50th Five Star Contractor Member – Trostrud Mosaic & Tile Co.

Trostrud Mosaic & Tile Co., Inc., was founded in 1929 by Earl J. Trostrud Sr., originally concentrating primarily on residential construction as it worked hard to create a solid reputation.

At the end of 1939, with the outbreak of war in Europe, the company temporarily closed, and Earl Trostrud Sr. went to work making aircraft engine parts, and in the construction department of Kraft Foods. In postwar 1946, Earl Trostrud Sr. reopened Trostrud Mosaic & Tile Co., Inc., still focusing on the residential market and building its reputation for quality and craftsmanship.

In 1957, Earl Trostrud Sr. started pursuing commercial contracts and was awarded several gas station projects. These successful projects whetted the appetite for more commercial work.

In the spring of 1958, after graduating St. Olaf College in Minnesota, Earl Trostrud Jr. joined his father in the tile business and they both pursued commercial contracts, with the same ethics of quality workmanship, integrity and honesty that the company was founded on. They committed to treating everyone – no matter your role in the company or as a business partner – the way they would want to be treated.

In the summer of 1975, Earl Trostrud Sr. retired from the tile business. Ten years later – after graduating from University of Wisconsin Stout with a major in industrial design/product design and a minor in graphic design, and working in these fields – his grandson Brad Trostrud decided to give estimating a six-month try, working alongside his father Earl Trostrud, Jr.

Brad relished the opportunity to work with his father and to strengthen the bond. By now the company, based in Wood Dale, Ill., had grown to be 15% high-end residential and 85% commercial. It turned out to be a rewarding decision for both of them. Earl, now in his early ’80s, is still working every day, and holds the title of president. Brad is the vice president.

Earl and Brad have always been very active in the Ceramic Tile Contractors Association of Chicago (CTCAC) and Tile Contractors Association of America (TCAA), both serving in every position. Earl helped found the Chicago Tile Institute promotion fund to uphold the value of union-installed tile and stone. Earl is also the chairman for the Pension and Welfare fund since 1990, and served as a Zone Director for the TCAA in the ‘70s. In 2013, Earl was awarded the Carl V. Cesery Award that recognizes distinguished service to the tile industry.

Brad serves on The National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) Technical committee and Tile Council of North America (TCNA) Handbook committee. Brad was also involved in the creation of Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT), a certification program to provide a level of consumer confidence for installation procedures that exceed ANSI Standards and TCNA guidelines. Brad has also served as director, treasurer and now is president elect for TCAA.

Joining NTCA

Brad came to NTCA through a Trowel of Excellence/Five Star Contractor meeting at the Crossville plant a few years ago, where he met Artcraft’s James Woelfel and David Allen Company’s Chris Walker.

“James and Chris are two of the sharpest minds in the tile industry I have ever known,” he said. “By the time I left Tennessee, I felt like we were all old friends. “

Brad also met Welch Tile & Marble’s Dan Welch, David Allen Company’s Martin Howard, Cox Tile’s John Cox and CTEF’s Scott Carothers in 2013, at the first Total Solutions Plus to include TCAA in Scottsdale, Ariz. “What a group of wonderful gentlemen, not afraid to share the great knowledge they have acquired during the years in our industry,” he said. “Getting to know them over the years has been a great blessing. So after a time, I felt compelled to join their NTCA.”

Since union setters and finishers go through an extensive apprenticeship program, CTI certification wasn’t a requirement for Trostrud’s Five Star Contractor status – NTCA’s 50th Five Star – but the company has five ACT-certified setters nonetheless, one of whom was tapped by the union to be the Chicago-Midwest head instructor for the BAC IMI.

Trostrud Mosaic & Tile Co., Inc., has been honored with various awards over the years, most notably the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Craft Award for Best Mosaic in 2015 and best Tile Project in 2008. It also received TCAA’s 1st Place Commercial Project award and achieved Trowel of Excellence certification in 2012. It contends that it employs the best union trade installers in the business. The company – which has grown to 90% commercial – holds as its top priority providing the best tile installations
possible.

