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.

boatman-pics

Member Spotlight – Hawthorne Tile – November 2016

custom-sponsorRyan Willoughby: my remarkable journey

Relationships built through NTCA involvement led Willoughby to relocate to Portland to join the Hawthorne Tile team

By Ryan Willoughby, project manager, Hawthorne Tile

hawthorne-logoThis is a brief story about how participation in the NTCA fostered the relationships to turn my whole life upside down, for the better.

It was February 2015, when Martin Brookes of Heritage Marble and Tile – then the NTCA Northern California Regional Director – had just returned from a Five Star Contractor presentation at Ann Sacks Tile and Stone in Portland, Ore. I was the NTCA State Ambassador at this time and had called him up to see how the presentation had gone.

Ryan Willoughby (l.) with Dirk Sullivan of Hawthorne Tile. Relationships built through NTCA involvement led Willoughby to relocate to Portland to join the Hawthorne Tile team.

Ryan Willoughby (l.) with Dirk Sullivan of Hawthorne Tile. Relationships built through NTCA involvement led Willoughby to relocate to Portland to join the Hawthorne Tile team.

Martin and I had become good friends through our participation in the NTCA. He had been a mentor to me since our companies were based in the same area, and we would typically see each other a few times a week. After hearing the skinny on the presentation, he shared about how much he had enjoyed his time in Portland with his co-Five Star presenter Dirk Sullivan of Hawthorne Tile. I told Martin that my wife, Roz, and I often toyed with the idea of moving our young family out of the Bay Area and that Portland was on our short list.

Roz and I had grown up in Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate from San Francisco, and witnessed both the escalating prices and pace of life, making it difficult on a young middle class family. I’m a first-generation tile contractor and in 2015, had been self-employed for five years. While business was good, I wasn’t so established that relocation was completely off the table. With our oldest starting kindergarten the following year we knew our window for moving couldn’t be better.

But, even with all of that, if you had asked me then if I thought I was ever going to leave I’d probably have told you no, and that all the evenings I spent scouring the internet for information on other cities’ construction markets and housing were just a lark.

Then one day the phone rang; it was Dirk. He had been speaking to Martin earlier and heard that I was considering a move. Hawthorne Tile had a great reputation and was the only Five Star Contractor in the city. As Portland grew, Hawthorne’s opportunities did as well, and Dirk was looking to add a project manager to his team. He thought that I might be a fit, since we had met briefly at Total Solutions Plus the previous year.

After a long talk with Roz, Dirk and I scheduled a week that summer for me to come work with the Hawthorne team and explore the city with my family. Roz fell in love with the city; I felt comfortable with the team. So with both fear and excitement, we made a decision. Eight months later I had closed down Willoughby Tile, put our home on the market, and we had gotten pregnant with our third. If you’re going to turn your whole world upside down you might as well give it a really good heave. So, off we went on this new adventure.

As I sit here writing this in October 2016, eight months have passed since I started working for Hawthorne and I’m just now starting to feel the whirlwinds of change subside. I’ll be honest – a new city, new job, new home, and new baby have all been wonderful, but certainly not without their share of anxiety. I’ve never vocalized it but during that first month I certainly questioned my decision since I was perpetually humbled by being “the new guy” in every facet of my life. Comically, during that period I remember thinking in one moment how lucky Hawthorne was to have me, only to be followed moments later with doubts about my own abilities. Thank goodness for me that as time passed, so did my own neurosis. Today I just want to be the best member of the team I can be.

I have to say that from day one the men and women of Hawthorne Tile have made me feel welcome and an immediate member of the family. I may be biased, but I think our project management team has to be the best around, bar none. Each one of us brings to the table a unique set of assets, and the level of support we have for one another is refreshing. This is a direct result of Dirk’s vision and the culture he is growing here. Sitting at a table with three others and a shared passion of our trade really puts us in a unique position of growth.

This vision and passion, combined with continued education and staying at the forefront of the industry through participation with the NTCA really has me excited to see where we can go. I’ve always been taught that the more I gave to something the more I received and this has absolutely been true with the NTCA.

Member Spotlight – October 2016

custom-sponsorNichols Tile & Terrazzo Co., Inc.

Joelton, Tenn.

Sense of family extends from business to industry, with membership in NTCA

nichols-logoNichols Tile & Terrazzo Co., Inc., got its beginnings back in 1946 when David Nichols started his career as a helper for Art Mosaic in Nashville, Tenn. After a leave of absence to join the Army, he returned from the Korean War in 1953 with a Purple Heart, and rejoined the private sector working on and managing out-of-town large commercial terrazzo projects. In the early 60s he left, and enjoyed two different partnerships with Glenn Arrington and Bob Dudley before starting Nichols Tile & Terrazzo Co., Inc. in 1973, with his wife Juanita anchoring the office.

