International Wholesale Tile, LLC restructures director’s team of industry veterans; expands flagship brand: Tesoro, The Collection™

Palm City, Fla. – May 28, 2012 – International Wholesale Tile, LLC (IWT), a value-added provider of premium ceramic, porcelain, natural stone and a variety of decorative glass, pool and mosaic tile products that are available in a wide variety of retail floor covering stores, design centers and specialty tile and stone shops, has repositioned select executive responsibilities throughout the company to promote its immediate and longterm development requirements.

Grey Perna, previously the Senior Director of Marketing and 18-year veteran at IWT, now occupies the lead role within the company as builder program manager.

Grey Perna

Grey Perna

“As the housing sector within the Southeast United States and throughout continues its healthy expansion, it is vital that we engage the housing market with the foremost preparedness. And, as we expand our product offering in this program, including our renewed emphasis on sustainable inventory levels, I am tremendously excited about the company’s prospects for many years to come in this segment,” said Perna.

Formally with IWT from 2002 to 2007, Ken Baker has recently returned to IWT as Director of Customer Relations. With accountabilities including: marketing, sample department and overseeing the company’s Dancik Enterprise System (DES) implementation, Baker carries with him a wealth of knowledge in brand management, strategic sales & marketing and team development resources.

Ken Baker

Ken Baker

Paul Boucher, President of IWT, said of Baker, “Ken brings with him a unique, valued skill-set and a renewed sense of evolution for the company. We look forward to utilizing him in numerous capacities within IWT to emphasize culture, value and growth.”

Baker added, “The reason for these calculated positioning decisions are to strategically prepare us for several new product launches in the future, as well as to improve our efforts in deepening our inventory with select product lines. Having grown roughly 35% in the last three years, these changes are to ensure that this trend stays positive.”

Included in IWT’s new product offerings is the brand new series, Timberland, a Tesoro porcelain. This contemporary style multi-width wood-look line includes 3 widths: 3”, 5” & 8” x 36” long. The lightly textured wood grain plank design is offered in a range of five colors : Ash, Beech, Maple, Oak and Mahogany. The series has a moderate V3 shade range, a PEI rating of IV. It can be installed by alternating the three widths and staggering the grout joints randomly like those used in multiple-width real wood installations.

Tesoro Timberland Series

Tesoro Timberland Series

Merkrete Systems is featured in Copley Symphony Hall

merCopley Symphony Hall is located in the beautiful oceanside city of San Diego, Calif. With a history dating back to 1929, this historical landmark building – once the Fox Theater – is now the permanent home of the San Diego Symphony and hosts everything from comedy club shows to corporate events.  As with all of us, the years sometimes take their toll. What was once San Diego’s state-of-the-art music experience, when last renovated in 1984, recently required a new facelift and some old-fashioned TLC to return this grand old lady back to her glory days.  At the heart of any renovation is the selection of materials, such as tile, stone, wall coverings, fixtures, etc. Assisting in those choices was the supplier for the project, Emser Tile of San Diego.

“When choosing the materials to be used in a historically-significant building, it is important that they be aesthetically pleasing as well as durable enough to last for the next 50 years,” said Roger Van-House of Emser Tile.

Quality honed by experience
To ensure that beauty will survive into the future depends on two equal factors: materials and installation. With over 40 years of experience, Merkrete Tile & mer2Stone Installation Systems offered both time-tested quality and technical assistance to San Diego-based Source Floors, Inc. and NY Tile Company. The challenges in any renovation require real skill on the part of the tile setters and a product that will perform in any kind of adverse conditions.

“With Merkrete we knew we could count on quality and having the right product for a full range of installation challenges,” stated Nora Yim, president, NY Tile Company.

“We chose Merkrete because we wanted a product that we could stand behind and have a bullet proof warranty,” stated Brittany Holland Purdy, Project Manager, Source Floor, Inc.

For commercial applications, restrooms are always challenging. Selecting a waterproof membrane for this 10,000 sq. ft. project was one of the first considerations. Knowing that Merkrete offers a variety of membranes with code approval and flexibility was a key factor in the selection of all the materials used on Copley Hall.