“We are not interested in being the largest or the least expensive tile contractor – we will not compromise on quality – we just want to be known as the best,” Brad Trostrud said.

Member Spotlight – January 2018 – H.J. Martin and Son

H.J. Martin and Son
Green Bay, Wis.
www.hjmartin.com

Lots of good things get their start in the garage. Bands, science projects, and in this case the company now known as H.J. Martin and Son, founded when Henry John Martin began selling paint and tile out of the family garage in 1931.  Eighty-six years later H.J. Martin and Son is a multi-divisional specialty contractor, self-performing commercial and residential flooring, walls and ceilings, glass and glazing, doors and hardware, and fixture and millwork installation nationwide.

The company’s diversity helps it cross-train its installers and helps to retain top talent. If one department is slow and another is busy, it can readily adjust. The company also can offer package discounts to the general contractor or end user on multiple phases of a project.

The contractor gets great satisfaction from the entire process of contracting, from showroom to installation, and the customer’s excitement about the final result.

“We go to great lengths to maintain an extensive selection of tile products within our two showrooms,” said David Martin, the 4th generation of H.J. Martin and Son. “Many of these tiles are exclusive to H.J. Martin and Son, so we often will have customers travel a great distance to purchase from us.”

H.J. Martin and Son prides itself on its team of in-house designers, who have detailed knowledge of its tile products, and are experts at finding the right fit for each individual client.

“We have long believed the thing that sets us apart from other tile contractors is our highly experienced team of installers,” David Martin said. “They are true artisans, who continue to train on the newest installation processes.

“All of our people, from designers to installers, try to delight our customers with an exceptional tile experience to last a lifetime.”

H.J. Martin and Son specializes in ceramic tile and natural stone for both residences and commercial projects. On the residential side, the company displays a wide variety of tile and stone products within its two showrooms and employs a team of aforementioned 14 in-house designers who help guide the client to the perfect tile or stone for his or her home. And company installers are experienced with a popular in-floor electric heating/uncoupling system

The commercial division installs tile and stone in office and government buildings, automobile dealer showrooms, educational and healthcare facilities, hospitality spaces and retail locations, among other places.

In addition, H.J. Martin and Son has an in-house team of floor-care specialists. They are experts at ceramic and natural stone cleaning, sealing and restoration, along with grout cleaning, sealing and recoloring. If a new tile floor is not an option, refreshing existing flooring is a great option.

Since H.J. Martin and Son strives to deliver quality products and installation to all of its customers, it joined NTCA in July 2014, with the belief that existing and potential customers will see its NTCA Five Star affiliation and know that they are receiving the highest quality of installation available.

“As a company, we believe strongly in continuing education for our installers, designers and other flooring specialists,” Martin said. “We always strive for our people to be knowledgeable in the latest product advances and installation techniques through attendance at outside seminars or in-house training sessions. We believe that the mission of the NTCA embodies many of the same ideals.

“NTCA membership, particularly as a recognized Five Star Contractor, assures clients that they are receiving the highest quality of workmanship for ceramic tile and natural stone,” he added. “Having the NTCA member designation helps to communicate our expertise level to those outside the company.”

Although the company does not currently have Certified Tile Installers or ACT-certified installers on staff, more than 80% of its in-house installers are Journeymen and have completed the requisite four-year apprenticeship.

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.

Member Spotlight: Dave Rogers, Welch Tile & Marble

NTCA opens the door to a new career
for Dave Rogers

Have you ever wondered – when you got involved with something – where it would take you in life? Today, I am the Training and Development manager for Welch Tile & Marble in Kent City, Mich., the chairperson for the NTCA Training and Education Committee, and I serve on the NTCA Technical Committee. If you would have told me 10 years ago that I would have this much responsibility, I would have told you that you were crazy.

