May Construction Starts Advance 10 Percent

NEW YORK – June 20, 2019 – At a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $757.0 billion, new construction starts in May climbed 10% from April, according to Dodge Data & Analytics. The increase continues the double-digit swings that were reported during the previous two months, when a 16% hike for total construction starts in March was followed by a 15% decline in April. Each of the three main construction sectors contributed to May’s 10% gain. Nonbuilding construction rebounded 32% after depressed activity in April, lifted by an especially strong amount of new power plant starts and an $800 million light rail project in the Minneapolis MN area. Nonresidential building improved 7%, supported by groundbreaking for two very large manufacturing plant projects. Residential building edged up 2%, with modest gains for both single family housing and multifamily housing. Through the first five months of 2019, total construction starts on an unadjusted basis were $295.0 billion, down 9% from the same period a year ago. On a twelve-month moving total basis, total construction starts for the twelve months ending May 2019 were 2% below the amount reported for the twelve months ending May 2018.

The May statistics raised the Dodge Index to 160 (2000=100), up from April’s 145. May’s reading was still less than the 172 reported in March, as well as the full year 2018 average for the Dodge Index at 171.

“The presence of very large projects frequently causes volatility in the month-to-month pattern of construction starts, and that’s certainly been the case during March, April, and now May,” stated Robert A. Murray, chief economist for Dodge Data & Analytics. “Amidst the volatility, the pace of construction starts has on balance been sluggish so far in 2019, as activity has been generally lower than the healthy volume witnessed during the first half of last year. For public works, there was some dampening in early 2019 arising from the partial government shutdown, although highway and bridge construction has shown improvement in recent months. For nonresidential building, the boost coming from very large projects so far this year has not been of the same magnitude as what took place last year. For residential building, multifamily housing has pulled back from last year’s strength, while single family housing has been essentially flat. At the same time, there are still positive factors in the current environment affecting construction. Federal appropriations for fiscal 2019 are in place, and funding support is coming from the state and local bond measures passed in recent years. Market fundamentals for commercial building and multifamily housing strengthened during 2018 and early 2019, while interest rates remain low. As 2019 proceeds, it’s expected that the shortfall between this year’s level of construction starts compared to last year will narrow.”

Nonbuilding construction in May was $194.4 billion (annual rate), a 32% increase that followed a 33% slide in April. The electric utility/gas plant category surged 552% in May, bouncing back from a very weak April to a volume more than twice the average monthly pace during 2018. This reflected the start of five power plant projects valued each at $200 million or more – a $550 million natural gas-fired power plant in Ohio, the $450 million Emmons-Logan Wind Energy Center in North Dakota, the $300 million Ida Grove Wind Farm in Iowa, the $200 million Southern Oak Solar Energy Center in Georgia, and a $200 million electric substation upgrade in Wyoming. The public works categories as a group slipped 1% in May, due to a mixed performance by the individual project types. The miscellaneous public works category, which includes such diverse segments as site work, rail transit, and pipelines, increased 20% as the $800 million Metro Green Line Southwest light rail transit in Minnetonka MN was included as a May start. Water supply construction rose 23% in May, helped by such projects as the $92 million Oak Ridge Outfall Treatment Facility in Oak Ridge TN and an $87 million water reclamation plant upgrade in Valencia CA. On the negative side, highway and bridge construction eased back 2% in May following 8% improvement over the previous two months. The top five states in terms of the dollar amount of highway and bridge construction starts in May were -– California, Texas, Illinois, New York, and Florida. The river/harbor development category dropped 22% in May, while sewer construction retreated 24% even with the start of a $118 million wastewater pumping station upgrade in Honolulu HI.

Nonresidential building in May was $266.6 billion (annual rate), up 7% following a 16% drop in April. The manufacturing plant category provided much of the lift, soaring 350% as two very large manufacturing plant projects were included as May construction starts – the $1.6 billion Shintech polyvinyl chloride manufacturing facility in Plaquemine LA and a $600 million steel mill expansion in Osceola AR. The commercial categories as a group receded 5% in May, the result of a slower pace for office construction, down 17%; and commercial garages, down 26%. Even with the decline, office construction in May did include the start of several noteworthy projects, such as the $263 million George H.W. Bush office building in Austin TX, a $258 million office tower in Nashville TN, and a $250 million office/research development building in South San Francisco CA. Two large data center projects also reached groundbreaking in May – a $150 million Microsoft data center in Goodyear AZ and the $135 million Raging Wire data center in Ashburn VA. On the plus side, warehouse construction in May jumped 39%, helped by groundbreaking for a $182 million distribution center in the Bronx NY and the $155 million TJX Home Goods distribution center in Lordstown OH. Hotel construction in May grew 9%, featuring the start of the $305 million hotel portion of the $700 million Philadelphia Live Casino and Hotel in Philadelphia PA. Store construction, while remaining at a subdued volume, grew 4% in May.