“Merkrete’s SP 1, a rapid-curing membrane, allowed us maximum flexibility and quick drying,” said Yim. “Today, more than ever, time is money and liquid-applied materials like Merkrete’s SP 1 offer quality and speed of installation. With our reputation on the line for every job, I use Merkrete membranes and setting materials to ensure my future. I’m sold on Merkrete.”

Attention from the ground up
In renovation applications, sub- floor preparation is most challenging. For Copley Hall this was  especially true. The floors were in need of a complete tear-out, followed by a 2” float and self-leveling material to ensure that the floors were within tolerance for the 12”x 24” stone overlay. Using a mix of Emperador Light and Dark with Honed Vallentina marble made for an exquisite installation that was worthy of this landmark building. The use of Merkrete XXL 855 thinset, designed for large-format materials, allowed for adjustability as well as maximum flexibility in a high-performing mortar.  Grout selection is also of paramount importance. This is especially true for a commercial project because restrooms in this type of environment require maximum performance to withstand years of constant use. Staining by urine and harsh cleaners can cause failure in poor quality materials. Merkrete’s Pro Epoxy is a 100% solids material engineered to withstand all of the above.

“Merkrete’s epoxy is the best I have ever used,” stated Yim. “It was easy to install and clean-up was a breeze. It’s the only material I recommend for this type of application.”
For walls Merkrete Versatile XF grout completed the installation for this phase of construction. In the next year, two more phases covering lobby floors and meeting areas will be completed.

With a winning combination of supplier, installer and Merkrete materials, the Copley Symphony Hall will once again be the cultural center of this great American city, whose history and elegance is a testimony to its diverse people and history.


2013 May Letter from the President

dan welch imageSpring is finally here and the Coverings show is being constructed by thousands of  trade workers for the April 29th start, and NTCA contractor and affiliate members are joining in the construction effort.

I am writing this in Atlanta, as I participate in installing our very first 5’x5’ tile floor at the heart of the TCNA’s North American Pavilion. NTCA Region 5 director  Dave Rogers, NTCA technical presenter Michael Whistler, TEC technical director Tom Plaskota and our crew are working together on this impressive-looking tile. We have spent the past month planning, ordering, and testing the best way to install these new reduced-thickness panels on a temporary 3,000-square foot floor. All of this planning will come to fruition before the show starts.

Coverings is the special show that allows local tile professionals the chance to interact with tile professionals from around the world. Despite the challenge of the language barrier, those of us working on this project could still share a few good tips with regard to large-format tile. Our friends from Italy were more than eager to show us their techniques when we started the TCNA floor.

Here are a few items I think may help you when you install your first reduced-thickness tile panels.

Remember to bring enough help. Minimum crew size is four; five is better.

Bring a table that is strong enough to stack several tiles on upside down. This helps offset the time to move tiles each time you need to back-butter one.

A drywall board cart is a very good tool to transport tiles from the crate to the table.

Mixing thin-set one bag at a time is a bottle neck. We invested in a Raimondi bucket mixer which turned out to be a big money saver.

Get into a rhythm with the crew. Once we determined the best method we all fell into a groove.

A mechanical edge-setting system is a must for this tile. Clamping the tiles into place while they dry is the only way to set tiles of this size without lippage.

Our install was not perfect but was more than acceptable. I am fortunate that this temporary floor installation only has to hold up for one week. The most critical item with this type of tile is the floor prep. For this temporary install, an unbound layer of 1/4” backer board served as a subfloor. We tested this installation to perfect our methods of installation for when it counts on a paying job.  We pulled up tile, checked for coverage, used several different trowels, mixes, and methods to determine the best method.

During this show, I will also be installing mud, large format tile, waterproofing, and showers in the Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT) test. This new evaluation for union and non-union tile installers certifies my ability and skills to install tile in advanced situations including large-format tile and subfloors, showers, membranes and mud-set applications. But that is another story!

