Change or be dragged: How to reinvent yourself when life demands it

Paul G. Krasnow, author of The Success Code: A Guide for Achieving Your Personal Best in Business and Life (J & K Publishing, 2018, ISBN: 978-0-692-99241-8), approaches the personal and professional changes that life inevitably brings our way as opportunities to reinvent ourselves – and thrive. 

“When you face a setback in your life, you have two choices,” Krasnow said. “Remain stuck or move forward; it’s that simple. Life is too short to spend it stuck and miserable. Take action now to change your life or get ready to watch life pass you by.”

Krasnow’s book tells the story of Krasnow’s journey – from his modest beginnings in 1940s Los Angeles, to starting over again after business failure, to his epic career rise as a financial representative at Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company.

Krasnow offers the following tips on embracing change and creative reinvention when life demands: 

• Realize it’s never too late. During the course of your lifetime, you will be called upon to reinvent yourself, time and time again. Don’t let yourself stay stuck in what you know. Make the most of the resilience you now have under your belt with overcoming previous challenges and strive for new horizons. As you envision this new version of yourself, what are some steps you can take today to put that new self into action?

Take an honest look at your life. Muster the courage to look at your life and figure out where you’ve gone wrong, and the changes you need to make to get back on track. Own up to the mistakes you have made and take responsibility for the part you played in getting yourself stuck. Krasnow points out that this kind of brutal honesty is not for the faint of heart. It requires courage to take full responsibility for your life and most importantly for the failures in your wake. But if you can sit down and face your own mistakes, you will free yourself up to learn from the painful consequences you are facing today.

Move forward; just do it. “Change is not rocket science,” said Krasnow. “We all have a tendency to make life so complicated when it doesn’t have to be. Simply make a decision to move forward. Don’t try; just do it. People say they’re going to try to change. Try? There is no such thing. There’s doing it or not doing it. ‘Try’ is a word that you should eliminate from your vocabulary right now.” 

Dream big. The only real challenge in creating the life you’ve always wanted is your inability or unwillingness to free up your imagination to envision your dream in all of its glory. In other words, you are only as successful as your perceived limitations. How often do you limit yourself when envisioning the success you are capable of achieving? Don’t settle for the limited vista of your present-day life. Instead, allow yourself to be willing to travel well beyond the bounds of the landscapes you may not be able to imagine today. 

Stay focused. “Once you decide to make a change in your life, it’s time to get serious and focus on your goals,” said Krasnow. “Think of life as a journey in a train that travels on a track. Each track leads to a specific destination. Make a point of staying on the track of your choice, without getting distracted and switching tracks. If you stay focused, you will certainly reach your desired destination.” 

Pace yourself. Making a major life change requires a steady pace. You work at it each day and keep at it (and then keep at it some more). Remember that extraordinary creations are not built in a day through occasional bursts of effort, but rather are crafted over long periods of time with daily, steady tasks. It’s a marathon; stop exhausting yourself by sprinting from place to place. Instead, stay on course with your goals and remain consistent. 

Know that failure is not an option. “When you realize that failure is not an option, it becomes clear that there is no stopping at the first obstacle you encounter along the way,” Krasnow said. “There is an opening, even in the most stubborn of barricades. Where is the opening in your current wall of obstacles? Is there a secret passage you had overlooked but is now emerging in front of you? Take that hidden path and forge ahead. Just keep your eye on where you want to go and you might find that a setback along the way was actually a shortcut to your desired destination!”

“We all know that change is not the most comfortable part of our lives,” concluded Krasnow. “But know that the process of transformation is a gratifying experience, providing you find the courage to do it. You can adapt. You can take a new path in your life. And you will undoubtedly be better for it in the long run.”

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Ask the Experts – Coverings 2018

Ask the Experts Q&As are culled from member inquiries to NTCA’s Technical Support staff. To become a member and make use of personal, targeted answers from Technical Support staff to your installation questions, contact Jim Olson at [email protected]


I will begin by letting you know that I have 25 years in the industry with tons of training and on-the-job experience. 