The institutional building categories as a group settled back 2% in May. Educational facilities, the largest nonresidential building category by dollar volume, slipped 1% in May, although the latest month did include groundbreaking for the $205 million Wellesley College science center renovation in Wellesley MA and a $150 million museum renovation at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor MI. The public buildings category (courthouses and detention facilities) dropped 3% in May, and transportation terminal work fell 63% from April that included the start of the $972 million terminal building portion of the $1.3 billion new airport terminal project at Kansas City International Airport. At the same time, healthcare facilities strengthened 27% in May, reflecting the start of the $500 million MetroHealth Hospital facility in Cleveland OH, the $331 million University of Texas Southwest Medical Center Brain and Cancer Center building in Dallas TX, and a $182 million hospital tower in Turnersville NJ. Amusement-related work jumped 54% in May, led by the $237 million casino portion of the Philadelphia Live Casino and Hotel project. The religious building category, while still remaining at a weak volume, increased 19% in May.

Residential building in May was $295.9 billion (annual rate), a 2% gain that marked the first increase after three straight months of decline. Single family housing improved 2%, showing some growth after the sluggish performance reported earlier in 2019. By geography, single family housing registered this pattern during May – the South Atlantic, up 4%; the Midwest, up 2%; the Northeast, up 1%; and the South Central and West, each unchanged from the previous month. The pace for single family housing in May was still 7% below the average monthly pace during 2018. Multifamily housing in May also grew 2%, edging up for the second month in a row after a 12% decline back in March. There were eight multifamily projects valued each at $100 million or more that reached groundbreaking in May, led by the $653 million multifamily portion of the $850 million One Chicago Square Apartment Towers in Chicago IL, the $266 million multifamily portion of the $360 million Four Seasons mixed-use hotel/condominium project in Nashville TN, and a $160 million multifamily high-rise in Jersey City NJ. The top five metropolitan areas in May, ranked by the dollar amount of multifamily starts that reached groundbreaking, were – New York NY, Chicago IL, Nashville TN, Washington DC, and San Francisco CA. The pace for multifamily housing in May was still 17% below the average monthly pace during 2018.

The 9% decline for total construction starts on an unadjusted basis during the first five months of 2018 was the result of decreased activity for each of the three main sectors. Nonresidential building settled back 3% year-to-date, with 8% declines for both institutional building and manufacturing building that were partially offset by a 3% gain for commercial building. Nonbuilding construction dropped 11% year-to-date, as a 24% plunge for public works was countered by a 128% jump by electric utilities/gas plants. The miscellaneous public works category plummeted 54% year-to-date given the comparison to a strong first five months of 2018 that included several large pipeline projects. If the miscellaneous public works category is excluded, public works during the first five months of 2019 would be down a more moderate 7%. Residential building year-to-date dropped 12%, with single family housing down 9% and multifamily housing down 19%. By geography, total construction starts during the January-May period of 2019 showed this behavior compared to last year – the South Central, down 1%; the Northeast, down 5%; the Midwest, down 8%; the South Atlantic, down 12%; and the West, down 15%. Additional insight is made possible by looking at twelve-month moving totals, in this case the twelve months ending May 2019 versus the twelve months ending May 2018. On this basis, total construction starts were down 2% from the previous period. By major sector, nonresidential building increased 4%, with manufacturing building up 21%, commercial building up 8%, and institutional building down 3%. Residential building dropped 2%, with single family housing down 2% and multifamily housing down 1%. Nonbuilding construction fell 10%, with public works down 14% while electric utilities/gas plants increased 16%.

May Construction starts

May Construction starts

















Monthly Summary of Construction Starts

Monthly Summary of Construction Starts




2019 Ceramics of Italy Spring-Summer Tile Trend Report


Ceramics of Italy announces its Spring-Summer Tile Trend Report. These top trends were culled after reviewing hundreds of new products from Italian tile producers at Coverings in Orlando and ICFF in New York. From humble to opulent designs and inlaid wood to skinny formats, the following six themes demonstrate the expanding versatility of ceramic tile and how Italians lead the way in design and innovation. These products from Ceramics of Italy member companies are now available in the North American market for all types of residential and commercial projects. See below or visit the Ceramics of Italy Product Gallery for more inspiration!