Dan Welch
President NTCA


CALHOUN, Ga., April 3, 2013 — Mohawk Industries, Inc. (NYSE: MHK) today announced that it has completed the acquisition of the Marazzi Group for approximately $1.5 billion with a combination of cash and equity giving Mohawk the leading position in worldwide ceramic tile. The Marazzi Group is a global leader in ceramic tile with worldwide brand recognition and 2012 revenues of about €858 million.  Marazzi operates manufacturing facilities in Russia, the United States and Western Europe and sells to more than 100 countries around the world. Marazzi manufactures all types of tile including glazed ceramic, glazed porcelain, technical tile and color body porcelain.

In commenting on the closing, Jeffrey S. Lorberbaum, Mohawk’s Chairman and CEO, stated, “The Marazzi acquisition continues the expansion of Mohawk’s global business and will make us an even stronger company.  Marazzi’s innovative products, leading-edge designs, efficient manufacturing and excellent service have created one of the industry’s most valuable brands. With the combination, we have many opportunities to improve our ceramic performance by leveraging best practices, operational expertise, product innovation and manufacturing assets across the enterprise.”

Marazzi holds the number one position in the Russian ceramic market through a unique model that optimizes its total supply chain from manufacturing to distribution to retail. In the U.S., the combined manufacturing expertise, design capabilities and distribution systems of Marazzi and Mohawk will satisfy all residential and commercial requirements. In Europe, Marazzi has maintained its innovation and design leadership throughout the cycle and improved efficiency aligning its capacity to the market.  Additional investments are planned to further grow sales, enhance design capabilities and improve efficiency.

”Lorberbaum said, “The addition of Marazzi will allow us to expand our U.S. distribution, source ceramic tile from our worldwide base, and provide industry leading innovation and design to all of our global ceramic customers. With our solid financial position, manufacturing and distribution expertise, and international participation in all flooring categories, Mohawk is positioned for long term growth to maximize shareholder value.”

 Certain of the statements in the immediately preceding paragraphs, particularly anticipating future performance, business prospects, growth and operating strategies and similar matters and those that include the words “could,” “should,” “believes,” “anticipates,” “expects,” and “estimates,” or similar expressions constitute “forward-looking statements.” For those statements, Mohawk claims the protection of the safe harbor for forward-looking statements contained in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.  There can be no assurance that the forward-looking statements will be accurate because they are based on many assumptions, which involve risks and uncertainties. The following important factors could cause future results to differ: changes in economic or industry conditions; competition; inflation in raw material prices and other input costs; energy costs and supply; timing and level of capital expenditures; timing and implementation of price increases for the Company’s products; impairment charges; integration of acquisitions; international operations; introduction of new products; rationalization of operations; tax, product and other claims; litigation; and other risks identified in Mohawk’s SEC reports and public announcements.
Mohawk is a leading supplier of flooring for both residential and commercial applications.  Mohawk provides a complete selection for all markets of carpet, ceramic tile, laminate, wood, stone, vinyl and rugs. These products are marketed under the premier brands in the industry including Mohawk, Karastan, Lees, Bigelow, Durkan, Mohawk Home, Daltile, American Olean, Unilin, Pergo and Quick-Step.  Mohawk’s international presence includes operations in Australia, Brazil, China, Europe, Malaysia, Mexico and Russia.

BOE: “Best of Everything” bursts onto the scene

rick baldini

In this interview, “Best of Everything” president Rick Baldini introduces his new company and explains the advantages it brings to the industry.

So Rick, please explain your new business model or concept. What is “Best Of Everything”?

Our Best of Everything model is not really a new concept, but more of an implementation of a couple of proven business concepts. Basically, there are two elements: 1). Build strong individual, high quality brands of installation accessories; and 2). Reduce the cost and simplify the process for getting those brands to our customers. Over the course of my 30-plus years in the tile and stone industry, I recognized the opportunity to develop a synergistic family of “the best brands” of specialty installation products. This concept has been perfected and implemented in other industries by a number of highly successful companies such as MASCO and Proctor & Gamble. But, in our industry, we have not yet seen the family of brands concept. By the way to have a little fun, we are calling Best Of Everything by its initials BOE and pronouncing it as “Bowie.”

Funny. But there are a already number of companies that supply products across a number of different installation categories.

