Tailoring apprenticeship programs to suit your company

Becky Serbin,
Training and Education Coordinator

If you attended Coverings this year, you may have noticed a common theme was the desire/need for education. So it should come as no surprise that I get a chance to talk with a lot of new members about education and training opportunities available through NTCA.

Obviously, my first discussion item is NTCA University. The follow up question I often get is: “How can I use it in my company?” So, I wanted to take some time to review what other members are already doing so that you can use this information to help develop a program that is best for your company.


DOL-approved programs

The first thing that most contractors need to decide is if they want a Department of Labor (DOL) approved apprenticeship program. Even though NTCA University can be used as related content for an apprenticeship program, currently, the NTCA is not an actual DOL program provider. This means that if your company benefits from an approved apprenticeship program such as prevailing-wage projects, utilizing your state’s workforce commission to assist in finding workers or potentially utilizing a pre-apprenticeship program, or applying for and utilizing grant money to offset training costs, then you will need to work with your state DOL to apply for and register your training program.

Pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs

Currently, we have members who are utilizing pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs. Members who have a pre-apprenticeship program work with local technical schools or workforce commissions to educate potential new hires. At the end of the program, contractor members offer apprenticeship programs within their companies to students they want to hire. Other members hire new employees directly into their apprenticeship program. We even have members in one region coming together to build a regional apprenticeship program and sharing the cost and training of the apprentices (See this month’s Training & Education story for details).

If you don’t think your company would benefit from a DOL-approved program, then you can always use NTCA University to supplement on-the-job learning. Let’s face it, once you are on the job for awhile, it’s easy to develop bad habits that shouldn’t be passed on to a new hire. These courses were developed referencing industry standards and best practices and may be taken by individual employees during or outside of the work day. This means that you can view courses in a group setting and discuss what was learned, or you can allow the individual to take courses and then follow up later to discuss what was learned.

Remember there isn’t just one way to train your staff or one program to employ. NTCA University was designed so that you can create a program that best fits your company’s needs.

Do you already have a training program in place? Please email me at [email protected] or call me at 770-366-2566 and let me know what you are doing. Members are always looking for new and/or different ideas they may be able to incorporate into their company. Remember this is an association for the contractor, and developing the next generation of tile setters is important to all of us.

Remembering Warren David Nichols

October 9, 1931 – May 20, 2018

Warren David Nichols, age 86, passed away on Sunday, May 20, 2018. He was the beloved grandfather of NTCA Five Star Contractor Bradford Denny, Nichols Tile & Terrazzo Co, Inc., of Joelton, Tenn.

David served his country in the U.S. Army during the Korean War and received a Purple Heart due to being wounded in combat. After his honorable discharge from the Army, he began working for the Art Mosaic Tile Company and became a union member in 1955.

The demands of his job kept him away from home, which is why after he married Juanita Ann Crockett Nichols in 1961 and became a father to her son Billy Jr., he was driven to begin working toward starting his own business. In 1973, after many years of hard work and planning, he proudly opened Nichols Tile & Terrazzo Co. Inc., and his company is currently in its 45th year of operation.

Some of David’s more prominent interests and hobbies included his membership in the Korean War Veterans Association, membership of Masonic Lodge #409, his involvement with the Al Menah Shrine, and his membership at First Baptist Church Joelton. He also enjoyed hunting, fishing, racing go-carts, and playing music with friends. One group that he played with, The Cumberland River Band, played for over eight years at various retirement centers. His love for music went beyond playing and into becoming an amateur machinist so that he could build his own steel guitars.

He was preceded in death by his wife of 56 years, Juanita Ann Crockett Nichols; parents, Lonnie Jackson Nichols, Sr. and Marjorie Parker Nichols; and brothers Jack Harding Nichols, Charles Edward Nichols, and Lonnie Jackson Nichols, Jr.

Survivors include; stepson Billy Collier (Janet) Denny, Jr.; grandson Brad (Nicole) Denny; granddaughter Amber (Noah) Hunter; great grandchildren McKenzie Hunter, Austin Hunter, Abigail Denny, Aiden Hunter, and Daniel Denny; sister-in-law Helen (James) Payne; nephews Nick, Mark, and Dennis Nichols; nieces Lori Davies, Dawn Wood, and Jennifer Hollandsworth; and cousins Robert “Stretch” Hester, Susanne McIntosh, Debbie Smith, Bobbye June Noland, and Donna Love; and many beloved nieces and nephews from his wife’s family.

A Masonic Service took place on Wednesday, May 23rd, followed by a Memorial Service with Bro. David Royalty officiating. Interment followed at Joelton Hills Memory Gardens.

