NTCA names Tile Setter Craftsperson of the Year winners

The National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) has announced its 2020 Tile Setter Craftspersons of the Year Award in both the residential and commercial categories. 

On the commercial side, the winner is Ferid Hasic of Grazzini Brothers & Company, Eagan, Minn., while the recipient in the residential category is Leo Reynaga of Visalia Tile in Visalia, California. 


The winners receive round-trip airfare for two to Coverings 2021, scheduled to take place at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., next April, as well as hotel accommodations for a three-night stay. They will be recognized at the annual NTCA Awards Night during the show. 

“Since Total Solutions Plus was  changed to a virtual event this year due to COVID-19,” explained Bart Bettiga, NTCA’s executive director, “we will be presenting the award to Ferid and Leo at Coverings 2021.”

Praiseworthy achievement

Nyle Wadford, a residential category judge and industry consultant, noted, “I am honored to be chosen to judge these entries. Viewing their work and their dedication to their craft was an uplifting experience. When this fast-paced world in which we live demands that it be done more rapidly with ‘get by’ quality, these entrants eschew that notion and proved their dedication to quality on each of the installations reviewed. 

“It is both pleasing and humbling to know that there are still tile installers today that adhere to these practices,” he added. “Congratulations to all the entrants. They’re all winners in my book.”

Rod Owen, C.C. Owen Co., Mike Micalizzi of Custom Building Products, and James Woelfel, consultant, scored the commercial entries. Jan Hohn of Hohn & Hohn, Inc., William White, ARDEX, and consultant Nyle Wadford judged the residential entries. 

Judging criteria for the awards included the following factors: 

  • 15 years or more setting tile, and continuing to set tile as part of the job today (Yes/No)
  • Technical Correctness of tile installations – 25%
  • Craftsmanship/Artistry – 30%
  • Ability to Resolve Tile Installation Problems – 20%
  • Self-Improvement/Continuing Education – 15%
  • Mentoring/Leading Others – 10%

How they got here 

Hasic was nominated for the award by Greg Grazzini, CEO and president, Grazzini Brothers and Company, while Reynaga was nominated by Teresa Inglehart, residential operations assistant, Visalia Tile. Both winners hailed from NTCA Five-Star contractor member companies. 

Ferid Hasic from Grazzini Brothers and Company

Hasic grew up in Bosnia and learned the tile trade from a third-generation tile setter in Germany. He and his family moved to the U.S. in January 1998 and he became a naturalized U.S. citizen. His training in Germany allowed him to obtain his Tile Setter Journeyman card with the local union. He also holds a Stone Mason Journeyman card. 

He supervises up to 45 workers with Grazzini Brothers and Company, while mentoring crew and overseeing projects, and has become a role model for his crew members. 

“If I show the people by my working hard, they will work hard,” Hasic said. “I take pride in my work and want to set a good example. I strive for no punch list on every job. It is important for the people to see that I put myself in their shoes – both my crew and the company. I want to do a good job, so the company gets more jobs. If the company prospers, I will prosper.”

The 1.75 million square foot U.S. Bank Stadium, home of the Minnesota Vikings, located in Minneapolis, is the largest construction project in Minnesota. Ferid Hasic was chosen to install the large format thin porcelain panels, a new form of tile in 2015, which required training/mentoring 10 additional tile setters for this installation. Ferid and his crew installed 35,000 square feet in 3 months on 6 different concourse levels.
Leo Reynaga & VCT owners Robby Martinho (L) Eddie Martinho  (R).jpg – Leo Reynaga is flanked by Visalia Ceramic Tile owners, Robby Martinho (l) and Eddie Martinho.

As a young father who started working before finishing high school, Reynaga came to Visalia Ceramic Tile with no experience, and learned his craft through training with owner Robert Martinho, discovering that this career could provide a good living for his growing family. Inglehart said his go-getter attitude propelled him to success.

“Today, with over 24 years in the trade, Leo has become a top setter for commercial and residential applications,” Inglehart said, in her nomination letter. “It is rare to have one guy the best at projects requiring vast differences from small to large areas, simple to custom details- and he’s got it.” His positive attitude, product knowledge, continuing quest for education, and experience and willingness to motivate and encourage others has distinguished him as a leader. 

Reynaga said that receiving the award demonstrates that “no matter what age or time in your career you could always achieve. This award shows my family and coworkers that if you have dedication, hard work, and love for your craft you will succeed.”

Leo Reynaga headed the exterior portion of this project, the Hoffman residence in Fresno, Calif., consisting of Versailles Pattern 3CM travertine pavers running through the edges of the pool deck. His expert ability to prep the substrate made it an easy call to put him on the job. The homeowner wanted as tight of joints as possible, despite the size and variation of the stone.

