Editor’s Letter – August 2018 – The Green Issue

Lesley Goddin

It’s not easy being green…or is it? This issue of TileLetter focuses on sustainability and green issues related to products and practices that are kind to the planet and to the health of those beings living on it. 

For our “Green Tip” (aka Business Tip), Bill Griese gives us an update on the partnership between TCNA and Ecomedes, creator of an online database of product information relating to environmental attributes and certifications. The intent is to establish ways for designers, purchasers, and users of tile and related installation materials to more easily obtain product information needed to help fulfill their environmental goals. Right off the bat, this partnership will make searching for Green Squared Certified® product more searchable. See how in this article. 

Daniel Dorfman, Chair, Construction Law Group, Fox Swibel Levin & Carroll LLP talks to us about managing legal issues on sustainable projects .

In our News Briefs section, learn about Litokol’s recent participation in a Project Zero Environmental Risk initiative, developed by the EU government in partnership with major universities in Italy’s tile manufacturing region. By virtue of the low irritant and corrosive nature of its epoxy products, it was invited to help develop products for various markets. Read the intro in News Briefs and link to the whole story at TileLetter.com.

In Hot Topics, NTCA contractor members Phil Green and Nadine Edelstein discuss environmentally-, community-conscious and creative ways they manage waste products from tile installs. This inspiring article offers some ideas that can be easily adapted industry wide. 

Though not a sustainability story, our Stone section showcases CID Award winner Columbia Tile & Stone’s beautiful black and white marble bath project. And in Tech Talk, Dale Kempster details the launch in July of the Tile Installer Technical Handbook, a publication of Canada’s Terrazzo, Tile & Marble Association that took its inspiration and some content from the NTCA Reference Manual.

There’s lots of other great reading material for the dog days of summer this month, including a Member Spotlight on new member Ken Ballin and Skyro Floors in N.J., a thin tile training session hosted by the Belknap White Group, and a gorgeous cover story about an amazing mosaic project set with LATICRETE materials. 

God bless,
Lesley
[email protected]

Hand holding a glass globe

Editor’s Letter – July 2018

Lesley Goddin

The only thing worse than training employees and having them leave is not training them, and having them stay.
– Henry Ford, Founder, Ford Motor Company

This month we have a strong focus on education and training. Of course, training and education are core pillars of NTCA’S mission, but this month we get to see how contractor members are taking that mission out into their communities to spread the word about installation that conforms to industry standards and invites the next generation of tile setters to a career in qualified labor. 

Our Training and Education feature takes a first look at the Oregon – Columbia Tile Trades Training Trust, a cooperative of contractors, supported by distributors, manufacturers and other suppliers that are developing an apprenticeship program based on NTCA University courses. Read about this inspiring new program.

In our Qualified Labor section, Nebraska State Ambassador Dan Hecox talks about a presentation on how to avoid tile failures he gave to a group of 28 second-year design students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln earlier this year. Hecox focused on real-world useful information that students can use once they graduate, and got thumbs up from the class. 

NTCA Training and Education Coordinator Becky Serbin discusses how to use the NTCA University courses in DOL-approved programs and apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs in this month’s NTCA University Update. As a member you have access to a fantastic collection of courses that can be utilized in many ways, tailored to your business. 

Our Tech Talk feature this month is derived directly from another avenue of education offered by NTCA – the monthly Webinar series. These free online presentations bring you the wisdom of industry experts on a range of topics that you can access on your phone, tablet or computer, solo or with a group of colleagues. This month, we learn about the benefits and advantages of self-leveling underlayments from TEC/H.B. Fuller’s
Tom Plaskota. 