Active Pallbearers were Brad Denny, Noah Hunter, Austin Hunter, Dennis Bobel, Malcolm Arrington, Nick Nichols, and Dennis Nichols. Honorary Pallbearers were the employees of Nichols Tile & Terrazzo Co., Inc., Paul Arrington, Robert “Stretch” Hester, Thomas Cobble, Glen Perry, Jim Milliken, and the members of the Senior Adult Mens Sunday School Class at First Baptist Church Joelton.

In lieu of flowers donations can be made to First Baptist Church Joelton Children’s Playground Renovations. Visit http://fbcjoelton.org/let-the-children-come/forinformation.

Enter.Net Web Services

Want to have a web presence but not sure where to start? A new NTCA member benefit, family-owned Enter.Net, based in Allentown, Pa., specializes in state-of-the-art web design, SEO (search engine optimization) and social media. Enter.Net was voted “Best Web Design Company” for 13 years in a row by McCall’s Reader’s Choice. They design and host over 1,000 websites and are currently running a 40% discount off all business web services for NTCA members.

Choose from these services

Web Design – Enter.Net ensures that your web presence looks amazing and is responsive on ANY platform – computer, tablet, and phone and merges platforms to bring the work you do on social media to a company-specific and branded “home” on the web.

Search Engine Optimization – Be found easily by prospective customers, stay ahead of your competition, and get top rankings on Google, Yahoo and Bing with monthly ranking reports – all at an affordable price.

Social Media Marketing Strategies – Use social media efficiently and effectively with Enter.Net’s expert marketing strategies and tools that allow you to reach all your audiences with one click.

Custom Marketing Media Packages –Integrate your presence and your message starting with your logo, moving to print pieces, email blasts, custom video products and billboard and ad design. Everything you need to keep your company in front of potential customers.

Find out more at http://www2.enter.net. Not yet a NTCA member? Contact Jim Olson at
[email protected] for information about membership.

TOTAL SOLUTIONS PLUS Grapevine, Texas

Empowerment, education and enjoyment mark all-industry conference

By Lesley Goddin

The Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center provides the industry hub for Total Solutions Plus (TSP) October 27-30 in Grapevine, Texas. The NTCA, TCNA, CTDA and TCAA have conceived of this annual conference as a way to bring the ceramic tile industry together to network and learn from each other. Among the program features are a live Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT) demo planned and presented by NTCA and TCAA, top-notch speakers, networking opportunities, three-hour tabletop event and awards dinner.

All of this takes place in a setting that looks out on beautiful Lake Grapevine, and 4.5 acres of lush indoor gardens and riverwalk. Meet new acquaintances and old friends at one of the hotel’s 10 restaurants, bars and cafes, serving everything from succulent steaks and seafood to traditional Mexican and Italian or hop on over to Glass Cactus Nightclub for live entertainment. Follow the link for venue information: https://bit.ly/1kPKr7Q.

Keynotes

Roger Staubach

After the opening reception Sunday night from 6-8 pm, the conference kicks off Monday morning with an opening keynote from none other than Heisman trophy winner Roger Staubach, who led the Dallas Cowboys to four Super Bowl victories and earned himself a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He also excelled in commercial real estate, forming The Staubach Company in 1977, expanding over the years to 1,600 employees and more than 3,000 clients and merging his company with Jones Lang LaSalle in 2008. Read more about him here: https://bit.ly/2JJCsuQ

The closing keynote on Tuesday morning is J.P. Pawliw-Fry, who addresses

J.P. Pawliw-Fry

emotional intelligence and performing under pressure with a combination of research and storytelling. One of the highest-rated lecturers at the prestigious Kellogg School of Management’s Executive Education Program, J.P. now acts as an advisor to numerous Fortune 100 companies, including long-term relationships with Johnson and Johnson, PWC, GoldmanSachs, HSBC as well as Olympic medal winning athletes. J.P.’s training includes Harvard Medical School’s Mind/Body Medical Institute. Every year, J.P. speaks with individuals and leaders on over five continents, helping them to improve their overall performance. He is an expert in performing wonderfully under pressure and is one of the world’s most highly sought-after keynote speakers on the topic. Read more about him and his keynote talk here: https://bit.ly/2t4leBx.

Sandy Smith

Breakout opportunities
Tabletops and networking

A collection of stellar speakers and industry experts will lead the breakouts Monday and Tuesday, including Jim Pincer, Sandy Smith, Martin Brookes, Jim Whitfield, Irene Williams and Jack Shaw. Visit https://bit.ly/2HJZfF3 for speaker bios and details.