While some designers prefer large format tiles to minimize grout lines and create a large, seamless surface, there’s been a recent swing in the other direction to emphasize the tile’s shape. Skinny format tiles offer the perfect opportunity to create a playful composition.

Skinny tiles

Skinny tiles
















Clockwise from top left: Appiani Regolo, Made+39 Shift, Ceramica Bardelli Pittorica, Marca Corona Lagom



Inlay is one of the oldest decoration techniques in the book, gracing the floors and furniture of wealthy estates for centuries. Now with advanced digital printing technology, everyone can have instant access to the charm of inlaid wood and parquet flooring for a fraction of the price.

Inlaid wood

Inlaid wood
















Clockwise from top left: Ariana Storm, Lea Ceramiche Bioselect, Sant’Agostino Primewood



Ceramic tile is an inherently humble material. It’s created from the earth and designed to last but can also be returned to the earth at the end of its life. With these collections, Italian companies pay homage to the beauty of imperfection and humble materials found in nature.

Humble materials

Humble materials















Clockwise from top: Ceramiche Refin Creos, Del Conca Boutique, Coem Moonstone



On the other end of the spectrum are tiles that exude opulence. From rare and dreamy marble to high gloss ceramic emulating semi-transparent glass, all of these collections add a touch of glamour while possessing the functional benefits of ceramic and porcelain.


















Clockwise from top left: LaFaenza Bianco, Versace Ceramics Marble, Fondovalle MyTop



Tiles come in every hue and tone found under the sun, but muted colors have recently taken the tile industry by storm. While vivid colors have their place, the subdued chroma of pale pink or sage green allows for designers to apply entire fields of color to a space.

Muted colors

Muted colors
















Clockwise from top left: Casalgrande Padana Opus, Ceramica Vogue Materia, Blustyle Country, Decoratori Bassanesi Tartan



Lines can do miraculous things to a room: create movement, add height, or at the very least generate visual interest. It’s no wonder that companies are using this essential element to create striped patterns, metallic inserts, linear mosaics and more.


















Clockwise from top left: Emilceramica Tele di Marmo Reloaded, Dom Ceramiche Pura Alta, Decoratori Bassanesi Segments, Ceramica Fioranese Passepartout


New Documents Available in Natural Stone Resource Library

Eighteen new “Queries & Quandaries” articles have been added to the Natural Stone Resource Library. Authored by Natural Stone Institute Technical Director Chuck Muehlbauer, the articles originally appeared in the association’s member newsletter, The Cutting Edge. A wide variety of topics are covered in these articles, including tolerances, stone anchors, testing flexural strength, and countertop overhang limits.

294 documents are now available for download via the Natural Stone Resource Library, including technical bulletins and modules, Dimension Stone Design Manual chapters, and resources from other industry associations, including the National Building Granite Quarries Association and the Indiana Limestone Institute. All documents are available free of charge. Since launching in 2015, the Library has seen over 225,000 downloads. The Natural Stone Resource Library has become a trusted resource for stone companies, architects, designers, and construction professionals.

Access the Natural Stone Resource Library at



Arley Expo in Wilmington, Del.

Arley Expo in Wilmington, Del.

Arley Wholesale’s first summer road show, which took place June 11 at Hilton Christiana/Delaware Park Hotel in Wilmington, Del., has been rated a success. The supplier is holding four regional expos in different cities outside of its home base location in Scranton, Pa. About 110 enthusiastic Arley customers attended, primarily from central Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, southern New Jersey, Delaware and northern Maryland.

“Our first ‘road show’ proved to be a valuable event for everyone involved,” beamed Scott Levy, President of Arley Wholesale. “We were able to meet firsthand with a great number of customers, spending some quality time discussing their business and how Arley can help them grow.  The enthusiasm was high. We unveiled many new products, new marketing opportunities and much, much more.”

New products were from Arley’s private label, trademark-protected Qualis Ceramica Collection  “We wanted to bring these new products directly to them and in doing so, reinforce the fact that Qualis offers the best possible opportunity for our customers to compete against Big Box and online competition,” Levy added. “Our customers love Qualis products because they are prohibited from being sold on the internet so they have more confidence in them and realize higher margins than on other tile lines they sell.”

Other items addressed were the expanded “Arley App,” offering customers even more state-of-the-art digital opportunities. “We are very serious about providing much more than just the best products to our clientele,” stated Levy. “We want our customers to benefit with the digital technology Arley offers them. For example, because many of them want to have an actual interactive website, not just a landing page, we actually produce and maintain cutting-edge websites for our customer-partners.”

