In an effort to provide online training to support tile contracting companies, the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) is in the process of completing the first year of its Apprenticeship Program. The first year, introduced at Coverings 2016, is broken into six-month increments. The first section focuses on introducing the worker to the tile industry, promoting safety in the workplace, the types of tools that will be used on a regular basis, and basic knowledge of mixing materials and how products are used together. The final phase of the first year of the program will go into further detail of installation processes like surface preparation and profiling.

The Apprenticeship Program was developed to attract people into the trade by demonstrating a clear path for them to be properly trained while they are employed and being compensated. The online program is intended to support contractors own training efforts on the jobsite. It serves as related learning for a Department of Labor-approved apprenticeship program that a contractor provides, or any additional training for introductory employees including sales people, counter help at a distributor, or helpers. The program can also serve as a refresher course for those who haven’t had training or education in these areas in a while. Contractors can sign up for the program through NTCA University for an all-access subscription and can register any current or future employee.

According to Education and Training Coordinator Becky Serbin, the association will soon begin developing the second year of the program, which will include more in-depth knowledge of grouting techniques, waterproofing, transitioning into a tile setter helper role, and introducing the worker to management courses to provide training for individuals to manage their own finishing crew.

“While the content development has been slower than I originally expected, I have been working with contractors and manufacturers to ensure that the information we are providing can be used to give the next generation of mechanics the tools they need for successful tile installations,” Serbin said. “I’m lookingforward to the next year as we continue to grow NTCA University into a site that all tile installers can come to learn something new, no matter their skill level.”

NTCA is in the final stages of working out agreements with technical colleges about using this program as curriculum for the education portion of their classes. The next steps in development of the apprenticeship program will be a tile setter related learning program which will also be a two-year related training program. The curriculum will continue to be announced in six month increments, and will be available for viewing and purchase online as each course is completed.

NTCA Benefits Box – April 2017

NTCA’s State Ambassador program – 132 strong at last count – has evolved over the last few years from its State Director program.

These “ambassadors” represent the NTCA and assist trainers at local NTCA Tile & Stone Workshops, recruit and recommend contractors for membership, work with local distributors in circulating NTCA brochures, applications and posters in their locations, and welcome and support new members. They also provide current industry news from their local area, which is often covered in TileLetter magazine or at tileletter.com online.

The intent of this group is to form a strong, supportive web of NTCA members that support the tile trade and all NTCA members in the local area. They also positively promote qualified labor, certification, the NTCA, and the tile industry as a whole.

Many of the State Ambassadors are installers themselves, but some are manufacturer reps who cover more than one state. Active in this program are: Ardex Americas, Bostik, Daltile, HB Fuller, MAPEI and wedi.

State Ambassadors are also NTCA’s eyes and ears in the local market, and gather information and ideas that can help NTCA better serve local contractors.

Visit NTCA at www.tile-assn.com and search for “2017 State Ambassadors” or use this shortened link to take you directly to the list of State Ambassadors: http://bit.ly/2o8gmLe.

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!”


President’s Letter – April 2017

It’s April and Spring is upon us. With Spring comes the Easter celebration and all of nature reminding us that there are opportunities for new beginnings, personally and professionally. Regardless where you have been or how you have been running your life or business, today can be a new beginning.

The ideas of professionalism, craftsmanship, integrity, and customer service are values that we esteem and hold in high regard. Yet they don’t just happen — we must choose to invest our time, energy and resources to develop these values and see them integrated into the fiber of how we are personally and professionally.

Once a month our company gathers during the lunch hour to discuss and learn from each other. We call these gatherings “Forums” and they have been a transformational event in the success of our team. We spent all of 2016 discussing  the aforementioned ideas as the core values of our company.

Professionalism – This means being knowledgeable, informed and competent, and well trained to complete one’s job or trade. There are some who say it takes 5,000 hours of practice to be considered a professional. That’s about 2.5 years of full time work required at a specific task to master it. How are we pursuing the knowledge and training to be professional in our jobs? Did you learn your job from a mentor or were you hired and “thrown into the deep end of the pool” and forced to learn it on your own? Regardless how you started out, you have the opportunity to gain the knowledge needed to be a professional tile setter, finisher or business owner —  and you owe it to your customers.