Starnet Design Awards to Host Virtual Awards Ceremony on June 2, 2020

COLUMBUS OHIO (May 27, 2020) – On June 2nd Starnet will reveal the nominees and winners of the 22nd Annual Starnet Design Awards during a virtual celebration.  Annually the awards recognize the best and brightest in commercial interiors, conceived by the architectural and design community in partnership with Starnet Members and their vendor partner network.

Presenting the awards will be a distinguished panel of judges and representatives from Starnet:

–  Tracy Herzer, Senior Interior Designer The S/L/A/M Collaborative

–  Chi-Thien (CT) Nguyen, Chair of Preservation Design for Savannah College of Art & Design

–  Jane M. Rohde, Principal JSR Associates, Inc.

–  Chuck Bode, Starnet Chairman of the Board

–  Rob Starr, Starnet Director of Marketing and Member Services

Participants may register for the awards ceremony at the following link: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1649417382303051024

A recorded playback will be available to registered attendees after the ceremony. To learn more about the Starnet Design Awards visit:

DW Sanders Tile & Stone Contracting President Pledges $1,000 per Month to CTEF During COVID-19 Pandemic

The Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) gratefully acknowledges the generosity of Woody Sanders, President of D.W. Sanders Tile & Stone Contracting. Mr. Sanders has pledged to donate $1,000 per month going forward to help CTEF navigate through COVID-19.

The Ceramic Tile Education Foundation operates solely on industry sponsorship, donations, and registration fees associated with tile installation certification events for the Certified Tile Installer (CTI) and Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT) programs. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has halted all in-person certification testing activities for the foreseeable future.

The DW Sanders Tile & Stone Contracting crew.

Woody Sanders, President of D.W. Sanders Tile & Stone Contracting, headquartered in Marietta, GA, is Certified Tile Installer #1295, the Proud Employer of CTIs, and a CTI program Evaluator. Mr. Sanders is passionately committed to nurturing and educating the tile industry workforce and has said, “Had it not been for the invaluable education and certification of the CTI program, I would not be where I am today. Now it is my turn to support the CTEF.” 

CTEF can’t thank Woody enough for his generous support of the CTEF mission and the CTI program with his monthly funding commitment.  If Woody’s commitment speaks to you and you have found success in these trying times, please consider following in Woody’s footsteps on any level so that CTEF can continue to educate and certify our workforce as soon as in-person contact can be conducted safely.

To make your one-time or recurring tax-deductible donation to CTEF, please contact Cathey McAlister at 864-222-2131 or go to https://www.ceramictilefoundation.org/donate-now.

Call for Entries: Tile of Spain Awards 2020

Miami, FL July 2020 – The Spanish Ceramic Tile Manufacturers’ Association (ASCER) announces the call for entry for the annual Tile of Spain Awards of Architecture, Interior Design and Final Degree Project. Sponsored by Endesa, and the Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade (ICEX), the Tile of Spain Awards have forged a prestigious reputation, promoting the use of Spanish ceramic tiles in architecture and interior design projects worldwide. In previous years the panel of judges was chaired by prestigious architects:

  • Jacob van Rijs
  • Jorge Silvetti
  • Iñaki Ábalos
  • Emilio Tuñón
  • Manuel Gallego
  • Juan Navarro Baldeweg
  • Alberto Campo Baeza
  • Gonçalo Byrne
  • William J.R. Curtis
  • Terence Riley
  • Eduardo Souto de Moura
  • Carlos Ferrater
  • Luís Moreno Mansilla
  • Patxi Mangado
  • Guillermo Vázquez Consuegra
  • Mathías Klotz
  • Benedetta Tagliabue
  • Víctor López Cotelo

The panel of judges for the 2020 edition has yet to be confirmed.   

The Tile of Spain Awards have a prize fund of €39,000 ($44,082) shared between three categories. The two main categories, Architecture and Interior Design, each have cash prizes of €17,000 ($19,214). The Final Degree Project award has a cash prize of €5,000 ($5,625). The panel of judges is also entitled to give two special mentions in each category.  

Entries from Spain and abroad are being accepted now through October 23, 2020. Visit www.tileofspainawards.com to enter the contest or learn more about the Tile of Spain Awards.

About the Awards

The objective of the Tile of Spain Awards is to promote the use of Spanish ceramic tiles in architecture and interior design projects (both in Spain and abroad). The program boasts a consolidated trajectory and are held in high esteem by architecture professionals. 

