Five Star Contractor Meeting in Nashville

Recently, the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) hosted its Five Star Contractor Summer meeting in Nashville, Tenn. The meeting, sponsored by Daltile, and co-sponsored by Custom Building Products and LATICRETE International, attracted over 100 NTCA Five Star Contractor members and sponsor representatives, and centered on education and networking. The three-day agenda featured a seminar from Ron Meler of RW Meler Consulting, networking opportunities, sponsored programs, and education sessions that focused on contract clauses/risk, scheduling and change order processes.

The last day of the seminar also featured a tour of Daltile’s 1.8-million square-foot manufacturing plant. “It was a great honor to showcase and tour our Dickson tile plant with the elite Five Star members of the NTCA,” said John Cousins, senior vice president, Dal-Tile Corporation. “The NTCA membership feedback was phenomenal, reinforcing the industry support of high-quality and innovative domestic manufacturing for application in both the residential and commercial business. As the industry leader, Daltile is committed to expanding domestic manufacturing, tile and countertops, aligning with and supporting the needs and opportunities of our customers and industry.”

NTCA Five Star Contractors got to tour Dal-Tile’s 1.8 million sq. ft. Dickson, Tenn., manufacturing plant as part of the summer meeting in Nashville.

NTCA’s Five Star Contractor group is composed of dedicated residential and commercial tile contractor professionals that assemble to identify tile contractor challenges, provide best practices, consensus processes and create business opportunities. They work to develop training initiatives and best practices in business and in the field. NTCA members must go through a rigorous application process in order to obtain Five Star Contractor certification. 

“Our application process is based on integrity, professionalism and craftsmanship,” said NTCA Five Star Program Director Amber Fox. “This process only certifies companies that continually invest in themselves and have proven commitment to service, quality, safety and superior job performance.”

If you are a NTCA member and interested in gaining Five Star Contractor certification, contact Five Star Program Director Amber Fox at [email protected]. 

BELKNAP WHITE TAKES BEING GREEN TO THE SKY

Belknap White Group’s Mansfield, MA facility retrofitted with 3,000 solar panels


Mansfield, Massachusetts. The Belknap White Group (BWG), one of America’s leading full-service flooring distributors, doesn’t just market and sell eco-friendly floorcovering products. The firm is one of the first companies of its kind to embody the green movement by retrofitting its buildings with energy-saving, environmentally sound, green technology. 

“Eight years ago, we started out looking at ways for our company to not just be conscious of the green movement, but to get more involved,” stated Stephen Mancini, Executive Vice President, Logistics of The Belknap White Group. “We did our research, and found out that if we were to outfit our buildings with state-of-the-art exterior solar panels… not only would we ultimately be saving energy, we could qualify for tax credits and recognize savings in our electrical bills.”

Mancini stated that the roof of the firm’s Mansfield, Massachusetts main building, which basically housed inventory, “was 25 years old, whereas in relatively good condition, could use an upgrading.

“We soon discovered there were three areas which would benefit us, if we decided to go with an exterior solar panel program. First of all, we could receive governmental tax credit. Secondly, we would qualify for solar renewable energy credit. And last, which initially we thought would be the main item to target, we’d be able to cut back on power and electricity expense.

“Our Mansfield operation basically has three roofs,” Mancini continued. “One covering the office, another covering the subcontractor pickup area and the last and largest being our warehouse, in which inventory is kept. The warehouse takes up roughly 70% of our total roof space. Ultimately, it was calculated that to efficiently cover the warehouse roof, we’d need approximately 3,000 panels.”

The installation of these panels took longer than planned due to harsh New England winters, and rather than being completed in February of this year, the project was finished in June. “We recognized significant changes immediately,” stated Mancini. “We noticed our electricity consumption going down and our tax credits coming in. Soon, we’ll be collecting our quarterly renewable energy credits, and at that time will be looking forward to receiving our much anticipated reduced electricity bill.” 

The process of adding solar panels continues to be an ongoing one at Belknap White. Mancini says that a variety of factors including geographic location, roof design, temperature, and much more will determine the number of panels needed moving forward for its other locations but “we plan to continue to harness the power of the sun, cut our environmental footprint and create a sustainable impact to our business and the communities where we live and work.”

