OCTOBER 2017: NTCA BENEFITS BOX

Partnering for Success:
Choose up to $2,000 in vouchers from four new categories

Partnering for Success (PFS) is NTCA’s highly successful voucher program, which gives back to members more than threefold the amount of their membership in setting materials and sundries used by installers every day. Manufacturer partners agree to reimburse vouchers of designated amounts of materials for new and returning members. This allows members to get a discount or free items for some of the materials they use the most, or some of the materials they’ve wanted to try, basically risk free.

This year, the PFS is making a change to four categories: Tile,
Tools/Heating Systems, Sundries and Setting Materials. With the growth of the NTCA – nearly 1,400 members strong now – it became imperative to change the selection process to give exposure to some of some of the smaller participating manufacturers in addition to the well-known and established manufacturers who have been supporting this program for many years. This led to the creation of the four-category system that will be instituted in 2018.

NTCA is aware that people aren’t really fond of change. To soften the impact of changing to a four category system, NTCA increased the dollar value from $1,800 in vouchers per member to $2,000 in vouchers per member – more than three times the value of the $600 NTCA annual membership. Every member of the NTCA can find at least $600 worth of free materials that will offset the membership cost. In addition to the vouchers program, membership dues give the NTCA the ability to continue the quest to promote qualified labor and certification, elevating the industry and the trade.

OCTOBER 2017: MEMBER SPOTLIGHT – Surfaces 15

Sponsored by

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Partnership parlays passion and change for good into benefits for business and the industry

Greg Twarog and Edwardo Martinez formed the partnership Surfaces15 (www.facebook.com/surfaces15) three years ago with the concept of creating a diverse clientele and body of completed work. The company has held true to that goal, with an average of 25 projects going at all times, varying in size and job scope. By utilizing the vast talents of its teams, Surfaces15 (S15) – located in Downers Grove, Ill. – can tackle projects ranging from small remodeling repairs like replacing sealant on an old tub back to full scale remodeling projects refinishing basements, kitchens and baths or small to medium scale commercial build outs.
The company focuses on detailed, custom jobs, but also undertakes install production type projects on occasion, never sacrificing quality. S15 utilizes CTEF Certifi ed Tile Installers (CTIs) to install stone tiles, Saltillo, stone slabs, large thin gauged porcelain panels, LVT, VCT, custom and commercial carpet, hardwood, hardwood refinishing, engineered hardwood flooring, large-scale floor prep, epoxy, and conduct moisture mitigation. The team is Nuheat pro certified, skilled in wedi waterproof shower systems, and steam
shower installations. Though leading a young, three year old company, Twarog and Martinez have over 50 years of installation experience between them. Martinez is a second-generation flooring installer, working in the commercial and residential arenas;

Greg Twarog with recently-completed residential remodel in Crete, Ill.

Twarog is a first-generation tile setter, classically taught the tile trade from laborer to journeyman and eventually business owner – all the while specializing in the custom residential market. Both men bring the experience of owning their own flooring businesses to the mix. Twarog transitioned from business owner to working for a Chicago-area distributor during the recession, eventually moving up to outside sales rep. “When Edwardo and I met, and we both realized we shared the same passion and philosophy for the industry, we decided to move towards our common goal and form Surfaces15,” Twarog said.

Both agreed to build S15 from scratch from hard work and from their own skills and contacts and networks. After a year of business they decided – as Coverings 16 Chicago approached – that they would make it a point to attend and to participate with their vendors and network as much as they could for the week.

 

This project is a private residence and contract for a remodel in Crete, Ill. A
Leveltec tuning system eliminated the chance of lippage on this job.

“We went and after a weeklong discussion we both decided to make the investment into the NTCA,” Twarog said. Why did it take a week? Why not sign up right away? After all, there are vouchers after all and many benefits to be had. “Edwardo and I don’t do anything halfway,” Twarog said. “We knew if we decided to sign up we would be all-in. All-in for us, means we would want to both be CTEF CTIs and we would also both want to be State Ambassadors so we could both be a bigger part of the tile industry in a way that would set us apart from all the rest.”
Now, just over a year later they are both CTEF CTI certified as well as many in their network of installers. “In this short time we have been involved with many of our vendors through both the NTCA and the CTEF,” Twarog said. “This has been extremely gratifying to see the positive changes in both ourselves as well as our local industry.”