I have multiple showers having crazing. The crazing is starting to happen a few weeks after installation and it is all over. All are installed with cement backer board, roll-on waterproofing with premium thinset and grout. No structural issues are evident.

I’m using good quality ceramic tile imported from three factories. I have sold a couple of million square feet of tile and I have gotten maybe one case of crazing a year, but now I am seeing it very often. Are you hearing this also? Are there any new recommended installation procedures? 

Even though I am importing a container at a time of each color with the same lot, 99.99% turn out fine, and then crazing appears on isolated jobs. Looking forward to some input.


It sounds like you purchase and install a significant quantity of these tiles. Have you contacted the tile manufacturers? Have you compared lot and run numbers from cartons of tile used in the failed installations? Perhaps the manufacturer(s) have had some issues with application of some glazes to certain tile bodies in certain lots or runs that could correlate to the failures you are experiencing.

Have the tiles been manufactured to ANSI A137.1 specifications?

Do you know whether the tiles have been tested to meet or exceed ASTM C424 for Crazing Resistance? This is a destructive test performed on tiles that meet ANSI A137.1 Specifications for Ceramic Tile. In this test, tiles are subjected to 150 psi steam pressure. Tile samples that pass the test show no evidence of crazing. Refer to ANSI A137.1, subsection

Do you know whether the tiles have been tested to meet or exceed ASTM C484 for Thermal Shock? (ANSI A137.1, subsection

As far as recommended installation procedures, it sounds like you are employing a version of TCNA Handbook methods B415 or B421 or B422 with a cement backer board and a liquid, surface-applied waterproofing membrane. Do you suspect any of the concerns listed below may exist in the installations that are exhibiting crazing?

  • Proper / improper installation and cure time of the liquid waterproofing membrane
  • Excessive bond coat thickness
  • Proper / improper cure time prior to grouting
  • Change in plane movement joint installation

You mentioned you are not able to determine the quality of the framing or whether there is deflection in the substrate. Are you able to learn from the building’s owners or building records whether there is wood or metal framing and whether the framing on the failing installations was properly braced to support a tile installation?

Was the board properly gapped between sheets at horizontal and vertical joints, filled with Portland cement mortar and taped with alkali-resistant mesh tape? Were open joints left between the boards where they meet at inside corners to allow for movement at the change in plane?

As you can see, I have more questions for you than answers at this point. Some, or a combination of the items described above may have an effect on the system performance. I suggest starting with the tile manufacturer and determining whether the tiles have been tested to ANSI A137.1 specifications and if there may be a correlation or concern with the lots that are failing.

Welcome to Coverings 29th Edition!

President’s Letter – Coverings 2018

By all measures, this conference we now know as “Coverings” has exceeded expectations and helped to grow the ceramic tile market domestically. The use of tile over the years has continued to increase for many reasons, and Coverings has been a focal point for the industry at large. Its goal has been to bring together manufacturers of tile, setting materials, allied products and tools, along with the installation community to create many powerful synergies and cooperation. 

For 29 years, the trend in tile has been to expand in size from what was called “large-format” 8” x 8” to the 48” x 96” units on display at this year’s show. We’ve also seen the development of gauged porcelain panels/slabs as thin as 3.0mm, and 1.5m x 3.0m in facial dimension. While these size changes have created new and expanding uses for ceramic tile, its ability to replicate with great detail the look of natural stone, metal, fabric and even concrete in a variety of finishes has opened doors for expanded use.

I encourage each of us to make the most of our experience at Coverings by taking advantage of the tremendous educational offerings, including the free seminars and multiple demonstration and installation stages where the latest in materials and methods will be demonstrated almost every hour of the show. The Installation Design Showcase is back again this year with three new tiny houses being installed by craftspeople during the show for all to see and watch. This experience is designed so you can ask questions and learn from others how they approach their installation challenges. 