Craftsmanship – While the traditional meaning is directed towards the product of skilled hands, we took a broader view of the term to include the skilled performance of any task by any of our team members — whether the skilled estimator, warehouse delivery person, accounts receivable or payable person, admin assistant, project manager or superintendent. Ultimately though, the skilled craftspeople installing tile and stone on projects are what keeps the rest of us employed. Therefore, we must make training and education of our craftspeople a very high priority. If we don’t, we won’t be in business very much longer.

Integrity – This is the quality of being honest and fair. To quote the proverb, “Keep your word and do what is right, even when it hurts.” We found through our discussions that this carries over to what we think and believe of ourselves and others, which determines how we treat them. If we don’t respect others, we will not treat them with integrity. If we want to be professional and successful, we must treat our customers, vendors, suppliers and team members with integrity.

Customer Service is meeting the customer’s expectations. We are only able to do this when we are properly educated, trained, skilled and treat others with integrity. Here’s what I mean: when you possess these qualities, you will help your customer set the appropriate expectations for the service you are contracted to perform. Without these qualities, you will leave your customer to create their own expectations and you may never be able to meet them.

I encourage us all to take the reminder of Spring, that each day is a new beginning. Let’s focus our energy on growing and improving personally, professionally and as an industry. If we do, the future will be bright and full of opportunity.

Thank you to all the DAC team for helping me learn and see these values more clearly. Keep on tiling!

Martin Howard, NTCA President

Committee member, ANSI A108

[email protected]

Northern Virginia NTCA Five Star Contractors partner on high-visibility Dekton project

Collins Tile and Stone, David Allen Company collaborate on commercial fabrication showroom install 

The crew (l. to r.): DAC’s Hugo Gonzalez, Chris Walker, and Edgar Martinez; and Collins’ Oscar Cardenas, Arpad Bereczki, and Buck Collins.


When Marble & Granite Express, a Cosentino Loyalty fabricator in Chantilly, Va., decided to completely redesign and remodel its DC-area customer showroom and design center, only a beautiful floor that would perform under the most extreme foot-traffic conditions would do. Because this customer is a Cosentino Dekton Certified fabricator – working daily with Dekton for countertops, fireplaces, exterior kitchens, showers, facades and other interior and exterior applications – it knew that Dekton, of course would be the perfect solution for the 2,000 sq. ft. showroom floor.


Crews had to diamond-grind the floor to prepare it for primer and self-leveling underlayment.

Dekton is a breed of surfacing material unto itself. The website (www.dekton.com/usa) explains that Dekton “employs exclusive Sinterized Particle Technology, a high-tech process which represents an accelerated version of the metamorphic change that natural stone undergoes when subjected to high temperatures and pressure over thousands of years.” The material has zero porosity and is super strong, lacking micro-defects in other materials that can cause tension or weak spots and it resists heat, frost and thawing. It’s also super flat, with 1/4000th of an inch tolerance.


Primer was applied after diamond-grinding and prior to self-leveler application.


To best show the value of Dekton, Cosentino has chosen to partner with highly-skilled NTCA Five Star Contractors. These contractors have a proven ability to expertly handle Dekton’s hardness and its size with specialized techniques and equipment necessary to work with the material. That’s why Larry Mazzola, who runs Cosentino DC, turned to Collins Tile and Stone in Ashburn, Va., and David Allen Company (DAC) in Raleigh, N.C.

Stellar collaboration from Five Star Contractors

Crews get ready to level the floor.


Both NTCA Five Star Contractors – an industry-recognized measure of excellence and accomplishment — Collins and DAC have had a long professional and personal friendship, born of mutual membership in the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA). Buck Collins, president of Collins Tile and Stone is dedicated to employing installers with Certified Tile Installer (CTI) credentials, an industry-recognized measure of validating tile setting skills.  Buck, along with wife Dana, has a superior reputation for performing high-end

LATICRETE NXT Level created a smooth, flat surface for the Dekton panels.

residential installations with unrivaled customer-satisfaction.  In addition, the company is involved in serving the industry and always learning more. Buck was the NTCA Region #2 director until last year, and was the first Northern Virginia NTCA Five Star Contractor.  He also is a member of the NTCA Technical Committee. 


Chris Walker is vice president of the David Allen Company, NTCA vice president , and chairman of ANSI A-108 and the new A-108.19 gauged thin tile panel installation standard.  And it turns out that both Collins Tile and Stone, and the David Allen Company are inaugural members of the Cosentino-Dekton family.

The Dekton panels were 56” x 56” x 8 mm thick.