Levy emphasized the fact that his firm’s existence is based 100% on the strength of its customers. “If they’re successful, we’re successful. That’s why we not only brought new products with attractive pricing programs to the event… we also had a number of key sundry supplier educational demonstrations. And of course,” concluded Levy, “in classic Arley tradition, we all had a great deal of fun, as well.”

Three more Arley “Road Shows” are scheduled for the summer of 2019.

  • July 10th at Saratoga Hilton/Saratoga Springs Casino in Sarasota Springs, NY
  • July 23rd at Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, CT
  • August 6th at Hollywood Casino in Columbus, OH

For more information and registration forms, please contact your Arley Sales Representative or email [email protected]  .


Celebration of life and burial arrangements for beloved industry member Steve Rausch

Steve Rausch

There will be a Celebration of Life Service for beloved member of the tile industry, Steve Rausch of Norcross Ga., at Perimeter Church, 9500 Medlock Bridge Rd, Johns Creek, Ga., 30097 on Monday June 17 at 11:00am. This will be followed by a reception at the church. The following day, June 18, there will be a burial service at the Georgia National Cemetery in Canton at 9:00am. All are welcome who wish to attend.

Steven William Rausch, 67, passed away on June 8, 2019. Steve was born in Dayton, Ohio and graduated from Belmont High School in 1969, after which he joined the Army. He worked in sales and marketing development in the floor covering and ceramic tile industry for over 48 years.
He had been active in the Boy Scouts (including Wood Badge), Walk to Emmaus (where he served as a Lay Director) and Perimeter Church. He developed a love for flying and was an active member of the Silver Wings Fraternity. He also enjoyed boating, skiing and spending time with his family.
Steve is survived by his wife of 44 years, Christy; three children, Tim, Jill and Jen; and six grandchildren (Emma, Andy, Kaeden, Henry, Cooper and Lucy). The celebration of life on Monday, June 17 at Perimeter Church at 11:00 a.m. followed by a reception. Interment will take place on Tuesday, June 18 at Georgia National Cemetery, Canton, Ga., at 9:00 a.m.

Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution from June 13 to June 14, 2019. More information will be added as it becomes available.

Schluter®-APP Makes Project Planning Easier

Planning a successful tile project can be time consuming and challenging. The new Schluter®-APP puts all the necessary Schluter resources in one place – on any iPhone or Android mobile device.  Information on all Schluter’s systems and solutions can be found on the app.  It can be used for every facet of project planning, from measuring the space, all the way through to pricing and connecting with an authorized dealer.

Working from the app, a smartphone can be used to scan and measure a room during the planning phase of the project.  The data collected can be used to configure and customize the layout and build a personalized project plan.  The results can then be shared electronically with a client or coworker. This layout information can improve client communications by providing a clear visual guide from the beginning to the end of any project.

Products can be configured right down to the size, color, format and quantity and can also be priced immediately.  Product selections will also prompt video recommendations so installers can get installation guidance wherever and whenever they need it.

For floor warming projects the built-in DITRA-HEAT Estimator will help with product selection, and then provide an estimate for the materials required.

The app also provides easy access to the network of Authorized Schluter Dealers across North America.  Users can search by location and generate a list of nearby dealers.  After selecting a dealer, the app will provide directions to the location making it even easier to get materials to the job site.

To download the new Schluter app go to:

App Store:

Google Play:

About Schluter®-Systems
Schluter®-Systems products are specifically designed for the tile industry to ensure that installations maintain integrity and durability. The company’s product line includes over 8,000 items, including tile trims, uncoupling membranes, waterproof building panels, shower systems, and most recently thin-set mortar.  Schluter-Systems is renowned for its state-of-the-art technology with attention to detail for highly functional and visually appealing results.  For more information, visit

Contact: Terry Baskin, Footprint Associates Inc. • Tel.: 647-965-3752 • email: [email protected]

NTCA Apprenticeship Guidelines Program Approved by U.S. Department of Labor

The National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), the world’s largest tile contractor association, is pleased to announce it has received formal acceptance into the National Apprenticeship System from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). In a letter dated May 23rd, 2019, the DOL informed NTCA that its National Guidelines for Apprenticeship had been reviewed and found to be in compliance.   

The NTCA Apprenticeship Guidelines Program, which combines field experience with online learning and designated classroom training, is designed to provide members an opportunity to attract new skilled labor into the ceramic tile industry. The program will offer guidance to NTCA members in developing their own tile finishers and tile setters apprenticeship programs.  