You are absolutely right and that is precisely, why I am convinced BOE will be highly successful. Let me explain. The other companies that supply products across a number of categories often do so under one brand name. It has been proven over and over again that strong brands drive sales and profitability. But it has also been proven that brand extensions often lead to brand confusion and the loss of identity. In our industry, we have seen numerous situations in which smaller successful specialty brands have been acquired by larger companies. And in many — but clearly not all cases — over time the specialty brands are integrated into the larger company and that once happens, the successful brand either goes away or at the very least, becomes markedly less important. With BOE, we will keep the individual company brands separate and focus on the specific factors that will make them successful in each of their specialty installation product categories. However, we will also promote the benefits of having the individual brands as part of BOE family of companies.

So what exactly is BOE then?

Think of BOE as a highly-effective sales logistic company supplying wholesale distributors in the tile and stone industry with the best installation accessory brands. It is sort of like a one-stop shop for specialty installation products. That means distributors will only have one purchase order, one invoice, one sales rep and one key point of contact for multiple companies. And with the combination of the numerous product brands, BOE will be able to ship them all together with free freight (with low to no combined minimum order quantities). This will help distributors with their inventory turns as well as cash flow. They will also enjoy transaction cost savings as they will have fewer purchase orders to place and invoices to process and other administrative activities. There will also be volume rebates programs that will make purchasing these brands not only convenient, but even more profitable. In part, the inspiration for BOE comes from a book a friend of mine wrote a number of years ago about his experience transforming a conventional electronics distribution business into a global powerhouse. The title of his book is Free, Perfect and Now: Connecting to the Three Insatiable Customer Demands. My buddy was eminently successful and his book is an inspiring read, but what most stuck with me was the notion of meeting customers’ desire for products that are as cost effective as possible (free), perform exactly as intended (perfect), and available when needed (now). That is what we striving for with our Best Of Everything business model.


Interesting, so what are the brands that a distributor can purchase through BOE?

Under BOE the brands we will initially have are SpongaUSA, Primo Tools and OMNI, our recently-launched sealer company. I intentionally said “initially,” as the BOE business model “begs” for other “best of” companies to be part of the synergistic family. We are actually working on other companies right now. However, I do not foresee BOE ever entering the setting-material business, even though I actually started in the tile and stone industry — a very long time ago — with a setting material company.

 Okay, tell me about OMNI Sealers. You were previously in the sealer business. Why do you think the industry needs another sealer company?

That is a great question. And in all honesty, I do not think our industry “needs” another sealer company. What I do think is that there is a tremendous opportunity for another sealer company to provide quality products, operate with integrity and provide support to the distributors, dealers and contractors and our industry. By the way, that is really the how and why OMNI Sealers came to be. In one of our many strategy sessions, we asked ourselves what we can bring to the marketplace with OMNI. And thus evolved our company position and tagline: Quality. Integrity. Support. When you asked about our industry needing another sealer company, I cannot help but think back at the decade or so that I was the president of Aqua Mix. I had a great team around me that helped take the great company that Manuel and Jill Magallanes started on a really great run. It was a special time and a very special company –and we had a lot of fun and success along the way. With the sale of the company, I had a non-compete that kept me out of the care-and-maintenance business for quite awhile. As that non-compete has now expired, I could not resist the opportunity to replicate the fun and success we had at Aqua Mix. And with all the positive things going on with SpongaUSA and Primo Tools, it makes perfect sense to use OMNI as the catalyst to launch the BOE family of companies.

So will there be anything unique about the OMNI product line?

The answer is both yes and no. As technology has evolved in the last decade, obviously OMNI products are based on the latest technology. But as much as we tried, the reality is that our technology is not revolutionary or breakthrough, but it certainly is “at least as good” as anything in the market today. That is one of the key benefits of starting fresh; we were able benchmark the competitive marketplace with a deep understanding of what worked in the past. To be sure, we will continue strive for that “game changing” technology. But OMNI does have some pretty unique natural and micro components that have been incorporated into our formulas. Depending on the product, we have found great benefit from the addition of ingredients such as baking soda, lamponite clay, distilled vinegar, essential oils as well as an amazing new surfactant. All of the products will be VOC-compliant and very user-friendly. And with the individual product names, it will be very easy to understand which products are to be used where, when and why.  With our standard 40 colors of Grout Re-Coloring Sealer Kits (colorants), we will have one of broadest designer-oriented coloring offerings available. We also think the bold red and black packaging will be both unique and exciting. We actually used a number of different design groups working in collaboration to develop our brand identity. So in effect, with OMNI we have kept all the good stuff we learned in the past and added some pretty new cool stuff.

