James Hardie Earns 2019 David Weekley Homes’ Prestigious Award

Superior quality and service earns the leader in fiber cement siding the industry Partner of Choice Award

James Hardie wins “A,A” Partners of Choice Award

CHICAGO, July 25, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Today the country’s largest privately-held home builder, David Weekley Homes, announced that its partner James Hardie Building Products Inc. has again earned their nationally-recognized “A,A” Partners of Choice Award for outstanding quality and service.

James Hardie, the world leader in fiber cement siding, is one of only three other companies to have earned this award numerous times. Over the last 13 years, James Hardie has won the “A,A” award 12 times and the “A” award once, highlighting the company’s continued success in delivering quality and service.

“At James Hardie, we strive to deliver durable, high quality products paired with best-in-class service for the David Weekley homebuyers and team members,” said Johnny Cope, Executive Vice President of Sales for James Hardie Building Products. “We are grateful for our partnership and we will continue to strive to create value and efficiencies with David Weekley Homes. Being recognized as a “A,A” Partner of Choice motivates us to continue to improve.”

Of the 160 companies evaluated, only the top ranked companies earn the coveted Partners of Choice Award. Categories include “A,A” demonstrating excellence in both quality and service, or “A” representing excellence in either quality or service.

To assess all partners and pinpoint top performers, more than 1,000 David Weekley Homes team members – from sales to senior leadership – participate in the homebuilder’s unique “Supplier Evaluation Platform.” At the heart of this process is the National Trading Partner Survey. The goal of the quarterly survey is to enhance communication and identify where improvements can be made to ultimately improve customer service, achieving the highest level of homeowner satisfaction.

“Our in-depth survey process helps us select the strongest companies to assist us in delivering an unequaled experience for our homebuyers, and James Hardie has met that challenge head on,” said John Schiegg, director of supply chain services for David Weekley Homes.  “James Hardie has again surpassed the high expectations we set for our partners by continually demonstrating a dedication to delivering world-class quality and service to David Weekley Homes.”

For more information about the award, visit davidweekleyhomes.com. To learn more about James Hardie, visit jameshardie.com.


Congratulations to Grand Prize Winner, Don Lewis, for taking home the 1938 Dodge Pickup Truck!

Don and Laura Lewis with Grand Prize of the ROBERTS 80th Anniversary Giveaway Sweepstakes, a 1938 Dodge Pickup

Boca Raton, FL (July 24, 2019) –Roberts Consolidated Industries, Inc. announced today the winners of the ROBERTS 80th Anniversary Giveaway Sweepstakes that ran through the end of 2018 and were awarded earlier this year. ROBERTS congratulates Don Lewis of Lewis Flooring in Hillsboro, Missouri, whose name was picked as the Grand Prize Winner of the ROBERTS 80th Anniversary Giveaway Sweepstakes. As the winner of the grand prize, Don received a restored one of a kind antique 1938 Dodge Pickup Truck, which pays homage to the year ROBERTS was founded. Don submitted his winning entry form with a receipt for ROBERTS tools purchased at the E.J. Welch Company. On June 10th, the ROBERTS team joined Don and his family at a luncheon held at EJ Welch’s Earth City, Missouri location. Don, his family, the Lewis Flooring team and, of course, the 1938 Dodge Pickup Truck were all there to to meet contractors and pose for photos. When recently asked about his new truck, Don stated, “It’s still hard to believe that I won. I have a large group of family members that will enjoy the truck for many years to come. God Bless!!” In addition to Don’s winning entry, ROBERTS also congratulates the ten runner-up winners below who received ROBERTS care packages containing a ROBERTS Limited Edition 10-505 Pro Gel Knee Kicker (only 1,938 manufactured and etched with a unique number and 80th Anniversary logo), a ROBERTS-branded jacket, and a ROBERTS T-Shirt. All winners were submitted to, and drawn by, an independent sweepstakes administrator.

