Armaly Sponge Company is now the #1 Global Distributor of Natural Sponges with Acquisition of Acme Sponge Company

WALLED LAKE, Michigan, January 3, 2019 –(BUSINESS WIRE)—Armaly Sponge Company – home to the Brillo brand, a global leader in consumer household cleaning products, and Armaly ProPlus brand, which the company claims to be the #1 brand in professional and do-it-yourself surface preparation, finish and cleaning – announced today it has acquired Acme Sponge Company.

Acme Sponge Company, located in Tarpon Springs, Florida, is the #1 distributor of natural sponges globally and in the United States, and traces its roots back four generations to sea sponge merchants and divers in Greece. However, Acme Sponge Company is not just a sponge company anymore. Over the past 70 years, it has grown into a diverse multi-national company. Acme offers a wide variety of high quality products, including natural sponges, synthetic sponges, natural loofahs and loofah products, bath and body brushes, and assorted cleaning products and accessories.

The acquisition will increase Armaly Sponge Company’s market share in the natural sponge segment and provide new distribution opportunities and logistical efficiencies with retailers. This transaction also provides an additional global growth platform for other Armaly branded products while maintaining best in class quality, value and standards.

“We are excited to combine our unique assets and expertise with that of Armaly Sponge Company to create an even stronger company with the same family values upon which both companies were founded and have thrived,” said Jim Cantonis, president of Acme Sponge Company.

“It’s an exciting time at Armaly Brands as we continue to grow our portfolio of brands and products. The acquisition of Acme Sponge Company provides a combined legacy of over 180 years in the natural sponge business and aligns with our growth strategy of becoming #1 in all segments of our business through providing the consumer with innovative quality products and a great value, all while maintaining our family culture and values. Acme Sponge Company is the perfect fit for us today and we look forward to continuing the successful growth with future product innovation,” said John Armaly, president of Armaly Sponge Company.

The ARDEX SystemOneTM Warranty just got even better – because no one likes taking risks!


Aliquippa, PA (December 6, 2018) – ARDEX Americas offers complete installation solutions backed by the most comprehensive full-replacement warranty in the industry, SystemOne™. ARDEX solutions have always provided the ultimate peace of mind for architects, specifiers, facility managers, building owners, contractors and flooring installation professionals. And it just got better – the maximum warranty level for select products has been increased and more products have been added!

elephant walking the plankWarranties generally protect installing contractors from a product failure when following proper installation techniques and industry standards. If a product breaks down or loses strength within a given time period due to a manufacturing or formulation defect, the cost of the product is covered by the warranty. The ARDEX SystemOne warranty, however, goes beyond a simple product warranty. It is a full replacement warranty to include material and labor for any necessary reparations, giving an installer confidence on the jobsite and ultimate peace of mind when using ARDEX systems.

The SystemOne warranty is divided into two segments – general flooring and tile and stone – and is designed to offer the best solution for any type of installation.  Visit the ARDEX Americas website to learn more about the products and years covered.

In order to qualify for this type of warranty, given instructions and specifications, as outlined in the respective ARDEX SystemOne warranty, technical documents as well as industry standard practices have to be followed.

To educate about the SystemOne warranty, requirements and products covered, ARDEX offers a specialized training as part of the ARDEX Academy Technical Training Program. These seminars, like all ARDEX Academy seminars, are free of charge. Anyone interested in attending a class can find all available dates and training locations online, as well as sign up for a particular training course. The training is not required to qualify for the ARDEX warranty, but it is highly recommended.

Learn more about ARDEX and the SystemOne warranty and visit or call 1-888-512-7339 to get in contact with an ARDEX Sales Representative near you.










FCLC Research Highlights Motivations and Barriers of Flooring Installation as a Career

CHICAGO – In January, 2018, the Floor Covering Leadership Council (FCLC) commissioned an independent research firm to conduct a multi-phase study to quantify the scope and severity of the lack of installation professionals on the flooring industry’s sustainability and growth. A Chicago-based research firm, The Blackstone Group Inc., was contracted to conduct the research, whose quantitative components focused on businesses that purchased workers’ services by engaging floor covering installers as direct employees and/or subcontractors in 2017. A total of 334 executives, representing floor covering contractors, retailers, workrooms, and installation businesses across 45 of the 50 states, participated.

Part 3 of this 5 Part Series describes motivations and hurdles when considering flooring installation as a career path. The quantitative research’s findings regarding floor covering installation as a career included these highlights:

  • A key consideration motivating the executives who would recommend a career in installation was its perceived financial advantages.
  • The primary barrier to recommending installation as a career was the tough working conditions that installers experience.
  • To boost the odds of finding the “right people” for installation work many of the executives who expected to hire installers in 2018 planned to rely on current employees’ recommendations.
  • Executives’ main source for recruiting employees varied by region. Those in the south and west more often expected to depend on personal ties than did executives in the northeast and Midwest.