Jason McDaniel, of Stoneman Construction LLC in Portland, is profiled in our Member Spotlight this month. In addition to being one of the members of the Oregon-Columbia Tile Trades Training Trust referenced above, McDaniel is a Regional Evaluator with the CTEF’s Certified Tile Installer credentialing program, which allows him to be on the “front lines of training and testing installers of all ages who are new to the trade, or veterans wanting to expand their skills and knowledge.” With the expansion of the number of Regional Evaluators across the country, the CTI test is much more accessible to more tile setters who want to test themselves and obtain credentials that enhance their dealings with customers and design professionals.

And finally, in this issue we preview the Total Solutions Plus (TSP) all-industry conference coming up October 27-30 in Grapevine, Texas. This conference is a prime opportunity to gain wisdom and share experience about the business and technical ends of the industry, and learn from peers and experts. The full program and relaxed pace give you the opportunity to both learn and network and return home equipped with inspiration and new strategies to take your business to the next level. 

Have a topic you’d like to learn more about? Drop me a line and let me know and we’ll schedule an article in an upcoming issue of TileLetter.

God bless,
Lesley
[email protected]

Editor’s Letter – June 2018

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Lesley Goddin

Well, you’ve made it to the halfway point of the year. Congratulate yourself that you are still above ground and hopefully making a good living in a profession you enjoy. So many are not, including a much-beloved icon of our industry, Armen Tavy, the irrepressible inventor and founder of Tavy Enterprises LLC. Read a bit about his impact on the industry and his legacy in this issue.

Last month, there was SO much to see at the Coverings show. We at TileLetter and NTCA were posting from the show on Facebook and Twitter with #ntcaatcoverings18, so if you frequent these social media outlets, see what was hopping in Atlanta. For the rest of you, we’ve provided an overview of many of the happenings at Coverings and a smattering of the kaleidoscope of products we saw there. By the way, it was wonderful to meet with so many of you in Atlanta! It made my heart sing! Remember to add Coverings to your 2019 schedule – April 9-13, in Orlando, and let’s visit again, among the rest of the excitement and education the show offers!

Though training and education has always been part of NTCA’s charter, NTCA is taking these opportunities to the next level with the Members Only Regional Training Program instituted this year, and the ongoing network of free workshops that crisscross the country. Get a bird’s eye view of these offerings in both our new Training & Education section with Connie Heinlein’s “Riding Shotgun,” and the NTCA University Update story that details our Members Only Regional Training opportunities. 

The respirable crystalline silica issue is not going away, and compliance with OSHA’s recently established regulation safeguards workers’ health – and keeps your operations legal. Learn more about this issue in our Tech Talk section where we view some of the information presented by iQ Power Tools’ Joel Guth during a Coverings conference session.

How lucrative is tile setting anyway, and how does it compare with other trades? Take a look at our Wage Study story in Business Tip. Input and feedback are welcome! 

Finally, our Hot Topics section addresses the next generation of tile setters. Thanks to Dave Clark over at the Global Tile Posse Facebook Group, an interesting discussion recently ensued about teaching offspring the trade – how early do you start, what kinds of tools do you let them use, and the like. Drop in and see how knowledge of our trade is being passed on to the next generation. 

We’re right on the cusp of summer. What major projects do you have on the roster? We’re always looking for great case studies with before/after photography, so if you’ve got something you’d like to crow about, send it to me at the email below!

God bless,
Lesley
[email protected]

Editor’s Letter – May 2018

“An optimist is the human personification of spring.”  – Susan J. Bissonette

It is May Day and I am penning this letter amidst making final arrangements for Coverings and putting finishing touches on this issue. I just created the first posts from Coverings ’18 on the Tileletter and National Tile Contractors Pages on Facebook, where I’ll be posting a lot of news, announcements, products and developments during Coverings. And since nothing ever goes away on the internet, you can look back at our Coverings coverage there as well. Search for it at #ntcaatcoverings18. 

By the way, if you are on Facebook and aren’t following those pages, you are missing out on articles and information throughout the year, not just trade show time. And I hope you are also occasionally visiting TileLetter.com online – this digital site posts fresh news every day and you can access TileLetter past issues and archives too.