Runner-Up Winners:

1. John Craft of ICR Sales & Service Ldt. – New Brunswick, Canada
2. Joe Huff of Keene Carpet – Honaker, VA
3. Dakota Deardutt of FTI Floor Installation Tech – Imperial, MO
4. Gary O’Briant of O’Briant Flooring & Remolding – Dalton, GA
5. Robert Shamansky of Roberts Carpet – Clinton, OH
6. Doug Gibbs of Touchdown Carpet & Floor – Marlboro, MA
7. Ray Doell of Winkler Floor Fashions Ltd. – Manitoba, Canada
8. Frank Ollian of Ollian Floor Covering – Albany, OR
9. William Boehm of Boehm’s – Three Lakes, WI
10. David Steven of Steven’s Floor Service – Georgetown, KY

Pictured left to right: Tim Fetsch – VP of Branch Operations EJ Welch, Don Lewis of Lewis Flooring (Grand Prize Winner), Leslie Del Pozo – Marketing Director QEP/ROBERTS, Demetris Brown – Customer Service Manager EJ Welch Company, Rodney Alt – Regional Sales Manager QEP/ROBERTS.

Flooring Solutions Joins Starnet

Lewis Center, OH (July 15, 2019) – Starnet, the world’s largest network of full-service independent flooring contractors, announced today that Flooring Solutions headquartered in Livermore, CA has joined the partnership as a new member.

“Starnet is thrilled to have Flooring Solutions join the network and provide a full-service commitment to the carpet, resilient, and ceramic categories in Northern California,” said Mark Bischoff, president and CEO of Starnet.  “In that world renown high growth Bay Area, Flooring Solutions was recognized by the San Francisco Business Times as one of the 100 Fastest Growing Private Companies in 2018.  Our industry is sometimes satisfied to keep pace with GDP – not Flooring Solutions.  They are running at pace with explosive growth technology companies.”

Established in 1990, Flooring Solutions, Inc. provides fast, reliable and high quality commercial and industrial flooring products and installation throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California. Flooring Solutions proudly represent the leading manufacturers in the flooring industry and use only factory certified installers. As a nonunion flooring contractor, they are licensed, insured, and bonded, offering clients quality products and installation services that they proudly stand behind.

“As the San Francisco Bay Area’s largest non-union flooring contractor, we are excited to join the Starnet community,” said Rick Elfman, president of Flooring Solutions. “As a company built on relationships and service, we are looking forward to building many new ones with the Starnet management, it’s suppliers and fellow members. With over 40 years of experience in the flooring industry, we know that this new relationship will bring value to our organization and our customers and we are honored to represent Starnet in Northern California.”

The changing market for ceramic tile in the USA

Donato Grosser’s Coverings presentation looks at the sales patterns for independent distributors

Donato Grosser, principal of D. Grosser and Associates, Ltd.

As part of the conference program at Coverings 19, Donato Grosser, principal of D. Grosser and Associates, Ltd., in New York, offered an analysis of ceramic tile business in the U.S., based on interviews with distributors in Florida, Southern states (Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Carolinas), Texas, the Southwest (Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico), California, the Northwest (Oregon, Washington), the Midwest (Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota), New England, New York, New Jersey, and the Middle Atlantic (Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia).

The overall findings, targeted to inform independent distributors, show that though there was a strong market increase from 2012 to 2017, a slowdown occurred in 2018. The strength of suppliers like MSI, Emser, Floor & Décor have negatively impacted independent distributor business. Other factors in sales slowdowns are the strengthening of luxury vinyl tile (LVT) and Chinese competition, as well as high cost of installation. The bright spots in Grosser’s report were that remodeling kept distributors in business during the recession, and areas with high birth rates and low taxes and immigration are the strongest economically.

Number of distributors shrinks; big companies get bigger

Grosser’s research shows that although there were 21,725 ceramic tile contractors and dealers in the U.S. in 2008, now that number has plummeted to only 16, 406 in 2018, with a slight swell expected to 16, 806 in 2019. 

These trends run inverse to U.S. ceramic tile consumption, which was at a high of 3,315 million of square feet (m. sq. ft) in 2006, and dropped to only 1,959 m. sq. ft. in 2009. It has slowly increased to an expected 3,170 m. sq. ft. in 2019. Consumption was nearly flat from 2017 at 3,046 m. sq. ft. to 3,107 m. sq. ft. in 2018. 