1-mbr

At Coverings 2016, NTCA’s Jim Olson (r.) presented Brad Denny with a Special Recognition Award for his efforts in promoting NTCA through social media and helping the association increase its membership.

In 1974, Nichols’ stepson, Billy Denny, joined the company straight out of college to help with the estimating until he could find another job. “He jokes that he has yet to find anything,” said Bradford (Brad) Denny, Billy’s son, who came on full time as an installer in 1998, after working four years as a helper when not in school. Billy’s daughter, Amber Hunter, started working in the office in 2001 and has gradually taken over the responsibilities of her grandmother.

Today, Nichols Tile & Terrazzo Co., Inc., in Joelton, Tenn., is a NTCA member, focusing on commercial specialty projects and large custom residential, and has branched out into thin porcelain tile, while enjoying the challenge of large mortar beds, pools, fountains and waterproofing. Brad Denny, now project manager, serves the association as the NTCA Region 6 Director. He also moderates the online NTCA Members and NTCA Regional and State Ambassadors Facebook groups, and introduced NTCA to the Tile Geeks Facebook page, through which NTCA has gained new members. He was honored at Coverings 2016 as one of the Coverings Rock Stars, a group of some of the best and brightest young talent in the industry, and received a NTCA Special Recognition Award at Coverings for his constant voice in promoting NTCA in all forms of social media.

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This project was a vignette for a manufacturer displaying at a hotel industry conference. It received a People’s Choice Award for best display.

“For many years and three generations our company has had the reputation for doing work that is technically sound and well installed,” Denny explained. “Our clients note their satisfaction with our attention to detail and their schedules. All of our advertising is word of mouth. Many of our competitors respect us and have reached out to us for help with difficult projects. We enjoy great relationships with our local distributors, and that has been an excellent help through the years. We are a tight-knit family – all employees included – and we look to work with others who reflect similar qualities. We strive to be fair and wise with the blessing to be able to work together and make a living from the works of our hands.”

From STTMAC to NTCA

Nichols Tile & Terrazzo was a member of NTCA’s precursor, STTMAC back in the day, but Denny said, the company “did not take advantage of the benefits of actively participating in the organization.” The company re-upped in 2010, through the influence of Tom “Hammy” Hambrock, who was then serving as NTCA Middle Tennessee State director.

This 3,000 sq. ft. commercial kitchen was challenging due to the height restriction and over 35 drains. Pictured is Mario Bertoli, whose family has a rich history in the Nashville tile industry.

This 3,000 sq. ft. commercial kitchen was challenging due to the height restriction and over 35 drains. Pictured is Mario Bertoli, whose family has a rich history in the Nashville tile industry.

“We had met through the John Bridge Forums, and Hammy was adamant that I should join at a local workshop we attended together,” Denny said. “If you know Hammy, he was a force of nature and difficult to say no to, although I had been eyeing the benefits of the organization and admired the work they were doing for the industry.”

In 2005, many things started shifting for Denny. He married his wife Nicole, and became more interested in the overall workings of the family business as he considered the future of his own family. Through his new laptop, he discovered johnbridge.com and a community that was passionate about tile. Many professionals he encountered were connected or spoke about NTCA and it “sparked a desire to become a part of that.

Under this stunning mosaic is a heated floor. The sheet-mounted material did not enjoy staying together and many of the small mosaics were installed piece by piece.

Under this stunning mosaic is a heated floor. The sheet-mounted material did not enjoy staying together and many of the small mosaics were installed piece by piece.

“In the fall of 2014, after being a member and attending a few trade shows, I called Jim Olson to ask if I could anchor Hammy’s former position after we lost him in February of that year,” Denny said. “After a year of serving as a State Director, circumstances opened up a need for a board member in late 2015 and I was approached about filling the seat. After speaking with my family and realizing the honor and opportunity, I accepted and will serve as the Region 6 Director until the end of 2018 and possibly for another two years if needed.”

Denny has the highest praise for the opportunities afforded by NTCA, crediting it for helping him grow as both “an installer and businessman. Through relationships with others that are at a place we’d like to be as a company, all the while helping those who’d like to be where we currently are, the NTCA provides a network of contractors that are interested in continuing what is essentially an ancient art form, that can be profitable for many families,” he said.

Pictured is Chris Martin, a longtime Nichols Tile & Terrazzo employee, cleaning up the pool decking and coping the company installed to complement the new surrounding wall tile. This remodel was a major updating to the historical first indoor pool in Tennessee. It involved a very detailed slope design to the mortar bed in a cramped space, new floated columns, and waterproofing to protect the space below it.