The project got started when Collins Tile and Stone was contacted by Mazzola because of Collins’ regional reputation for high quality installations and commitment to customer service.  After evaluating the needs of the project, Buck decided to call on Chris and DAC for collaborating on the job.  David Allen Company – one of the nation’s largest contractors — brought experience with installing several gauged thin porcelain tile and large panel projects to the table. Since these sintered ultra-compact Dekton Zenith materials on floors were 56” x 56” x 8 mm thick, DAC’s experience was invaluable in ensuring a smooth installation process.

ETM Grip from European Tile Masters was used to move and handle the ultra-large format Dekton panels.

Good thing too – “The biggest challenges…were the size of the tile,” Collins said.  “While the tools we used made that easier, we were still setting 21.77 square foot per tile!” 

Another key member of the team was LATICRETE’s Kurt Webber, who worked with Collins’ Concrete Coatings crew to facilitate self-leveling necessary for the project.

“Since a perfectly flat floor is instrumental to successful tile installations — particularly large panel installations — significant floor preparation was required,” Walker said.


The prep work took three days and the tile installation itself was eight days,” Collins said. Collins Concrete Coatings personnel used diamond-

LATICRETE 4-XLT mortar was used on the job.

wheel concrete grinding equipment in concert with a survey by DAC to identify areas that needed grinding or filling, Walker added. After grinding, crews installed LATICRETE NXT Primer and leveled the floor using LATICRETE NXT Level.  In addition, two coats of LATICRETE Hydro Ban were installed for its crack isolation properties.

To facilitate moving and handling of the Dekton, European Tile Masters’ Brian Runkle reviewed the latest installation techniques and equipment with the installation crews.


The installation crews featured three Certified Tile Installers: Collins Tile and Stone’s Oscar CardenasCTI # 1007, along with two from David Allen Company: superintendent Marcos Castillo, CTI #552, and Edgar Martinez, CTI #1257.

Dekton panels were back buttered with a large-format tile mortar.



Crews used LATICRETE 4-XLT large-format mortar to bond the Dekton and LATICRETE SPECTRALock Pro Premium to grout it.


In addition, Collins Tiles and Stone’s experienced finisher Arpad Bereczki (who is on track to take his CTI exam soon) and DAC’s Hugo Gonzalez also assisted with the installation (Hugo is enrolledin the NTCA University’s Apprentice training program). Buck Collins noted that the Marble & Granite Express was “absolutely thrilled” with the installation.


Mortar also was applied to the floor to lock in the bond.


And the added benefit for Collins Tile and Stone and nearby David Allen Company is that there is now a “2,000 sq. ft. showroom in our backyard.” A true win-win for everyone involved.






Crews installed 2,000 sq. ft. of Dekton panels on the fabricator showroom floor.

Dekton expertly installed by crews from Collins Tile and Stone and David Allen Company.


Editor’s Letter – March 2017

“Spring is the time of plans and projects.” ― Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Welcome to spring. The long, dark winter (for some – here in New Mexico, we’ve had 80 degree temperatures in March already!) is over and the tiling season has begun.

Of course, for most contractors, the tiling season is all year round, though the warmer weather affords some flexibility (and struggles – with wind, humidity, high temperatures, sun and rain) and opportunity for indoor and outdoor tiling projects.

Though warm weather is upon us (or nearly upon us, for those of you in the Northeast), cool weather will come round before we know it. That’s why it’s worth discussing electric floor warming with your clients. Today’s technologies make it easy to install and the benefits of a warm, cozy floor (even enjoyed on cool summer nights) will be appreciated for years to come. Take a look at our Tech Talk section for some discussion of electric floor warming challenges straight out of the NTCA Reference Manual.

Despite the push towards spring, we’re taking a look back at The International Surfaces Expo West (TISE West) that took place in the dead of January in Las Vegas. Take a gander at the events and activities that NTCA sponsored and supported at the show, which has really grown into a vibrant and vital opportunity for tile and stone contractors. Our product section this month also contains a sampling of what was seen at the show, both in terms of finishing product and setting materials and accessories.

We also have a fun Business Tip this month – Riding shotgun with Connie Heinlein. Connie is wife and intrepid assistant to NTCA technical trainer/presenter Mark Heinlein, and accompanies him to workshops around the country (many of the excellent photos of Mark you see in TileLetter or on social media are courtesy of Connie). She has a unique perspective on the value of NTCA to installers in the industry, and in the Business Tip section, she shares it with you.