Solar panel efficiency refers to how well any given solar panel can convert sunlight into usable electricity. “Apparently, it seems that our solar panel system is really working well,” beamed Mancini. “We have a saying here at Belknap White…  ‘Hope for sunny days and rainy nights’.”

SUSLEYEN APPOINTED GENERAL MANAGER OF YURTBAY SERAMIK USA

Yurtbay Seramik, one of Turkey’s leading producers of ceramic tile materials, currently exports its comprehensive product ranges to more than 50 countries spanning the globe. One of the firm’s major export markets is the United States. To optimize the firm’s Turkey/America connection, it was recently announced that Semih Susleyen has been appointed General Manager of Yurtbay Seramik USA. 

For more than a decade, Susleyen had been Sales Manager at Ege Seramik, another Turkish ceramic tile producer. “Yurtbay has given me an excellent opportunity,” he stated. “Our company’s mission statement is very straightforward. We want to create quality, reliable and aesthetic surface solutions reflecting our “advanced nature” using advanced technology and innovative designs,” continued Susleyen. “In doing so, we plan on adding value to our distributors by offering them high value-added products and excellent service.” 

Yurtbay Seramik USA has recently established its new American headquarters in Norcross, Georgia. Susleyen stated that this roughly 4,000 square foot facility is configured to include both office and warehouse space. “We intend to use the warehouse specifically for sampling purposes,” he said. “Yurtbay has already developed a very streamlined Turkey/America shipping program; we don’t think there will be any problems whatsoever continuing that.”

The new Yurtbay Seramik USA location will be fully operational “sometime this October,” added Susleyen. “We’re looking forward to building our brand and our sales… and in doing so, helping our distributor-partners strengthen relationships with current customers, bring in new clientele… and in doing all of this, continue to recognize greater profits!”

StonePeak: first US plant to produce gauged porcelain tile panels

New Continua production line aims to produce 1000 5’ x 10’ gauged porcelain panels a day

Crossville, Tenn. – On September 12, a group of customers, press, state and local dignitaries, and company management assembled at the StonePeak High Tech Porcelain plant here to celebrate the expansion of the first U.S.-based plant to produce 5’ x 10’ gauged porcelain panels.

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The $70 million expansion adds 160 workers to the facility, which now measures 1 million square feet. Federica Minozzi, CEO of the Iris Ceramica Group, parent company of StonePeak, SapienStone, FMG, Porcelaingres, Ariostea, Eiffelgres, and Fiandre, spoke during the ribbon-cutting ceremony, stating that not only is this plant the first in the U.S. to produce gauged porcelain 5’ x 10’ panels, but it’s the first in the world to also to offer the capacity to cut those panels to smaller sizes such as 12” x 12”.  Panel thicknesses range from 6 mm to 2 cm.

“We didn’t even do this investment in Italy,” she said. “We decided to do it in Crossville.”

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Iris Ceramics Group CEO Federica Minozzi with StonePeak leadership and state and local dignitaries cut the ribbon on the Crossville Tennessee’s factory expansion, the first in the world that produces 60 x 120 gauged porcelain tile panels and also cut sizes down to 12 x 12.This $70 million expansion also adds 160 workers and at peak will produce 1000 panels a day.

 

Clays are sourced from the Carolinas, Kentucky and Tennessee to manufacture the panels, said Fiandre USA’s director of sales marketing Eugenio Megna, who led visitor tours through the plant.

The company uses the Continua production process and Sacmi machinery on the line, and utilizes sophisticated inkjet graphics to achieve looks like Calacatta or other aesthetics that are nearly indistinguishable from natural stone, as well as other in-demand looks. Random patterns, continuous veining and bookmatching can also be achieved here. It takes two hours from start to finish to produce a porcelain slab, and the end product is 25-30% harder than granite, when measured on the Mohs scale. Full size panels including StonePeak’s Plane 2.0 line, are shipped on A-frames, 25 to a side. The line has been operational since May.

