Coverings Recap

Coverings reflects 62% increase in installer/contractor attendance from 2014 event

NTCA gains over 25 new members at the show


Bart Bettiga, NTCA executive director and Coverings Chairman (c.), helps cut the ribbon at the opening of Coverings 2015.

By all measures, Coverings 2015, held April 14-17, 2015, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., was a rousing success.

The show logged its largest attendance since 2008, said Karin Fendrich, Coverings director. More than 25,000 industry professionals attended the week-long expo, reflecting a 10% increase from the 2014 show in Las Vegas and a 12% increase from 2012, the last year Coverings was held in Orlando.

Similar hikes in segment attendance resulted since 2012: contractor/installer, fabricator, and architect/ designer segments experienced noteworthy increases compared to 2012, with increases of 11%, 8%, 8%, and 6%, respectively.

But what’s even more impressive for the contractor/installer segment is that compared to the 2014 show in Vegas, contractor attendance surged more than 62%, reflecting both regional interest and strengthening of the economy.

In addition to impressive attendee growth, Coverings 2015 experienced a surge in the number of exhibitors showcasing innovative new products. In total, Coverings hosted 1,094 exhibitors from 41 countries, representing a 12% growth from 2014. Exhibit space spanned 440,000 net square feet – an 18% increase in show floor space from last year.

“We’re looking forward to building on this year’s achievements when the show moves to Chicago in 2016,” Fendrich said. Coverings 2016 will be held April 18 – 21 at McCormick Place in Chicago.

New NTCA members praise show, NTCA

2-cvgs-recapFor NTCA, the show was a rich source of new members, with over 25 companies joining the association at the show.

“As a manufacturer, we are aware of the need for proper handling and installation of our tiles,” said Peter Collier, Canadian sales and lead technical advisor for Lunada Bay Tile, who joined NTCA at Coverings. “We are able to provide standardized and consistently accurate information provided by NTCA, to better assist our dealers, contractors, and their clients.” Collier, who has attended about 20 Coverings expos in the last 25 years, said “the most overall industry value” went to the “ongoing demonstrations on the TCNA demonstration stage.”

4-cvgs-recapA close second were the other installation/education related activities, he said. “This is the needed strengthening of the industry foundation, having work done properly and by current, educated professionals.”

Hoang Giang, partner and business development director of VITIS Joint Stock Company from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, attended his first Coverings in April in Orlando. He was impressed by the vast number of conferences and opportunities to network with individuals at the show as well as the speakers themselves. The company joined NTCA and CTDA at Coverings to “network with all associated members of both associations …acting as a ’trade link’ between the U.S. tile contractors/distributors and tile producers in Vietnam after the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to be signed by both countries,” Giang said.

Contractors/installers were intent on discovering the newest tools, adding to their knowledge with the conference program and networking. Edward Garay, a tile setter from Houston and new NTCA member, visited Coverings for only the second time in 2015, seeking good pricing in tools, learning how to recycle water for the company’s granite fabrication, and how to use the industry documentation. “My deciding factor on becoming a member is that our industry is changing rapidly and we need to keep up to date in the different methods,” Garay said.

3-cvgs-recapCoverings first timer contractor Justin Kulow, of Custom Tile Works in Plymouth, Wis., wanted to see the “newest, coolest stuff from around the world.” Kulow praised the seminars, and walked away knowing, “the importance of contracts,” he said. “I have not used them in the past, but moving forward into the future I definitely will be using WRITTEN contracts to cover myself legally should any dispute arise. “

In addition to the conference program, Kulow said, “the NTCA booth lunches were AWESOME!” Kulow was impressed by the post-lunch Q&A, which involved many knowledgeable installation veterans, yet he was able to participate “having only done tile and stone installations a relatively short time in comparison. The main takeaway I got from the show was that education is a HUGE asset to myself and will separate me from those not as up-to-date with the newest techniques and use of the latest products.” Kulow plans to return to Coverings 2016 in Chicago.

5-cvgs-recapNTCA again led a number of contractor events including VIP Tours to selected exhibitors in the setting materials/affiliated products category, introducing many contractors to 10 or more new suppliers and new products to enhance their businesses within the space of an hour. Also popular were the contractor lunches and happy hours, which gave people a chance to network and relax.


MIA/BSI Washington DC Study Tour Set for November

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Chestertown, NY, and Oberlin, OH, June 9, 2015 – The Building Stone Institute (BSI) and Marble Institute of America (MIA) will jointly host a 2015 study tour with Washington, DC as the backdrop for a 3-day event immersed in its rich heritage of natural stone. Registration is open for this event, with an early bird registration discount available until July 31st.