Overall, Grosser reported that the number of distribution outlets are declining, the number of ceramic tile distributors has fallen from a high of 1,376 in 2014 to a low of 1,241 today. The big are getting bigger and the small are getting smaller, with large distributors expanding and small distributors shrinking. In terms of ceramic tile sales, 2018 was nearly flat, and the growth of LVT as well as flat residential construction will keep sales low in 2019 as well, Grosser predicted. 

Total U.S. manufacturing capacity is now about 1,204 m. sq. ft., with usage of manufacturing capacity at about 80%:

  • Dal-Tile: ~613 m. sq. ft.
  • Italian plants (Stonepeak, Florim, Florida Tile, Del Conca, Landmark): ~430 m. sq. ft.
  • Other main manufacturers: 161 m. sq. ft.

Regional synopsis

Here’s a synopsis of distributor activity according to region. 

Florida – After lows in 2009, sales spiked 60% in 2012-2014, with a 2017 boom for some distributors due to residential and commercial construction. Currently, most sales are for remodeling and commercial construction. Some distributors are exporting to Caribbean islands. Hurricanes turned out to be a mixed bag: sales were lost for a month, but then sales to fix storm damage surged. Negatives include an oil spill in the Panhandle in 2010, Chinese competition, and flat sales from 2017 to 2018 due to competition by Floor & Décor, MSI and Emser.

Southern states – Sales have improved across the South since 2013. In Tennessee, some distributors report a boom; others complain of sales lost to LVT. Sales are up in Georgia, and booming sales in Alabama credit high-end residential and new commercial projects. Arkansas is enjoying a boom; healthy sales in Mississippi and Louisiana are up 10-15%, and sales in the Carolinas are flat to 15% up. 

Texas Though there was a slowdown at the end of 2018 – which some companies attributed to the mid-term elections – many companies have reported sales gains of 15-20% per year since 2014. Commercial construction, hospitality and remodeling are abundant; sales are surging in Houston due to remodeling after hurricanes. 

Southwest – New construction in residential, hospitality and restaurants is contributing to 20-30% boom conditions in parts of Arizona, especially in Phoenix. Utah is seeing sales rise 7-20% due to rise in multi-unit residential projects, mid-to-high-end residential and commercial construction. 2018 sales are up in Nevada 10-20% due to new construction and residential remodeling, though LVT is impacting tile sales as builders embrace LVT. Colorado is reporting sales increases across the board, especially in the Denver area and suburbs where high-end residential construction and new commercial construction are going strong. In New Mexico, one distributor reported 10% sales gains last year due to mid-to-high-end residential construction and new retail and hospitality construction; another distributor said he was impacted by loss of government money in the region. New construction is strong for healthcare projects.

California – The Golden State has enjoyed steady growth from 2010 to 2018, though the rate has slowed in the last six months. Bright spots are growing sales in tile slabs, large importers selling to tract housing developers and small and medium distributors supplying remodeling efforts. The interest in low-cost Chinese tile is being felt in this state. 

Midwest – After sales bottomed out in 2008-2009, Ohio distributors saw sales surge up to 20% 2013-2016, mostly for residential remodeling. Last year sales were up for commercial projects, retail, institutional and offices. Michigan saw similar growth over those years due to new hospitality and office construction, and high-and-mid-level residential, with 60% sales due to remodeling. 2018 saw a slight slowdown. Illinois saw 15-20% growth per year 2012-2018 in residential remodeling or multi-unit construction until a slowdown in 2018. Post-tornado sales in 2015 soared. Tiles are mainly used in bathrooms and some kitchens, fighting competition from wood flooring. Wisconsin is a mixed bag with some reports of booming 30% sales increases from 2017 due to high-end residential, remodeling and new commercial building; others saw sales are down due to competition from VCT and LVT. Minnesota distributors saw yearly increases of 10-20% from 2012-2016; in 2018, some reported 10% hikes, while others said installation costs are negatively impacting tile sales and one distributor said sales fell 20% due to customers switching to LVT. 

Northwest – Sales in Oregon last year spiked 5-15%, with residential construction doing well; some distributors reveal that remodeling makes up 50% of sales. In Washington, recovery began in 2013; between 2016-2018 new high-end residential and retail projects pumped up sales 10% each year. 