For this issue, we have a full slate of business and technical stories. Check out the Business Tip story about OSHA compliance for silica, and also Dean Moilanen’s story about using foam shower trays and the push towards establishing a standard for this product. 

In our Ask the Experts section, we explore the good, bad and ugly of wall lighting placement and how it can help make or break your project. Do you install a lot of stone? Check out the document in our Stone Section for pointers from the Natural Stone Institute on successful natural stone installation.

Have you attended a presentation or workshop with NTCA’s Robb Roderick? Well, meet the man who trained him as a helper back in the day – Kerry Rogers, a recent NTCA member, profiled in Member Spotlight. 

And they say all good things must come to an end. Such is the case for Lynnette Bloomberg’s career at the Noble Company. At the end of this month, Lynnette will retire after 33 years with Noble. Read a little about how she came to work for the company and what coworkers and colleagues have to say as they wish her well.

By this time next month, I will have reconnected or met anew many of you at Coverings, and will have spanking new topics to bring to you on the pages of TileLetter for the next few months. Anything specific you’d like to know more about? Drop me a line at [email protected] to make a request!

God bless,
Lesley
[email protected] 

Editor’s Letter – April 2018

“The spring wakes us, nurtures us and revitalizes us. How often does your spring come? If you are a prisoner of the calendar, it comes once a year. If you are creating authentic power, it comes frequently, or very frequently.”  Gary Zukav

By now, hopefully, weather has stabilized around the country, and the folks on the east coast who have been battling nor’easter after nor’easter are reaping the benefits of all that moisture in beautiful buds and blooming flowers and all of the glories of spring.

The tile industry is also reaping the benefits of budding ideas and emerging products. In this issue, you’ll read a summation of an in-depth paper on gauged porcelain tile panels that TCNA’s Bill Griese and Crossville’s Noah Chitty presented in Spain at the Qualicer 18 conference. This Tech Talk selection updates you on the evolution of GPTP and the standards that now guide successful manufacturing and installation of these products. 

Our product section in this issue presents a new crop of tile and accessory materials that blossomed at the TISE West/Surfaces show in Las Vegas in January. Many of these were shared on the TileLetter and National Tile Contractors Association Facebook pages during the show (so stay tuned to those social media outlets for the upcoming Coverings show), but we’ve gathered a sampling of them here, for the convenience of reading in print. 

In NTCA University Update, Becky Serbin has presented a number of testimonials from students who have taken the first wave of apprentice courses. Her article demonstrates how these courses are being used for personal enrichment and also for overall training within a company.

It’s no surprise that tile sizes are growing (and shrinking, but that’s a different story) and that large-format product is here to stay. In our Large-Format section, we present three case studies of challenging large-format installs and how the NTCA member contractors – all of whom are Certified Tile Installers or employ them in their crews – obtained high-quality, high-performance results. 

In Hot Topics, we again go to the field to present the follow-up to our February exploration of dealing with substandard tile. We explore suggestions for avoiding problems with tile that doesn’t comply with the manufacturing standards and that is sure to cause headaches if installed. 

We present information that makes your day to day operations successful, but what about when you are ready to retire? Read Vincent Mastrovito’s Business Tip story about wisely planning for your exit, and clearing the path of any obstacles that might interfere with you taking your leave.

Hopefully content this month will give you food for thought. Have opinions about what you are reading, or even suggestions for future articles? Feel free to pen a letter to the editor and send it to me at [email protected] We’re always willing to give respectful discussion a voice!

God bless,

Lesley

[email protected]

Editor’s Letter – Coverings 2018

You will enrich your life immeasurably if you approach it with a sense of wonder and discovery, and always challenge yourself to try new things. – Nate Berkus

Welcome to the latest, greatest incarnation of Coverings – in this its 29th year – celebrated in the fair city of Atlanta!

