David Jones, at Morris Tile. David embraced the industry, building a successful career first with Marazzi, and now with All Tile, Inc., one of the largest flooring distributors in the country. “I have my dad to thank 100% for setting me on this path,” he said.
Now, Jones’ main legacy of running Morris Tile Roanoke is in the hands of his youngest son, Chris Jones. Chris followed in his dad’s footsteps, being hired by Robbie and Harvey Morris 10 years ago to co-manage Morris Tile Roanoke. Chris has now taken over at Morris Tile Roanoke and in Chris’s words, “to carry on his legacy”.
“Thanks, Dad, for setting us on the path to successful careers in the flooring industry,” said a statement from David and Chris. “We love you, and we learned it all from you!”
Relationships built through NTCA involvement led Willoughby to relocate to Portland to join the Hawthorne Tile team
By Ryan Willoughby, project manager, Hawthorne Tile
This is a brief story about how participation in the NTCA fostered the relationships to turn my whole life upside down, for the better.
It was February 2015, when Martin Brookes of Heritage Marble and Tile – then the NTCA Northern California Regional Director – had just returned from a Five Star Contractor presentation at Ann Sacks Tile and Stone in Portland, Ore. I was the NTCA State Ambassador at this time and had called him up to see how the presentation had gone.
Ryan Willoughby (l.) with Dirk Sullivan of Hawthorne Tile. Relationships built through NTCA involvement led Willoughby to relocate to Portland to join the Hawthorne Tile team.
Martin and I had become good friends through our participation in the NTCA. He had been a mentor to me since our companies were based in the same area, and we would typically see each other a few times a week. After hearing the skinny on the presentation, he shared about how much he had enjoyed his time in Portland with his co-Five Star presenter Dirk Sullivan of Hawthorne Tile. I told Martin that my wife, Roz, and I often toyed with the idea of moving our young family out of the Bay Area and that Portland was on our short list.
Roz and I had grown up in Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate from San Francisco, and witnessed both the escalating prices and pace of life, making it difficult on a young middle class family. I’m a first-generation tile contractor and in 2015, had been self-employed for five years. While business was good, I wasn’t so established that relocation was completely off the table. With our oldest starting kindergarten the following year we knew our window for moving couldn’t be better.
But, even with all of that, if you had asked me then if I thought I was ever going to leave I’d probably have told you no, and that all the evenings I spent scouring the internet for information on other cities’ construction markets and housing were just a lark.
Then one day the phone rang; it was Dirk. He had been speaking to Martin earlier and heard that I was considering a move. Hawthorne Tile had a great reputation and was the only Five Star Contractor in the city. As Portland grew, Hawthorne’s opportunities did as well, and Dirk was looking to add a project manager to his team. He thought that I might be a fit, since we had met briefly at Total Solutions Plus the previous year.
After a long talk with Roz, Dirk and I scheduled a week that summer for me to come work with the Hawthorne team and explore the city with my family. Roz fell in love with the city; I felt comfortable with the team. So with both fear and excitement, we made a decision. Eight months later I had closed down Willoughby Tile, put our home on the market, and we had gotten pregnant with our third. If you’re going to turn your whole world upside down you might as well give it a really good heave. So, off we went on this new adventure.
As I sit here writing this in October 2016, eight months have passed since I started working for Hawthorne and I’m just now starting to feel the whirlwinds of change subside. I’ll be honest – a new city, new job, new home, and new baby have all been wonderful, but certainly not without their share of anxiety. I’ve never vocalized it but during that first month I certainly questioned my decision since I was perpetually humbled by being “the new guy” in every facet of my life. Comically, during that period I remember thinking in one moment how lucky Hawthorne was to have me, only to be followed moments later with doubts about my own abilities. Thank goodness for me that as time passed, so did my own neurosis. Today I just want to be the best member of the team I can be.
I have to say that from day one the men and women of Hawthorne Tile have made me feel welcome and an immediate member of the family. I may be biased, but I think our project management team has to be the best around, bar none. Each one of us brings to the table a unique set of assets, and the level of support we have for one another is refreshing. This is a direct result of Dirk’s vision and the culture he is growing here. Sitting at a table with three others and a shared passion of our trade really puts us in a unique position of growth.
This vision and passion, combined with continued education and staying at the forefront of the industry through participation with the NTCA really has me excited to see where we can go. I’ve always been taught that the more I gave to something the more I received and this has absolutely been true with the NTCA.