 

Dave Rogers

My journey in the tile trade started about 27 years ago at a flooring store in Port Clinton, Ohio. There I learned about diverse types of floor coverings, including carpet, sheet vinyl, and of course ceramic tile. Tile wasn’t the focus of the business, but it was enough to spark my passion for the trade. As years went on, I started my own business after marrying my wife Jenny and moving away from my home town. In my company, I provided carpet, vinyl – and of course ceramic tile – but again it was not the focus of my business. I took every tile project I could and learned along the way. I soon realized I needed more training. This is where my journey with the NTCA starts.

I attended Coverings in Orlando, Fla., in 2007. I must have gotten on the NTCA’s mailing list because I started to receive the TileLetter magazine and began reading about the NTCA and what it had to offer. Being a small company, I initially didn’t think it would work for me, but I was wrong. I joined in 2009 and started using the benefits of the association by requesting technical advice and attending workshops whenever I could. When I wanted to get more involved, I was offered the opportunity in 2011 to serve on the Board of Directors, and attended my first Total Solutions Plus in Naples, Fla.

Brad Denny (left) with Dave Rogers during the Regional Evaluator training at TISE West this year

This is when I realized the true value of the NTCA. I can still remember sitting in on my first Technical Committee meeting and hearing James Woelfel ask if any of the contractors in the room had any comments. The hair stood up on the back of my neck. I then realized that I had found what I was looking for and why I was a member of the NTCA. The association made it easy to make friends and get involved. I took every opportunity I could to lend a hand, from helping design the Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT) shower test, to assisting CTEF’s Scott Carothers set up demonstration modules, to becoming a Certified Tile Installer (CTI) evaluator. My wife always teased me that I went on these trips to relax and sit by the pool, but that was never the case.

As I got more involved with the association, I got to know more and more people – especially a contractor from Grand Rapids, Mich. named Dan Welch. I remember calling him a few times looking for technical advice, then working with him to develop the ACT shower test. After a while – and a few trips to NTCA functions – we started to talk more and more about technical issues as well as what happened that day and life in general. Dan was generous with his help, so I made trips up to Grand Rapids to learn what I could do to grow my business. And I traveled with the Welch team in 2013 to install the temporary flooring at Coverings in Atlanta. Along the way, I’ve had some unexpected adventures, from changing an alternator in Dan’s truck along the side of the road, to tiling the inside of a shipping container at coverings in Chicago. When Dan says “So, I’ve been thinking…” you know it’s about to get interesting.

Dave Rogers (left) with Jim Olson at a Training and Education Committee meetings during TISE West in Las Vegas in January 2017.

As Dan’s and my friendship grew, I realized that my calling was not to be a business owner – but I felt I would make a great employee. So, I shifted gears and started looking at different opportunities in the industry for employment, including working for Welch Tile, but the distance always seemed to be a hurdle, or maybe I just wasn’t ready. In the fall of 2015, I helped Welch Tile as temporary labor on a project in Kalamazoo, Mich., and became convinced that I wanted to abandon business ownership and be part of a larger company that offered camaraderie and support. Dan and I talked about it in December 2015, and I revealed I was ready to make the leap away from self-employment the following year. A week later, while driving home from work, Dan called with his signature, “So, I’ve been thinking…” greeting – then offered me the opportunity to run the training program at Welch Tile.

The week after Christmas 2015, my family and I made the trip to Grand Rapids for an interview. It was a tough decision for my family to make, but we focused on the quality of life we had as a family, going back to the adage that “You don’t know until you try!” January 25, 2016, marked a new start to my career and a new way of life for my family in Grand Rapids, with Welch Tile.

Remember the question I asked at the beginning of this letter? I would have never dreamed by becoming an NTCA member I would be where I am today. If I never made that first trip to Coverings in 2007 and hadn’t joined the NTCA, where would I be today?

Member Spotlight – Stuart Tile Company

New Five Star Contractor Phil Kozey and Stuart Tile Company in Macomb, Mich.