Coverings never fails to impress, with its sprawling show floor, thousands of new products to adorn floors, walls, and countertops as well as those that ensure installations perform for the long haul. There are hundreds of learning opportunities, whether you are attending a conference session or watching the presentations on the Live Installation Demonstration Stage, and lots of special show features and events. There are also ample chances to meet new folks and hobnob with old friends at happy hours, lunches, tours and after-show parties. Take a look through this issue at all the opportunities this show affords you, plot your course, and go!

One thing I am excited about is a brand new feature this year – The Installation Experience in Hall C, Booth #8401. This is an event like no other. The Installation Experience showcases the best and the worst of tile and illustrates why qualified labor makes all the difference. 

The Installation Experience will take you on a tour through tile failures, and their corresponding successes when installed by qualified craftspeople. You’ll see examples of the work of tile masters and technical experts from top industry associations – CTEF, IMI, International Union of Bricklayers (IUBAC), NTCA, TCAA and TCNA: beautiful tile in working bath, kitchen and fireplace installs. 

In addition, there’s a CTI Challenge – two teams of Certified Tile Installers – led by Jason McDaniel of Stoneman Construction LLC and Greg Twarog of Surfaces15 – will face off on a tile installation competition. 

There’s also an opportunity for you to learn more about the CTI test as well as the Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT) test, and witness test demonstrations, while having the chance to ask questions about the exams. Relax in a expansive seating area with a large TV screen showing time-lapsed progress video, highlighting the various construction stages of the projects slated to take place. In addition, 30-60 minute training sessions offered in the nearby Contractor Lounge will prepare you for a full Installation Experience. 

As you wend your way through your week in Atlanta, be sure to stop by and take part in the Installation Experience, as well as a reprise of the Installation Design Showcase Tiny House feature from last year, in which NTCA Five Star Contractors pair with top designers to bring a Tiny House to life. It’s right around the corner in Hall C, Booth #8804.

As you page through this issue, take note of the “tour of Atlanta” in our cover story. Perhaps as you are out and about in the city, you’ll get a chance to view the stellar tilework in these projects. Also in keeping with the theme about qualified labor in the Installation Experience, Becky Serbin’s Qualified Labor story details the SkillsUSA competition that takes place in Georgia each year and the opportunities that exist to bring this to other states to promote tile setting as a viable career path to high school students. Speaking of young people getting into the act, check out the Member Spotlight about Darin Shocker, owner of Dutchess County Tile and his son’s decision at 18 to pursue a career in tile setting over an academic college path. 

I’d love to hear from you about what you found to be the most valuable about Coverings this year, so please drop me a line at [email protected] and share your impressions! Pack your comfy shoes, your notebook to record your impressions, your plans to share what you’ve learned with the folks back home, and have fun! Looking forward to meeting you there!

God bless,
Lesley
[email protected]

Editor’s Letter – March 2018

As I am writing this, National Tile Day, February 23, is just three days away. Our social media and online digital sites have been awash in Why Tile? news and hashtags, and posts that serve to boost tile’s popularity with consumers, illustrating the properties, artistry and performance characteristics of the floor and wall covering that we in the industry have dedicated our lives to promoting, selling, installing and using in design. Tile manufacturers’ associations – foreign and domestic – as well as contractors, designers, Coverings, and others are all getting into the act. Did you catch any of it? How did you get onboard with raising awareness of tile as a great finishing material in 2018?

Did you miss it? Well, mark it on your calendar for next February 23, 2019 and plan a promotion or awareness campaign in your segment of the market. Wondering what to do? Enter #whytile or #nationaltileday in your favorite social media and see some of the efforts that took place in 2017 and 2018, then plan accordingly and join the festivities.

Taking a look at our story lineup this month, please be sure to catch the Business Tip, written by Pat O’Connor. He takes a look at how the new Tax Cut and Jobs Act may affect your business. LATICRETE’s Sean Boyle also gives us a view into economic trends and growth that will impact our industry in 2018 and beyond.