NTCA Nebraska State Ambassador establishes local CTI testing
In January 2016, National Tile Contractor’s Association (NTCA) Nebraska State Ambassador Dan Hecox attended ARDEX Academy in Mansfield, Texas. When he arrived he found the majority of the students were from Nebraska and Iowa. “I started talking with everyone about the NTCA,” Hecox said. “That led to a discussion about holding Certified Tile Installer testing in Nebraska.” At the time, there had never been a Certified Tile Installer (CTI) testing in Nebraska.
At Sark Tile, Lincoln, Neb., are (l. to r.): Oleg Ketrar; Tyson Skinner; John Calderwood; Tim Hufman; Randy Stroud; James Chamberlain – all of Rainwood Interiors; Mark Becher (owner of Sark Tile); Dan Hecox; and Scott Carothers.
The CTI class at Sark Tile, in process.
Hecox himself was the first CTI in Nebraska. He took the CTI at Coverings in April 2016. After that, Hecox could not have succeeded without NTCA executive director Bart Bettiga and Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) director of certification and training Scott Carothers. “When I mentioned wanting to become an evaluator, Bart said that Scott had a lot on his plate and it would be good to take pressure off of him,” Hecox said. Hecox went to South Carolina and trained with Carothers to become a CTI evaluator.
Mike Sima from Midtown Tile in Papillion, Neb., took the test at Sunderland Brothers Company and said the best thing about the experience was “the information and the education…Learning is a huge part of this industry.”
“In March, the NTCA held a workshop at Daltile in Omaha with Mark Heinlein, and we officially started signing people up,” Hecox said. “Then it was just a lot of phone calls to get everyone motivated to take the test.” Nebraska’s first CTI testing saw six local installers test at Sark Tile in Lincoln, Neb., on August 19th. The second CTI testing was held at Sunderland Brothers Company on August 26th in Omaha, with five installers from Omaha and Lincoln. Mike Sima from Midtown Tile in Papillion, Neb., took the test at Sunderland Brothers Company. Sima said the best thing about the experience was “the information and the education…Learning is a huge part of this industry.”
Sark Tile, Sunderland Brothers Company, Florida Tile, Bostik, and Dan Hecox donated material for both events. LATICRETE provided refreshments for the event at Sunderland Brothers Company. Hecox extended special thanks to Bart Bettiga, Scott Carothers, Sark Tile owner Mark Becher, Sark Tile operations manager Serina Buchanan, Sunderland Brothers Company trade accounts manager Mat Pruitt, and Sunderland Brothers Company operations manager Erin Bergevin.
Manuel Eagan, and Kelly Krueger of Rainwood Interiors (owner); Brian Annoye, Jurassic Tile & Stone, Craig Harimon, Craig Harimon Tile Setters, all took the CTI test at Sunderland Brothers Company in Omaha, Neb., in August.
With nearly a million square feet of enclosed retail space, The Shops at South Town in Sandy, Utah, is one of the state’s largest malls. New owners at the shopping center have made a significant investment to renovate the property, including installation of over 100,000 sq. ft. of large-format porcelain tile in the main concourses on both levels, in all restrooms and at a newly expanded food court. CUSTOM’s Fusion Pro® Single Component® Grout was selected to provide stain protection from heavy traffic, spills and stains throughout this busy suburban mall.
“We recommend Fusion Pro grout for many different projects, but especially on a job like this,” said Russ Moore, president of Westech Tile, the Salt Lake City firm that performed the tile installations. “Fusion Pro is the best because it doesn’t stain, the color is uniform, and there is no mixing or waste.”
After grouting was completed in each area, movement joints were filled with permanently flexible CUSTOM Commercial 100% Silicone Sealant.
Fusion Pro is stain proof and color perfect, plus it’s ready to use and easy to spread and clean. Unlike typical epoxy alternatives, Fusion Pro’s patented formula will not discolor when exposed to sunlight through the atrium roof of the shopping center. Because Fusion Pro is applied and then cleaned immediately – with no need for sealing – crews grouted continuously through the night to keep retailers open for business during the remodel.
“Fusion Pro is everything that a tile guy wants in a grout,” added Moore. “This product performs – it really does what they say it does.”
Gensler’s design intent was to bring the natural forms into the interior space, adding warmth and a fluid floor pattern. Porcelain tiles are durable for high-traffic commercial use and meet the slip coefficient.
Tile with natural finishes, from different sources or even within the same lot, can present a range of coatings and textures that may affect grout installations. Contractors at South Town began the grouting process by applying Aqua Mix® Grout Release to ease cleanup over the variety of tile surface textures present on the project.