The Tile of Spain Awards offer cash prizes totaling over $44,000 that are divided among three areas. The two main categories – Architecture and Interior Design – each have a cash prize of over $19,000. Special mentions may also be made in both categories, based on the judges’ criteria. The third category, the Final Degree Project, targets students of architecture and has a cash prize of over $5,000. In all three categories, entries are welcome from both Spanish and international participants. 

The award ceremony will be held in Valencia during CEVISAMA 2021. Full details of this and previous editions of the awards are available at www.tileofspainawards.com

UPDATE: BONUS DAY ADDED — Tile Heritage Foundation’s annual Artisan Planter Auction now runs on Ebay July 12- 22, 2020

Kathy Casper Artisan Planter

Each year the Tile Heritage Foundation (THF) has held an Artisan Planter Auction Fundraiser in Doylestown, Pa., during the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works (MPTW) Tile Festival, but this year the auction goes international as it moves to eBay. Local artists have embellished 9″ x 6″ x 6″ “fibre cement” boxes donated by Campania International in unique ways in the mosaic style. 100% of the proceeds from auctions support the THF’s ongoing Tile History Archiving Project, which is a comprehensive online index of ceramic tile in the United States from the 1870s to the present day.   Tile Heritage appreciates the artists’ voluntary participation as well as their creative contributions & support!

The Artisan Planter Auction starts at 8 p.m. EDT on July 12. You can visit eBay to access the auction here:


Participating Artists and Studios for 2020 include: 

  • Mandy Baker, Whispering Hill Studio
  • Alissa Blumenthal, Mosaic Artist
  • Chris Bonner, Ceramist;
  • Eric Boynton, Clay Rat Studio
  • Kathy Casper, Think Good Tiles
  • Gloria Kosco, Ceramist
  • Jessica Liddell, Bella Mosaic Art
  • Katia McGuirk, Katia Tiles;
  • Will Mead, Peace Valley Tile
  • Robyn Miller, Robyn Sue Miller Mosaics Studio
  • Laura Lyn Stern, Sculptural Designs.

2020 Artisan Planter Designs

Here’s a virtual tour of the Artisan Planters, that will be auctioned starting July 12, and the participating artisans who created them:

Mandy Baker of Whispering Hill Studio in Jamison, PA.

Chris Bonner

Eric Boynton, Clay Rat Studio, Souderton, Pa.

Alissa Blumenthal

Kathy Casper, Think Good Tiles.

Gloria Kosco

Jessica Liddell Bella Mosaic Art Studio, Philadelphia, Pa. .

Katia McGuirk, Katia Tiles, Philadelphia, Pa.

Will Mead Peace Valley Tile in Pipersville, Pa.

Robyn Miller, Robyn Sue Miller Mosaics, Philadelphia, Pa.

Laura Lyn Stern, Sculptural Designs, Philadelphia, Pa.

To participate in the online auction, visit the eBay auction site to bid. If you are new to bidding on eBay, you can sign up or bid as a guest and you may want to watch this instructional video. For additional questions, please email the Tile Heritage Foundation at [email protected].

New House Infrastructure Package to Boost Infrastructure, Economic Recovery and Jobs

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The Moving Forward Act’s Proposed $1.5 Trillion in New Investments Will Improve Range of Public Infrastructure, Creating Needed Demand for Construction While Making the Economy More Efficient

The chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America, Stephen E. Sandherr, issued the following statement in reaction to the release today of a proposed House measure, known as The Moving Forward Act, that seeks to invest $1.5 trillion in infrastructure:

“House leaders understand that one of the best ways to promote new economic growth is by investing in the nation’s aging, and often over-burdened, infrastructure. These investments will create needed new construction careers, promote demand for new construction equipment and materials, and ensure that the economy will be more efficient and effective for years to come. The new House infrastructure proposal will provide the kind of tangible benefits our economy needs to recover.

“The new measure also takes the broadest possible definition of infrastructure. In addition to investing in transportation systems, waterways, energy and drinking water, the measure also provides crucial funding for modernizing schools, health care facilities, new housing and environmental mitigation. These broad investments will support demand across many different construction sectors, helping offset expected declines in private sector activity.

“There is a lot to this bill, and there are details in the proposal that must be improved as the measure works its way through the legislative process. Among those is the need to identify additional, sustainable, long-term funding for future infrastructure improvements. However, we support the goal of rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, restoring demand for construction and reinvigorating our economy. That is why we are eager to work with both parties and the Trump administration to improve this proposal, with the goal of ultimately enacting a measure that helps rebuild America.”