This is not the first time these two leading stone associations have come together to host a study tour. Both collaborated on a Vermont study tour in 2011, as well as individually leading tours over the past several years to places such as Minnesota, Texas, Colorado, Banff, Alberta (Canada), and Georgia. The study tours offer a unique combination of classroom and field-trip experiences about natural stone.

The Washington, DC event dates (November 15-18, 2015) immediately precede Greenbuild’s Expo which affords stone professionals an opportunity to extend their learning experience and see what other building products are competing with natural stone in the green building marketplace.

Tour highlights include many member-led, open forum workshops; tours of the MLK and FDR memorials and other monuments; a visit to the National Cathedral for a presentation on earthquake repairs and routine restoration efforts; and an interactive “Stone Experience” at Luck Stone Center in Sterling, VA.

Peter Miller, Vice President, Publisher, and General Manger of the Home Group of Active Interest Media (AIM) – whose work serves the information needs of old house owners, architects, contractors, building owners, developers and facilities managers who do residential and non-residential historic preservation and traditional building – will speak on trends in the building and design communities.

Participants will also have an opportunity to attend two MIA “Women in Stone” facilitated programs. The “Stone Experience” Workshops will feature hands-on learning stations including:

·         Thin Veneer Stone

·         Anchored Stone

·         Paving

·         Stone Architectural Carving

·         Stone Letter Carving

·         Care and Maintenance

·         Splitting and Trimming

·         Dry Stone Wall Building

·         Building Stone Geology

·         Stone Tools

Early event sponsors include Custom Building Products, EuroStone Machine USA, Luck Stone Center, Miles Supply, Park Industries, Rock of Ages, and Stone Source. The stone experience workshops are being hosted by Red Leaf Stone Anchors, Manassas Granite & Marble, Coldspring and Northern Stone Supply, Custom Building Products, Tompkins Bluestone, The Stone Store, Rundle Rock Building Stone, and Trow and Holden.

Registration information for this joint MIA-BSI event can be found at: (early bird registration ends July 31st).

About the Marble Institute of America

For over 70 years the Marble Institute of America (MIA) has been the world’s leading information resource and advocate for the natural dimension stone industry. MIA members include marble, granite, limestone, sandstone, and other natural stone producers and quarriers, fabricators, installers, distributors, and contractors in over 55 countries around the world.

About the Building Stone Institute
Since 1919, the Building Stone Institute (BSI) has worked on behalf of a diverse membership, representing all aspects of the natural stone industry. BSI provides resources, programs, and services that empower member companies to offer the highest level of quality products and services and to educate the architectural and design communities on the benefits and uses of natural stone. For more information visit



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The North America Profit Through Knowledge (PTK) Technical Seminar is a two day, intensive training program specifically developed for LATICRETE distributors, dealers, installers and other professionals interested in becoming familiar with LATICRETE® products. Training encompasses both classroom instruction and hands-on product demonstrations by experienced LATICRETE team members.

LATICRETE offers segmented classes covering tile and stone installation and surface care, resinous flooring systems, substrate preparation, construction chemicals and polished concrete.

NTCA contractor member and former board member debuts Lippage & Grout Tool at Coverings 

Just hours after filing with the U.S. Patent Office, NTCA contractor member Davis Holland Leichsenring unveiled his Lippage & Grout Tool to an audience of tile contractors and related professionals on the opening day of Coverings.

lippagetoolMade of soft PVC plastic, the multi-function tool helps tile professionals and the general public to instantly evaluate if a tile installation meets industry standards at the level of ‘flatness,’ – otherwise known as “lippage” – between adjacent tiles. It also helps measure and demonstrate grout widths and grout color, and has a handy ruler to help measure thickness of tile substrates and other on-the-job measuring needs. The small tool fits a wallet and is fully customizable to double as a business card.

NTCA has teamed up with Leichsenring to offer the Lippage & Grout Tool to members at a special discounted rate, featuring the NTCA logo. The “NTCA Lippage & Grout Tool” is available on the association’s website, and at

The card can be purchased as the “Lippage & Grout Tool” by the general public, or the “I’m a Proud Member of the NTCA” version exclusive to NTCA members. The customized version can be created by downloading an easy step-by-step template file. Visit for details.

The entire Holland Bath & Spa team worked around the clock to produce the tool by Coverings. Erkel Associates ( finalized the branding and launch of, an online store selling the Lippage & Grout Tool, Eras Noel prepared the patent application, and Allen Irwin created a short video featuring NTCA’s Maryland State Director, Mike Corona, of Corona Marble & Tile (, presenting the tool.