Family pride sets foundation for excellence and passion

The Kozey family has a long history in the tile industry – over 45 years, according to Phil Kozey, project manager at Stuart Tile Company (www.StuartTileCo.com), in Macomb, Mich. The company now installs mostly commercial projects, specializing in assisted living facilities, car dealerships, and large commercial, as well as some residential projects.

Phil Kozey, project manager, Stuart Tile Company

The company prides itself on its ability to complete projects with very difficult time schedules, but not compromising quality by cutting corners.

“The greatest feeling is when we have worked for weeks — sometimes months — on a job, and finish before the deadline,” Phil said. “I love seeing the happy faces of the owner/GC. It makes me feel accomplished when I see the finished project.”

Stuart Tile Company is composed of mostly family members. “This makes it unique and very personal to me,” he said. In addition to Phil himself, it includes his parents, Janet and John Kozey, as well as two uncles, and some cousins and other highly valued employees.

Kozey noted that Stuart Tile Co. is in fact owned by his mother, Janet Kozey, making the outfit a minority/women owned business.  “She is mostly in charge of the administration end of the business,” he said. “My father and I manage onsite day-to-day production.”

Phil started out watching his father in the industry since Phil was a toddler in the early 80’s. He even remembers his dad mixing up thin-set mortar with Portland cement, silica sand, and liquid latex.  “My father always took great pride in the quality of his work, and watching him over the past three decades has made me a perfectionist when it comes to the detail of our work,” Phil said.

Stuart Tile Company rejoined NTCA three years ago after a hiatus, and since then has been going strong in the association.

“Joining the NTCA and becoming a Five Star Contractor has relit a fire in my passion for the industry,” Phil said. “Tile has been a huge part of my life since I was a small child. I am a second-generation tile installer, but to be honest, I was starting to get burned out on the tile business entirely. Approximately three years ago I started researching NTCA, and it kind of helped me look at the whole industry in a new light. It taught me how and why the products work, and how they are made.  It offered great opportunities to talk with people with similar passion and interest. The NTCA has definitely opened a doorway to keeping me in the loop with ever-changing technology, products, and methods and standards. Since Joining the NTCA I have gained knowledge — and even confidence — in my methods, via the TCNA Handbook and NTCA Reference Manual. I have discovered a community of like-minded professionals that actually care about the installation, and this is something I plan on being a part of for as long as I am in the tile industry,” he said.

Stuart Tile has recently been awarded and now recognized as a NTCA Five Star Contractor. “It is a great honor to recognized by an organization that has such high standards,” he added.

The company has two Certified Tile Installers, but aims to have all its setters be certified. “I can see that our Certified Tile Installers are proud of their certification, and they should be — it’s an accomplishment,” he said.

Not immune to occupational hazards of working in the industry, late in 2015, Phil started having respiratory issues and was diagnosed with a form of COPD. “I believe this is from all the silica/cement dust I was breathing through all the years of mixing, grinding without proper dust mask protection,” he said. “This is why I feel so strongly about proper dust containment/equipment. I will not even prep a floor without a mask now.”

Phil considers it an honor to represent NTCA as a Michigan State Ambassador since 2015. “It has been because of the NTCA I have formed lifelong relationships and friendships with individuals at some of our top suppliers,” he said. “I am very grateful to the NTCA for the different educational and social events I have been able to attend all over the nation.”

Stuart Tile Company installed colorful tile in the brand new Madison Elementary school, the first new school in the district in nearly 40 years. The bright colors on walls and floors of this technology-centered school keeps kids alert and engaged. Stuart Tile Company installed two radius mosaic walls, 15 bathrooms and hallway tile. For more information, visit www.fox2detroit.com/news/184579-story

 

 

Phil Kozey, speaking at his first NTCA Workshop with Mark Heinlein at Daltile in Farmington Hills, Mich. 

Phil Kozey uses the Mechanical Lippage Tuning System (MLTS) to reduce lippage on this gauged porcelain Laminam wall tile installation. 

 

At the NTCA Workshop at the Farmington Hills Daltile, Phil Kozey (front right) poses with Mark Heinlein (front left), and other Daltile associates in front of the NTCA van. 