New Data Shows Construction Activity Returning To Pre-Coronavirus Levels In Many Parts Of The Country As Some Firms Begin To Add Workers

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Association Survey and Data Collected by Procore Measure Impacts of the Pandemic, Showing Signs of a Construction Recovery, but Labor Shortages and Project Cancellations Show Industry Needs Federal Help

A new survey by the Associated General Contractors of America and data from construction technology firm Procore show that construction activity is returning to pre-coronavirus levels in many parts of the country and some firms are adding workers. The new economic data, however, also shows some future projects are being canceled and many others are being delayed by supply chain issues and labor shortages, underscoring the need for additional federal recovery measures, association officials noted.

“Many of the immediate economic impacts of the coronavirus have passed and, as a result, activity and hiring are up, a bit,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist.  “But while the immediate crisis appears to have passed, we are just now beginning to appreciate some of the longer-term impacts of the pandemic on the industry.”

Construction activity has returned to pre-coronavirus levels in 34 states, based on data on workers’ hours analyzed by Procore. And construction has returned to pre-coronavirus levels in Dallas and Miami, according to Procore’s data on 8 large metro areas. Meanwhile, the association’s survey found that only 8 percent of construction firms were forced to furlough or lay off workers in June while 21 percent report adding employees, compared to one-in-four firms letting workers go between March and May.

“But it is important to remember that construction activity typically increases quite a bit between March 1 and the end of May as the weather improves and more work gets underway,” Simonson commented. “Getting to March 1 levels is a sign of progress, but it doesn’t mean things are back to normal.”

Simonson added that the AGC survey and Procore’s data show the severe toll the pandemic took on the construction industry. For example, 61 percent of firms report having had at least one project halted or canceled because of the pandemic. One in four firms report that construction materials shortages, caused by lock downs and trade disruptions, are causing delays on current projects. Meanwhile, the Procore data found that smaller firms experienced more severe declines in construction activity during the pandemic than larger firms.

“We are living in a time when change seems to be the new norm, but something that will never change is the resilience of the construction industry,” said Kristopher Lengieza, Procore’s Senior Director of Business Development. “To date, a majority of states are experiencing levels of construction activity equal to, or in some cases, much higher than they reported prior to COVID-19.”

Simonson added that, moving forward, only 12 percent of firms report they plan to furlough or lay off staff over the next four weeks while 17 percent anticipate adding to their headcount during that time span. Yet even as more construction firms predict they will expand during the next several weeks, 42 percent do not expect demand will recover to normal levels for at least four months, and most of those firms expect recovery will take longer than six months.

Simonson noted that construction firms are counting on additional federal help to improve demand for construction and make it easier to return people to their payrolls. Fifty-five percent of firms report they are counting on Congress and the Trump administration to enact liability reform that protects firms that are complying with coronavirus safety protocols from litigation. And 33 percent are counting on Congress to boost infrastructure spending to offset declining private-sector demand.

Many firms are also hoping that Congress will not extend the unemployment supplement that is currently set to expire at the end of July. Notably, 34 percent of firms that called back employees who had been furloughed report having some personnel refuse to return to work because of those unemployment supplements. “Extending the supplement will only make it harder for more employers to bring people back onto payrolls,” Simonson cautioned.

“Without additional help from D.C., the few gains this industry has made during the past few weeks will likely be fleeting,” Simonson added. “That is why we will continue to push Congress and the Trump administration to enact the kind of long-term economic recovery measures this industry needs to truly rebound from the coronavirus.”

The association’s new survey is based on responses from over 630 firms collected between June 9 and 17. Procore’s data is based on the transactions logged via the company’s software by tens of thousands of construction firms across the country.

Click here for the association’s survey results and here(link is external) for a video summary of the survey responses. Click here for Procore’s new construction data. Procore blogged about its most recent findings here(link is external).

ABC, NAHB Applaud D.C. Circuit Court Decision to Reject Lawsuit to Compel OSHA to Issue Emergency Temporary Standard for Infectious Diseases/COVID-19

WASHINGTON, June 11 — Associated Builders and Contractors Vice President of Health, Safety, Environment and Workforce Development Greg Sizemore and National Association of Home Builders Chief Executive Officer Jerry Howard issued the following joint statement today on the D.C. Circuit Court’s decision to reject a lawsuit brought by the AFL-CIO to compel the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue an “emergency temporary standard” for infectious diseases/COVID-19:

“We applaud the D.C. Circuit’s decision, which affirms that OSHA’s comprehensive response to the COVID-19 outbreak currently eliminates the need for an emergency temporary standard for infectious diseases and COVID-19 covering all employees. The government is learning new information about COVID-19 and how best to mitigate related hazards on an almost daily and sometimes even hourly basis, which is why a static, intransigent rule would not be an appropriate response. OSHA’s resources are better deployed by developing timely and situational-specific guidance documents, which can be adjusted and adapted as the agency and public health authorities better understand the pandemic.