Contractor breakouts over the two days include ACT and You, Exterior Challenges and Growth Opportunities, Anatomy of a Project – Parts 1 & 2; The Real World Impact of the OSHA Silica Rule, Tools of the Trade for Complying with the OSHA Silica Rule, and Best Practices in Workforce Development.

Irene Williams

Distributor breakouts over the two days include Winning in Today’s Disruptive Sales Reality, Recruiting and Retaining Peak Performers, Distributor Forum, Practical, Tactical Tips to Grow your Biz Through Social Media, How to Survive in an Internet World and Small Business Management. At end of day Tuesday, there is a Joint Panel: The State of the Industry: Industry Discussion and Strategic Planning for the future.

Monday night there’s ample time to visit suppliers and network with other attendees at the Tabletop Exhibits and Reception from 4:30 to 7:30 pm. And Tuesday night wraps up with a Closing Reception and Industry Awards Gala Dinner and Dance.

For a complete schedule with dates and times, visit https://bit.ly/2JIBf76.

Meetings, yoga, off-site activities

The two-day program is peppered with networking breaks to facilitate making new connections and renewing old ones. There are also some alternative activities like yoga, a session on aromatherapy, Dallas art tour and George W. Bush Museum tour.

Saturday and Sunday are reserved for Board, Business, and Committee meetings as well as CTDA CCTS Testing, with TCNA Handbook and ANSI ASC A108 Committee Meetings set for Saturday. Sunday afternoon is the traditional golf tournament and Sixth Floor Museum and Visit to JFK Memorial Tour, Elm Fork Skeet Shooting, Fort Worth Stockyards Tour and Grapevine Winery Tour. For details and prices on activities, visit https://bit.ly/2JBex50.

Make plans to attend this educational, empowering all-industry event! Register here: https://bit.ly/2LMdyLV.

Large-Format Tile – July 2018

University of Missouri student dining facility uses tile to define unique dining venues

More than 42,000 sq. ft. of tile – including large-format – were used at The Restaurants at Southwest

The Restaurants at Southwest, University of Missouri’s (Mizzou or MU) newest dining facility, features a collection of distinct dining venues, each with its own character, arranged to create a variety of dining experiences. From the soaring, two-story space of the Legacy Grille to the old-world charm of the pasta venue Olive & Oil, the new 600-seat dining center serves as the social hub of the Southwest Neighborhood and can accommodate 2,500-3,000 students living in the nearby residence halls and fraternity and sorority houses.

The finish materials selected by the designers on the project – KWK Architects and associate architect Lawrence Group – reinforce the concept menu and character for each venue, and tile was the first choice for the flooring and walls surfaces. 

“Tile provided a wide range of design possibilities, durability and ease of maintenance unmatched by other materials. Tile also contributed to the sustainable goals of the project, which is anticipated to achieve a LEED Silver certification,” said Sara Koester, AIA, Principal at KWK Architects. 

More than 42,000 sq. ft. of tile costing an estimated $200,000 were installed at The Restaurants at Southwest, said Project Manager Derek Kutz of tile contractor Richardet Floor Covering, Perryville, Mo. A team of up to 12 installers had just 10 weeks to complete the intricate tile project, which included 20,000 sq. ft. of floor tile; 22,000 sq. ft. of wall tile; 20 different styles of Schluter metal edging; 48 different tile styles; 620 50-lb. bags of mortar; 268 units of epoxy grout and 100 units of grout. The main tile manufacturers used on the project included: Crossville, American Olean, Marazzi USA and Daltile. Floor tile formats included 6” x 6”, 12” x 12”, 12” x 24”, 6” x 24”, 24” x 24” and 6” x 36”.

“This was by far one of the most tedious tile jobs, with the most tile patterns and selections, that we have ever worked on,” said Kutz. “We were able to stay on top of the tile design details by having one worker behind the blueprint and one on the wall at all times.”

Legacy Grille

The main venue of the dining facility is the Legacy Grille, which is designed to celebrate the rich heritage of MU sports and is filled with historic photographs in large wall murals, accented with the patterns and colors of the school’s mascot, the tiger. Unglazed ceramic mosaic tile in a multicolored, custom tiger-striped pattern is used on the venue fronts and soffit. 

Small-size tile (1” x 1”) worked well for creating the curved shapes of the tiger stripes, one of the more challenging tile jobs on the project. Tile installers spent 10-12 hours cutting the 1’ x 2’ tile sheets into the desired pattern. The complex pattern was laid out on the floor and approved by the architect prior to being pieced together on the wall during installation. 