The teamwork grouting process
Grouting with Fusion Pro was completed through a teamwork process due to the size and speed of the job. With this method, one installer spreads grout across the joints, one shapes the joints with a sponge, and one cleans the tile with a microfiber towel. The installers continue moving across the area applying and cleaning the grout very efficiently. Because Fusion Pro is spread and then cleaned up in a matter of minutes, a team approach works well on any large expanse of tile or fast-track project.
South Town’s design inspiration is described as “mountain meets urban” in an area of Utah known for its outdoor lifestyle and located only minutes from world-class mountain resorts.
“We have found that is it less expensive to use Fusion Pro since the need to return and apply sealer is eliminated,” said Aaron Colledge, project manager at Westech. “This also helps to maintain accelerated construction schedules.”
South Town’s design inspiration is described as “mountain meets urban” in an area of Utah known for its outdoor lifestyle and located only minutes from world-class mountain resorts. Tile of literally every shape and size re-
creates the kind of material juxtapositions seen in nature, such as mountains, forests and bodies of water. A rugged but warm look of weathered timber and stone was achieved by utilizing multi-colored wood-look planks. The layout complements the wilderness surroundings and is right on trend. CUSTOM’s nature-inspired, 40-color grout palette offers Fusion Pro in shades to match this broad spectrum of tile.
The large-format tile chosen for the project ranged from 12” x 24” and 24” x 24” squares to 36” and 48” long planks – even 16” x 68” tile. Planks were placed in a running bond pattern with a one-third offset to help prevent lippage and achieve a flat tiled surface. Other square and rectangular tiles were installed in a modified hopscotch pattern, with planks included as
accents in some areas. Tile craftsman Jesus Villalobos created the elaborate, sweeping cuts that mimic river and rock formations.
Tile craftsman Jesus Villalobos created the elaborate, sweeping cuts that mimic river and rock formations.
Gensler chooses Stone Source, SpecCeramics and Crossville porcelain
Gensler’s interior design team composed the patterns using porcelain tile from Stone Source, SpecCeramics and Crossville. “Our design intent was to bring the natural forms into the interior space adding warmth and a fluid floor pattern,” said Sean Park, project architect with Gensler. “On the practical end, the porcelain tiles are an excellent choice as they are durable for high-traffic commercial use and meet the slip coefficient.”
All the tile on this fast-track project was set with a rapid-setting polymer-modified mortar from
Because Fusion Pro is applied and then cleaned immediately — with no need for sealing — crews grouted continuously through the night to keep retailers open for business during the remodel.
CUSTOM that allowed grouting in as little as two hours. Installers used 1/2” x 1/2” by 1/2” square notch trowels and back buttering to achieve a minimum 90% mortar coverage to the back of the tiles. Fusion Pro was applied with SuperiorBilt® ProBiltSeries™ Stone Grout Floats, which are ideal for use with textured tile. After grouting was completed in each area, movement joints were filled with permanently flexible CUSTOM Commercial 100% Silicone Sealant.
“Fusion Pro has been perfect for this project since day one,” offered Moore. “The ease of cleaning is going to be great for the owners and it should perform well for this mall for many years to come.”
With a teamwork grouting method, one installer spreads grout across the joints, one shapes the joints with a sponge and one cleans the tile with a microfiber towel.
Planks were placed in a running bond pattern with a one-third offset to help prevent lippage and achieve a flat tiled surface. Other square and rectangular tiles were installed in a modified hopscotch pattern, with planks included as accents in some areas.
“I have self-doubt. I have insecurity. I have fear of failure. I have nights when I show up at the arena and I’m like, ‘My back hurts, my feet hurt, my knees hurt. I don’t have it. I just want to chill.’ We all have self-doubt. You don’t deny it, but you also don’t capitulate to it. You embrace it.” – Kobe Bryant
Patty doesn’t just walk into a room, she takes it over. She stands tall, speaks with confidence and is always well dressed. She is friendly with everyone and remembers each person’s areas of interests and birthday. Is she actually good at her job? No one questioned it; all her colleagues assumed that she must be. Until one day she failed. Her division came in under plan for the year while all the other divisions surpassed plan in both profit and gross sales. Yet in the annual review and promotions process, Patty was one of the two people promoted. Falling forward, that’s Patty.
Do you know of someone like Patty? I worked with Patty early in my career and the lessons she taught me by example have been valuable ever since. Instead of fearing failure, she behaved as if success is hers to claim. She dove into new possibilities, took risks and came out of failure with innovative ideas on how to improve. Here are the key points that I gained from observing her on how to fall forward instead of down:
Be prepared – Patty came to work each day fully mentally and physically ready to shine. Confident, well groomed and happy to engage.