“The tool is expected to increase the quality and standards by which tile is selected and installed,” said Leichsenring. For more information, visit, or contact Leichsenring directly at [email protected] / 240-372-0513.

Best Practice Awards – Kerber & Slutzah

kerberJoe Kerber of Kerber Tile, Marble & Stone of Shakopee, Minnesota, received the first of two Best Practice Awards for his instrumental role in developing and having the Barrier Free Shower Method accepted by the Methods & Standards Commit-tee at Coverings 2014. This method was approved for inclusion in the 2015 TCNA Handbook. A member of the NTCA since 2003, Kerber has served as a State Director and now as a Regional Director. He also flourishes as a voting member on the NTCA Technical Committee and Methods & Standards Committee.

Steve Slutzah of Westside Tile & Stone in Canoga Park, Calif., also received a NTCA Best Practice award. His strong belief in the slutzahimportance of NTCA contractors has been the driving force for increased membership in the state of California. A member since 2007 as a distributor and soon thereafter as a State Director, Slutzah and his company have sponsored numerous NTCA workshops and signed up over 25 new members, even going as far as to pay for their first year membership.


Joe A. Tarver Lifetime Achievement Award – Eric Astrachan

Eric Astrachan, executive director of the Tile Council of North America, received the prestigious Joe A Tarver Lifetime Achievement Award, offered to a leader in the tile and stone industry who dedicates his/her career to advancing our trade. Astrachan has made significant contributions to the industry including incorporating both Canada and Mexico into the Association, the development of the Green Squared program and the expansion of the TCNA Handbook and ANSI Standards. An example of his passion for creating unity is exemplified by the Tile Council becoming an even stronger partner in the NTCA, CTDA, TCAA, CTEF and the Tile Heritage Foundation. Astrachan is an integral part of Total Solutions Plus, which brings together all industry associations for their respective meetings, creating unique industry networking events and leadership conferences. Joe Tarver himself was in attendance to participate in Astrachan’s recognition.


NTCA Tile Person of the Year – Jan Hohn

hohn-awardThis year, the NTCA’s Tile Person of the Year Award was presented to Jan Hohn of Hohn & Hohn, Inc., of St. Paul, Minnesota. Hohn is only the third woman to receive this award during the six decades it has been presented. For over 20 years, Hohn has worked tirelessly as a one person, high-end residential tile and stone installation company. She has dedicated herself to the trade, serving as president of CASTA (Twin Cities Local Tile Contractors Association), NTCA board member, NTCA Technical and Methods and Standards Committee member and most recently, as chairperson of the NTCA’s Training and Education Committee. Hohn also became the first woman to become a Certified Tile Installer by the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation in 2009. Hohn’s attention to detail, artisanship, knowledge and commitment to the industry have also earned her the prestigious NTCA Five Star Contractor certificate.

By the Book – May 2015


Have you ever bid a project in which the specifications and plans were not clear about what was really required? And yes, I’m being sarcastic.

Obviously your first response is to send in a RFI to get the item clarified. That would be great if you can get your questions answered before bid day. Sometimes these items are small and really don’t affect the bid. Yet others are huge, and you find yourself debating the same question, “What do they really want?”

Yet what they really want – or perhaps what common sense dictates – is not a factor when you submit your price. That’s because every specification has the “get out of jail free” language for the designer. Here’s a typical one.

“In case of a conflict between the contract documents, the Contractor shall 1) provide the better quality or greater quantity of work or 2) comply with the more stringent requirements; either or both in accordance with the Architect’s interpretation.”

Doesn’t that make you sleep well at night?

For this reason there are two small notes added to the Crack Isolation membrane method in the 2015 TCNA Handbook for Ceramic, Glass, and Stone Tile Installation: F125-Partial-15 and F125-Full-15.

The first note, located in the second bullet point under the Requirement section on page 96, states: “Specifier to identify areas of coverage (partial or full). Unless full coverage is clearly specified, installing contractor’s responsibility is limited to partial coverage.”

The second note is in the first bullet point under the Materials section on page 97, last sentence: “Unless full coverage is clearly specified, installing contractor’s responsibility is limited to partial coverage.”

This new Handbook language is important, because on several projects, I’ve observed that designers have specified method F125, but did not designate if partial or full coverage was required. But before utilizing this new Handbook language and assuming partial coverage is the contractor’s only responsibility if not stated otherwise, some caution is warranted.

Case in point is a project we just bid a few weeks ago. The specifications noted in the execution section stated all floor tile installations to be installed with method F125. My first question is “What version of the TCNA Handbook are they designing around?”