 

 

 

Surfaces15 and NTCA: creating change for good

As Martinez and Twarog show up as new NTCA Illinois Ambassadors, they have shared their vision with vendors and discovered they share the same passion for the goal for change. “We asked if they would be interested in hosting NTCA events and CTI test days,” Twarog said. “They liked the idea so much, that they have made special provisions with the CTEF for eligible contractors to take CTI tests at their local stores anywhere nationally. This is not only a huge commitment to their contractors but also their clients to help assure a successful install of their products they sell.

“That has been the greatest value that the NTCA has yielded to us, being able to successfully make a positive change and impact to our industry as a whole,” Twarog
added. “When you see Mark Heinlein drive into your town in the NTCA truck you know something will be learned and good change will come from it,” Twarog said. “That’s what is most important to us, and that is what we volunteer for – the positive change and the sharing of good installation practices so fewer failures occur.

Failures are never good for our industry. They make all our jobs more difficult when we go out to sell that big project we want to work on to the Mr. and Ms. Smiths or the general contractor that we have just met. “As you will see in our installations, it does not matter if Edwardo or I install the project, or if it’s our team members from our network, Surfaces15 has a passion for what we do that shows through in our workmanship and finished product,”
Twarog said. “We are always willing to lend an ear and offer or research advice to help,” he added. “Many already know this about us and it’s something that I don’t see ever changing.”

A residential project in Lincoln Park, Chicago.

Surfaces 15 used The Tile Shop 8″ x 48″
planks, with Blanke edging and tuned with
MLT Mechanical Lippage Tuning system in this Indian Head Park, Ill., balcony.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This 32,000-sq.-ft. office buildout and warehouse space on Bradley Street in Chicago was for Power Homes. Surfaces 15 did all flooring aspects including grinding down entire building using large industrial equipment and edgers, and moisture mitigation. Tile is from Daltile, carpet tile from Mohawk and warehouse sealer coat from Sherwin
Williams.

October 2017: PRESIDENT’S LETTER Martin Howard

NTCA participates in international outreach during Cersaie in Bologna, Italy

Leaders of the National Tile Contractors Association were recently honored guests at the Cersaie Ceramic Tile Trade Fair, held annually in Bologna, Italy. Cersaie took place September 25th-29th, and is the world’s largest exhibition of ceramic tile and installation
materials. NTCA executive director Bart Bettiga, chairman of the board James Woelfel and

I attended the exhibition and collaborated with leaders of several international associations dedicated to the professional installation of ceramic tile. In addition to attending the fair and technical seminars, with an emphasis on large-format and gauged porcelain tile panels, NTCA leaders participated in an exclusive meeting with representatives of Assopossa, the Italian association dedicated to ceramic tile installation.
The emphasis on the meeting was on training and education, and promoting best business practices of tiling contractors. In addition to the board of Assopossa, leaders of the EUF, the European Federation of National Tilers Associations, also participated in the summit discussions. Topics on the agenda included different systems of certifi cations, for both installers and contracting companies’ education and training initiatives, including apprenticeship programs, keeping pace with changing and innovative technology, and safety in the workplace, especially as it relates to the creation of dust during work place operations.

An official tour of four technical partners of Assopossa was also part of the program, with official visits at Cersaie scheduled with Fila Care and Maintenance Systems, MAPEI Coporation, Raimondi Tools, and Schluter Systems.
The NTCA Board of Directors has identified international outreach as one of its main strategic objectives. The goal of this outreach is to establish dialogue and collaboration with other associations with shared interest in promoting and advancing the proper professional installation of tile and stone in the market place. We seek opportunities to learn and collaborate with these associations to continue to build consensus within the industry where advantageous. The desire is to engage the manufacturers with a broad base of support for training and education that enhances the use of tile and stone with technically sound and beautiful installations around the world. NTCA has previously developed programs and relationships with tile and installation associations in Australia, Canada and Spain. Discussions with other associations are ongoing.

Keep on tiling!
Martin Howard, president NTCA
Committee member, ANSI A108
[email protected]

OCTOBER 2017: EDITOR’S LETTER: Lesley A. Goddin

It is currently September 8, 2017 and I am wrapping up this issue and our November issue. Why so early you say? Many of you contributors and sponsors are REALLY asking this question, since I’ve been giving you fits and pressing you on deadlines.