Okay, so let’s get back to BOE for a minute. You asked me to think of it as a sales logistic company. Does that mean that the various company’s product brands will be warehoused together?

Yes. While the individual brands are manufactured at various sites around the world, we decided to inventory all of the company’s products at one location in Southern California. Eventually, we would expect to have at least one other distribution center somewhere in the East. But by centralizing all of our brands, we can reduce freight costs and improve service.

Anything else unique about BOE?

I am not sure it would be considered unique as much as implementing “industry best practices.” By that I mean, we want to provide the best possible support to our distributors, dealers and contractors. We have engaged a tile contractor to provide ongoing technical service/support. We are hiring the best sales reps in each territory to get our products placed (still have a couple of openings). We will be implementing a comprehensive social media marketing campaign — something a few short years ago we did not even know existed. In all seriousness, support of our industry associations such as CTDA, NTCA, TCNA and CTEF and their events like the Coverings Trade Show, Total Solutions Plus, and the NTCA Tile & Stone Workshops will be a big part of our focus. And finally, as this industry is so relationship-oriented, we will be spending a lot of time in front of customers sharing our passion for our products and listening for ways to improve the way we supply them with the Best Of Everything.

(Ed. note – visit BOE at Coverings Atlanta, April 29-May 2 at booth 7423 and check out the website at



TCAA joins CTDA, NTCA and TCNA in hosting Total Solutions Plus 2013

TSP-logo NTCA TCNA CTDA TCAAThe Tile Contractors Association of America (TCAA) has joined the Ceramic Tile Distributors Association (CTDA), National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), and the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) to jointly host the 2013 Total Solutions Plus (TSP) October 26-29 at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point in Bonita Springs, Fla.

TSP brings the ceramic tile industry together to network and learn from each other.  Initially launched in 2010 the annual event  features a substantial seminar schedule, the individual meetings of participants like CTDA, NTCA,  and TCNA , an increasingly popular tabletop show, and unparalleled opportunities for formal and informal networking.

TSP has benefited from the enthusiastic participation of distributors, manufacturers and contractors. The addition of TCAA adds a welcome dimension to programming and participation. In making the announcement,  Chris Pattavina of TCAA noted: “We are confident that by joining this industry-wide event, TCAA members will receive significant value from substantial  technical and management education offerings on tap for Total Solutions Plus, plus opportunities to learn about the newest industry products and solutions from an expanded pool of vendors.  With a solid program, great social events and a beautiful location, we believe TCAA members will find Total Solutions Plus an informative and enjoyable event.”

Rick Church, executive director of CTDA, said: “We are hoping that this will increase industry participation and attendance this year and create an even better TSP in the future.”

Highlights of Total Solutions Plus 2013 include an insightful pair of keynote presentations. The 2013 opening keynote,” It’s Showtime…and Life Isn’t a Dress Rehearsal,” presented by Jon Petz, reminds attendees that “merely meeting expectations” is no longer enough.  The closing keynote by Mark Scharenbroich is “Nice Bike – Hitting the Road to Make Meaningful Connections.” Scharenbroich successfully mixes thousands of black leather, bandana wearing Harley-Davidson riders, one 100th year anniversary celebration and a beige Ford Taurus to see the Nice Bike principle in action and build stronger and more meaningful connections in your personal and professional lives.

Mohawk announces purchase of Marazzi Group: Marazzi and Daltile brands to maintain separate identities in the U.S.