 

Tiger Avenue Deli

The Tiger Avenue Deli has an urban feel and features hot deli sandwiches fresh off the grill. Bright orange tiles pop across the back wall to animate the venue and add to the “sizzle” feel. 

1+5+3

The soup-and-salad venue, 1+5+3, features dark brown subway tile on the back wall as a contrast to the bamboo wood venue front, and a shocking lime green glass tile accent band across the front signals that this is the “fresh and healthy venue.”

1839 Kitchen

The home-cooking station, 1839 Kitchen, has a traditional look with raised wood cabinets, copper accents and “marble” counters. A two-colored, two-sized tile pattern was used to animate the back wall and add to the residential character. 

 

Olive & Oil

Olive & Oil, a Mediterranean and pasta concept, features hand-painted, decorative tiles and painted plaster walls for an “old-world” feel. 

Truffles

The dessert venue, Truffles, has a rich palette of glass tiles in golds and purples and chocolate- and caramel-colored walls and ceilings. 

Tile was used for the flooring
material throughout the dining areas in multi-colored, multi-sized patterns, with each seating area having its own, well-defined pattern and circulation area. Tile offered the durability needed for this type of facility, as well as the ease of maintenance. 

Porcelain tile with the appeal of concrete and cut stone was used in all seating areas except Olive & Oil, where wood-look tile was used to add warmth to the space. Quarry tile was used for the rest of the venues’ flooring and food production kitchens.

Tile contributed to several of the sustainability goals on the project as well, as many of the tiles were made from recycled materials and green-squared certified.

Kutz said one of the greatest challenges on the project was meeting the tight deadline and coordinating the tile installation around the subcontractors working in the same spaces. Open communications and scheduling among all subcontractors were the key to keeping the project on track, said Kutz. The tile installers worked a minimum of 12 hours a day, and a couple of Saturdays, to complete the project on schedule. 

Member Spotlight – July 2018 – Stoneman Construction LLC

 

Stoneman Construction LLC 
Portland, Oregon

www.stonemanconstructionllc.com

 

Jason McDaniel, owner of Stoneman Construction, LLC in Portland, Ore., was recently recognized as an emerging young leader in the tile industry by his inclusion in the Coverings Rock Star Awards. Here, in his own words, he tells the story of his company and his passion for the industry. – Ed.


I am a custom residential tile contractor, with a background in granite and quartz fabrication. I love creating beautiful spaces that I know will stand the test of time and be something my customers will love.

I started setting tile 11 years ago to keep busy when I didn’t have kitchen countertops to install. Eleven years later I have found that my fabrication ability makes being creative with tile fun and easy. Stoneman Construction is known for templating backsplashes, floors and walls, making it easier to lay out and install complicated projects. We have done many projects incorporating scribe work into the design and we also specialize in self-leveling underlayments. 

My brother, Shawn McDaniel, was a painting contractor for 20 years and came to work with me two years ago. He has become extremely efficient at shower prep and applying liquid anti-fracture membranes. Coming from a trade that required a high level of cleanliness and detail made it a seamless transition for him. I feel very fortunate to have such qualified people working with me on a daily basis. Jeremy Bickett, CTI #1353, moved to Portland a year ago and now works full time with us. His background in self-leveling underlayments (SLU) has made it possible for us to fix and level almost any floor in our market, setting us apart from the competition. Together with Jeremy, Shawn and myself, Robert Brazington rounds out the crew. 

I am a two-year member of the NTCA and a NTCA State Ambassador. Years back, when I started setting tile, I was taught incorrect ways of doing things and had no knowledge of any associations or certification programs in the industry. Since I discovered these organizations existed I have done everything I can to get involved. 

Through the NTCA I discovered the Certified Tile Installer (CTI) program, a certification exam administered by the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF). Being a Certified Tile Installer and a NTCA State Ambassador has given me credentials I didn’t have previously. I am taken much more seriously in meetings with architects, general contractors and homeowners, and the amount of knowledge I have gained gives me more value when bidding projects. Being able to answer a wide variety of questions in regards to my profession gives the end user confidence in our company.

In our company of four, three of us – Jeremy, Robert Brazington and myself – are Certified Tile Installers. My brother Shawn aims to take the exam when he is ready. 