At Total Solutions Plus, Training and Education coordinator Becky Serbin interviewed some of our prominent contractor members on video about the value of being a Certified Tile Contractor. TileLetter freelancer Terryn Rutford has extracted some salient quotes about the importance of this credential and how it helps in business, and presents it as our Qualified Labor story this month.

And in closing, a little tidbit that came to my attention from the Tile Geeks social media group on Facebook.  Schluter’s Shannon Huffstickler had shared some information about Tim Daly –known for his role in television hits Wings and Private Practice, and currently appearing as the husband of the Secretary of State in Madame Secretary opposite Tea Leoni– that she had heard during an interview with him on NPR that morning. It turns out that Daly (whose sister is Tyne Daly, by the way) once had a tile company in California called Silver Dollar Tile Company, because they “signed” their work by installing a silver dollar in every floor.

Do you “sign” your work? Send an email to [email protected] and let me know how you make your mark on the installation (apart from your excellent work, of course).

Make this day your best one yet.

God bless,


Workshops and Educational Events

The Tile Shop went above the call of duty for this February 9 event, presented by CTEF director of training and certification Scott Carothers in Dunwoody, Ga. It included over 10 key accounts from all over the country, and a tour of the nearby Blanke and Lackmond manufacturing facilities.  NTCA board advisor Dan Welch, NTCA State Ambassador John Roberts, and NTCA training and education coordinator Becky Serbin were also on hand to support the event, during which one new member signed up and nine installers expressed interest in taking the Certified Tile Installer exam in the future. The Tile Shop manager Henry Paz, technical coordinator Dan Holcomb, and numerous other Tile Shop personnel went all out to make this workshop a huge success.  The group is pictured at Blanke’s manufacturing facility.

Southern California State Ambassador Josh Castelli and son

John Wirtz and Amber Fox spoke about the NTCA Five Star Contractor program

About 40 people attended the San Diego Daltile Design Center NTCA workshop. The Southern California crowd expressed a lot of interest in certification. 

On February 21, the San Diego Daltile Design Center NTCA workshop was a hit, with about 40 attendees. Presented by NTCA’s Robb Roderick, it was supported by Southern California State Ambassador Josh Castelli of Christian Brothers Flooring & Interiors, and  John Wirtz and NTCA Five Star Contractor Coordinator Amber Fox who both spoke briefly about the NTCA Five Star Contractor program. Manufacturers iQ Power Tools, Alpha Professional Products and Custom Building Products were also represented.  The Southern California crowd also expressed a lot of interest in certification. 

Sixteen people attended the Mechanicsburg, Pa., workshop.  CTEF’s Scott Carothers stopped in on his way from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia to lend his support to the workshop effort.  A second surprise visitor was NTCA vice president Chris Walker who happened to be traveling from New York to Washington with his mother-in-law, and made a slight adjustment to his travel plans to attend and support the workshop. Chris and Scott both provided outstanding commentary on successful contractors and installers joining and participating in the NTCA and challenging themselves with the Certified Tile Installer exam. 

On February 23 – National Tile Day – NTCA celebrated at the Daltile in Allentown, Pa. Jerry Dwyer, Dal’s NE Region VP presented manager Shawn Friel with his 25 year service award and the staff with a tile plaque recognizing Dal’s 70 years in business. Lots of great prizes were given away including trip for four and tickets to a game in a skybox at Yankee Stadium!

(L. to r.)  From MAPEI: Todd DeKorte, ; Becky Perry; and Lou Genzlinger, with NTCA technical trainer Mark Heinlein. While assisting with Mark Heinlein’s Conshohocken, Pa., workshop, Todd DeKorte, MAPEI sales representative for Eastern/Central PA & DE graciously offered show him the brand new MAPEI Distribution Center for the Northeastern U.S.  Unit manager Lou Genzslinger and Quality Control manager Becky Perry gave Mark a comprehensive tour and behindthescene insight of the brand new operation. 

The new van in which Mark and Connie Heinlein will tour the country is fully emblazoned with training and education sponsor logos! 

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.  


NTCA Benefits Box – March 2017

Benefits Box: Marketing and Contractor Safety Programs

Among the plethora of programs offered by membership in the NTCA, are two options that have an immediate benefit for your business: The NTCA Marketing Program and the NTCA Contractors Safety Program.