NTCA Apprenticeship Guidelines Program

“A primary strategic goal of the NTCA is to provide our membership with resources to recruit and train new and existing employees,” said NTCA Executive Director Bart Bettiga.  “These apprenticeship guidelines are so important because without a formal career path outline to a prospective worker, it is hard to compete with other industries who are vying for these same individuals.”   

Becky Serbin, NTCA Education and Curriculum Director, has been working with volunteer leaders and supporters to develop NTCA’s apprenticeship guidelines program. “This program will allow us to navigate our members through their individual apprenticeship application process. We are looking forward to working with our members to attract and train new talent into the industry,” said Serbin.   

Currently, assistance in developing apprenticeship programs is available only to NTCA members. Potential apprentices do not have to be members. 

For more information on the NTCA Apprenticeship Guidelines Program, visit For details on how to apply or to attain more information about the program, contact Becky Serbin. Serbin can be reached at [email protected] 




The National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) is a non-profit trade association serving every segment of the industry, spearheading education for the professional installation of ceramic tile, natural stone and allied products.  For more information, please contact NTCA executive director Bart Bettiga at [email protected].com, via telephone at (601) 939-2071, or visit  

Tom Vaughn retires from NTCA Technical Committee

Vaughn served the committee as the longest-standing member, for over 30 years

Tom Vaughn, the longest standing member of the NTCA Technical Committee, serving for well over 30 years, has announced his retirement from the Committee, and attended his final Technical Committee meeting at TISE in Las Vegas this past January. 

“Tom Vaughn has been a valuable and productive member of the NTCA Technical Committee since its reactivation in 1985,” said NTCA Executive Director Emeritus Joe Tarver, a contemporary of Vaughn, who along with David Allen Company’s Bob Roberson was one of a group of about 10 individuals who worked to form the Technical Committee, which was responsible for the development of the NTCA Reference Manual.

“There is no way to evaluate his contributions not only to NTCA but to the entire industry,” Tarver continued. “Always there; first to volunteer; calmly and accurately providing information on a broad spectrum of subjects. Tom truly is a role model for what a Technical Committee member should strive for. It takes a special person to remain non-proprietary while pursuing solutions that will benefit the entire industry without regard for an individual or an individual entity. I never knew Tom to do anything other than that. Present and future members of all NTCA committees can’t go wrong by emulating the passion, commitment, dedication and concern for his proprietary concerns, NTCA and the total industry.”

NTCA Executive Director Bart Bettiga added, “Tom served on this committee for over 30 years, and was the longest standing active member. NTCA is sincerely in Tom’s debt.”

Some of Vaughn’s many articles and/or contributions include:

  • Latex-modified grouts
  • Cement grouting procedures
  • Inconsistent grout color
  • How to use water-cleanable epoxy grouts
  • Dealing with efflorescence
  • Considerations to reduce tile tenting
  • Exterior tiling and panelized exterior tile systems
  • Tiling over engineered wood systems
  • How to incorporate radiant heat into tile and stone installations
  • How to use self-leveling underlayment with tile and stone
  • Overview: Underlayments, trowelable and poured

Historic projects

Tom Vaughn circa 1985 as Technical Director, Building Products Division of H.B. Fuller Company.

In addition to his work on the NTCA Technical Committee, Vaughn had a pivotal role in his work as Technical Director, Building Products Division of the H.B. Fuller Company in the 1985 construction and tiling of the Baltimore Fort McHenry Tunnel, which according to Vaughn was the largest single project that the National Interstate and Defense system had built at the time. 

“With over 1.3 million sq. ft. of tile, it was also the largest project I had worked on at the time,” he said. “This project led me to being involved in coming up with a bonding system for the Holland Tunnel reconstruction in New York and the tallest panelized tile project in Seattle, Wa., called Watermark Tower. The building is 22 stories or about 276 feet high.”

Early beginnings

Vaughn got involved in the tile industry in 1973 and became a member of the Southern Tile, Terrazzo Marble Contractors Association (STTMCA – one of the previous monikers of NTCA) in about 1975. He recalled, “It wasn’t long before I met people like Joe Tarver, Paul Dinkel, Leigh Hightower, Brannon Murray, Bob Young and Virgil Smith. All of these people were interested in helping the industry grow and shared their technical expertise to all who would listen.

“Joe Tarver tried to harness as much technical power as he could to help spread the word to the tile and stone industry,” he added. “Soon, others like Butch Woelfel, Jess McIvain, Steve Young, Rich Deutsch, Bob Roberson, Harvey Powell, Gerry Zakim, as well as others joined the group.