Because on September 15, I am flying to Barcelona, and then taking a train to Leon, Spain, where I will walk 200 miles of the Camino of Santiago de Compostela, a 500-mile pilgrimage route in northwestern Spain traveled by thousands and thousands
of pilgrims for over 1,000 years – all making our way to the Cathedral of Santiago, where the remains of St. James the Great are enshrined (Never heard of it? Watch “The Way” with Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez. It’s on Amazon Prime). Carrying all
I need in a 15-lb. backpack, the next month promises to be a life-changing
experience. I’ll be back in Albuquerque October 16, just about the time you’ll be receiving this magazine – and just in time to jump into compiling our

December issue. The crunch is to be sure all the issues are ready to be designed, produced and printed before I leave. With only one week to go, honestly, it’s hard to think of anything else. I hope to see beautiful examples of tile and stone along the way and will share those with you on my return.

But I DO have to think of other things (for the next week at least), so let me draw your attention to some of the features in this issue. We have our annual Women in Tile installment in October, in which we talk with mosaicist Angie Halford, and designer/ installer Chanel Carrizosa about their journeys through the tile
industry.

We also have a couple of social media-derived stories:
Decorative Tile and Hot Topics. The Facebook tile groups are great founts of opinion and encouragement and catalogs of beautiful jobs as well as failures. I love the support and encouragement I see being offered from contractor to contractor, supplier or association to contractor, regardless of gender, race, color, creed, country of origin, or political persuasion in these groups. If you can do the job – or you are striving to do better or refine your skills – NTCA Members Only, Tile Geeks, Tile Love 2.0, Global Tile Posse, (and
possibly others I have not yet discovered) are there for encouragement, inspiration, commiseration, and sometimes some ribbing (it comes with the territory).

We also have a story about NTCA’s new Career Center, which is a fantastic resource for both those looking to fill positions and those looking for work alike. So there’s plenty of inspiring, encouraging, useful and heartfelt information for you as you journey through your days the next month. I wish you well with the pilgrim greeting I will be giving and receiving countless times before mid-October: Buen Camino! Because all of life is a journey.

God bless,
Lesley
[email protected]

CID 2016 award winner Matthew Felton seriously injured in Milwaukee explosion

 

Matt Felton wins an Honorable Mention, Residential Stone Design in the 2016 CID competition.

Matthew’s Works is a tiling service and interior design studio in Bayview, Wis. It’s run by Matthew Felton, who in addition to his gift for tile design and installation, is an outdoorsman, hiker, biker, volleyball player, active in camping and kayaking, and papa to two beloved dogs, Bear and Sheba. He’s also an active member of St. Lucas Lutheran Church in Bayview/Milwaukee – and a cherished member of the online Facebook groups, Tile Geeks, Global Tile Posse and Tile Misfits.
In 2016, Matthewsworks LLC received an Honorable Mention, Residential Stone Design for a Milwaukee custom high-end lighted onyx mosaic masterbath project – a combination he specializes in – combining beautiful stone with interior illumination. He’s a frequent presence at industry events, especially Coverings, where he also entered the TileLetter Awards in 2008 with his Toman Dolphin Fibonacci project.

This custom high-end onyx mosaic was the winning entry.

Felton entered this Toman Dolphin Fibonacci in the 2008 TileLetter Awards at Coverings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then on the fateful afternoon of Tuesday, July 18th – just two days before his 46th birthday –Matt and his close friend, Jason Ermi, were severely injured in an explosion at a Milwaukee-owned natural gas compression pump when Matt and Jason stopped to fill up Matt’s natural gas-powered van.

The explosion filled the air with natural gas, and passersby risked their own lives to pull Matt away from the pump. The explosion had blown Jason a distance from the pump, and embedded asphalt into his skin.  At the same time, it mangled Matt’s legs, leading to massive bleeding.

Matt and Jason were both rushed to the hospital. Matt underwent immediate surgery that resulted in amputation of both his legs at his knees.  Jason underwent immediate surgery on his right leg, which is broken, and was treated for 4th-degree burns among other injuries. By God’s Grace, they are both still with us.

Matt is now home, after 13 surgeries and 32 pints of blood, tending to the excruciating process of wound care as he heals.  He has a long road of recovery and physical therapy ahead of him.