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Fiandre USA’s Eugenio Megna led tours through the new plant expansion. This A-frame filled with porcelain panels is ready for shipping, and holds 25 5′ x 10′ panels on each side.

 

Local dignitaries praising the investment in the Crossville, Tenn., local economy included Angela Regitko, business development consultant for the State of Tennessee, Crossville Mayor James Mayberry, and newly-elected County Mayor Alan Foster, who noted that StonePeak has made a $200 million investment in machinery and its facility since it opened in 2005, and has provided jobs for 400 workers in Crossville.

After expressing thanks to employees and state and local support, Minozzi revealed that the decision to hold the ceremony on September 12, a day after the 17th anniversary of the September 11 attacks in the U.S., was intentional, as a way to both honor the significance of the day and to celebrate the resilient, renaissance spirit of the USA to rebuild after that tragedy. “I love America,” she said.

In the evening, guests and hosts gathered for a soiree at LA Jackson, the rooftop bar of the new Thompson Hotel in Nashville.

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At the post-tour party on the rooftop bar of Nashville’s Thompson hotel are (l to r) StonePeak Ceramic’s Todd Ware, exec vp of national accounts;Leonardo Pesce, vp of operations; and Iris’s Marco Portiglia, sales & marketing director.

 

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Mediterranea’s Michael (l) and Don Mariutto at the StonePeak afterparty atop the Thompson hotel in Nashville.

 

Blanke awards trip to Germany to three winners

Join us in congratulating three fantastic finalists for Blanke’s contest to win a trip to Germany with Blanke PERMAT! Here are the winning submissions:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The trip will take place next month and we are thrilled about the great time that is going to be had by all. They’ll be sharing highlights from the trip to Germany on social media.

CONSTRUCTION EMPLOYMENT RISES EVEN AS LABOR SHORTAGES PREVENT HIRING MORE WORKERS

Construction Officials Urge Federal Leaders to Double Spending on Career and Technical Education, Reform Immigration and Improve Job Training Programs to Help Address Workforce Shortages Affecting Most Firms

Construction employment increased by 23,000 jobs in August and by 297,000 jobs over the past year, reaching a 10-year high, while the industry’s unemployment rate stood at an all-time low, according to an analysis of new government data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Even as firms continued to expand, a new report finds that most firms are struggling to find enough workers to keep up with demand.

“The construction industry continues to add workers and increase pay at greater rates than the economy as a whole, with job gains spread across both residential and non-residential construction,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “But contractors report widespread difficulty in finding qualified workers for both salaried and hourly craft positions.”

Construction employment totaled 7,259,000 in August, the highest level since May 2008 and a gain of 4.3 percent over the past 12 months. The economist pointed out that the year-over-year growth rate in industry jobs was more than double the 1.6 percent rise in total nonfarm payroll employment. Employment in residential construction – comprising residential building and specialty trade contractors—grew by 12,900 jobs in August and added 136,600 jobs over the past 12 months, a 5.1 percent increase. Employment in nonresidential construction—including building, specialty trades, and heavy and civil engineering construction—grew by 9,600 jobs in August and increased by 160,500 during the past year, a 3.8 percent increase.

Simonson noted that three-quarters of respondents to a survey the association released last week said their firms plan to increase their headcount of both salaried and hourly workers in the next year. However, 80 percent of the firms said they are having trouble filling hourly craft positions. For all but one of the 20 categories of craft positions covered in the survey, a majority of firms that employ those workers said they are harder to find than last year, despite the fact most firms have raised pay to attract and retain workers.

Hourly earnings in the industry averaged $29.95 in August, an increase of 3.3 percent from a year earlier. Average hourly earnings in construction are now 10.3 percent higher than the average for all nonfarm private-sector jobs, which rose 2.9 percent in the past year, to $27.16. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate for workers with construction experience in August was 3.4 percent, matching the all-time low set in July and more than a percentage point lower than the August 2017 rate of 4.7 percent.

In addition to releasing the new workforce shortage survey results, the association also released a new Workforce Development Plan. That plan calls on federal officials to double funding for career and technical education programs over the next five years, reform immigration and improve federal workforce training programs. The plan also outlines steps the association is taking to recruit more people into the industry.