Mohawk Industries, Inc. (NYSE: MHK) today announced that the company has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the Marazzi Group, which will make Mohawk — the parent of Dal-Tile Corporation — the worldwide leader in ceramic tile.
The Marazzi Group is a leading manufacturer and marketer of ceramic tile in all its major geographies, including Russia, the United States, Italy, France and Spain. Marazzi’s 2011 revenues were about €833 million, or $1.16 billion, with EBITDA of approximately 15.5% under historical IFRS accounting. Marazzi is held by the Marazzi family and two private equity funds—Permira and Private Equity Partners.
Mohawk is acquiring Marazzi for €1.17 billion, or approximately $1.5 billion, with a combination of cash and equity. Marazzi’s estimated 2012 EBITDA of €145 million represents a purchase multiple of about eight times. The transaction is expected to be completed during the first quarter of 2013 pending customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals. Mohawk anticipates that the transaction will be accretive in 2013.
Ceramic tile remains the world’s most widely utilized flooring product with an estimated worldwide consumption of more than 110 billion square feet and annual growth of 5 to 6%. Marazzi distributes ceramic tile in more than 100 countries through a strong international sales force, which will increase Mohawk’s worldwide growth.
Founded and managed by Filippo Marazzi, Sr. and his family, the Marazzi Group has become a global leader in ceramic tile with worldwide brand recognition. Marazzi’s product line features glazed ceramic, glazed porcelain, technical tile and color body porcelain. Marazzi introduced the single fire process that revolutionized the industry, making ceramic more accessible to a wider market.  Technological innovations continue today with new introductions such as crystalized porcelain and single-fired thin tiles. Marazzi operates manufacturing facilities in Russia, the United States and Western Europe and employs around 6,300 people.
Jeff Lorberbaum, Mohawk’s chairman and chief executive officer, stated, “This acquisition represents the next step in the expansion of Mohawk’s global business and will make Mohawk a stronger company.  We found Marazzi attractive because of its solid management team and leadership positions in the U.S., Russia and Europe. Marazzi’s differentiated products, leading-edge design, efficient manufacturing and exemplary service have created one of the most valued brands in the industry. We have many opportunities to improve results by leveraging best practices, operational expertise, product innovation and manufacturing assets.”

U.S. plans
In the U.S., Marazzi’s products are sold through independent distributors, home centers and a few company service centers. Mohawk expected to leverage the combined manufacturing expertise, design capabilities and distribution systems to enhance its ceramic business.  Marazzi and the Daltile brand will maintain separate identities in the market, with the expectation that streamlining manufacturing, technical and marketing capabilities will strengthen both brands. The total residential and commercial offerings complement each other and can satisfy every requirement in the market. Additional products from facilities in Mexico, China and Europe will help the company compete directly with the large quantity of imported ceramic tile.

In a letter to its customers, Daltile vice president John Cousins said, “While we are still in the process of closing the transaction, which is expected to occur in the first quarter of 2013, we want to share with you some key points as we move forward:

  • We are committed to preserving the unique strengths that made Dal-Tile’s and Marazzi’s   businesses successful over the years. The brands will maintain separate identities in the market and they will continue to serve each channel as they do today. To a large extent, you will continue to do business with us in the same way that you have done in the past.
  • The combination of these two companies will leverage complimentary product, manufacturing, technical and marketing capabilities that will be focused on helping you profitably grow your business.
  • Through access to the global capabilities of each organization, we will be able to bring new, innovative products and services to market more quickly.
  • We are also committed to maintaining the high level of sales and customer service support that you have come to expect from our organizations.

I hope you share in our excitement as Marazzi joins with us, and together, we become North America’s premier manufacturer and marketer of tile and stone products.”

Lorberbaum added, “The combination of Mohawk and Marazzi creates opportunities to expand U.S. distribution through service centers and other channels, source ceramic from our worldwide assets, utilize our relationships to expand all product categories and deploy leading innovation and design trends to all of our ceramic businesses around the globe. Mohawk and Marazzi’s strong management and solid financial position combined with process and material knowledge, distribution expertise, and synergies with other products will deliver additional value to our shareholders.”

European dominance

Marazzi has the number one position in the Russian ceramic market (similar in size to the United States), where it operates two manufacturing sites and 21 regional distribution centers as well as owning and franchising more than 300 retail stores that carry only Marazzi products. About 50% of the Marazzi Russian business is sold directly to end users. Retail advertising done by the stores has created a strong consumer brand. The company expects increase its geographic reach by expanding company owned and franchised stores, other distribution channels.
Presently European flooring is at a low point where Marazzi has leading positions in Italy, France and Spain.  Marazzi has rationalized its capacity to align with the market and is implementing new strategies to enhance its sales in the region and adjacent countries. Improvements have been made that enhanced the manufacturing efficiency, quality and sales effectiveness. Additional investments are planned to further reduce manufacturing cost, increase sales and expand the company’s design capabilities.