Also take a look at the Coverings preview. It includes information about an exciting new activity NTCA is spearheading at the show – the Installation Experience. At press time, it’s still in the planning stages, but read and learn about what we’ve got up our sleeve for your enjoyment and education, and plan to attend Coverings May 8-11 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta this year.

God bless,
Lesley
[email protected]

Editor’s Letter – January 2018

“Whatever you do or dream you can do – begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it.”  – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Happy new year, NTCA members!

I know the next year comes around like, well, clockwork, but somehow it always seems to amaze me that we are back at the start of another new year.

Of course, this is a time for resolutions that often get abandoned two weeks into the new year. But I am curious, have you ever made a business resolution that you actually kept (or a personal one, for that matter)? If so, would you be willing to share that with TileLetter readers? What was your resolution, why did you make it and how did you implement it in your business?

Here at TileLetter, we have made some resolutions for 2018 that we do plan to keep. For years TileLetter was a news magazine that brought you information about things going on in the industry as well as technical and business stories and tips to improve your business.

With today’s technology and digital news vehicles, we are changing the focus of TileLetter and how we bring you information:

  • TileLetter.com brings you daily updates on breaking news, announcements and timely information for our industry. Log in from phone, tablet or computer to see what’s new each day.
  • TileLetter Weekly and Enews & Views are short, digital newsletters that come out weekly, to alert you to significant developments and time-sensitive information in our industry.
  • TileTV is a concise video-format news magazine that’s available monthly, with convention and conference coverage, demos and the popular “Question Mark” feature in which NTCA Training Director Mark Heinlein answers your queries.
  • Of course, there are our Facebook pages – National Tile Contractors Association, NTCA Members Only and TileLetter, which also bring you timely stories and articles.
  • As for TileLetter, we are making the move to become more of a technical/educational journal. We’ll still have News and Product briefs, with a short description and links to full stories on tileletter.com. But our printed content is looking to be more of a reference document – something you can come back to again and again for help in a challenging project or for information about more efficient business operations.

We’ll also focus more keenly on our members, and their projects and showcase their work in the pages of TileLetter. So expect some changes, and let us know what you think.

One of the stories I’d like to bring your attention to in THIS issue is the Tile Geeks Project technical project. This amazing labor of love brought together a group of tile professionals who enjoy working and networking together to renovate several areas at a farm that serves the local community, especially autistic adults and children. The charge was led by NTCA member and Tile Geeks administrator Justin Kyle of Kyle’s Tile in Ocean View, Md., and 15 friends who are all part of the Tile Geeks Facebook group, supported by generous donations of setting materials by LATICRETE and tile by Crossville, in addition to tool and other sponsors.

In our Benefits Box, this month we detail the upcoming schedule for the brand new NTCA Regional Training Program, which will bring 20 local opportunities for intensive hands-on training around the country. This is a member-only training opportunity that starts in February, so try to make it when it’s scheduled near you. And Amber Fox, the NTCA Five Star Program Coordinator, will bring you periodic updates on the Five Star Program, starting this month.

We truly wish you a happy, healthy, prosperous 2018, and we pledge to do all we can to support you in that goal!

God bless,

Lesley
[email protected]

Editor’s Letter – December 2017

“You don’t choose a life…you live one.”
– Emilio Estevez, as Daniel, in The Way

It’s November 3, and I sit poised between trips. On Sunday, I leave for Total Solutions Plus, where I hope to see many of you! Only two and a half weeks ago, I returned from the aforementioned pilgrimage (October 2017 Tileletter Editor Letter) in Northern Spain, 200 miles of what’s known as the Camino de Santiago de Compostela.