New England Sales were mostly flat for 2018, declining in the second half of the year. New high-end residential and commercial fueled sales, but some distributors say companies are leaving Connecticut due to high taxes and the recently-instituted $10,000 cap on state and local taxes (SALT) that taxpayers can claim on their federal income taxes. 

New York – Though sales surged in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, 2018 was mostly flat in the area, except in high-end Manhattan apartments and suburban areas with high birth rates that spurred residential remodeling. Big-box competition, internet sales, and exodus of people to the South and West are depressing sales in the region. 

New Jersey – 2018 was stellar for many companies, though sales fell after August and some companies are reporting flat sales, depressed by competition from Floor & Décor and similar stores and high installation costs that spurred a switch over to LVT products. Sales health was found in new commercial building and residential remodeling.

Mid-AtlanticSales were down or flat in Virginia and Pennsylvania (except for an increase from 2011 to 2018 in Pittsburgh); Maryland is expecting an increase in the first quarter with most companies reporting 5-15% increase due to healthy mid-to-high-end residential and commercial, except in areas where construction is down. 

Regional training events – one of NTCA’s best member benefits

Often tile contractors ask me about training opportunities. I tell them about NTCA University, webinars, workshops, and regional events. While all of our educational opportunities are great, many are geared to a specific learner. For example, NTCA University has apprenticeship courses, and the workshops have a lot of overview information good for foremen. 

But in my opinion, one of the best training opportunities available from NTCA is the day-long regional training events because they are designed for the tile setter. It doesn’t matter if you have been on the job for a one year or 15 years. In 2019, we are conducting 20 regional training events, focusing on either gauged porcelain tile or substrate prep and large-format tile. What makes these training events so different is that the attendees start the day in a classroom, but after 90 minutes they move to the work area to actually use the proper techniques that were taught in the classroom.

What fascinates me the most is the amount of set-up that is needed for each of the trainings. Typically two days prior to the event, NTCA trainers and manufacturer reps descend on to the location to start constructing modules, getting materials ready for training day, and doing a run-through so everyone is on the same page when all of the attendees arrive. And all of this work is done for 20 attendees! The reason that there’s a cap to the number of participants is because the trainers spend a lot of one-on-one time with each of the attendees to ensure that proper standards and installation methods are used.

The substrate prep and large-format tile courses are open to NTCA members only. The gauged porcelain tile courses are open to anyone. Since both have a limited number of attendees, we require a $50 registration fee for each class. However, you get this fee refunded to your credit card once you show up to the event. This is to ensure that if someone can’t make it, they cancel and allow someone else to attend instead of having a bunch of no-shows.

I have had several company owners register some of their setters and later cancel, stating that they are too busy with work to attend. I get it – work pays the bills – but as an owner you also have to take a look at the benefits your employees gain by attending one of these training events. 

Take it from past NTCA president and NTCA Technical Committee Chairman James Woelfel, of NTCA Five-Star Contractor Artcraft Granite, Marble, and Tile Co., of Mesa, Ariz. Woelfel attended the Tempe, Ariz., substrate prep course and had this to say: “The hands-on regional training is hands down the best member benefit the NTCA offers. At no charge, 10 of my people were educated on substrate prep, both hands-on and using TCNA and ANSI standards. Every one of my employees was excited by the learning opportunity and surprised by the amount of information that was reviewed. All of these employees are CTEF or ACT certified.” 

“As Chairman of the NTCA Technical Committee, I always considered the NTCA Reference Manual was the NTCA’s best member benefit,” he added. “My mind has been changed. As an NTCA member, if you do not take advantage of this educational opportunity, you are wasting your membership and you are costing your own company profit opportunity.”

For more information on the regional training program including dates and locations,
visit the NTCA website.

Total Solutions Plus comes to Nashville

All-industry conference offers business-building program amidst Music City backdrop

Each year, Total Solutions Plus (TSP) brings the ceramic tile industry together to network and learn from each other. This year, the Ceramic Tile Distributors Association (CTDA), Tile Council of North America (TCNA), Tile Contractors Association of America (TCAA) and National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) have designed an itinerary to boost your business, hone your technical expertise, recognize outstanding individuals in the industry and allow plenty of time to network with friends and colleagues old and new. 