The CTEF Regional Evaluator Program has given my evaluator partner and one of my closest friends, Shon Parker of Hawthorne Tile, and me an opportunity to be on the front lines of training and testing installers of all ages who are new to the trade, or veterans wanting to expand their skills and knowledge. (Regional Evaluators administer the CTI exam, and their growing numbers mean that more people across the country have the opportunity to take the exam. – Ed.). In my opinion, getting more people involved and ensuring they have the proper skills going forward is the most important thing any of us can do for our industry. With the help of people like Dirk Sullivan of Hawthorne Tile, Heidi Cronin of The Cronin Company, industry representatives, and Global Tile Posse – the industry-related page I created on Facebook – we are having great success here in the Pacific Northwest.

In fact, creating the Global Tile Posse on Facebook has been a huge help to bring recognition to this amazing family of people and to the NTCA, who are out there working hard to help us as tile setters and business owners. One of the greatest joys I get from being a tile contractor is hearing from people all over the country who are positive and energized about learning and growing and sharing their experiences. In Global Tile Posse we have created a family environment where anyone can come in and talk about their experiences and growing pains in this industry. 

The other great joy I get is creating art. The people in the tile industry are getting more and more requests to create really beautiful and unique spaces for our customers. Being able to help design and execute a truly artistic space is very satisfying. 

Some of the excellent craftsmanship from Stoneman Construction LLC:

Tech Talk – July 2018

Ideal underlayment and tile setting strategies

Tom Plaskota,
TEC® Technical Support Manager

Every month, NTCA offers free online webinars on a range of topics. Industry experts share their wisdom during these one-hour events that can be watched on a computer, phone, tablet or in a conference room with staff and crew. If you miss a webinar, NTCA archives them for watching at your convenience. Visit www.tile-assn.com and click the Education & Certification tab for news on upcoming talks and archived presentations. 

This month, we revisit the March 20, 2018 webinar entitled “Ideal Underlayments and Tile Setting Strategies,” presented by Tom Plaskota, technical support manager for TEC/H.B. Fuller Construction Products – and provide an overview. For the complete webinar, follow the directions above. 

Plaskota addressed several main topics in his talk. For this article, we will focus on the first two topics: 

  • What are self-leveling underlayments and how do they work?
  • Benefits of self leveling underlayments.

What are self-leveling underlayments and how do they work?

ASTM F2873 provides a definition of self-leveling underlayments (SLUs) that hinges on four key concepts:

  • They are poured and flowable mortars
  • They are composed primarily of hydraulic cements such as Portland cement materials and calcium aluminate. These compounds continue to harden under water.
  • They may require a primer to enhance bond strength and reduce development of pin holes.
  • They are designed and intended to provide a flat, smooth surface for the finished floor covering – ceramic tile or natural stone. 

Self-leveling underlayments achieve their high-flow properties through the use of flow agents that produce a pancake-batter-like consistency. They are also formulated to be non-shrinking and non-cracking. Unlike a thin-set mortar, SLUs are commonly set in thicknesses of up to 1/2” to 2”and are formulated to not shrink or crack at that thickness. Components like calcium aluminate allow the SLU to cure quickly, so that in many cases, the underlayment will support foot traffic and allow for tile setting in a matter of hours. 

Benefits of self-leveling underlayments

Plaskota approached the subject of SLU benefits by addressing common questions and objections about self-levelers – and the reality of the benefits they bring.

Self levelers aren’t necessary for tile installations

Reality: You need self-levelers for successful tile installations to ensure that the substrate is flat. They help expedite tile installations and save installers from having to make subfloor adjustments, while improving subfloor quality that reduces lippage and cracked or damaged tile. In addition, SLUs help you more easily and quickly achieve the tighter flatness requirements for today’s popular large-format tile, with in-demand tight grout joints: 1/4” in 10’ and 1/16” in 12” for tiles with all edges shorter than 15” and 1/8” in 10’ and 1/16” in 24’ for tiles with at least one edge measuring 15”. Gauged porcelain tile panels that measure as large as 3’ x 10’ or even 5’ x 10’ are not forgiving when it comes to subfloor flatness and so require the use of SLUs. 

I only need SLU for resilient/sheet vinyl – imperfections in substrate aren’t as ‘visible’ with tile.

Reality: The use of bonding mortar to level, flatten or fill substrates does not conform to tile industry standards. Some tile setters mistakenly believe they can “fill” substrates with thin-set or “medium-bed” (now known as large-and-heavy-tile-mortar) mortar. But these products were not made for leveling substrate. Instead, they are designed to accommodate the features of the tile, such as preventing a large, heavy tile from slumping into the mortar. They also address allowable warpage, which is greater in a larger tile, so there’s a need for a bit thicker mortar under the tile to accommodate the irregularity in the tile. Even setting small tiles on an uneven substrate can result in hazardous and unsightly lippage and callbacks. 