“There is little doubt that construction firms would have added even more new workers if the pool of available, qualified workers was larger,” Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer, said. “By making a few common-sense changes to our current education and workforce training approach, federal officials can help place significantly more people into high-paying construction careers.”

Bostik Promotes Adam Abell

Bostik, Inc., a world leader in adhesives and installation systems for building construction, recently announced that Adam Abell has been promoted to the position of Market Manager, Tile & Stone Installation Systems.

Since joining the Bostik team in 2012, Abell has been a Territory Sales Manager, offering the firm’s comprehensive ranges of tile installation and surface preparation products to customers throughout the Ohio Valley.

Abell, a graduate of the University of Kentucky, learned the tile business from ground up, working at Mees Tile & Marble in Lexington, Kentucky. There, he started off in the warehouse, then moved on to contractor sales, A&D sales … ultimately becoming branch manager. He will be relocating from Indianapolis to the Milwaukee area, soon to be working out of Bostik Americas Technology & Business Center headquarters.

“I’m excited about my new position within the organization,” exclaimed Abell. “Put simply, my job will be to ensure that we’re driving the ‘innovation’ factor of all Bostik products. We’ve brought so many ‘firsts’ to the industry, including Bostik’s BEST®, TruColor ® RapidCure™ Grout and most recently, Bosti-Set™… and we plan on bringing even more. We are on a quest to build our marketshare and we have the product pipeline and team to do it.”

 

Forney LP, manufacturer of cementitious material testing equipment, spotlighted on Manufacturing Marvels® – September 5 and 6

Forney LP – Premier supplier of construction material testing equipment

revolutionizes lab testing processes and documentation

PITTSBURGH, Aug. 30, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Forney LP, the premier supplier of construction material testing equipment, will be spotlighted in a nationally televised production called “Manufacturing Marvels®” airing between 9:30 and 9:44 pm CST on September 5 and September 6, 2018 on The Fox Business Network®. The two minute production showcases the surety Forney  helps bring to the construction process through quality testing products, and innovative systems to help insure quality testing results.  Of particular interest is Forney’s latest innovation – ForneyVault® – a cloud based system that not only improves laboratory productivity, but greatly increases the transparency and value of the testing process.

“We’re excited about this opportunity to tell the world the story of how Forney actually improves construction results through automating and recording laboratory test efforts.  The Test Report is the test lab’s product, but it’s the process that instills confidence.  100 years young, we’ve been in the vanguard developing technology that keeps all of us just a little bit safer,” said Jeff Dziki, CEO, Forney LP.

Founded in 1916, Forney has a long history of transformative innovation, and ForneyVault® is the latest and most dramatic technology.  To learn more about this and other fascinating advances at Forney contact us at 1.800.367.6397 or [email protected]

About Forney LP:

Forney LP is a material testing equipment innovator and distributor based in Zelienople, PA with additional facilities in Aurora, CO.  Forney focuses on material testing equipment for cementitious materials like cement, mortar, grout, and concrete for the construction industry, downhole cement and proppant materials for oil and gas industries, and general metals testing. Forney sells to over 75 countries worldwide. For more information visit: www.forneyonline.com

ARDEX Americas Launches New Website

Aliquippa, PA, August 28, 2018 – ARDEX Americas, a market leader in the development, manufacture and distribution of high-performance specialty building products, announced today the launch of its newly revamped website. Offering intuitive navigation to product information, the new website is also mobile-friendly, and features engaging images and consolidated video content.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The new website features a clean design, improved functionality and enhanced content – all designed to better serve its customers. It is located at the same address, https://www.ardexamericas.com/.

“We are excited to launch this new website and offer these enhanced capabilities to our customers,” Ben Mack, ARDEX Americas Director of Marketing, stated. “We believe the mobile- compatibility in particular will improve our visitor experience dramatically, allowing them to find the information and answers they need more quickly and easily, no matter what device they are using.”

ARDEX Americas Marketing Communications Manager Annika Oeing added, “To serve our diverse audiences, the website is available in English and Spanish. We plan on adding French content in the next few months. We’re committed to making our information accessible to everyone in the North and South Americas.”

 

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