Executives observed that, as a specialty trade, floor covering installation is a good career choice for those that have particular combination of traits:

  1. Aptitude for and interest in manual work.
  2. Capacity and commitment to handle the rigors of the trade.
  3. Ambition to be an entrepreneur.

The FCLC research initiative had several overarching objectives:

  1. Estimate the size of the gaps between the supply of and the demand for floor covering installers, now and in five to 10 years.
  2. Quantify the financial impact of the installer shortage up the supply chain.
  3. Identify key drivers of the installer shortage as well as potential solutions.
    The study’s findings suggest not only that the labor shortage is real, but that its financial impacts up the flooring supply chain are significantly greater than previously understood.

Associations included in the FCLC coalition and others donated the funds needed to accomplish the 2018 research. Ongoing industry fundraising will be coordinated to generate the funding needed for the initiative’s future work.

Part 4 of this series will focus on the assessment of perceptions of installation labor shortages. Presentations detailing the FCLC research findings will take place on January 24, 2019 at The International Surface Event (TISE) in Las Vegas and on February 28 at Domotex USA in Atlanta.


The FCLC was established in 2015 as a coalition of flooring industry trade associations committed to identifying issues and developing solutions to the industry’s most pressing challenges. Currently, twelve flooring associations support the FCLC: American Floorcovering Alliance, Inc. (AFA), International Certified Flooring Installers Associations Inc. (CFI), Ceramic Tile Distributors Association (CTDA), Floor Covering Installation Contractors Association (FCICA), Multilayer Flooring Association (MFA), Natural Stone Institute (NSI), North American Association of Floor Covering Distributors (NAFCD), North American Laminate Flooring Association (NALFA), National Institute of Certified Floorcoverings Inspectors (NICFI), National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), Resilient Floor Covering Institute (RFCI), World Floor Covering Association (WFCA). For more information, visit

Explaining the Rise of Construction Costs

  • After falling or remaining flat for three decades, real construction costs have increased sharply since the mid-2000s. The rise was driven by both material and labor costs.
  • Construction costs are lowest in the South, and are highest in the expensive coastal cities and in remote locations like Honolulu and Anchorage. Material costs vary relatively little across cities, but labor costs differ substantially and account for the bulk of geographic variation in overall cost.
  • Over the last decade, the mix of construction work in some of the expensive coastal cities has shifted away from new construction and towards renovation, which tends to be more labor-intensive. Alongside faster overall wage growth, the shift has resulted in labor cost appreciation in these cities outpacing that of material costs. In contrast, labor and material cost growth in the South has been more balanced.
  • Rising labor costs can fuel a vicious cycle whereby costly construction dampens the supply of housing and exerts even greater upward pressure on labor costs (in several distinct ways).

The housing market appears to be reaching a cyclical peak, with falling home sales suggesting that already-slowed price appreciation may soon turn negative. Yet even now, residential construction still hasn’t recovered to its average historical levels. Rob Dietz, Chief Economist at the National Association of Home Builders, summarizes the headwinds confronting homebuilders as “the five L’s” of labor, lots, lending, lumber, and local regulations. Although lots and local regulations pose the most fundamental challenges to new residential construction, and as lending is finally sorting itself out (the way it tends to ironically at just the wrong time), this study is focused on direct construction costs, which comprise the two remaining L’s of labor and lumber.

To what extent have construction costs risen in recent years, and how do they compare to historical trends? How have material costs fared relative to labor costs, and how has this played out in different parts of the country? This study uses publicly available data as well as construction cost data published by R.S. Means and data from BuildZoom’s national building permit database to sketch out some answers.

Read More…

Report Finds Remodeling Volume Decreased in November | How to Be a More Effective Leader and Manager

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Maine Roofer Falls to His Death
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Court Denies Motion to Dismiss Lawsuit Over OSHA Record-Keeping Rule
The U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia has denied a motion to dismiss litigation challenging OSHA’s decision to suspend parts of its electronic record-keeping rule. Read More
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UofCTS Tile and Stone Online Education Sales and Installation Courses – Holiday Special

UofCTS Special Holiday Offer!

The University of Ceramic Tile and Stone’s (UofCTS) Online Training

Buy 3 UofCTS Tuitions and Get the 4th for FREE

*** Offer Good through January 11, 2019 ***

Education is the fastest and easiest way to increase sales and profits!