 

Phil Kozey preps the floor at the Palace of Auburn Hills

 

Work done at Elevation Burger restaurant. 

Member Spotlight: Gudbrandsson Tile & Stone

NTCA is an international association, and as such, in this issue, we present to you a member from Manitoba, Canada – Gudbrandsson Tile & Stone (www.facebook.com/gdtileflooring), which installs tile and stone in mostly residential renovations and new homes, with occasional commercial hand-crafted specialty projects.

Brandur Gudbrandsson was working as a trucker until the discovery that he would soon be dad to a daughter helped bring his passion into laser-like focus. At the time, he learned his best friend for 17 years was also having a child. That became the impetus to start in the tile and ooring industry, with Gudbrandsson’s only knowledge stemming from “being in and out of the trade for 10 years.”

Gudbrandsson drove from Manitoba to Chicago in 2016 to attend Coverings; Dave Karp gave him a warm welcome.

Gudbrandsson quit driving and began buying tiling tools until he hit a bump in the road. “Ironically, my buddy of 17 years did not want to continue after one month of work and we found out our sixth-great-grandfathers were half brothers,” he said. “He became a professional trucker; I became a professional tilesetter.”

Gudbrandsson’s grandfather said, “Stand still, nothing accomplished.” Standing still wasn’t good enough for Gudbrandsson. “ When I had to take the leap of being a dad, I told myself follow my passion and I will succeed,” he said. “I thank my daughter for where I am today – and my grandfather’s hard working roots. Everything I do – on a job or in the industry – has my family name on it. It signifies quality.”

Brandur Gudbrandsson joined NTCA in 2016 due to the influence of fellow Tile Geeks tilesetters he admired.

Gudbrandsson joined NTCA in 2016 due to the influence of fellow Tile Geeks tilesetters he admired. “I believe the industry is being re-pioneered today, and I came into the industry at the best time,” he said, adding that he wants to “be involved with the industry as deeply I can get.”

Gudbrandsson said, “The greatest aspect of becoming a NTCA member is the support and net- working from so many GUD people. I had the pleasure of meeting many in Chicago at Coverings 2016. It was a GUD drive; Dave Karp, owner of Tile Fusion, was the first to greet me on the journey from Manitoba.”

He continued, saying, “It is a GUD satisfaction to be a part of an ancient art. It gives me great joy to see more people involved every day. The networking is very GUD locally and abroad. Becoming a Tile Geeks member led me to create Tilesetter Canada Facebook group for more regional connections. I see now setters from Canada helping each other nding work, becoming friends and helping troubleshoot problems, or connecting with a tile company representative.

Brandur Gudbrandsson (far left) and a group of NTCA members and Tile Geeks at the NTCA booth during Coverings 2016 in Chicago.

“Seeing the tile community through social media using the word GUD is also attering,” he added. “Perseverance, consistency, details – meeting anyone with the same passion is always a pleasure.”

 

 

 

 

 

Gudbrandsson Tile & Stone projects

 

Member Spotlight – Lofthouse Tile & Mosaic – April 2017

Lofthouse Tile & Mosaic:

Striving for perfection is worth the investment

Randy Lofthouse is an independent residential contractor, specializing in waterproof showers featuring glass mosaics and large format porcelain.  Lofthouse Tile & Mosaic, in Bloomington, Ind., (www.LofthouseTile.com) offers comprehensive service relevant to tile, stone and mosaic installation.  This includes demolition, framing, subfloor amendment, sales, design, installation, finish carpentry and associated touch-up necessary to complete the project.

Lofthouse started out in his home state of Texas, first using tile nippers in 2006.  The creation of mosaic flower pots and coffee tables helped cultivate an interest in future tile setting.

“I was on a bicycle ride in Fort Worth, Texas, when the window display at Lucasso Stone caught my eye,” Lofthouse said. “I walked in at the right time and met the owner; he referred me to an associate who needed a warehouseman.  I eventually gained employment with a natural stone importer in Fort Worth.  I was responsible for unloading freight including fine stone from Pueblo, Mexico.”