Though the conference itself takes place October 27-30, committee and board meetings take place on Saturday and Sunday, October 26-27, with a golf tournament at the Gaylord Springs Golf Links that starts noon on Sunday, and various tours of the area available. The conference officially kicks off with an opening reception Sunday night at 6 pm. 

The Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tenn., is home to TSP 2019. In addition to its proximity to the heart of Nashville and all the music venues the city has to offer – including the Grand Ole Opry and the historic Ryman Auditorium – the nine-acre property offers SoundWaves, an upscale water experience featuring four acres of combined indoor and outdoor water attractions, which opened at the end of last year. 

The annual golf tournament commences Sunday, October 27 at noon.


Dean Minuto

After a hearty breakfast Monday morning, the program commences with the “Get to Yes Faster” keynote from Dean Minuto of Yescalate. Minuto is an expert in the art of persuasion, that he believes is good communication and understanding. He’s personally coached more than 9,000 CEOs, tens of thousands of other executives, and countless employees in his 25 years as a leading expert in sales. In 2015, he received Vistage International’s 2015 Speaker of the Year award. He loves to weave neurobiology, sales techniques, marketing, history, psychology, and other sciences together in order to create a full tapestry of human behavior. It is only in understanding this that you can learn how to get to yes. He believes that success isn’t about a commission: it’s about making a difference. 

Chris McChesney

The closing keynote on Tuesday morning is delivered by Chris McChesney, addressing “The 4 Disciplines of Execution,” the title of his best-selling book. McChesney is the Global Practice Leader of Execution for Franklin Covey and one of Franklin Covey’s most in-demand speakers worldwide. Over his 20 years with the organization, McChesney has led change efforts that have become many of Franklin Covey’s most noted case studies and include working directly with Georgia Governor Sonny Purdue and the president of Marriott for the Americas, Shaw Industries, Kroger Supermarkets, Coca-Cola, Comcast, Home Depot, Frito-Lay, Lockheed Martin, Gaylord Entertainment and Northrop Grumman. In addition to his keynote, McChesney will also lead a Business Breakout on Tuesday morning, titled “A Deeper Dive Into The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals.”

Al Bates

Breakout groups, tabletops and networking

Education programming continues with an outstanding lineup of speakers and industry experts on Monday and Tuesday. Monday includes a business breakout with Al Bates; Donato Pompo talks about building a bulletproof spec, and there are two technical breakouts before the Awards Lunch. Post-lunch activities include two technical breakouts and Distributor forum. Also scheduled on Monday is a TCNA Board meeting and annual meetings for both CTDA and NTCA.

Donato Pompo

Monday afternoon from 4:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m., the Tabletop Event begins, with opportunities to meet with suppliers and other attendees. 

Tuesday following the McChesney keynote is his breakout group, as well as two technical breakouts plus a session on “How to effectively use Why Tile to benefit your business.” After the Awards Lunch, there’s a Business Breakout titled, “Future of Distribution in the Tile Industry – NAW Fellow Panel/Presentation,” as well as another technical breakout, and a joint panel discussion. A closing reception leads into a closing country-western themed party and dinner. 

NTCA Tile Setter Craftsperson of the Year winner announced

The inaugural NTCA Tile Setter Craftsperson of the Year Award will be announced at TSP. This award will recognize a NTCA member who has proven to be invaluable in the field due to his or her outstanding installations, is passionate and actively engaged in continual self-improvement, leads and/or mentors others, and is devoted to the art of setting tile.  

Off-site fun

If you’re looking to take in a bit of local flavor, visit the TSP website for the schedule of activities. In addition to the golf tournament, other outings include “A Musical Journey through Nashville, Ryman Auditorium and Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum,” a behind-the-scenes tour of the Grand Ole Opry and Ryman Auditorium, a tour through the Hermitage, the former home of Andrew Jackson, visit to Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and Historic RCA Studio B, home to over 200 Elvis Presley recordings, a culinary tour and a chance to try your hand at making Goo Goo Clusters, the iconic Nashville candy that satisfies your sweet tooth with a combination of caramel, marshmallow nougat, fresh roasted peanuts and milk chocolate. 


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: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/id1455234805

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.schluter.snapp

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 www.schluter.com.

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

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.

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