Christine and John Kotara of J&R Tile. Christine is the CEO and John was the co-founder of the company in 1984, with his brother Raymond.
Back in 1984, John Kotara and his brother Raymond, founders of San Antonio’s J&R Tile, Inc., chose NTCA membership, with the intent of emphasizing professionalism, education and industry collaboration of its tradesmen and participants.
Today, 32 years later, following in her father’s footsteps, director of operations Erin Albrecht has taken the lead on continuing J&R’s focus of educating the staff and the industry. Christine Kotara oversees the operation as CEO.
J&R Tile director of operations
This current generation of J&R Tile leadership has taken participation to the next level, with dedication to certification, NTCA State Directorship, and technical leadership. For instance, Albrecht is a NTCA Training & Education Committee member, serves on the NTCA Thin Porcelain Tile Subcommittee, and is a Texas State Director for NTCA.
NTCA membership – J&R Tile is a Five Star Contractor – has become an essential component in developing partner alliances with training and educational support, manufacturer cross collaboration and recruitment efforts deeply rooted in CTI and ACT-credentialed individuals.
Today, J&R Tile’s impressive roster of work encompasses commercial, design build renovations, architectural support and specification consultation, pre-construction consulting and installation, LTPT, ultra-compact surfaces, specialty glass mosaics, moisture remediation, plaster and mud work, concrete toppings, surface prep, and underfloor heating, as well as high-end residential.
Why does this Woman Owned Small Business consider itself “The Most Qualified Commercial Tile Contractor in Texas,” and THE resource for large and complicated projects in Texas?
J&R Tile’s crew of installers
100% qualified workforce; emphasis on training and staff support
For starters, J&R Tile’s workforce is 100% qualified through industry-recognized CTEF Certified Tile Installer (CTI) credentialing and ACT certification. Since May 2015, it has trained and elevated seven CTIs, and two CTI professionals have achieved ACT Certification. Based on the CTI/ACT curricula, J&R Tile is currently developing several apprentice setters as well.
“It is our goal for J&R Tile, Inc. to be the most qualified, trained and technically-sound workforce in the trade,” Albrecht said. “The collaboration and professionalism of our CTIs and staff are what sets us apart, and we pride our business model on the complete experience.”
J&R provided technical expertise for substrate testing and to select and install the proper bonding agents for this Neiman Marcus project, that called for installation of plastic-sheet-mounted mosaics.
The company prides itself in offering creative, technically sound solutions to large technical challenges that help keep projects on schedule and under budget. Part of this comes from collaboration on pre-construction design and consultation from the project inception, and providing job-specific warranties and maintenance case studies on every project.
Part of the solidity of the company comes from the way it trains and regards its staff and full-time professional setting teams. The corporate strategy revolves around training, education, craftsmanship and quality installation. That includes a raft of weekly accountability and training measures for the company: weekly technical training and demonstrations at the company headquarters/training facility; weekly feedback from professional staff about products; weekly TCNA Handbook Training Topics aligned with product solutions, and an open forum for staff collaboration on new products and methods.
The company doesn’t pay lip service to the importance of training, either – it provides paid initial and ongoing training and incentives in the form of goal-structured project management led by CTIs and ACTs as superintendents/installers, and incentive-based profit sharing for all staff based on goals achieved.
There are other corporate benefits as well that fully support J&R team members: full time medical, dental and company-provided life insurance, and retirement plans with company matching contributions. In addition, the company provides all tools, truck and fuel for projects.
J&R Tile was tasked with massive demolition and replacement of 12 restrooms at Sea World in a three-week timeframe. The company conducted video documentation of substrate testing to substantiate technical recommendations prior to the start of the job. The contractor navigated the short time frame and worked around visitors and customers in the park, using rapid-set technology to meet the goals for the job.
“Every member on our team plays in important role, and we do our best to create an engaging, supportive environment,” Albrecht said. “It shows with the professionalism of our staff from the owners to the newest hire. It’s a very special culture that fosters accountability and trust.”
J&R Tile employs some innovations that helps it uphold its reputation for excellence: real time, cloud- based project documentation and feedback from CTI/ACT professionals; architectural outreach with strategic partners throughout the region through available CEU credits and demonstrations, and showcasing J&R Tile’s professional installers and projects on social media and through a robust website (www.jandrtile.com).
Industry and community outreach
J&R’ s involvement doesn’t stop with its support of internal staff and the architectural design community. It’s invested in raising the excellence of the local industry tile community – as well as giving back with community outreach that also supports the future of the tile trade.
J&R arranges for ACT-certified setters to work with youth in growing interest in construction trades through involvement with Boy Scouts, PACE Program (Builders Exchange of Texas), the Pre-Employment Architectural and Construction Exploration Program, and TCCI (Texas Construction Career Initiative).
J&R Tile was faced with a costly demolition of 62 dormitory restrooms at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, with extended down times. This fast-track project required the work to be completed in phases, where one floor at a time would be completed. Phasing was important due to students occupying the floors above and below where the renovations were being done. The major scope of work was the demolition and replacement of all outdated shower/tub units. The shower valves were replaced by the plumbing contractor, and the existing base and entry to restroom had an outdated tile curb to be replaced. J&R Tile coordinated with the general contractor to have the plumbing contractor stub out for the thickness of the new tile. New 4 1/4” x 8 1/2” tile was installed on existing 4 1/4” x 4 1/4” wall tile.