The team handled slabs of natural stone, crated dimensional stone, and cases of sheet mosaics. This first hand witnessing of Rojo, Noche, and Fiorito Travertine, Emperador Marble, tumbled, hammer brushed, honed and filled, and all of the terminology fascinated Lofthouse.

“From material handling and general warehouseman I eventually cut and produced sample boards to display at showrooms that offered our stone,” he continued. “Eventually, I tiled the entryway to the warehouse with an assortment of travertine — our best selling varieties.  The owner was impressed, and compensated me accordingly.” 

From there, Lofthouse moved into small bathroom flooring remodels, and eventuallyI acquired the correct tools of the trade.  “I remember buying my first wet saw at a pawnshop in Irving, Texas.” He said.  “Timing was perfect. A realtor recommended my services to a pilot that contracted me to tile a second story shower within an aircraft hangar in Saginaw, Texas.”

Lofthouse didn’t have a sophisticated truck to start – just a 1982 El Camino, which he said was very easy to load but not so fuel efficient. The downturn of the building industry in 2007/2008 brought difficult years.  But over time, work picked back up, with Lofthouse considering  each project more exciting than the previous.

Joining NTCA

After struggling in the development of my trade, witnessing the failed installations which are so prevalent, and learning to become a much better negotiator, Lofthouse decided to join the NTCA two years ago.

“I’ve always felt strongly about strengthening the industry,” he said. “Even among other tile setters, my question has always been:  ‘What are you doing to make conditions better?’  I’ve learned to use the word ‘NO’ whenever necessary.  This means turning down projects with insufficient budgets or expectations.  With the support of NTCA knowledge and networking, combined with my solid reputation, homeowners recommend my business naturally.

This approach has worked out well for Lofthouse. “With my experience and confidence, I offer a level of service few are willing to match,” he said. “ The majority of my clients are homeowners wishing to update their existing shower, whether a failed installation or simply out of date.  A very small percentage of my work has been new construction; although I am highly experienced and very much appreciate a fresh canvas.  I continue to reach out to reputable builders in search of establishing a mutually-beneficial relationship.  When I meet that special builder, we will both attain new levels of project efficiency and longevity.”

Lofthouse beams with pride in demonstrating professionalism, beginning with the initial quote, procuring materials, staging the project, making timely progress while honoring manufacturers’ recommendations, right through grout, caulking, and sealing.  He’s happy to educate the homeowner if they are curious as to why he installsl tile and stone in such a manner.

“What a great feeling when you are operating your business correctly; the end product is of museum quality,” he said.  “I have developed the habit of ‘service after the sale’ (which I learned from a respected jeweler).  I follow up with an email describing care and maintenance of the investment, and my warranty is:  ‘If you should have an issue with your tile, I would like to be the first person you contact.’  Thankfully, when a homeowner calls you back, it’s for ADDITIONAL WORK!”

Recently, Lofthouse  purchased a home about two hours north of Evansville Ind., where he had built his solid reputation.  “I feel accomplished, receiving referrals from homeowners to take care of family and friends here in the city of Bloomington, as far as Indianapolis,” he said. “Striving for perfection is worth the investment. I truly enjoy my career!”

 

NTCA New Members

NTCA Oklahoma State Ambassador Chris Abouarrage signs up new NTCA member Jeremy Crim at the Daltile luncheon in Oklahoma City. 

 

Duana Fava and Robb Roderick

Jimmy Cabrera and Robb Roderick

At the Temecula, Calif., Daltile workshop , NTCA trainer/presenter Robb Roderick signed up two new members: Duane Fava of DNA Construction and Jimmy Cabrera of Pacific Surfaces. ARDEX and CUSTOM helped support the workshop. 

Daniel Ellis (l.) of Imagine Tile & Stone joined NTCA during the San Diego workshop at Daltile Design Center. He’s shown here with NTCA trainer/presenter Robb Roderick.