The Italian Connection

Cersaie generates new products; NTCA Five Star Contractors review the show

By Lesley Goddin

The 30th edition of the annual Cersaie show attracted a record number of international visitors to Bologna in late September. Some of those international attendees were four NTCA Five Star Contractors who traveled to Bologna to tour the Laminam plant and powwow with Crossville and Laminam personnel. These contractors gave jobsite perspectives on installation methods and approaches to the new Laminam by Crossville reduced-thickness/thin tile Crossville is importing exclusively into the U.S. (see related story in the January 2013 issue).

One couldn’t be in Bologna and miss the show, so our four contractors – Dan Welch, Welch Tile, James Woelfel, Artcraft Granite Marble & Tile Co., and Martin Howard and Chris Walker, with David Allen Company (DAC) –toured Cersaie, as well.

Contractors were thrilled with the opportunity to experience the international show, and to visit factories that produce innovative tile technology.

“I love going to Cersaie because I love Italian food, wine, cheese, cars, the countryside and history!” said DAC’s Martin Howard. “Oh yes, and then there are the beautiful tile, colors and design options that can turn one’s mind loose with creativity.

“Cersaie is definitely a buyers show, but the networking and contacts one can make are very beneficial,” Howard added. “It is possible to get an advance look at the next big look that’s coming or research new technologies like thin tile or ventilated façade systems.”

Another benefit of the show was the ability to compare construction similarities and differences as they relate to tile installation. DAC’s Chris Walker appreciated “the opportunity to view the work in progress modules being performed by skilled tile setters, which reinforced the difference between the U.S. methods and the European methods, since almost all substrates in Europe are mudbed.”

Dan Welch, a first-time visitor to Cersaie, was intrigued with lighted pre-manufactured expansion joints, as was James Woelfel, another first-timer, who said, “This could help in the U.S., as they add an architectural ingredient to necessary movement joints.” Of the show itself, Woelfel remarked, “I was very excited to go to Cersaie for the first time. The tile booths were more lavish than Coverings, as the show is much bigger.”



Seen on the Cersiae showroom floor were these major design trends, coming soon to a showroom near you:

  • Mix and match: patchwork tiles and varying color, size and material in one collection.
  • Antibacterial/self-cleaning and eco-friendly
  • Encaustic and majolica looks: bold solid colors and large sizes, patchwork effects and vintage encaustic looks, now created by high-tech printing
  • Planks: wood and cement looks dominate in this trend
  • Ceramic fabric and textile-derived aesthetics: plaid, silk, lace, tweed, damask and more can all be evoked by today’s tiles.
  • Installation made easy: new installation systems included clip systems for 2 cm thick porcelain tiles, quick-laying floors and monolithic porcelain slabs,  thick 20mm tiles which offer an incredibly high breakage load (up to 2,000 pounds) and can be dry-laid on grass, gravel, dirt, and cement without grout or adhesives.
  • Size matters: reduced-thickness/thin tiles and giant slabs are proliferating at an accelerated rate as acceptance of this new technology grows.
  • Digital printing: ink-jet technology continues to expand the possibilities for surface decoration.
  • Celebrity designers: artists, graphic designers and material architects are working with tile’s graphic potential and synergy with fixtures and accessories.

The next Cersaie show in Bologna will be September 24-28, 2013. Visit for more information about the show.

65th Anniversary marks historic year for NTCA

By Bart BettigaNTCA_logo_100pixels

2012 will be remembered by NTCA leaders as one of our most effective years in the history of the association. Established in 1947, the NTCA now is approaching 850 members dedicated to the professional installation of ceramic tile.  These are the largest membership figures in NTCA history!