The University of Ceramic Tile and Stone (UofCTS), CTDA, Fuse Alliance, and NTCA are offering you a Holiday Special Offer: “Buy 3 UofCTS Online Course Tuitions and get the 4th for FREE!” ***Good through January 11, 2019

The list price for UofCTS Online Tuitions is $150 per tuition per course.  Members of CTDA, Fuse Alliance, and NTCA can purchase course tuitions for $100 each.  This Holiday Special Offer brings the cost down to just $75 each when courses are purchased through one of the respective associations.  The UofCTS Online course tuitions gives you 24/7 access for 14 days where you can come and go at your own pace.

The Understanding the Basics of Ceramic Tile course teaches the basics of tile including terminology, usage, how it is manufactured, how it is installed, describing all of the various installation products, how to assist customers, professional upselling, and how to maintain tile. Throughout the course professional sales techniques and tactics are taught.  This course is designed to give salespeople the tools they need in order to increase sales and avoid customer false expectations.  It introduces tile installers and sales representatives to industry standards.  It teaches how to professionally assist clients with selecting tile and the various types of installation products and systems.  This course can be completed within 6 to 8 hours on average.

The Understanding the Basics of Natural Stone course teaches the basics of natural stone including terminology, the geology of the various types of stone, usage, how it is quarried, processed and fabricated. The course describes how stone is installed with all of the various installation products.  The course teaches how to assist customers, professional upselling, and how to maintain natural stone. Throughout the course professional sales techniques and tactics are taught.  This course is designed to give salespeople the tools they need in order to increase sales and avoid customer false expectations.  It introduces stone installers and sales representatives to industry standards.  It teaches how to professionally assist clients with selecting natural stone and the various types of installation products and systems. This course can be completed within 6 to 8 hours on average. 

The Tile Installer Thin-set Standards (ITS)  Verification course teaches installers, setters and helpers, and technical service and sales representatives industry installation standards, practices, and proper installation methods for tile applications.  The course applies to ceramic tile, porcelain tile, stone tile, glass tile and other types of adhered tile materials.  The course covers how to inspect and prepare substrates. How to achieve full thin-set contact.  How to layout and install tile for various types of applications.  How to grout with various types of grout.  And a lesson on how to avoid potential problems and failures.

The ITS Verification course has an extensive section for teaching installers how to install Gauged Porcelain Tile Panels and showing the tools that will be needed.  It demonstrates and provides in detail on how to install the large thin tile panels on walls as well as on floors.  The course also describes how to install glass tile, shower pans, steam showers, swimming pools, and other applications. This course can be completed within 5 to 6 hours on average.

The Tile and Stone Specifications and Working with Architects course is almost complete. We hope to release this new course by the end of the first quarter of 2019.   This course will be a “must take” for anyone doing or interested in doing architectural sales.  It covers everything from how to write what we call “bullet proof specs” (ones that can’t be easily changed), how to find and track projects, and how to develop relationships with architects and others to help ensure making the sale. This course will require 2 tuitions for registration. 

UofCTS Online educational courses are available through many key organizations in the tile and stone industry where members receive special discounts.  Courses can be purchased through CTDA at, through Fuse Alliance at, and through NTCA at, or at the UofCTS website at

As is clearly understood by successful businesses, the fastest way to increase profits and avoid problems is through education. Once installers or employees are trained, they will become more confident, credible, and effective in their jobs.  With proper training of your employees, there will be less costly failures and problems, and more sales, profit and repeat business.  The return on your investment is never ending. 

To see video previews of each of the courses visit the website at

The UofCTS is the training division of Ceramic Tile and Stone Consultants (CTaSC) and is committed to developing training programs for the ceramic tile and stone industry utilizing the latest and most effective technology and learning methodologies. Launched in 2003, UofCTS has enjoyed many years of success with trade and design professionals and is the leading online training University for the Tile and Stone Industry.

# # #

Tricia Pompo
Marketing Director
University of Ceramic Tile and Stone
Tel. 866/669-1550; Email: [email protected]

Natural Stone Institute Completes Eighteenth Home with Gary Sinise Foundation

The Natural Stone Institute has provided natural stone and fabrication services for its eighteenth home with the Gary Sinise Foundation’s R.I.S.E. program (Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment). The R.I.S.E. program builds specially adapted smart homes for severely wounded veterans and first responders. Natural stone, fabrication, and installation for US Army SSG Bobby Dove in Florida were provided by Granite Group and Florida Bath & Surfaces.