Be interested in others – you can learn from others, help them, have fun and gain a supportive network in the process.
Stretch – Say yes to the new assignment/project and then learn how to do to it. You can only improve if you take on new projects. Seek help and ask questions.
Don’t be afraid to fail – the fear of failure can hold you back from taking the risks that can advance your goals. Not trying is a recipe for guaranteed mediocrity in the long run because you can only advance if you move from where you are now. However, be aware that there is always potential for missing the mark, so prepare contingency plans in case they are needed.
Admit your mistakes – learn from them and use the insights to help you improve. The sooner you deal with what didn’t go as planned, the faster you can analyze what happened and use the new understanding to leverage the current situation to make things better.
Many people live life based on avoiding making mistakes. They are afraid of falling down, but actually you can fall forward! Patty is a great example of how you can turn seeming flops into winners. Greet each day as another opportunity to grow, improve and have fun. With a mind open to looking for possibilities for the good, you are already ahead in the game. In this autumn season, also known commonly as the fall season, dare to reach for more. You won’t fall down, you can fall forward!
Personal disclosure: I included some of the highlights of what I learned from Patty into my first book, How to Use What You’ve Got to Get What You Want. May you too gain from her shining example.
“I’ve come to believe that all my past failures and frustrations were actually laying the foundation for the understandings that have created the new level of living I now enjoy.” – Tony Robbins
One of the benefits NTCA offers is its technical staff, and seasoned know-how that can be tapped to address problems and questions. Here’s an example of the profusion of information from the NTCA technical staff for the questions of one Hawaiian homeowner. – Lesley Goddin
I am a homeowner in Hawaii looking at installing a large-format porcelain tile floor (planks are ~9” x ~47”). I have two questions.
My first question is what is the NTCA convention for pricing that tile install? Is the convention for an install price per square foot based on the actual footprint of the rooms (actual tile on floor when job is done) or does it also apply to the tile waste?
As an example:
– Lets say I have a simple 25’ x 40’ room: 1,000 sq. ft., once the tile is installed.
– Lets say I plan on 10% waste. So I purchase 1,100 sq. ft. of tile
Would your convention for the installers bid price be X dollars per sq. ft. based on the 1,000 sq. ft. or based on the 1,100 sq. ft.?
My second question is what sort of waste percent should I expect for that large-format 9” x 47” tile?
Thank you for your time and feedback.
We have three technical trainers on staff, and they are all coming off of extensive travel dates for training programs, so I am taking a shot here on this question, and they will likely provide additional or a slightly varied response.
In my experience on this subject, the labor bid for the job generally covers the 1,000 actual square footage of the room in the bid. However, if you have a 10% waste factor for materials, you would be charged for the 1,100 sq. ft. of material. My customers usually ordered about 3-5% in a straight-cut square pattern and 7-10% with a pattern design, like what you are describing below. This depended on room size and how it is laid out. I will see if they chime in with a different response but this has been my experience in the past.
– Bart Bettiga,
NTCA executive director
Bart has provided you correct information. I would add that with a plank tile such as your 9” x 47,” I may consider estimating upwards toward 12% depending on the pattern, obstacles, squareness of the room(s), etc. This is especially critical for special-order material to ensure it is all from the same manufacturing lot. Any remaining tile should be retained as “attic stock.”
There is not a standard pricing convention for labor. A contractor may base the labor rate on square footage, hourly or daily rates. A qualified contractor using Certified Tile Installers will be very familiar with the intricacies of installing large-format tile. Large tile is not necessarily faster or easier or less expensive to install. Additional substrate preparation is almost always required to ensure a quality installation based on tile industry standards.
The NTCA does have member contractors in Hawaii. Please search for them on our web site at: http://www.tile-assn.com/search/custom.asp?id=2759
To locate a Certified Tile Installer please search the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation at: https://www.ceramictilefoundation.org/find-certified-tile-installers
I hope this helps.
– Mark Heinlein – CTI #1112, NTCA trainer/presenter
In my area, most installers are paid for the amount of material they use rather than the square footage that they cover. They do have to handle, cut, and dispose of that tile and usually will include it in their invoice.
As far as percentage waste to figure, two things should be considered: the layout of the area and the pattern to be installed. One single square room usually requires very little waste, while an installation with many corridor and rooms would require more. Also a straight-lay pattern requires very little waste, while a herringbone pattern or an installation on a 45-degree would require much more. I figure somewhere between 5 and 15% waste considering all the factors just mentioned.