“With a lot of work, the Technical Committee was well on its way creating and distributing information to the entire industry. Over the years, more members were added and the committee went from distributing a handful of documents to nearly 300 pages of information today. I’ve been very fortunate to be a part of this group for so many years. I continue to be amazed at how the tile industry has changed, but I’m so impressed with the technical expertise the committee currently processes.”

Vaughn also served on the NTCA Board of Directors as an Affiliate Distributor member in the early ’90s, representing Minnesota Tile Supply. Both NTCA Executive Director Bart Bettiga and Assistant Executive Director Jim Olson worked for him there in the late ’80s to mid ’90s. “I believe Tom was instrumental in helping me to become Executive Director at NTCA,” Bettiga added.

He called his involvement with NTCA back in the ’70s “one of the most rewarding decisions I made in my career. Not only did I learn a great deal over the year, I met many lifelong friends along the way.

“I’m glad to have been able to participate in the Technical Committee and watch the ceramic and stone industry grow immensely,” he said. “In the beginning, the industry was much simpler and one could have a pretty good understanding of nearly all the products and installation procedures. In fact, the tile Handbook only had about 16 pages of details.

“I’m grateful to those that helped me learn about our great industry and hope I was able to help others improve their understanding of installation methods and practices,” he said. “Looking back, I’m totally amazed at how many documents and papers have come from the group. The hours spent both in meetings and on our own time have help shaped the direction of how tile is being installed. With the number of really talented members the committee currently has, I’m confident the committee will continue to make significant contributions in the months and years ahead.”

The NTCA Technical Committee bids a fond farewell to Tom Vaughn in Las Vegas after its final meeting.

Coverings ’19 wrap up

Team reps Jason McDaniel (l.) and Brad Denny go head to head during the “Survey Says” game show in the Contractor Lounge.

Coverings ’19 – the 30th anniversary of the Global Tile & Stone Experience – was an astounding success this year for the industry, as well as for NTCA. The association was on the scene this year with new logistics: the Installation & Design Experience booth housed the IDE Lounge (always a hub of activity, networking, education, refreshments, and this year a “Survey Says” game show that was a smashing success), and three completed vignettes that demonstrated the synergy between local designers and qualified labor in the form of NTCA Five-Star Contractors working with tile and setting materials donated by sponsors.

(L to R.) NTCA’s Robb Roderick, Mark Heinlein and Randy Fleming, with an assist from NTCA Member Joseph Mattice of On The Level in Simpsonville, S.C .at just one of the many live demos at the show.

The booth also was a home base for CTEF and IMI, and the Tile Council of North America (TCNA), which provided an area that explains the tests that are commonly conducted within its highly respected Product Performance Testing Laboratory – showing how vital this information can be for product suitability and performance. 

Contractors flocked to the booth, and NTCA signed up 27 members at the show. NTCA also offered a full schedule of presentation on the Live Installation Demonstration Stage.

As the show unfolded with over 1,100 exhibitors and over nine miles of exhibit space, we posted on the National Tile Contractors Association and TileLetter Facebook pages as well as, so check there for details. But here are a few of the highlights of the show to give you a flavor of the event.

A traditional second line parade heralded the announcement that Coverings ’20 will be held in New Orleans next year, April 20-23.

Next year, the event will take place April 20-23 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, La., so stay tuned for upcoming information!

Charity initiatives shine: Teams of volunteers from Coverings, NTCA, the press, MAPEI and Florida Tile assembled 1,600 hygiene kits to be distributed by Clean the World to area veterans in need. In addition, the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) and 21 of its members supported the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando through a whimsical and wonderful display of one-of -a-kind doghouses, accented by visits from adoptable pooches during the show. 

Volunteers from NTCA, Florida Tile and MAPEI assembled 1,600 hygiene kits in the Clean the World charity initiative.

Twenty-one TCNA members created one-of-a-kind doghouses on forms donated by wedi to support the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando.

NTCA members win CID Awards: Recognizing superior work in tile and stone, three CID Awards honored NTCA members. Pennacchio Tile, Inc. won the Commercial Stone Installation prize for Concord Plaza in Concord, Calif.; David Allen Company took home the Commercial Tile Installation for the Columbia Hotel in Washington, D.C., and Hawthorne Tile won the Installation Grand Prize for the Hinkley Project in Portland, Ore. 