 

Chris Johnson and Robb Roderick at Johnson Tile at Marazzi Anaheim

 

Peng at Marazzi in Anaheim

Robb Roderick and Valente Lopez of ETR Development

Ashanti Bayrooti of Lifetime Flooring and Robb Roderick

Robb Roderick had a crowd of 20 at Marazzi, Anaheim, with many manufacturers on hand including ARDEX, Schluter,MAPEI, LATICRETE, Merkrete, Alpha Tools, James Hardie,  and Lackmond. Five attendees joined NTCA. Shown with NTCA trainer/presenter Robb Roderick are Chris Johnson of Johnson Tile, Valente Lopez of ETR Development, Ashanti Bayrooti of Lifetime Flooring and Peng Zheng  of Yuchen & Paul Construction. Mike Rubel of Reptile, Inc. also signed up, but missed a photo opp

 

John Vanarthos and Mark Heinlein

NTCA trainer/presenter Mark Heinlein welcomed new NTCA member Jon Vanarthos of Gemini Home Remodeling, who joined at the NTCA workshop at the Conshohocken, Pa., American Olean Sales Service Center.  

 

Member Spotlight – Gudbrandsson Tile & Stone – March 2017

GUD Vibrations – Manitoba tilesetter discovers his professional passion on the cusp of fatherhood

NTCA is an international association, and as such, in this issue, we present to you a member from Manitoba, Canada – Gudbrandsson Tile & Stone (www.facebook.com/gdtilflooring), which installs tile and stone in mostly residential renovations and new homes, with occasional commercial hand-crafted specialty projects.

Brandur Gudbrandsson joined NTCA in 2016 due to the influence of fellow Tile Geeks tilesetters he admired.

Brandur Gudbrandsson was working as a trucker until the discovery that he would soon be dad to a daughter helped bring his passion into laser-like focus. At the time, he learned his best friend for 17 years was also having a child. That became the impetus to start in the tile and flooring industry, with Gudbrandsson’s only knowledge stemming from “being in and out of the trade for 10 years.”

Gudbrandsson quit driving and began buying tiling tool until he hit a bump in the road. “Ironically, my buddy of 17 years did not want to continue after one month of work and we found out our sixth great grandfathers were half brothers,” he said. “He became a professional trucker; I became a professional tilesetter.”

Brandur Gudbrandsson (far left) and a group of NTCA members and Tile Geeks at the NTCA booth during Coverings 2016 in Chicago.

Gudbrandsson’s grandfather said, “Stand still, nothing accomplished.” Standing still wasn’t good enough for Gudbrandsson. “ When I had to take the leap of being a dad, I told myself follow my passion and I will succeed,” he said. “I thank my daughter for where I am today — and my grandfather’s hard working roots. Everything I do — on a job or in the industry — has my family name on it. It signifies quality.”

Gudbrandsson joined NTCA in 2016 due to the influence of fellow Tile Geeks tilesetters he admired. “I believe the industry is being re-pioneered today, and I came into the industry at the best time,” he said, adding that he wants to “be involved with the industry as deeply I can get.”

Gudbrandsson said, “The greatest aspect of becoming a NTCA member is the support and networking from so many GUD people. I had the pleasure of meeting many in Chicago at Coverings

Gudbrandsson drove from Manitoba to Chicago in 2016 to attend Coverings; Dave Karp gave him a warm welcome.

2016. It was a GUD drive; Dave Karp owner of Tile Fusion was the first to greet me on the journey from Manitoba.”

He continued, saying, “It is a GUD satisfaction to be a part of an ancient art. It gives me great joy to see more people involved every day. The networking is very GUD locally and abroad. Becoming a Tile Geeks member led me to create Tilesetter Canada Facebook group for more regional connections. I see now setters from Canada helping each other finding work, becoming friends and help troubleshooting problems, or connecting with a tile company representative.

“Seeing the tile community through social media using the word GUD is also flattering,” he added. “Perseverance, consistency, details –meeting anyone with the same passion is always a pleasure.”