Self-leveling runs up extra charges. 

Reality: NOT installing a self leveling underlayment may result in costly call backs. You are going to have to smooth or level your floors. SLU is a great, efficient way of doing that to reduce callbacks. 

Self-levelers are time-consuming to apply; slows down the whole project schedule 

Reality: Efficiencies in installation methods and fast-setting underlayments allow for same-day tile installations. These are not your grandfather’s SLUs – they’ve come a long way and feature enhancements, and advanced technology primers that may eliminate the need for shot blasting over clean concrete, regardless of porosity. They may even go over some types of coatings such as curing compounds, high-performance topical coating like epoxies or cutback residue. In this case, the primer/SLU combo is a great time and money saver. Be sure to consult the SLU manufacturer and confirm the application. In addition, tools and equipment such as rakes, buckets or bucket carts that can be managed by one person can help expedite SLU application. 

Again for details of this talk, click the webinar link under the Education & Certification tab on tile-assn.com. This link also announces upcoming webinars and houses the archives of talks from the last few years.

Inventive Oregon contractors form co-op apprenticeship program

Program kicks off September 2018

By Lesley Goddin

Creativity is afoot when it comes to training the next generation to enter the tile trade. Oregon tile contractors and NTCA members (and some soon-to-be-members) are partnering in a unique co-op concept that provides monthly training for apprentices and different levels of involvement for co-op members. Participants in the co-op – named the Oregon-Columbia Tile Trades Training Trust – are
Hawthorne Tile, Davis Solutions, Stoneman Construction LLC, Campbell’s Custom Tile, Prestige Tile & Stone, Inc., Level Plane Tile & Stone, Columbia River Tile, Classique Floors & Tile, Sustainable Interiors, Designer Floors & Interiors, LLC and AHMS, Inc.

The concept developed when project manager Shon Parker and owner/project manager Dirk Sullivan from NTCA Five Star Contractor Hawthorne Tile in Portland, Ore., started brainstorming about how to get more qualified help in the field. Parker took the lead in conceptualizing an affordable apprenticeship program with industry buy-in and called fellow Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee (JATC) members to participate. An education co-op model was formed, with those members who are able to help or participate with training paying a lower fee to belong to the co-op and those who cannot paying a higher fee. 

Participation might mean helping to build training modules or doing set up with classes. “There are those who could pitch in – in some way – and those who are more commercially oriented, and whose office staff can’t do that, but who are willing to pay at a higher rate to have their people trained,” Parker said.

Classroom and hands-on components

The co-op has a NTCA tie-in: each co-op member must be a NTCA member in order to gain access to the online apprenticeship courses through NTCA University, which will form the backbone of the classroom part of the program. And one Friday a month, student apprentices will receive live training from different manufacturer reps about TCNA methods, and specific product knowledge. “[Manufacturer reps] will teach a method and the products that fit inside those methods will get the manufacturer involved,” Parker said. “It will also serve to introduce students to reps, build relationships, and help reinforce good methods and best practices.” He explained that every manufacturer who wants to be involved will have a balanced presence within the program, without any one manufacturer dominating. So far, ARDEX, Daltile, LATICRETE, MAPEI, and Schluter are on board. 

The hands-on portion of the training will take place at The Cronin Company, headquartered in Portland. “Heidi Cronin is allowing us to use a classroom and space in the warehouse for hands-on mockups,” Parker said. Plus, an arrangement between The Cronin Company and Daltile will allow students to buy hand tools at cost while in the program. Students will also be responsible for building the modules – “thin bed, mortar bed, epoxy installations, depending on what we are teaching,” Parker explained.

The schedule

The program will start in 2018. “We currently have state approval for the program, and we will be updating the new classes to reflect current methods and products from some of the methods we’d used from the 2003 NTCA curriculum,” Parker said. Examples of changes include dropping the hands-on demo for mastic over wood assembly to including updated methods, such as an uncoupling assembly, he added. “This will need to be addressed and approved at the state Apprenticeship Board,” he said, suggesting folks call him with questions at 503-708-1737.

Students are recruited via outreach ongoing at job fairs, high schools and Women in Construction. To date 17 students – including a couple of women – have signed up for the program. 

Once a candidate has been found, co-op members aka “Training Agents” are asked if they are interested in bringing them into the program, with the intent of creating a labor pool. Each student apprentice must be employed by a Training Agent. The program is administered by the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). 

Parker explained how apprentice candidates are culled at Hawthorne Tile: “We may have a worker employed at entry level as a driver,” he said. “If they show aptitude, we give them opportunity to join the apprenticeship program. It’s a stepping stool on our team to get there.”