Pictured is Chris Martin, a longtime Nichols Tile & Terrazzo employee, cleaning up the pool decking and coping the company installed to complement the new surrounding wall tile. This remodel was a major updating to the historical first indoor pool in Tennessee. It involved a very detailed slope design to the mortar bed in a cramped space, new floated columns, and waterproofing to protect the space below it.

Thin tile is something Nichols Tile & Terrazzo has become comfortable with, to the point of tackling difficult projects. Pictured here is a green marble overlay with epoxy mortar.

Thin tile is something Nichols Tile & Terrazzo has become comfortable with, to the point of tackling difficult projects. Pictured here is a green marble overlay with epoxy mortar.

“The work that the NTCA does to represent the contractor speaks directly to what we see as most important, protection of those close to you,” he added. Sharing experiences in tile setting with others on the same path, “really gives us a common thread that can be knitted together for a common good,” he said. “I feel like the NTCA is the perfect vehicle for that. From methods and standards to benefits and networking, the NTCA is something we are using to join our family with the larger family that is present.”

Denny is also keen on being credentialed, having obtained his Certified Tile Installer status (CTI #1190) at TISE 2016, and is looking to gain ACT certification in 2017. Others at Nichols are also seeking CTI status in the coming year as well.

For Denny, the artistry and longevity inherent in tile setting is part of the satisfaction of his craft. “I personally love creating something that is beautiful to the eye that will last for many years,” he said. “I enjoy the challenge of executing a design, the transfer of an idea from the mind and to physical reality. As a contractor, we enjoy providing the opportunity for a livelihood that is rewarding to individuals and families, all while satisfying our clients.”

This is another example of a difficult thin tile project. These concrete columns, in the middle of a preferred member lounge in a NHL arena, were clad with narrow strips of 3+ thin tile panels. Through training with one of the major manufacturers, Nichols Tile & Terrazzo was able to come in and finish this project started by another contractor.

This is another example of a difficult thin tile project. These concrete columns, in the middle of a preferred member lounge in a NHL arena, were clad with narrow strips of 3+ thin tile panels. Through training with one of the major manufacturers, Nichols Tile & Terrazzo was able to come in and finish this project started by another contractor.

Member Spotlight: Kyle’s Tile LLC

custom-sponsorKyle’s Tile LLC
Ocean View, Delaware
www.KylesTile.com

by Lesley Goddin

spot-01About 16 years ago, Justin Kyle was working as a helper for a small tile company in Pennsylvania. What he didn’t know then was that all the installations by this company were being done incorrectly. Oops!

But Kyle started learning and teaching himself correct methods of tilesetting. “I started reading anything and everything I could on the subject of tile installation,” Kyle said. “The John Bridge Forum was a wealth of information for me, and I quickly realized that just about every project I had helped on was being done wrong. My concerns fell on deaf ears.”

Three years later, he left Pennsylvania for the beaches of Delaware to establish his own business.

“For the first five years after resettling, almost all the work I did was through a well-known, reputable, local tile shop,” Kyle said. “Through bouncing information off of their other installers I perfected my methods.”

spot-02 Today, Kyle’s Tile is a strictly residential business, with 80% of jobs being renovations and 80% of these renovations being bathrooms. Kyle’s dedication to keep learning and staying on top of methods and products sets him apart from his competition. “I stay active in the industry, and through Tile Geeks and the NTCA, I have built up a great relationship with other very knowledgeable installers and company representatives,” he said.

Kyle joined the NTCA about a year ago. “I joined the NTCA mainly based on comments and suggestions given by other installers that I have a tremendous respect for,” he said. “They are members and if they think it’s good for them, I’m inclined to follow them.”

spot-03Kyle sees a range of values in being a NTCA member. “Obviously, there is the networking that is crucial in doing business in this day and age,” he said. “I am a one-man operation and always focused more on the craft than the business. The NTCA has helped me in balancing my focus between the two more equally. Running a business isn’t just about producing a great product. One has to learn the best ways to get that product out to clients in a way that is beneficial for both them and the installer – thus, learning the business side of the industry.”

Kyle dove in right away to give back to his industry through becoming a NTCA State Director. “I became a state director for two reasons,” he said. “First, when I joined the NTCA there were only two or three other NTCA members in my state. In becoming a State Director, I thought I could help in getting information about the organization in the hands of those who might be interested in it.

“The other reason was because of the need for qualified labor,” he explained. “I figured if I could get shops, designers, architects, and builders to become aware and understand the NTCA, we might be able to reduce the number of failed installations. In my area, the median home value is well over $500,000. We have good finish craftsmen but seem to lack qualified tile installers. Often, the tile portion of a project is the most overlooked and undervalued part of a build.”

spot-04Although Kyle is not currently a Certified Tile Installer (CTI) through the CTEF, clearly, that’s an important issue for him. To that end, he is actively working to bring a CTI testing session to his local area.