While it is gratifying to see our membership growing, even more significant is the increase in support of our efforts by so many individuals. This is what is making a difference in our success. A great example of this took place at Coverings in 2012, where many NTCA members supported the staff by volunteering to work in our booth. The result was the most new members to ever sign up at Coverings or at any trade show exhibit in which NTCA has been involved.

The same can be said about the NTCA Workshop/Symposium program. Trainers Gerald Sloan and Michael Whistler performed in front of more than 3,000 industry professionals and signed up over 100 members in 2012. They could not have done this without volunteer help by members all over the country. On behalf of our staff and board of directors, we thank every one of you who attended and supported our training efforts.

2012: qualified labor language accepted in Handbook

Perhaps the most important achievement occurred in 2012: one I believe to be one of the most significant initiatives in the history of the NTCA. I am referring to the inclusion of language stating the importance of recommending or specifying qualified tile installers in the 2012 Tile Council of North America Handbook for Ceramic, Glass and Stone Tile Installation. This effort was a joint initiative by the NTCA and the Tile Contractors’ Association of America, and was supported by the voting members of the Handbook Committee. In a short period of time, we are seeing architects and design professionals already including this language in the quality assurance sections of their specifications.

Advanced skills certification to come in 2013

As we transition from 2012 into 2013, we are excited to announce one of our most ambitious efforts to date related to the certification of qualified tile installers in the United States. On October 27th, at Total Solutions Plus in Palm Springs, California, the framework of an agreement to mutually develop and implement an advanced certification of task-specific skills was formed with the tile installation trade associations, in conjunction with several tile and installation material manufacturer representatives. We hope to further explain this effort at Surfaces in 2013, with the first installers actually being certified at Coverings in Atlanta, taking place April 29th-May 2nd. You will be hearing much more about this in the future; but for now I can tell you this is significant because consumers, project owners, builders, architects, dealers, etc. will be able to look confidently at a certification that is supported by the entire tile industry.

Leadership and support add to NTCA success

Incoming president Dan Welch of Welch Tile & Marble in Kent City, Mich., near Grand Rapids.

Incoming president Dan Welch of Welch Tile & Marble in Kent City, Mich., near Grand Rapids.

The NTCA continues to expand in membership and influence. We are taking an aggressive approach to establish our strategic initiatives. I would like to personally thank our president these past two years, Nyle Wadford of Neuse Tile Service in Youngsville, N.C., and welcome in our new president, Dan Welch, of Welch Tile & Marble near Grand Rapids, Mich. Both Nyle and Dan have been very involved in the growth and development of the association, and will continue to do so. I would also like to thank the entire staff of the NTCA, and the board of directors, committee members, state directors, and all the NTCA members who continue to support our efforts. The NTCA strives to be the Voice of the Tile Contractor, and I am proud to be a part of this mission.

Outgoing NTCA president Nyle Wadford (l.) of Neuse Tile Service, Youngsville, N.C. with James Woelfel of Artcraft Granite Marble & Tile, Mesa, Arizona. In addition to chairing the NTCA Technical Committee, Woelfel is first vice president for NTCA.

Outgoing NTCA president Nyle Wadford (l.) of Neuse Tile Service, Youngsville, N.C. with James Woelfel of Artcraft Granite Marble & Tile, Mesa, Arizona. In addition to chairing the NTCA Technical Committee, Woelfel is first vice president for NTCA.

At Coverings this year, many NTCA members supported the staff by volunteering to work in our booth. The result was the most new members to ever sign up at Coverings or at any trade show exhibit in which NTCA has been involved.

At Coverings this year, many NTCA members supported the staff by volunteering to work in our booth. The result was the most new members to ever sign up at Coverings or at any trade show exhibit in which NTCA has been involved.

Independent Manufacturer Reps Wanted!

NAC Products, Inc., the innovator of ECB™, the first self-adhering crack isolation membrane on the market, is seeking a diligent, professional, manufacturer’s representatives to sell our quality line of underlayment systems for tile, stone & other hard floor surfaces. Qualified candidates must be motivated, have a thorough knowledge of the flooring industry, and solid relationships with distributors.

NAC manufactures sheet and liquid membranes and companion products for crack isolation, waterproofing, sound and moisture control.  Markets are available throughout the US and Canada. Email resume to [email protected]

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