TCNA applauds 10% tariff on Chinese tile – seeks 25% tax

The over $16 billion of Chinese goods subject to 10% U.S. tariffs earlier this year were recently joined with a new spate of Chinese products targeted with the tariffs. These taxes are set to go into effect on Monday, September 24. They will increase to 25% in January if no agreement is reached with China.
Among these new $200 billion of Chinese goods are Chinese tile products which include glazed and unglazed ceramic, porcelain and glass.
Eric Astrachan, TCNA Executive Director

Eric Astrachan, TCNA Executive Director

Eric Astrachan, executive director of the Tile Council of North America (TCNA)  joined more than 350 individuals who testified before the Trade Commission in Washington, D.C. in August about the tariffs. Many expressed concern that tariffs would affect downstream prices for consumers. But Astrachan took a pro stance, stating that tariffs would have a protective effect on domestic production, U.S. jobs and imported tile from other countries. In addition, he cited problems with Chinese tile mislabeled as porcelain, intellectual property theft and dumping tiles – selling them at below cost. Listen to the podcast at:

Higher tariffs help U.S. production

On a more recent edition of NPR Marketplace Morning Report on September 18, Astrachan went into greater detail with host Kai Ryssdal, explaining why he’d like even higher tariffs than the current 10% duty. He reiterated the dumping issue with Chinese tiles.Plus he said he’d like to see the 25% tariff enacted to help level the difference in price between Chinese tiles and those produced domestically or imported from other countries. His view is that tariffs on Chinese tile would protect domestic jobs and U.S. industry. He went into detail about copying of designs that has been a hallmark of Chinese intellectual property theft, and how that hurts domestic producers.

No effect at consumer level on tile prices

However, Astrachan reassured Ryssdal and listeners that tariffs on Chinese tile goods would not affect the consumer, due to the tile industry’s  robust domestic production and import stream.
To listen to the full interview, visit and scroll to the September 18 “The use-it-or-lose-it season” episode, starting at the 3:55 time mark.
In a recent letter to TCNA members and colleagues, Astrachan thanked members who submitted supportive comments as well as the TCNA government relations team in DC.
“We understand and sympathize that 10% duty, and especially the potential 25% duty scheduled for 2019 (if no resolution with China), can negatively impact members’ tile lines being sourced from China, and we regret that impact on members,” he continued. “This was offset by the supermajority position that tariffs were appropriate based on much more than economic issues: specifically, our opposition to false labeling (non-porcelain tiles sold as porcelain), Chinese copying of popular designs, and dumping.”

Return of the National Installation Competition to TISE 2019

Sep 19, 2018 – Dallas, TX

The industry has asked and The International Surface Event (TISE):  SURFACES | StonExpo/Marmomac | TileExpo has answered, as the return of the National Installer of the Year Installation Competition (The Nationals), Wednesday through Friday, January 23-25 in Las Vegas, is announced at TISE 2019. Installers across all aspects of the floor covering, stone, and tile industry are encouraged to submit their installation projects into The Nationals now!

“At CFI, we are deeply connected to the pulse of the installer community. Since 2003 when the installation competition went away, we have received inquiries every year about the desire for this incredible contest to return. It is an amazing opportunity for installers to highlight their knowledge, their training, and the amazing projects they work on all year behind the scenes,” says Robert Varden, Executive Director, International Certified Flooring Installers Association “CFI”. “I am thrilled that TISE has partnered with CFI to make this program return, and we are looking forward to reviewing all the submissions.”

A panel of judges will be reviewing project submissions from around the country and selecting the top 3 finalists in each installation category to compete LIVE in The Nationals competition at TISE. There are three installation categories including carpet, stone/tile, and wood. Submissions close October 15. Finalists will be selected by November 15.  >> installers, submit your entry now

“With the focus on the importance of installation in the industry, we knew this was the perfect timing to bring back the competition. We are honored to highlight the hard working community of installers at The International Surface Event,” says Amie Gilmore, CEM, Director of TISE, “and can’t wait for the exciting LIVE challenge on the show floor. It is our goal that this promotion both showcase the incredible work happening in the industry now while also bringing national exposure to the need for more trained professionals in this career segment.”