The Installation Experience is a “NEW” addition to the show this year. The inspiration for this pavilion came during our attendance at Cersaie last year. Assoposa, the Italian tile contractors’ association, put together a remarkable display of craftsmanship with their own version of an installation showcase that sparked our imagination. As you take a self-guided tour along the marked path, you’ll experience more than 20 different areas of tile installation. Each is meant to educate you on the difference between proper and improper installation methods, inspire your imagination with creativity that can be incorporated into your projects, and expose you to the very latest in technology, materials and methods.

All in all, there has never been more opportunity to learn, network and grow at Coverings so take advantage of all it has to offer. Your career and business will never be the same.

Keep on tiling!


Martin Howard,
President NTCA
Committee member, ANSI A108
[email protected]

Welcome to the latest, greatest incarnation of Coverings

Editor’s Letter – Coverings 2018

You will enrich your life immeasurably if you approach it with a sense of wonder and discovery, and always challenge yourself to try new things. – Nate Berkus

Welcome to the latest, greatest incarnation of Coverings – in this its 29th year – celebrated in the fair city of Atlanta!

Coverings never fails to impress, with its sprawling show floor, thousands of new products to adorn floors, walls, and countertops as well as those that ensure installations perform for the long haul. There are hundreds of learning opportunities, whether you are attending a conference session or watching the presentations on the Live Installation Demonstration Stage, and lots of special show features and events. There are also ample chances to meet new folks and hobnob with old friends at happy hours, lunches, tours and after-show parties. Take a look through this issue at all the opportunities this show affords you, plot your course, and go!

One thing I am excited about is a brand new feature this year – The Installation Experience in Hall C, Booth #8401. This is an event like no other. The Installation Experience showcases the best and the worst of tile and illustrates why qualified labor makes all the difference. 

The Installation Experience will take you on a tour through tile failures, and their corresponding successes when installed by qualified craftspeople. You’ll see examples of the work of tile masters and technical experts from top industry associations – CTEF, IMI, International Union of Bricklayers (IUBAC), NTCA, TCAA and TCNA: beautiful tile in working bath, kitchen and fireplace installs. 

In addition, there’s a CTI Challenge – two teams of Certified Tile Installers – led by Jason McDaniel of Stoneman Construction LLC and Greg Twarog of Surfaces15 – will face off on a tile installation competition. 

There’s also an opportunity for you to learn more about the CTI test as well as the Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT) test, and witness test demonstrations, while having the chance to ask questions about the exams. Relax in a expansive seating area with a large TV screen showing time-lapsed progress video, highlighting the various construction stages of the projects slated to take place. In addition, 30-60 minute training sessions offered in the nearby Contractor Lounge will prepare you for a full Installation Experience. 

As you wend your way through your week in Atlanta, be sure to stop by and take part in the Installation Experience, as well as a reprise of the Installation Design Showcase Tiny House feature from last year, in which NTCA Five Star Contractors pair with top designers to bring a Tiny House to life. It’s right around the corner in Hall C, Booth #8804.

As you page through this issue, take note of the “tour of Atlanta” in our cover story. Perhaps as you are out and about in the city, you’ll get a chance to view the stellar tilework in these projects. Also in keeping with the theme about qualified labor in the Installation Experience, Becky Serbin’s Qualified Labor story details the SkillsUSA competition that takes place in Georgia each year and the opportunities that exist to bring this to other states to promote tile setting as a viable career path to high school students. Speaking of young people getting into the act, check out the Member Spotlight about Darin Shocker, owner of Dutchess County Tile and his son’s decision at 18 to pursue a career in tile setting over an academic college path. 

I’d love to hear from you about what you found to be the most valuable about Coverings this year, so please drop me a line at [email protected] and share your impressions! Pack your comfy shoes, your notebook to record your impressions, your plans to share what you’ve learned with the folks back home, and have fun! Looking forward to meeting you there!