Being a tile installer is about independence, craftsmanship, creativity and satisfaction for Kyle. “In being a tile contractor, I get to be my own boss,” he said. “More importantly, I get to take a vague idea from a client and create something from it that outshines what they had envisioned. Being able to exceed their expectations is something that would make anyone smile.”

Member Spotlight – August 2016

custom-sponsorHutcheson Tile & Stone
Eagle River, Alaska

A quality job means executing a well-thought-out plan of action

By Lesley Goddin

spot-01Hutcheson Tile & Stone in Eagle River, Ak., prides itself on working directly with end users and helping them through the “sometimes difficult process of a renovation,” said Don Hutcheson, owner. The company has done commercial work, but Hutcheson explained, “Our pace and goals are more suited to assisting homeowners and designers execute a well-thought-out plan for a functional and aesthetically pleasing project.”

Hutcheson started out in 1997 with Local 1236 right out of high school. This was a soft-good union, but it didn’t take him long to recognize he needed a more artistic challenge than soft-goods installation could provide. With the motto, “stick with what you know,” in mind, Hutcheson focused in on the tile trade, starting his own business in 2003 and his own tile company nine years ago in 2007. “Tile was a part of the trade that required more skill than just a warm body,” he said. “You cannot – in our line of work – do a better job by just adding more people. Finishing a job does not require you to turn up the radio and sweat more; it takes a well-thought-out-plan of action and an understanding of what the last cut will look like before you set your first tile.”

Don Hutcheson with daughters (l. to r.) Elizabeth, now 6 and Emma, now 2. The new addition to the family this year is Evelyn, born May 17.

Don Hutcheson with daughters (l. to r.) Elizabeth, now 6 and Emma, now 2. The new addition to the family this year is Evelyn, born May 17.

Continuing with his ethic of quality, Hutcheson joined NTCA two years ago after seeing the positive reviews from respected people on internet forums and social media who were promoting the values of being a member. “I always was confused about how to best tell someone how, or why to do something a certain way,” Hutcheson said. “Well, it is all there, right in the TCNA Handbook for Ceramic, Glass and Stone Tile Installation. I realized I had been doing some things wrong, but now I had a book that wasn’t just the text on a computer screen from who-knows-what-source, or [questionable] experience level of the person offering the information, but manufacturers and leaders of our industry who care greatly about the success of our industry as a whole.”

Hutcheson said that “One of the biggest benefits from the NTCA is the connection to other members who are equally, if not more, involved and concerned about the current state and future of our industry. The educational resources offered are amazing; with a little bit of digging around on the website, you will likely find more information than you were looking for. One of the greatest features to me, a small one-man show looking to expand, are the new training modules offered for an apprentice. Having gone through a union apprenticeship, I see value in training team members to be familiar with standards and expectations of our industry. That is a hard thing to do when you are trying to finish a shower for Mrs. Jones, but these are online classes that can be taken at any time. I think after a few years of this new program being out there we will see a significant increase in certified installers, and quality installations.”

spot-03spot-04Hutcheson is NTCA State Director for Alaska. He explained that “NTCA seems to be a good motivation for me to make myself, my business and my industry better – but there is no doubt that it can get lost sometimes in the daily grind of what we do. So after speaking with some folks who were State Directors and how that had helped them in their career, I asked about becoming the State Director for Alaska.”

The value is immense. “It is a great source of networking and I get to speak with other contractors that I meet at supply shops and tell them about the benefits of the NTCA,” he said. “I will get phone calls from suppliers or shops with questions. Those calls and conversations can come at any time and they are a great boost to morale and a reminder that we aren’t just installing a backsplash today – we are representing an industry and trying to make it better.”

Hutcheson just passed his certified installer exam on June 18th, making him the #1238 Certified Tile Installer in the country and the only one in Alaska. “It was a stressful test,” he admitted. Knowing a little about the difficulty from others who have taken the test, Hutcheson learned, “it was no walk in the park. I think that is a credit to NTCA and the CTEF for not just handing out participation awards.”

spot-06spot-05Being a tile setter is no walk in the park for Hutcheson, either. “Some days I hate this trade,” he honestly exclaimed. “Manufacturers of tile, product manufacturers, clients and peers all have different ideas what a great tile install should be. Those things are always in the back of your mind. I have never left a job that I was 100% satisfied with; I doubt I ever will. But I have never left a job that the client wasn’t happy with, either.” Hutcheson added, “When our clients are happy, they tell their friends about it and that is good for our industry. When our clients are upset with a job, they tell everybody, and those are the things that I try to avoid by being an informed member of the NTCA.”

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