In 2010, the method was called F125 for partial and F125A for full coverage, and was only changed to F125-Partial and F125-Full in 2011. So with that in mind, you might conclude that since the method was F125, only partial crack-isolation coverage was being specified.

However, since no version of the TCNA Handbook was noted, the designer could argue a version from 2011, 2012, 2013, or 2014 should be used. In this case the “get out of jail free” language could come back and bite you, as you did not bid the “better quality or greater quantity of work” – meaning full coverage in this case – regardless of the TCNA Handbook language.

This was the discussion we had internally on this project and we decided we must bid full coverage, a $60,000 add to the bid. Perhaps now, but still with caution when it is unclear what is required, we have a stronger case to bid partial coverage with the support of these two added sentences in the 2015 TCNA Handbook method F125-Partial-15 and F125-Full-15. For your own safety, know which version of the TCNA Handbook the designer is using, and know that without the 2015 TCNA Handbook specified, the contractors must still bid the greater work.

kevin_foxKevin Fox, President of Fox Ceramic Tile, Inc., is the Kansas State Director of NTCA and a committee member of the NTCA Methods and Standards. Fox Ceramic Tile, Inc. is a NTCA Five Star Contractor. Kevin is a supporter of the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation and recognizes the importance of having Certified Tile Installers. All of his tile setters are certified and he has incorporated the certification in their Department of Labor Apprenticeship program as the final step in attaining journeyman status.

WAUSAU TILE rebrands into Tectura Designs and Wausau Made

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More than six decades after the nation’s leading manufacturer of concrete, terrazzo and metal architectural products was founded in a two-car garage, it’s time for a fresh start. Industry giant

Wausau Tile is rebranding itself to chart a clear course for its next 60 years to better serve architects, landscape architects and building professionals of all stripes.

Wausau Tile will no longer be a market-facing brand name, making way for its two new architectural products brands, Tectura Designs and Wausau Made. Each brand has a distinct look and unique product portfolio for serving distinct audiences within the architecture and construction industries, but both are synonymous with the impeccable quality and collaborative, responsive service that customers have come to expect from the company Ed Creske founded in 1953.

Tectura Designs ( offers a diverse selection of premier architectural products, including site furnishings, concrete pavers, custom precast concrete, custom precast terrazzo and terrazzo tile. Its stylish, long-lasting products help the world’s leading architects and designers bring their visions to life – and its custom capabilities offer near-endless solutions. The introduction of the Tectura Designs brand includes the launch of a brand-new Collaboration Series, which includes stunning, exclusive site furnishings designed by some of the world’s most innovative and esteemed architectural minds.

Wausau Made ( offers durable and low-maintenance concrete, metal and plastic site furnishings at unbeatable prices.

“These new brands will carry on Ed’s incredibly high standards for quality products and dedicated customer service, while also better serving the needs of our growing and diverse customer base,” said Bryan Borrell, president of Wausau Tile Inc.,  “After more than 60 years of innovation, we look forward to many more decades of providing the finest American-made concrete, terrazzo and metal architectural products you’ll find anywhere.”

Products for both brands will continue to be proudly made by skilled American craftspeople at the 480,000-sq. ft. facility in central Wisconsin. Tectura Designs and Wausau Made also will carry on Wausau Tile’s legacy of innovation and sustainability, upholding high environmental standards in their cutting-edge operation and also offering environmentally friendly products, including composites made with recycled porcelain and glass.

10 Year-Old Alyssa “Makes Lemonade” to rebuild fire-ravaged house

Alyssa De La Sala of Lutz, Fla., has been in the news and on social media a lot lately. Her family’s Tampa-area house was severely damaged by fire two years ago, and the contractor her family hired to restore it ran off the unfinished job without completing it.

Alyssas lemonade standAlyssa, 10, sister to Damien and daughter of Jenn and Joe De La Sala, didn’t let that get her down. With the attitude, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” she and her brother set up a stand on May 16th to sell lemonade and homemade baked goods to raise money to complete the repairs on their home. After asking a local radio station to advertise her business, people donated baked goods from several counties away and some people paid $500-$1000 for a cup of lemonade to support the cause. Not only did strangers turn out to help, but so did first responders, and local businesses donated supplies. When all was said and done, she raised $15,000 between lemonade stand sales and a GoFundMe site towards the $120,000 goal. Another lemonade event is planned Sunday June 14 from 12 pm – 3 pm at Beef O-Brady’s, 21539 Village Lakes Shopping Center Drive in Land O Lakes, Fla., featuring lemonade, cupcakes and a bounce house.

Interested in helping the cause? Visit to make a donation, or visit Alyssa’s Lemonade Stand on Facebook for find out more.

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