But his strong faith and unflappable attitude has him looking ahead to a trip to the Amazon rainforest next year, redirecting funds paid for a 15-day hiking trip in Nepal, including an overnight at Everest’s base camp which he had planned to embark on this September 15.

His faith has led him to “not only accept [the situation] but embrace it and claim it as my own,” he says.  “It’s my mission. My message is to use this as an opportunity – this is what God gave me to be a witness for him.”

He explained that when he goes out in public now, “people don’t know how to act, they look at me” he said. “I break the ice; I bring it up and make light of it. It helps everyone else.”

Maybe not surprisingly, Matt felt a slight sense of relief after the explosion as the stress of managing four bathroom remodels at some state of bid and design to installation and completion began to melt off him in lieu of just staying alive. Today he is involved as much as his customers need to help find a replacement installer and help guide projects to completion.

Matt has multiple surgeries ahead of him and needs to fund the cost of prostheses.

Matt’s new legs
As you can imagine, the accident left both men in need of significant financial support.  Prostheses for Matt alone are estimated at $100,000 (by September), not to mention uncovered medical bills and equipment, immediate home modifications that need to be completed, as well as day to day living expenses upon release.

Local friends and family – as well as the tile setting community – is rallying to assist Matt. Matt’s niece, Dana Felton Reinhard has set up a Go Fund Me page for donations at https://www.gofundme.com/mattsnewlegs! There is also a You Caring site set up by fellow Tile Geek Zack Bonfilio to support Matt at https://www.youcaring.com/matthewfelton-890026. And Noelle Hetzel, a member of an Everest group that Matt belongs to, in partnering with another Everest member to design and produce wooden pendants and keychains to raise funds for Matt. Go to http://bit.ly/2umh7Ad to order or contact Noelle at https://www.facebook.com/noelle.hetzel.

Another way to help Matt is to email [email protected] for info on how to directly donate by personal check (mail) or cash, which would be exempt from processing fees associated with Go Fund Me, so Matt would receive more of the donation.

Matt’s buddy Jason also needs significant financial support as well.  The family had moved back from Florida, and is in between employment positions.  Jason is not expected to return to work at this time. Assistance is needed immediately for his day to day living expenses and bills; most medical expenses will not be covered. His wife Ronda is trying to make ends meet, but medical costs are severely taxing the family resources. Please consider a donation through this page https://www.gofundme.com/jasonermirecovery or visit his page or  [email protected] for more information on other ways to donate.

 

Fundraiser scheduled for September 17

There is a fundraiser for Matt and Jason on Sunday, September 17th at 6p.m. at the Grace Center at Broadway and Juneau in Milwaukee for local folks who wish to help.

Tile industry lends support

Said Tile Geek Zack Bonfilio,My friend from the tile forums, Matthew Felton, lost both of his legs in an explosion recently. I’ve talked to him a bit and I just gotta say this guy’s spirit through this whole ordeal is truly inspiring, he’s making jokes and looking on the bright side constantly, and I just don’t know how he does it.”

 

 

The Tile Geeks Facebook group has been sending Matt messages and gifts to support and encourage him.

Franken Gueuze in the Tile Geeks group said, “Here is the thing, Matt has always been a happy and positive guy; now, he is even more so, which you wouldn’t have thought was possible.”

And Steve Sprung, of RTC Products shared his personal experience of Matt: “Shortly after the accident, I reached out to him to ask if he wanted me to try and cultivate some local talent to help finish up anything he had on the books,” Sprung said. “I would have expected him to say he would like some help to finish these jobs, or at best, projects. His words to me were he would like to find some people to help complete his ‘visions.’ That told me all I needed to know about what kind of artist he is. He doesn’t see it as a job or project, but as a piece of art he is creating for that person. I think we can all agree that anyone with that mindset loves everything about what they do.”

Matt’s dream is to connect with A&D professionals anywhere in the world who want to install high-end beautiful, illuminated natural stone in their projects, crafted with Matt’s own special flair. “I’d rather earn my own money than get donations,” he said. “I’d travel anywhere.”

Both men are thankful to you and the Lord for assistance. Prayers and support are greatly appreciated!