The industry is invited to watch the nine selected finalists LIVE right on the show floor as they show off their talent and skills in a set of product installation challenges, each in their own pre-constructed pod. The winner of the LIVE installation contest in Las Vegas will be crowned The National Installer of the Year, receive a prize package, and own incredible bragging rights in the industry and to their customers.

Industry manufacturers interested in sponsoring the National Installer of the Year Installation Competition should complete the TISE marketing activation request form to be contacted by the TISE team. Thank you to our current sponsors, the International Certified Flooring Installers Association “CFI” and ProInstaller Magazine.

PietraArt Premier Marble from Florida Tile

PietraArt Premier Marble from Florida Tile offers an expressive collection of natural stones meant to inspire and empower today’s design leaders

Lexington, KY: September 17, 2018 ¾ Florida Tile introduces PietraArt Premier Marble.

Like the great masters throughout history, today’s interior designers use marble to create stunning masterpieces – spaces that define luxury, quality, and a timeless aesthetic that is at once current, yet made to trend beautifully into the future.

Used as the foundation for both residential and commercial destinations, PietraArt Premier Marble is an extraordinary example of nature’s beauty that will provide matchless versatility and elegance for decades.

According to Florida Tile Director of Marketing, Tressa Samdal “Florida Tile selected this exquisite line of natural stone to offer the most desirable sizes in the most desirable colors.  It fits perfectly within our brand and gives our customers an extensive array of tile choices.”

Graceful movement and unique nuances of the veining found in this line are poetic and distinctive. The broad range of color along with either polished or honed finishes provide options that will set any project apart.

Eight elegant stone choices, each with unique flare and personality, are available in varying field tile sizes.  The line has seven sizes of field tile, nine mosaics, as well as pencil and chair rails. The range of choice and style make this collection the answer to all of your natural stone needs.

Samdal adds, “Natural products are always beautiful and interesting because each piece installed is truly unique.”

To create an environment that exudes sophistication and refinement, only the natural artistry PietraArt Premier Marble from Florida Tile will do.


Florida Tile is a fully owned subsidiary of Panariagroup, a publicly owned company traded on the Milan Stock Exchange (MILAN: PAN IM). Panariagroup is a leading manufacturer and distributor in over 60 countries around the world with six manufacturing sites in Italy, Portugal and the USA and nine brands positioned in the high-end of the market. 

NTCA Position Statement Library

Are you aware that the NTCA website has a Position Statement Library (formerly known as the Consensus Document Library) at your disposal? To visit this growing resource, enter in your browser or click the Education & Certification link at and scroll down to NTCA Position Statement Library.

This new resource puts critical documents at your fingertips, including position statements and white papers on a range of industry issues on underlayments and subfloors, tile assemblies and grout joints, and types of tile. More papers will be added as they become available.

There’s a continually expanding list of papers and documents in the library, but the ones we want to draw your attention to are the documents that make up the Silica Exposure Control Plan. The recent OSHA ruling on respirable crystalline silica has marked a sea of change in the way many contractors do business in order to meet these new government requirements and ensure safe use of silica-containing materials for themselves and their employees. 

The Silica Exposure Control Plan includes the following informational and compliance-oriented documents and resources:

Silica Exposure Control Plan:

  • Respirable Crystalline Silica
  • OSHA Silica Compliance Overview
  • Silica Exposure Plan
  • OSHA Silica Compliance Guide
  • Silica Compliance Checklist
  • Silica Written Exposure Plan

Visit the NTCA Position Statement Library and view the Silica Exposure Control Plan documents. In the spirit of education and information sharing, NTCA offers this resource as a free service on its association website. Take a look today!