Marketing Program

Want to promote your business but not sure where to start and what to say? NTCA has developed a package of professional marketing tools specifically designed to promote the contractor’s services. This affordable program can be tailored for your residential or commercial clients.



NTCA Contractors Safety Program

Wondering why you need a safety program? An active safety program is necessary to bid or secure work, and avoid costly interruptions to company operations. It can allow you to reduce insurance and worker compensation costs, while helping to improve employee attitude, morale and reinforce a feeling of teamwork. An active safety program can also help cultivate quality employee applicants.

Of course, one of the key reasons to invest in a safety program is to reduce on-the-job accidents, improve overall quality and reduce the need for training replacement personnel.

The NTCA Contractor Safety Program is different from other safety programs because it was created to meet the specific needs of tile contractors.  It was developed by NTCA in cooperation with Jim Isaminger of D.M.I. Tile and Marble in Birmingham, Ala.  Programs are tailored for business sizes between 1-10 employees, 11-20 employees, 21-30 employees, and those companies with 31 and more employees. Receive a $100 discount for just being an NTCA member.

For more information on these and other benefits, contact assistant executive director Jim Olson at [email protected] or call 612-788-4726. Or view all NTCA membership benefits at http://www.tile-assn.com/?page=Membership.

President’s Letter – March 2017

I’ve just returned from TISE West/Surfaces West in Las Vegas where the NTCA experienced its most productive and successful attendance at this conference to date.

What made it so special, you ask?

This is the fourth year NTCA has been responsible for the tile contactor education track and with the help of the NTCA State Ambassadors, we created quite a buzz around the conference hall. The NTCA booth was much larger, and featured lounge areas for networking and impromptu contractor roundtable discussions. The State Ambassadors worked the booth for the most part and signed up several new members. The Ambassador Reception and Dinner was very well attended by contractors who were excited to be there and exchange ideas and information.

The Board of Directors meeting started out with an update of the NTCA Strategic Plan by executive director Bart Bettiga. The great news here is that the two-year Finisher program will be completed and available on-line at the NTCA University website by Coverings this year. The two-year Installer program is on track to be complete by the end of 2018. If you haven’t seen this tremendous learning tool, I encourage you to contact Becky Serbin, Training and Education Coordinator for a preview (see NTCA University Update on page XX of this issue).

Another major initiative that started at the end of 2016 is the hiring of Kevin Insalato, of California Flooring in Manteno, Ill., to work with Scott Carothers and CTEF. His major responsibility is to train and certify Regional Evaluators who will administer the Certified Tile Installer (CTI) examination. Kevin has nearly tripled the number of evaluators across the country and is seeking more qualified individuals. Our goal is to see the current number of 1,300 CTIs grow well into the thousands by the end of 2018.

Next up, the Subcommittee reports

The Training and Education committee, chaired by Dave Rogers, of Welch Tile & Marble, Kent City Michigan,  now has five subcommittees as follows:

  • Safety – Chaired by Robert Showers. This committee is working on documents to be made available to all NTCA members as a resource for safety training, OSHA-approved safety programs and up-to-date changes in regulations and how they might impact our trade.
  • Promotion – Chaired by Paige Smith. This committee is working on initiatives to promote CTI and specific hot topics in distributor showrooms, along with talking points for workshops.
  • Certification – Chaired by Sam Bruce. This group is working hard to write scripts and study aids for those preparing to take the CTI exam. Its goal is to see those who possess the skills and knowledge increase their success rate by being properly prepared for the exam.
  • CEU Programs for Management – Chaired by Dirk Sullivan. This group is working to provide programs and educational study guides for advancement in all areas of management.
  • CEU Technical – Chaired by Rod Owen. This group is developing scripts for educational videos to be used in training field foremen and superintendents.

These committees have now held two in-person meetings  — at Total Solutions Plus (TSP) and TISE West — along with many conference calls and video conferences showing their commitment to grow the value of membership in the NTCA. There were nearly 100 industry professionals in attendance at the Board of Directors meeting, and it is very exciting to see so many new faces taking leadership roles within the association.

The Technical Committee, Membership Committee, Methods and Standards Committee and Convention and Planning Committee also gave reports along with an update on the NTCA Five Star program from new Five Star Program director, Amber Fox.

As always, I invite your involvement and feedback and I look forward to seeing you at Coverings in April.

Keep on tiling!


Martin Howard, NTCA President

Committee member, ANSI A108

[email protected]

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