“In the construction sector, even without a COVID-19 outbreak, safety and health is always our No. 1 priority. As representatives of residential, nonresidential and industrial construction contractors across the country, we remain committed to collaborating with state and local health officials, as well as across market sectors, to diligently identify and implement new health and safety protocols on our jobsites to protect construction employees amid the COVID-19 outbreak.” 

Construction Input Prices Rise in May, Says ABC

WASHINGTONJune 11—Construction input prices rose 0.8% in May compared to the previous month, according to an Associated Builders and Contractors analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Producer Price Index data released today. Nonresidential construction input prices rose by 0.8% for the month as well.

Of the 11 subcategories, only three experienced monthly decreases, with the largest decrease in steel mill products, which fell 3.1% in May. The rise in prices was driven primarily by the three energy subcategories, which experienced significant increases over the previous month. Crude petroleum was up 41.6%, while natural gas and unprocessed energy materials were up 36.5% and 26.5%, respectively.

“Those who fixate on monthly data during times like these will find their views on the economy fluctuate from moment to moment,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “Construction input prices were down in April, leading one to believe that deflationary forces were at work in an environment characterized by massive job losses, project postponements, a reeling global economy and plunging energy prices. May came to represent the mirror opposite, with contractors becoming more upbeat, according to ABC’s Construction Confidence Index, rising energy prices and the nation adding jobs as the U.S. economy initiated its reopening.

“Rather than focus on monthly gyrations, those who lead America’s construction firms would be wise to pay attention to broader trends,” said Basu. “For instance, while nonresidential construction input prices rose nearly 1 percentage point in May, they are down nearly 7% from the same time last year. In addition to energy price declines, prices for steel mill products (-13.1%), nonferrous wire and cable (-4.8%) and many other categories are also down from a year ago.   

“The world and nation remain in disarray,” said Basu. “Global supply chains are fragmenting. Trade wars are reemerging. State and local government finances are fragile, and there is an imminent presidential election. These are unsettled times, and therefore data readings are likely to be highly variable from moment to moment. That statistical volatility does not represent a solid foundation upon which to make business decisions. Based on history, input prices are likely to be erratic from month to month, but given the fragile state of the economy, there is unlikely to be a sustained increase in input prices over the near-term. However, the story could be far different a year or two from now.”

Tile of Spain Announces the Launch of New Website for the U.S.

Miami, FL – May 2020 – Tile of Spain, the International ceramic tile brand representing over 120 ceramic tile manufacturers belonging to the Spanish Ceramic Tile Manufacturers’ Association (ASCER) is proud to announce the launch of its newly redesigned website,  www.TileofSpainUSA.com.   Designed with a user-friendly experience in mind the new site includes dynamic features, improved functionality, and more easily accessible information from Tile of Spain manufacturers, allowing visitors to delve into the world of Spanish tile from any device. The newly revamped site also includes:

Interactive Inspiration Gallery – a gallery showcasing inspiring interiors, exteriors and projects featuring products from Tile of Spain manufacturers.
Tile of Spain Connection– stay connected to the latest projects, news and events from all over the world with Tile of Spain USA.
Continuing Education Center – this education hub offers opportunities for in-person and online CEUs, access to the CERASPAÑA Magazine, and a video learning center.
Request a CEU – Architects and Designers can now invite the wonder of Spanish tile to their firm by requesting an in-person or virtual Lunch & Learn with Tile of Spain’s Technical Consultant, Ryan Fasan.
Tile of Spain Quick Ship Collection – a collection of Spanish tiles available for immediate purchase in the U.S.English and Spanish translation.

“We are thrilled to unveil our new comprehensive website that will serve as an informative portal to architects, designers, homeowners, contractors, and journalists seeking to gain a deeper understanding of Spanish ceramic tile,” says Francisco Garzon, Trade Commission of Spain, in Miami. “This redesign truly aligns with Tile of Spain’s vision, showcasing the latest projects, trends, innovations, news and educational initiatives from the industry’s leading manufacturers.”
  The purpose of the new look and update to the Tile of Spain USA website is to better provide quality information and products through an easy to navigate source. The website will highlight all of the tools and resources available at the click of a button and make evident that Tile of Spain remains at the forefront of the tile industry.
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