NTCA Member Pennacchio Tile, Inc., Concord Plaza

David Allen Company, Columbia Hotel

Hawthorne Tile, the Hinkley Project

A trio of vignettes reflect design/installation synergy: Three stellar vignettes on display at the Installation & Design Experience were designed by locally based designers and architects working with NTCA Five-Star Contractors: designer Reginald Dunlap Interior Design and Welch Tile & Marble, using ESTIMA Ceramica products; Interstruct, Inc. and installer C.C. Owen Tile Company, Inc., using Crossville, Inc. products; and HHCP design and installer Nichols Tile & Terrazzo Co., Inc., using Ceramics of Italy products. NTCA Five-Star Contractor John Cox of Cox Tile served as the project manager.

The Hidden Oasis vignette, designed by Glenda Wright of HHCP and installed by Nichols Tile & Terrazzo Co. Inc.

Above Orange vignette designed by Maria Valbuena of Interstruct, Inc., and installed by C.C. Owen Tile Company, Inc.

Hotel Lobby vignette, designed by Reginald Dunlap Interior Design, and installed by Welch Tile & Marble.

NTCA members celebrated at Coverings Rock Stars Awards: NTCA members Paige Pomerene, P2 Customs; David Mastrangelo, The Tile Studio, Inc.; and Jacob Harris of Coastal Custom Tile & Design, LLC, were honored among the 12 winners named the best and brightest young talent in the tile and stone industry. 

NTCA members Paige Pomerene, Jacob Harris (far left) and David Mastrangelo (third from right) were among the 12 Coverings Rock Stars honored with a special luncheon at the show.

Schluter’s Dale Kempster was named NTCA 2019 Tile Person of the Year, the first Canadian to be honored with the award.

NTCA 2019 Tile Person of the Year: NTCA named Dale Kempster of Schluter Systems its 2019 Tile Person of the Year. This award recognizes a NTCA contractor, distributor or manufacturer member who has demonstrated a strong commitment to the tile industry and has supported the mission and goals of the NTCA. Kempster has served as a member of the NTCA Technical Committee for many years, has participated in two groundbreaking international labor summits, and was instrumental in the development of a Canadian version of the NTCA Reference Manual. He is also the first Canadian to be honored with award.

Joe A. Tarver Award – Tom Ade: Tom Ade, owner of Filling Marble and Tile in Egg Harbor City, N.J., was honored with this prestigious award that recognizes those who provide exemplary service to the industry. Ade is a long-time member of the NTCA, a former NTCA Regional Director and board member, and recipient of both NTCA’s Ring of Honor and Tile Person of the Year Awards. He also made the NTCA Tom Ade Ceramic Tile Scholarship program possible by bestowing a generous donation to the association earmarked to support children and grandchildren of NTCA members who wish to continue their education. Over the past four years, the program has given students over $150,000 in scholarship funds. 

Tom Ade (l.) receives the Joe A. Tarver Award from NTCA Executive Director Bart Bettiga at the NTCA Awards Night.

Tom Ade Ceramic Tile Scholarship Recipients Tara Wadford and Riley Sullivan

Tom Ade Ceramic Tile Scholarship Recipients: Since 2016, and due to a generous donation by 2019 Joe A. Tarver Award winner Tom Ade, NTCA has bestowed $5,000 scholarships on children and grandchildren of NTCA contractor members seeking higher education to pursue life goals. As part of the award, scholarship winners received an expense-paid trip to the trade show. This year, three winners were chosen out of 53 applicants. The winners were: 

Riley Sullivan, son of Dirk Sullivan and wife Gwen of NTCA Five-Star Contractor Hawthorne Tile in Portland, Oregon. Sullivan is an international baccalaureate diploma candidate. He plans to use his scholarship to further his studies, specifically focusing on ecosystem protection.

Tom Ade Ceramic Tile Scholarship Recipient Tyler Kleinsasser.

Tyler Kleinsasser, son of Roger Kleinsasser, owner of Tile Creations in Rapid City, S.D. After Kleinsasser graduates with a degree in Civil Engineering from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, he will be pursuing a Master’s degree in Construction Engineering and Management. 

Tara Wadford, daughter of Nyle and Teresa Wadford of NTCA Five-Star Contractor Neuse Tile Service in Youngsville, N.C. Wadford plans to enroll at Liberty University, majoring in nursing and minoring in Spanish, and aspires to become a physician’s assistant.

NTCA also awarded 10 other applicants $1,000 each. The additional scholarships were made possible through a sponsorship from LATICRETE International.