Member Spotlight – Boatman and Magnani, Inc. – December 2016

b-m-logoBoatman and Magnani, Inc.

Capitol Heights, Md.

custom-sponsorBoatman and Magnani, Inc., located in Capitol Heights, Md., has provided the Washington metropolitan area with ceramic tile, terrazzo, and natural stone work since 1960.

Throughout the company’s 56-year history, Boatman and Magnani has earned an enduring reputation by delivering the area’s leading architects, general contractors, and owners the highest quality material and craftsmanship in a timely fashion.

Boatman and Magnani has established a long list of satisfied clients and continues to strive for excellence in an ever-changing industry. As leaders in the tile, terrazzo, and stone industry, Boatman and Magnani owes its success to a great deal of hard work, dedication, intelligence and determination. It aims to give the client what they want, and do the best job possible. The company likes challenging work, and jobs that are unusual, big or small.

Boatman and Magnani performs work for the federal government, District of Columbia, state governments, general contractors, and at times directly for architectural firms. For proof that no job is too large or too small, one needs to look no further than Boatman and Magnani‘s project list: the woman-owned tile, marble and terrazzo union contractor has supplied and carried out over 8,500 projects in its 56 year history. Some include intricate large-scale projects such as The U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, MGM Casino, The African American History Museum, U.S. Marshall Service, The New Doha International Airport, The Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center (Federal Triangle), Tyson‘s II Mall, The Willard Hotel and Office Building, International Square, The Library of Congress, National Gallery of Art, The President’s Guest House, and Postal Square.

Boatman and Magnani also continually coordinates and executes smaller projects including: many of the area elementary, middle and high schools; high-end finish tenant spaces and law firms; hospitals, hotels, and private and public office buildings. The company prides itself in having the expertise and ability to tackle large, complicated private residences, where it has provided expert coordination and installation of tile, terrazzo, stone, marble, brick, and mosaics in some of the area’s premier homes. It currently employs 65 BAC/IMI Local 1 Union-trained tile, terrazzo and marble workers.

Boatman and Magnani employs a very loyal, creative, knowledgeable staff of office/ senior project managers, estimators, draftspersons, and administrative personnel. It also takes pride and highly values its superintendents and skilled union labor force of foreman and field tile setters, terrazzo workers, and stone masons. When it finds someone with proficiency, the company knows it’s important to keep him or her on board. Some of Boatman and Magnani’s employees have over a 25-year tenure.

Because of the close combination of employees at Boatman and Magnani, the company is able to be diversified and maintain stature at the forefront of the industry. The office is equipped with a state-of-the-art drafting and estimating department that takes pride in returning accurate bids, and generates shop drawings with precision. Boatman and Magnani is also equipped with a natural stone fabrication shop, employing talented, expert craftsmen and creating custom fabrications. The quality of craftsmanship that Boatman and Magnani’s field forces produce speaks for itself.

Boatman and Magnani has earned a multitude of Washington Building Congress (WBC) Awards, including the WBC Star Award for Technical Excellence for The U.S. Capitol Visitor Center Project (which is one of the largest projects completed by Boatman and Magnani, Inc.) in Washington, D.C. It was also awarded the WBC Star Award for Excellence in the Face of Adversity for the Tyson’s II Project in McLean, Va., and the WBC Star Award for Technical Excellence for the Sports Club/LA Project at The Ritz Carlton Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Another large project completed by Boatman and Magnani was the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center (Federal Triangle) in Washington, D.C. The work of over 150 valued employees was not unnoticed when Boatman and Magnani was awarded the prestigious Terrazzo Job of the Century by the National Terrazzo & Mosaic Association (NTMA).

Boatman and Magnani continues to make its mark using time-honored principles and exceptional craftsmanship and looks forward to new installation challenges in the future.

The company joined NTCA and pursued Five Star Contractor status to be considered part of a group of organizations that exemplify quality and integrity in the tile industry.

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