On a commercial project, the spec book often times calls for 5% attic stock to be left on site at completion. If that’s the case you would also want to add that on to your estimated waste amounts.
Both times I was in India, I could not get people to listen to each other. I had to literally tell people to listen to each other and tell them that they can’t get creative and find alternate solutions if they don’t listen to each other. There’s a lot of arguing and justifying. – Stephen Covey
Here I sit in my Albuquerque home office, as designer extraordinaire Michelle Chapman in our Jackson, Miss., headquarters is feverishly putting the finishing touches on our November issue, pondering my editor letter. It’s a little hard to think of anything else but the election, because tomorrow is Election Day, and by the close of day tomorrow (hopefully), we will have a new president.
Unless you have been living on another planet or under a rock (and even then!) you’ve likely been besieged ad nauseum on television, newspaper, radio, social media or via phone with information, misinformation, memes, opinions, polls and reports about the candidates. It hasn’t been pretty. And no matter who walks away a winner tomorrow, I have a sneaking suspicion that the days of “pretty” are long past us and it will be an uphill battle on The Hill either way.
The contentiousness in our country has grown to alarming proportions. So much so, I see many indications that people forget that we are all still AMERICANS , with a common goal – to live a good, prosperous, free and enjoyable life in our country. Of course, there are diverging views on how to do this, but in this election cycle instead of disagreements being merely that, people on opposing political sides have been couched as “enemies.” That’s a really sad development and does not bode well for our future if we can’t reframe and go forward as a nation with an attitude that pushes for our particular world view while not demonizing the other side.
This experience is in stark contrast to my recent experience at Total Solutions Plus (TSP), the all-industry conference held this year in Indian Wells, Calif., towards the end of October. I liken our industry to our country – an environment where people want to make a good, prosperous and enjoyable living. We have different players in our industry: manufacturers, distributors, union and open-shop contracting companies and installers; and associations and organizations which speak out for these players. Though we are all doing our part to contribute to a prosperous industry, we all come from our own point of view, and try to get the best deal for our constituencies. (Take a look at our Letters to the Editor in this issue as proof of that!)
But we hold true to a common purpose of making and distributing beautiful products that can be successfully installed, and developing products that make that installation perform better and be enduring. At TSP, there were roundtables and opportunities for people from different sectors to come together and share ideas and impact development of standards and products and methods. Is there contention? Sure. But there’s also understanding that demonizing someone or a company that has a different role in the industry than we do will serve no purpose and will not move us towards our goal. Cooperation and respect is the name of the game. And we accomplish AMAZING things by following this motto.
I wish the political powers that be in our country, including Congress, could witness one of our Total Solutions Plus conferences, as a model to how to structure its own discussions and campaigns for the variety of bills and pieces of legislation that are generated there. I am proud of what we accomplish, of how far we’ve come, and how we are moving intelligently into the future with good information and people willing to come together to work out solutions. I hope – and pray – that after tomorrow, we can reconnect with this same kind of cooperative spirit in our country and remind ourselves of our common heritage as American sisters and brothers – then move forward to work respectfully toward solutions that can continue our country’s history of greatness.
In the last month, my President’s Letter from September has generated a lot of feedback. In fact, Bart Bettiga, our executive director, has told me it has generated the most feedback he has received regarding any President’s Letter. That is great news. That particular letter was written to generate dialogue between distributors and tile contractors, and it has.
When there’s a lack of discourse, dialogue is more important than ever. Good people can disagree, but if you can discuss an issue in an intelligent manner, solutions are likely to be found. It is absolutely necessary for the entirety of our industry to be on the same page and support each other. This makes everyone more successful.
The reaction to the letter was mostly positive, but there were a few people who were not in agreement. I didn’t expect everyone to be. I have learned that if you try to please everyone, you please no one. But, as I have said in the past, I am a tile contractor first and foremost, and I will always defend the tile contractor when given the opportunity.
The reaction, emails, kind words and some not-so-kind words all tell me that people are reading the President’s Letter. That is great news! It also tells me that it is imperative for the president of the NTCA to take actual positions on matters that have an effect on tile contractors and the industry in which we are involved. Our past, present and future presidents are not potted plants – nor should we be. We have opinions, ideas, and solutions as well. Our membership and our industry profits from our association president taking on difficult issues, and taking a stand on these same issues as well.
I want to thank each and every one who shared their opinion with me, even the opinions that did not agree with me. This gives us a chance to do better and to find solutions for our tile contractor members.
James Woelfel, President NTCA
Chairman NTCA Technical Committee