Northern California Tile and Stone Corp. won for Commercial Project of the Year during the NTCA Five-Star Project of the Year Awards. Seven other NTCA Five-Star contractors were honored for their outstanding achievements. NTCA Five-Star Program Director Amber Fox (l.) and Daltile’s John Cousins (far right) handed out the awards

NTCA Five-Star Contractor 2019 Project of the Year winners: This award recognizes NTCA Five-Star Contractor members for installation excellence in residential and commercial projects that include ceramic tile, natural stone, mosaics and/or glass tile. For the first time in the awards’ seven-year history, social media was used as part of judging criteria reflected in the “People’s Choice Award.” Five-Star Program Director Amber Fox said the People’s Choice Award wasn’t the only change this year. “This award is an opportunity to showcase craftsmanship, therefore we changed the judging criteria to increase the value of technical merit compared to last year.” Judges were Richard P. Goldberg, architect and president of PROCON Consulting Architects and tile industry consultant; Kent Klaser of Ceramic Tile and Stone Consultants, Inc., and David M. Gobis, Ceramic Tile Industry Consultant, LLC. Awards were sponsored by Daltile. 

The NTCA Five-Star Contractor 2019 Project of the Year recipients are: 

  • People’s Choice: Grazzini Brothers for the Milwaukee Bucks New Arena Fiserv Forum
  • Residential Achievement of Excellence Award: Boatman and Magnani, Inc., for Modern Mid-Atlantic Oceanfront Residence
  • Residential Project of the Year: Hawthorne Tile for “His & Hers” Bathroom
  • Commercial Achievement of Excellence: Artcraft Granite, Marble & Tile Co., for Phoenician Women’s Spa
  • Commercial Achievement of Excellence Award: David Allen Company for the Columbia Hotel
  • Commercial Project of the Year: Northern California Tile and Stone Corp. for the Cache Creek Casino Resort
  • Commercial Elite Achievement of Excellence: Rheinschmidt Tile & Marble for Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall
  • Commercial Elite Project of the Year: Superior Tile & Stone for the Palms Sky Villas in Las Vegas

NTCA Tile Setter Craftsperson of the Year Award announced: This award, brand new for 2019, will honor a tile setter’s career, as well as artistry, technical soundness of installs and ability to correct problems. Open to NTCA member contractors and employees who have a 15-year minimum of setting tile, tile setters must be nominated by peers or those within the industry. The winner will be announced at Total Solutions Plus this fall in Nashville, Tenn. Deadline for nominations is June 28 – visit for details. 

CTDA Supplier of the Year: In a repeat performance from Coverings 18, The Ceramic Tile Distributors Association again recognized Crossville, Inc. as its Supplier of the Year. The award, which is voted on by CTDA’s members, recognizes domestic and international supplier(s) who provide the most value to its distributor members and the ceramic tile and stone industry. This is Crossville’s third time to receive the award.

Confindustria Ceramica North American Distributor Award: Confindustria Ceramica chose Montreal’s Ciot as its North American Distributor of the Year recipient. The award celebrates the close connection between Italian tile manufacturers and their valued North American partners. 

ILCO launches LiteCore natural stone composite panels

BLOOMINGTON, Ind., May 29, 2019  Indiana Limestone Company (ILCO), a leading supplier of natural limestone building products, today announced the launch of its LiteCore panel system. The new system provides the timeless look of natural stone in a lightweight, modular panelized system that combines high performance, design flexibility and labor-savings.

LiteCore panels are available in a variety of natural stones including limestone, granite, or marble. The natural stone veneer is adhered to a high-performing aluminum honeycomb backing and fiberglass mesh that results in a 1-inch panel that weighs 80 percent less than solid dimensional stone panels, while boasting 60 times more impact resistance. Additionally, the predesigned panels are available in standard-sized units, do not require mortar or complex design layouts, and install easily.

Duffe Elkins, VP of Operations for ILCO, says the LiteCore panel system is a natural progression in product innovation to meet the unique challenges of modern construction.

“Our LiteCore system truly allows construction teams to have the best of several worlds with high design flexibility and labor-saving installation combined with the classic aesthetics and resiliency of the highest quality natural stone,” said Elkins. “Additionally, the system can stand extreme freeze-thaw cycles and has the ability to serve as a rainscreen for added performance that allows building designers to address concerns around moisture management.”

LiteCore panels system comes standard with installation hardware that allow the panels to be securely attached to the building substrate for fast and easy installation.

In late 2018, ILCO became part of Polycor Inc., the largest natural stone quarrier in the world. The group owns over 50 quarries and 17 manufacturing plants across North America and Europe.

For more information, visit



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