Richard Maurer transitions to Outside Consultant for Noble Company

After 24 years as Director of Marketing & International Sales with The Noble Company, Richard Maurer moved to the position of Outside Consultant for the company in July.

Those familiar with Noble Company will recall the warm, friendly presence of Director of Marketing & International Sales, Richard Maurer, at many industry events. Indeed, this editor has had the pleasure of working with him over the years and always enjoyed his kind personality, gentle humor and gracious smile. 

After 24 years in this role, Richard Maurer transitioned to the role of Outside Consultant for the Noble Company this past July.

Richard started out in the world as a graduate of UCLA with a B.S. degree in Finance, and has over 40 years of sales and marketing management experience between Noble Company and Dow Chemical Company. After his college graduation, Richard honorably served his country in Vietnam, earning a Purple Heart. 

“I have had a broad range of life experiences ranging from being an infantry Lieutenant in Vietnam to Regional Sales Manager at Dow Chemical Company,” Richard said. “However, I’ve worked longer in the tile industry at Noble Company than anywhere, learned more, and enjoyed it more.”

Richard has given presentations and authored articles on issues related to NobleSeal® sheet membranes, such as moisture problems and mold mitigation, sound insulation for ceramic and stone tile flooring, and protecting thin-set tile from cracking.

Richard and his son, Michael Maurer, at Noble Company.

Richard is known for his quick wit and willingness to talk to anybody to try to solve their issues. And it brought Richard much joy that his son, Michael – the apple of his eye – is Chief of Security of the Noble Company.

Noble Company managers and employees have fond remembrances of the time spent working with Richard. Here are just a few of their comments:

Paul Kik, Sr.,
President Emeritus

For nearly a quarter century, Richard has brought his skills and willingness to get the job done at Noble. I have always admired Richard’s ability to listen to our customers and be their advocate. The relationships Richard created in the industry played a significant role in Noble’s success. Richard’s son Michael was also a daily blessing for everyone in the office. His daily rounds always offered a big smile, often with a joke or two and occasional traffic report. We wish both Richard and Michael our best.

Lynnette Bloomberg,
C.O.O. Emeritus

Noble was fortunate to have Richard join our team in 1993. He is a unique individual who has top-notch marketing skills and the ability to understand and communicate – both verbally and in writing – the technical aspect of our products. He has been a very dedicated employee and genuinely liked to help customers. His quick wit and all around fun personality will be greatly missed on a daily basis in the office, and he is wished an abundance of blessings as he spends more time with family and friends.

The Noble Team at Coverings 2016: Left to Right: Dave Wormmeester, Nelson Wilner, Richard Maurer, Lynnette Bloomberg, Pat Delahanty, Dean Moilanen, Jon Outcalt.

Dave Wormmeester,
Vice President of Sales & Marketing

Richard has an outstanding way of connecting with people. When people would call in with technical questions or concerns, Richard would spend just as much time in getting to know the people as he did in helping to resolve their issues. His compassion and concern about everyone he encountered will be missed, and we wish him nothing but the best as he enjoys his family and friends in retirement.

Eric Edelmayer,
Director of Div. 9 Sales & Contractor Training

It has truly been a pleasure to work alongside Richard, from the first day he showed up at a company meeting in Sky Valley, Ga., until the last day he walked out of the building. His input into so many of Noble Company product offerings during their development was instrumental to their success. He truly is one of those people that nobody has anything negative to say about and has always gone above and beyond what is expected.

Dean Moilanen,
Director of Architectural Services

There are those stellar performers who choose to keep a low profile. Their consistent levels of superior performance are often unnoticed…ironically, their steadfast, unassuming levels of excellence are so “normal” they become routine.

Richard Maurer exemplifies such excellence. Over the years, his contributions to Noble Company and to Noble’s loyal customers have been truly immeasurable.

He has been a friend and mentor to me, and I will always be grateful for the time we spent together and the knowledge he imparted. 

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 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’.”


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.

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