God bless,
[email protected]

Coverings 2018 Feature – MAPEI: A Tour of Atlanta


Atlanta’s culture, architecture and urban design have come together to produce a city on the cutting edge. With Coverings 2018 set here, it’s a good time to “take a tour” of some of the newest residential and commercial projects in the South’s hottest city. MAPEI’s full system of products were used to waterproof, level, strengthen and add elegant finishes to five fabulous new projects shown here. 

The Arbor at BridgeMill
Canton, Ga.

The Arbor at BridgeMill is a luxurious new senior living community. The expansive campus offers state-of-the-art residences totaling 28 private cottages, 130 resort-style apartments and an exciting range of on-site amenities. Aspire Development Partners designed the community to accommodate retiring baby boomers, empty-nesters and previous homeowners who would like the assistance senior facilities provide without losing independence. 

Each of the spacious cottages features an open-concept floor plan, resort-style living rooms, walk-in closets, walk-in showers, and supportive carpet in the bedrooms. The multi-entryway bathrooms feature barrier free, zero-entry, walk-in showers to eliminate incidence of falls or slips. 

The installation team used Mapelastic AquaDefense to waterproof showers along with Mapelastic CI for crack isolation. To set the sand-colored 13” x 13” Daltile Cove Creek tiles in the showers, Ultraflex LHT provided premium performance for a non-sag, non-slump installation. To grout the shower walls, Pro Floors installers used Ultracolor Plus FA in Pewter for its efflorescence-free application. 

The serene glass tile backsplash was set with Adesilex P10 in each cottage kitchen. Commercial kitchens were set with 8,000 sq. ft. of 8” x 8” Quarry textured tiles from Daltile, using Ultraflex LHT and grouted with Kerapoxy CQ. Moisture issues were solved by using Planiseal MSP, a moisture-control membrane and self-leveling primer with fast track technology. Differentials with foundation walls in pool areas were resolved with Mapecem Quickpatch.

Hanover Buckhead Village
Atlanta, Ga.

Hanover Buckhead Village is uniquely located in the most prestigious residential location in metro Atlanta for affluent singles and city dwellers. It rises 21 stories, with 350+ units including penthouse suites, a state-of-the-art fitness center and many premier amenities. The luxuriously curved tower was developed by the Houston-based Hanover Company and designed by architectural firm Solomon Cordwell Buenz of Chicago. 

Installers used Ultraflex LHT to set large 24” x 48” white and gray marbled Calacatta Thorntree tile on walls, floors and the grand staircase in the impressive lobby. The installation crew first prepared the subfloor with Mapeguard UM. Large format 12” x 24” EuroMarmo Calacatta porcelain tiles were set with Ultraflex LHT, and grouted with Ultracolor Plus FA in Frost on bathroom walls, floors and the kitchen backsplash. In a unique and unconventional move, the entire complex utilized Ultraflex LHT mortar to set the condo number markers outside of each residence.

Piedmont House
Atlanta, Ga. 

A full system of MAPEI products were used to construct this impressive new high-rise tower in Midtown Atlanta. The living area begins on the seventh floor, sitting atop a six-story parking garage, giving all units a spectacular view of Piedmont Park and the surrounding areas of midtown Atlanta. The complex, designed by Rule Joy Trammell + Rubio, LLC, includes premium amenities on the seventh floor and a second amenity space on the 22nd floor rooftop.

All the tile and wood flooring was installed with MAPEI products. In the urban-inspired lobby, Ultraflex LHT was used to set contemporary 12” x 36” Borneo blue tiles on the entry walls as well as large-format Concreteback Lappato black and Lappato white floor and wall tiles flown in from Spain. Strada Mist Ultraflex LHT was the mortar of choice to set the Veincut Marble polished mosaic tiles; they were grouted with Ultracolor Plus FA. Bathrooms floors and walls were tiled with 12” x 24” Interceramic Porcelain Pewter tiles, using the same products.