 

 

 

 

 

NTCA Launches New Career Center for Job Seekers and Employers

The National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), has added an updated, high-powered Career Center available now on its website. The Career Center is designed to provide both employers and job seekers with a better overall job board experience through a modern design and an intuitive interface.

Job seekers can manage their job search, access job postings, post a resume, or join the job alert system. The job search feature is made easy and can be filtered by position and location, returning up to 100 results at a time. Employers are able to quickly post job openings, manage online recruiting efforts, advance resume searching, or reach targeted qualified applicants. The tool allows employers to search for resumes, keep track of candidates, post company information, and much more. The Career Center can be accessed through a desktop, smartphone, tablet, or any mobile device.

“NTCA is excited to offer an easy-to-use program that will allow for people to post their resume to explore their options at furthering their career.  As more and more people do this, we will be able to help connect companies looking for qualified people in the tile and stone industry to these candidates,” said Bart Bettiga, executive director.

The Career Center can be accessed on the home page of the NTCA website at www.tile-assn.com, or by visiting the following link: Click Here!

INSTALLATION DESIGN SHOWCASE – NTCA Five Star Members complete Tiny House Projects at IDS

The Installation Design Showcase at Coverings in April got a new spin this year. Usually, National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) Five Star Contractors collaborate with leading designers to install ceramic tile in vignettes on the show oor. Sadly, they are then demolished at the close of the show.

Not this year! Contractors and designers collaborated on designing and installing tile in functional tiny houses on the showroom floor, which are being reused after the show. Creative designs utilizing many types of tile were installed in the three tiny homes throughout the show, allowing attendees to see their progress.

The design was inspired by Dan Welch (whose company participated in this year’s IDS: Tiny House edition), who hauled a shipping container to Coverings ’16 in which to build his vignette. Then he drove his vignette home and has employed it for multiple uses back in Michigan.

All three installation companies have successfully completed the NTCA Five Star Contractor recognition program and employ installrs who have passed the Certified Tile Installer exam administered by the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation. “I love the opportunity to showcase the technical as well as artistic capabilities of our Five Star Contractors,” said NTCA Five Star Program Director Amber Fox.

In addition to the suppliers for the individual houses, iQ Power Tools, ETM, Lackmond, Schluter, and USG contributed tools, equip- ment and materials to the Tiny House effort.

Retro Bungalow Visalia Ceramic Tile, Kim Lewis

Visalia Ceramic Tile, from Visalia, Calif., – the nation’s 38th Five Star Contractor, worked with Kim Lewis, founder of Kim Lewis Designs (www.kimlewisdesigns. com), lead designer for ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Lewis’ design evokes the nostalgia of a Palm Springs desert setting, with tile provided by various Ceramics of Italy manufacturers, including nostalgic pink tile and surfacing from Atlas Concorde and grey tile from The Ricchetti Group that evokes concrete, Lewis said. MAPEI contributed installation materials to the project.

Designer Kim Lewis (l.) speaks with Coverings Industry Ambassador Alena Capra (c.) and Sam Bruce, project manager for Visalia Ceramic Tile

Lewis’ design evokes the nostalgia of a Palm Springs desert setting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ceramics of Italy manufacturers supplied tile and MAPEI supplied the setting materials.

This tiny home was built in Austin, Texas and driven to Orlando for the show.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vitruvian Home J&R Tile, Inc., Nikki Vega

The Vitruvian tiny house, designed by Nikki Vega of bluetreehome, and installed by J & R Tile Inc., of San Antonio, was inspired by nature’s geometric forms, spe- cifically the spiral of the nautilus shell. The space, featuring tile by Crossville, Inc., was very detailed and required a lot of fabrication, made easier by Joel Guth and the equipment from iQ Power Tools, said J&R’s Erin Albrecht. ARDEX supplied setting materials.

“I’ve designed a few tiny homes and it’s really fun because you have to be really thoughtful with your design – every inch matters,” Vega said.

Crossville supplied the tile for the Vitruvian home – here Groove Glass was used to form the wall mosaic.

Erin Albrecht (l.) of J&R Tile, Inc., with Coverings Industry Ambassador Alena Capra (c.), and designer Nikki Vega, discussing the inspiration for the Vitruvian Home

Multiple seating areas characterize the Vitruvian home. The countertop
is made of Laminam by Crossville gauged porcelain tile.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The oor is formed of Nest planked porcelain with arresting inset designs of Crossville marble-look tile from the Virtue line.