Growing up in Gloucester, VA, Bobby Dove loved spending time with his grandfather,r, a Korean War veteran. In August 2008, Bobby joined the Army Special Forces and earned his Green Beret in August 2011 after three years of continuous training. On June 9, 2012, Bobby ran over an improived explosive device (IED). After being stabilized by his teammates and MEDEVAC’d to Kandahar, Bobby arrived at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on June 15. There he underwent extensive surgeries, spending a week in the ICU and three months in inpatient care. Bobby lost his right hand and suffered amputation to his right leg above the knee. He endured many other severe injuries from the blast.

Laura Grandlienard (ROCKin’teriors), chair of the Natural Stone Institute R.I.S.E. committee said: “Being involved with the R.I.S.E. program enables our industry to take a leadership role in supporting these veterans and their families who have endured so much to protect our freedoms. We feel tremendous pride in sharing our talents for such an important cause. It’s a beautiful feeling to say ‘welcome home’ to these heroes.”

46 Natural Stone Institute members have donated their time, products, and services to this cause since 2016. A list of all donors can be found at Stone companies interested in getting involved with future projects are encouraged to contact Pam Hammond at [email protected].


About the Natural Stone Institute

The Natural Stone Institute is a trade association representing every aspect of the natural stone industry. The current membership exceeds 2,000 members in over 50 nations. The association offers a wide array of technical and training resources, professional development opportunities, regulatory advocacy, and networking events. Two prominent publications—the Dimension Stone Design Manual and Building Stone Magazine—raise awareness within the natural stone industry and in the design community for best practices and uses of natural stone. Learn more at

Starnet Appoints 2 New Business Developers


starnet logo






DARIEN, CT (December 14, 2018) – Starnet, the world’s largest network of full-service independent flooring contractors, announced the creation of two new staff positions designed to strengthen the existing partnerships between its members and its vendor network.

Eric Boender, Starnet’s Director of Floor Care and National Accounts, has been promoted to Vice President of Business Development overseeing site applied surfaces, adhesives, floor prep and moisture mitigation systems as well as the floor care business.  Since joining Starnet in 2011, Eric has successfully developed a best in class post-installation maintenance program and has been instrumental in launching numerous business-building partnership programs between the member and vendor networks.

two men

Bruce Campos (l) and Eric Boende (r)

Starnet is also excited to announce the appointment of Bruce Campos to the position of Vice President of Business Development.  Working with Eric, Bruce will oversee market initiatives for manufactured flooring and accessories, wholesale distribution, business services and business equipment. Bruce brings over 20 years of experience in commercial flooring on both the manufacturer and contractor side of the business.  Most recently, he served as Vice President of Sales for The Mohawk Group targeting the workplace and retail segments.

Both Eric and Bruce will report to Mark Bischoff, Vice-President Vendor Relations.

“As our member and vendor networks partner for success we have seen rapid growth.” said Chuck Bode, Starnet Chairman of the Board. “Eric’s expanded role and Bruce’s addition to the team reconfirms our commitment to the mutual goal of increasing demand and growing market share of our member and vendor networks.”

For more information, contact


Coverings Awards Deadlines Extended; complimentary registration now open


You now have more time to submit your top projects from the past two years to the 2019 Coverings Installation & Design (CID) Awards. The CID Awards celebrate outstanding achievements in the design and installation of tile & stone in residential, institutional and commercial projects. Submit your projects before the new deadline of Friday, January 11.

Winners receive:

  • Projects displayed onsite at Coverings 2019
  • Up to $3,000 in prize money
  • One-night hotel stay at Coverings 2019
  • Recognition during the CID Awards Reception at Coverings 2019
  • Coverage in sponsored publications

Rock Star Nomination Deadline Also Extended

Realizing it’s a busy time of year, the deadline for Coverings 2019 Rock Star nominations has also been extended to Friday, January 11. The Coverings Rock Stars program honors and celebrates emerging leaders in the tile & stone industry and provides them with unique professional development opportunities. If you know of a talented young industry professional, nominate them today.

Coverings Rock Stars receive:

  • One-night hotel stay at Coverings 2019
  • Recognition during the Rock Star Awards during Coverings 2019
  • Coverage in press and social media
  • Feature on Coverings website for one year
  • Special Rock Star ribbon for Coverings badge

Complimentary Registration is Open

Whether you are a specifier, builder, remodeler, distributor, fabricator, installer, contractor or retailer, you will find everything you need to enhance your tile & stone expertise at Coverings 2019 in Orlando. Improve your bottom line by making deals directly with 1,100+ global exhibitors. Learn from panel discussions, live demonstrations, and case study presentations happening on and off the show floor. Take your business to the next level at Coverings 2019, April 9-12 in Orlando, Florida.

To enter a project, nominate a Rock Star or get more information about Coverings, visit

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