A big draw to utilizing MAPEI products was the full system offerings of mortars, grouts, adhesives and self-levelers. “The floors had several flaws when poured, so we used MAPEI products to level them out,” said contractor Sam Munsi. “I’m a big proponent of using all the materials on the job from one brand. When [there is an issue], I want to be able to call one person. This is why I look for full systems like MAPEI.”

Mercedes-Benz USA Headquarters
Atlanta, Ga. 

The three-story, 200,000-sq.-ft. Mercedes-Benz USA Headquarters under construction will house all corporate functions. MBUSA President and CEO Dietmar Exler explained that “the idea of the building is cooperation and working together.” The emphasis on creating communal work areas led the architect Gensler to design exposed offices and collaborative workspaces in multi-functional rooms.

Installers chose Planipatch and Ultraplan 1 Plus to flatten the substrate and level the floors. Keracolor S in Avalanche was used to grout white 6” x 36” Starker Porcelain tiles by Unicom in the building atrium, which doubles as a cafeteria and informal meeting area, as well as the area leading to the adjoining commercial kitchen. Keracolor S was also applied to marbled floors, walls, mosaic tiles in showers and the backsplashes in break rooms. 

Nine15 Midtown
Atlanta, Ga. 

As part of the revitalization of downtown Atlanta, the historic city is seeing a resurgence of new shops and luxe residential communities. Nine15 Midtown apartments fit right into the walkable landscape of the area’s mixed-use developments, with a design that emphasizes green living (the complex is on track to becoming LEED Certified).

As part of the green vision, interior walls were limited, allowing the kitchen to seamlessly merge into the living room. Floor-to-ceiling windows, airy cloud-colored walls, wood-look tile in Pepe Root hues and glass mosaic backsplashes transform the combined space into a breathable indoor-outdoor experience.

For surface preparation, MAPEI’s 4-to-1 Mud Bed Mix was used in the showers in conjunction with Mapelastic AquaDefense to waterproof the tub surrounds and showers. Ultraflex 2 anchored tiles from Shaw Floors’ Elegance collection, resulting in a glossy and sleek finish. Installers used Adesilex P10 to set the translucent Random linear mosaic tiles by Elysium in the kitchens and bathrooms. For the finishing touch, UltraCare Grout Sealer provided protection against common stains without altering the color of the grout joint. 


Coverings Ambassador – Coverings 2018

New and old combine for exciting show in Atlanta

By Alena Capra, CKD, CBD

I’m looking forward to another great Coverings this year in Atlanta! Not only am I excited to see all of the new products and amazing tile displays, but there are a lot of exciting events to check out on the show floor! 

New this year is the Installation Experience, where you will be able to learn about installation best practices, tips to make your projects shine, find out what you need to get certified, and watch an installation competition in this beautiful and dynamic exhibit. 

This year also will include extended show hours on Tuesday May 8th (with some fun networking opportunities as well), and the Orientation Theatre, which will help you get the info you need and make the most of your time at the show, as well as suggestions for tackling the show floor. 

The Coverings mobile app will also include a new feature: what “new products” are available to see on the show floor. 

In addition to so many exciting new things, there are some Coverings favorites returning this year, like the Installation & Design Showcase, where we will see three Tiny Homes built live at the show! There will also be Audio Tours, the Coverings Connect lounge, Live Installation Demos, and the Stone Zone. 

I’m so excited for the show’s return to Atlanta, one of my favorite cities for sourcing design products for my projects. There’s so much to see and do in Atlanta, including the Coverings Celebration, tailgate style, at the College Football Hall of Fame! Get your tickets and have some fun celebrating at the end of this year’s Coverings, in your favorite sports team attire!

Looking forward to seeing you at this year’s show!

– Alena

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