The Vitruvian bath, with Yin + Yang natural stone mosaic on the backsplash wall and Natural Inspirations in Bianco Statuario Polished, from the Kauri line of Laminam thin gauged porcelain tile.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

West Michigan House Welch Tile & Marble, Lauren Figueroa

The West Michigan House was designed by Lauren Figueroa of The Georgia Pear Interiors (www.thegeorgiapear.com), and installed by Welch Tile & Marble, both from the Grand Rapids area, which made it easier to collaborate. Figueroa – who is new to tile – used a large-format commercial Florim line throughout to make the space seem taller and bigger. LATICRETE supplied setting materials.

Florim large format commercial tile was used throughout the space. Figueroa spent a lot of time on the Florim website to familiarize herself with the products, noticing that their tile is often used in commercial settings and decided to use that in
the residential space. “I noticed they also used really giant tile for the whole entire space, and thought that might help it feel taller and longer…it made it ow really well,” she said.

Designer Lauren Figueroa(l.) describes her design for the West Michigan House as Alena Capra and Dan Welch look on.

Since they were both located in the Grand Rapids area, Figueroa and Welch collaborated on the house from the very beginning.

Commercial tile from Florim gave an expansive feel to the space.

NTCA University

Knowledge is power, the saying goes. And NTCA is doing its best to be sure you are knowledgeable about your industry and your trade, and a powerful force among customers, clients and competitors.

One of the ways NTCA is doing this is through NTCA University. If you haven’t heard about this veritable online college, visit www.tile-assn.com for details.

To recap, the first six months of the Finisher Apprentice Program in NTCA University are complete, packed with course content from contractors and manufacturers. There are over 40 courses in the 0 – 6 month Finisher Apprentice Orientation section of the program. Each course ranges from 10-20 minutes in length and has a quiz following to test the learner’s knowledge. These courses are, obviously, useful for apprentices, but also for those in the industry for many years since they contain safety and product information that benefits anyone in the trade. For example, if you haven’t worked with epoxy grout for a while, you can take a course on it as a refresher.

One of the benefits of NTCA membership is that NTCA contractor members receive special pricing.

  • NTCA Contractor Members: $99 per company
  • Associate/Affiliate Members: $199 per company
  • Non-NTCA Members: $499 per company

If you purchase this subscription, you will have access to all of the online learning content, including anything new that is created, through December 31, 2017. As long as you have internet access, you can view courses from a computer, tablet, or phone.

Visit the NTCA Store at www.tile-assn.com to purchase your NTCA University subscription. And get started pumping up your knowledge or welcoming new apprentices, armed with know-how and information to make your company a leader in the field.

Want to know more? Visit NTCA University Update on page 98 of this issue.

Editor’s Letter – July 2017

“Without labor, nothing prospers.” – Sophocles
“All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance, and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”  – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Yesterday, June 8, I happened to see a clip of Ivanka Trump on Fox & Friends in which she discussed the upcoming trip she, her father and labor Secretary Alexander Acosta will make today to Wisconsin to address the skills gap and workforce training. The plan is to tour Waukesha County Technical College with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to discuss these issues, and the value of apprenticeship programs.

Although the White House has proposed cuts in overall job training programs, and no actual proposals for work-force training have been announced at this writing, clearly shining a light on the importance of skills training to bridge the gap between available jobs and people qualified to fill them – and to provide a viable career path alternative other than a four-year college – is a good thing.

Reserving the right to not be political in this column but to simply draw attention to efforts being made that may benefit our trade, let me just say that I hope this attention will stimulate a groundswell of enthusiasm towards establishing apprenticeship and skills training programs again in this country. I’m proud of the apprenticeship program NTCA is offering through the hard work of Becky Serbin, Dan Welch, Dave Rogers and others and others, and promise of additional training opportunities that will roll out later this year.

By the time you receive this issue of TileLetter, this may be old news on the national front or proposals may have already been made. But in our industry it’s front and center news every day.

On May 28, on the Tile Geeks Facebook page, Phil Green posed a question about people who are concerned that trades are not attracting new blood. He said a friend recently asked, “Why don’t you look into being a partner with [this] organization and mentor a couple of kids that MIGHT have an interest in the trades?”