The program is completely free to the student apprentice, funded by a monthly fee per student paid by the Training Agent co-op members. 

As previously noted, the program is based on the NTCA year one apprentice classes, and will utilize years 2 and 3 as they are completed. “By the end of year three , we should have all the bugs worked out.”

Though Parker calls this venture “uncharted waters,” he added that, “It makes sense up here – being part of a community. Dirk has done a great job as State Ambassador and Regional Director getting people excited about this, and Jason [McDaniel of Stoneman Construction LLC] and I are regional evaluators, so we can get people excited.” Hawthorne Tile’s office manager Lara Walker and project manager Ryan Willoughby have been “incredibly helpful” as well, Dirk Sullivan added. 

And Parker praised the industry for its support, saying, “Our industry is so willing to invest money in education.” 

Becky Serbin, NTCA Training and Education Coordinator, added, “It’s great to see tile contractors in a region coming together to develop a co-op training program to help grow the tile industry. I look forward to working with them through NTCA University. I hope that NTCA members are able to take this concept and repeat it in other areas of the country to help start training the next generation of tile setters.”

Is your life out of balance?

By Steve Rausch, industry consultant

Sometimes you just feel whacked out, or more likely, whack! It could be the lack of proper balance in your life. Just as a pilot must ensure the airplane is balanced properly before flying, we must do the same thing with our lives. If your life is out of balance you’re most likely headed for trouble. Here are several suggestions for your consideration.

  • When was the last time you exercised? Jumping to conclusions doesn’t count. Good physical health is the center of our existence; nothing else happens unless you’re physically healthy. 
  • Medicating yourself? I’m not talking about prescription medicines a doctor has prescribed, I’m talking about all that other stuff you’re shoving into your pie hole. Stuffing yourself with unhealthy foods, drinks, smokes, drugs – or just going shopping spending money you don’t have, on junk you don’t need – are all a signal of lack of balance in your life. Plan to improve your habits starting today. 
  • Do you have squirrel brain? Can’t seem to focus on what’s happening in front of you because you’re checking your cell phone again (for the 50th time this morning), or checking emails constantly? Do you obsessively tap your finger or foot? Is your leg bouncing up and down right now? Do your friends or spouse accuse you of not paying attention when they talk? These are all signs of excessive and unhealthy stress in your life. 
  • Dude, are you alive? Do you leave folks hanging without replying to messages or phone calls? Is your inbox or voice mail so full they aren’t accepting new messages? Are you returning your phone calls within a reasonable time? It’s just plain rude and disrespectful to not respond to messages and/or do what you promise, so that’s another wacky action. Continue this and you’ll quickly discover just how un-needed you really are. 
  • When was your last vacation or time off? Burn-out is one of the worst indications of a life out of balance, and worst of all, it is TOTALLY preventable. Just take a weekend off, that will help. You may find this hard to believe, but the world functions without you. Take some time off and relax. See new things and discover new adventures out there. 
  • Do you have a “short fuse?” A sure sign of lack of balance is when you respond instantly to any unwanted remark or happening. When there are only milliseconds between actions and reactions, you are way too stressed. People will start to avoid you like a landmine. 
  • Have you been called “SNARKY?” Hint: This isn’t a good thing! Are you always resentful or sarcastic? Both are signs of being way overstressed to the point of heart attack time. 

Do you recognize any of these signs in your life? Admit it! If you believe you’re not this way then ask your spouse, children, or close friends. They’ll certainly recognize these actions. Then take positive steps to change your actions, TODAY! Your life and your sanity – and likely the sanity of those around you – are at stake.

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Steve Rausch has been involved in the tile and flooring business for over 30 years and is currently an industry consultant specializing in sales, marketing, and interpreting technical issues in understandable terms. You can contact Steve at [email protected] or 404-281-2218

Dan Hecox presents to A&D students at University of Nebraska – Lincoln

NTCA Nebraska State Ambassador schools interior design students on tile failures

By Lesley Goddin

In March, NTCA State Ambassador Dan Hecox of Hecox Construction, Inc. of York, Neb., gave a class on how to avoid tile failures to 28 second-year interior design students at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.

Interior Design Professor Stacy Spale, IIDA, LEED AP, EDAC, NCIDQ Certificate No. 28851, asked Hecox to present to the IDES 200 Programs, Standards, and Codes class “so our students could better identify standards of installation,” she said. “These students will enter various professions within the design industry, and they should be able to feel comfortable on a job site, or managing a project, and at least having a base knowledge of trade vocabulary.”

Spale believes that it’s a vital skill for interior designers to learn to collaborate with trade contractors. “Early in my career, I drew casework sections the way I’d been taught and never really thought much about it,” she explained. “Then I spent some time learning about custom casework and realized that had I called a fabricator before I drew my custom projects, I could have saved time, money, materials, etc. 

“The jobs where I could collaborate and communicate my design intent – and work alongside the people doing the work always turned out better,” she added. “This seems like generic advice, so I like to show students with real stories so the learning is more applicable.” 

Adapting professional material to college classwork

Hecox adapted the “Tile Failures – Could it Be Me?” presentation normally given by the NTCA and CTEF workshop presenters to the needs of the design students, which was a challenge in itself. 

“It’s one thing to talk to people in the trade and quite another thing to talk with up-and-coming designers,” Hecox said. To not lose students with highly technical details that would have more meaning to professional tile setters, he covered some areas briefly and “brought along a lot of visuals for them to see and touch,” he explained. “I also had some demonstrations for them…I tried to think about where they are in their education and what kinds of things would be important to them in their careers as designers.” 

Dan gave them real-world useful information to use once they graduate. “I really tried to explain to them as designers, that they can spec certain things – like qualified labor, Certified Installers, and material that falls within ANSI specs,” he said. “They should know the work schedules and when things like floor prep will take place and when tile setting will start – and they should be there on the job site to inspect the floor prep and tile install.” Hecox emphasized that they should also ask questions of those involved about what they are doing.

Presentation gets thumbs up from students

Based on the responses from the students, the class was a smashing success.

“I found the tile talk extremely interesting,” said student Sydney Carl. “I feel like it’s extremely important to learn at least a little bit about how to install materials that we would be picking. I think as interior designers we should be educated on the installation of products and not just the application. I learned a lot about mortar and the correct way to lay tile (which from watching HGTV, I was very misled). I definitely feel more knowledgeable now and I have confidence that I could have an educated tile talk with a contractor.”

Keleigh Ketelhut admired Hecox’s passion about his trade – and professionalism. “What came as the largest shock to me was that people have people pay them big money for jobs they do completely wrong but still call themselves a professional,” she said. Excited to hear “Omaha is the first city in the nation to require a tile licensure before one can call themselves a professional,” she added, “This has shown me the importance of being a part of the project even after you’ve handed over the specs, construction documents and the overall design. Not only to check up on the lazy people but I think it is also cool to see things in progress and this thing you once had envisioned come to life.”

Lindsay Meyer enjoyed learning from Hecox’s experience and considers it “easiest for us to understand what not to do (and why) by seeing bad examples. Dan did a great job sharing with us, and I learned a lot from him.” These insights include learning about different types of underlayment and backer board, being able to touch the samples to better illustrate the lessons, and ensuring that both GC and tile contractor are reliable, often by working with certified tile setters. 

“Another thing I learned is that it is important for me, as the designer, to show up on the job often to double check the installation process, and if something is awry, to speak with the general contractor about my concerns. I also learned that if there is lippage in a wall application of tile, not having light fixtures wash the wall directly can help hide that. Especially with larger format tiles, the cupping of tiles is inevitable to some degree, so it is up to the designer to make sure it shows as little as possible.”

Truthfully, Becky Virgl wasn’t too jazzed about listening to “some guy talk about tiles all class, but I really enjoyed everything he had to say. It was really nice to learn what good tile installation actually looks like, and see what a dramatic effect it can have on the look of the tiles overall.”

Since the class, Virgl has been noticing bad tile installations in bathrooms and other public places. “I can really appreciate the value of good installation now that I know the difference,” she said, adding that when recently watching videos on Facebook, she came across a tile video in her queue. “I felt so frustrated because they were seemingly knowledgeable, but they were instructing people incorrectly – we learned, you cannot just slap mortar on all willy-nilly without giving the air a place to escape to and you cannot spot-bond tiles. I really appreciated this class because it gave me actual concrete knowledge on a subject that will be incredibly useful to me as a designer and a homeowner in the future.”

It seems from the comments of the students that Spale’s goal that the presentation “allow the students to develop a critical eye and insist that all installations are up to the standards specified,” was achieved.

The student feedback was a big help to Hecox, too. “I’d obviously never given a presentation like this to college students, so I really was unsure of how and what to present to them,” he said. “But hearing how they really enjoyed the presentation, and that now when they are out and about they are inspecting tile work that they see, shows me that what I presented them was spot on.”

Might there be an opportunity to share your knowledge with a university or high school class in your area? 

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