Green got varying responses to his post. There were the true but predictable responses that shop and trade training has been eliminated from high schools over the years. Some posters indicated upcoming high school programs being formed that earn students credits for working in the field with local contractors, or programs that have attempted this with either high-school students, veterans and ex-convicts that have been tabled due to budget cuts. Some posters shared that they have spoken at classes at their vo-tech schools or churches. David Rothberg of LATICRETE noted that the company holds a masonry/tile trade day at its Connecticut facility for local state trade school students with hands-on demos and information on available opportunities, and offered its help to support such an effort.

And Ken Ballin, of Skyro Floors in Tuckerton, N.J., got fired up and suggested, “I’ve already sent a message to a teacher friend of mine about putting a ‘tradesman (and women) night’ together and it will go to administration this week. I encourage all to do the same. Let’s brainstorm and get some ideas together. Let’s stop complaining about what’s happened in the schools and do something. There’s no time like the present and there’s no better reason to do something for our kids.”

Let’s think about it. And do something about it. Is there an opportunity at a technical school, high school, community center, church, synagogue, mosque or spiritual center to organize or participate in a career night for trades people and technical workers to come together to expose kids making decisions about their future to the possibility that a trade might be the ticket to a lucrative, fulfilling future for them; something that would never be in danger of being outsourced or automated?

Everyone is busy; everyone is tired at the end of the day. But hopefully, you have some enjoyment and pride in the work you do, and would like to see our trade continue. I’d love to hear the ideas you come up with and actions you are taking to promote our trade and ensure there is a new generation of skilled craftspeople to carry it forward into the future. Write to me at the email below!

God bless,

Lesley

[email protected]

President’s Letter – July 2017

Developing an attractive career path in the tile trade

This month, we follow up on last month’s President Letter discussing how we become “Best in Class” contractors, and how one of the centerpieces is being skilled and trained craftspeople. Let’s talk about the elephant in the room; there is a serious shortage of young, talented workers entering the construction field as a career choice.

In last month’s Editor’s Letter, we learned that in the 2016 U.S. market, the public consumed approximately 2.8 billion sq. ft. of ceramic tile. Based on some quick number crunching and lots of assumptions, between 70,000 and 80,000 full-time tile mechanics would be required to install that volume of tile. This does not include installing any stone finishes. Even though the NTCA has approximately 1,400 members and CTEF has certified approximately 1,300 Certified Tile Installers nationwide, added together, it’s all a proverbial “drop in the bucket!”

This doesn’t mean that most – or many – installers not belonging to one of these groups are unqualified; it does mean that we need to work hard to draw them in to a program of continuing education and training along with potential certification. Based on the number and scope of failures that exist in our trade, it’s safe to say that a sizable number of those installing tile have neither been properly trained nor are seeking further professional development.

I was talking with a general contractor recently about this issue, and we began to think about all the impediments that keep non-college aspiring young people from taking a serious look at the construction field as a career choice. We came up with several that might be worth our attention. On average, there are few organized training programs regionally or nationally on the high school/vocational school level that allow students to learn and earn a diploma or work at the same time. The only exceptions we could identify quickly were the electrical and mechanical trades, which also require certifications – and in some cases, licensing – to climb the career ladder. Add to that, the often-poor working conditions on project sites such as limited elevators or buck hoists, non-air-conditioned work areas, and disorganized work spaces with numerous other trades often working in the same rooms. I’m sure there are many more you can think of, but probably one of the most important is the low earning potential of many workers during the training process and potentially even beyond.

We need to start the dialog about how we as an industry can develop an attractive career path, including training that will show entrants what they must achieve to earn their desired income. At the same time, we need to attempt to minimize some of the other negatives of the modern construction environment. As a finish trade with highly artistic components, I believe we have an advantage over some other trades because our work is always on display.

Dan Welch and Becky Serbin – along with the Education and Training Committee – are working hard to put together the complete apprenticeship program, which will include a career path and earning scale. If you haven’t checked it out yet, I invite you to do so. This is only one piece of a comprehensive plan we must develop or eventually we will all suffer the consequences.

I welcome your comments and ideas about how to move forward and I ask for your involvement and participation in the solution.

Keep on tiling!

Martin Howard, NTCA president

Committee member, ANSI A108

[email protected]

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