I haven’t totally returned to my day-to-day life after my trip – and that’s probably a good thing. I’m still incorporating insights, inspirations and lessons from the Camino into my life. Much of my regular day is spent sitting in my home office, interacting with my computer and phone screens, with the occasional phone call. That’s a distinct difference to the 20 days spent walking an average of 10 miles a day on the Camino, from village to village (and the occasional large city, like Leon, Astorga, Ponferrada, Santiago itself) through cornfields, rocky mountains, vineyards and green forests, surrounded by sunshine, morning mist, fresh air, the sound of birdsong and cow bells…..and pilgrims.

Jumping for joy upon arrival at the Cathedral de Santiago.

Lots of fellow travelers on the Way, forming temporary communities and families that coalesce, dissolve, and re-form, perhaps with new members along the trail or at a village where we stopped for a break, or a snack, or for the night’s lodging. Besides the glorious spaciousness of my surroundings and ability to ponder, this wonderful network of connections with people from various places in the U.S. as well as Australia, Germany, Canada, UK, Spain, Denmark, Holland, Italy, and around the world was the most nourishing part of the trip.

And this is what brings to mind the upcoming opportunity for temporary communities to again form, this time in a business setting. Total Solutions Plus has grown to be a well-respected and well-attended conference as people from all sectors of the industry – both domestic and abroad – travel to learn, share, establish new relationships and form and strengthen new connections. More programming is added each year, but it still is a relatively relaxed setting with ample time to sit and talk and make beneficial new contacts and visit with old friends.

Certainly, by the time you receive this magazine, the event will have passed, but never fear, there’s another one next fall! And don’t rule out TISE West in January in Las Vegas, and Coverings, held in May 2018 in Atlanta. These gatherings also give you the opportunity for connection, insight, inspiration that will benefit your business and give you a new perspective on not only your operations, but your life.

Just one group of pilgrims met along the Way (and my walking partner, Jane Knap, center – blue shirt)

And since this month is the month of major holidays, remember to take some time to celebrate with the communities of family, friends, neighbors and other loved ones who form the foundation of your life. Looking for uplifting activities to share with your loved ones over the holidays? Consider these Camino movies: The Way (with Martin Sheen) – which prompted me to do the walk – and I’ll Push You, a documentary just released last night (find out more at www.illpushyou.com). This film chronicles two childhood friends, Justin and Patrick, and their 500-mile journey on the Camino – a heightened challenge since Justin is confined to a wheelchair due to a progressive neuromuscular disease, and Patrick vows to push him the entire distance – and the lessons they both learn along the Way.

Happy Holidays, God bless, and stay tuned for pictures of Spanish tile in a future issue!

Lesley
[email protected]

Editor’s Letter – November 2017

How is it possible that we are already in November, looking down the barrel of the Christmas season AGAIN? This fall has been filled with the good and the bad: fraught with fires and floods, a pilgrimage in Spain for me (more to come in a later issue), and we are on the cusp of Total Solutions Plus, the all – industry conference that is growing by leaps and bounds every year – this time held in our nation’s capital.

It’s also the month that we count our blessings – officially – with the holiday of Thanksgiving. What are you thankful for, personally or professionally? If you share with me at [email protected], I can include your comments in an upcoming issue, as we move into the new year.

As for me, I’m really grateful for all the focus on education and training NTCA has. Now, this has been part and parcel of the NTCA mission since it began, but in the last couple of years, we’ve seen it skyrocket to a new level, with the incredible resource known as NTCA University compiled by Becky Serbin, Dan Welch, Dave Rogers and others – and planning to make this available to support more people becoming educated and skilled tradespeople as we go forward. I’m grateful for the development of the Regional Training program, which had its debut in New Berlin, Wis., last month. Together with our ongoing workshops and the online opportunities, no serious tile setter should be without the chance to learn more about products, methods and standards that will only make their jobs better.

I’m grateful for our amazing trainers and presenters – Robb Roderick, Luis Bautista (who also enables us to reach the Spanish-speaking tile setter community with this vital information), Scott Carothers, who somehow fits in more educational sessions with his Certified Tile Installer testing schedule, and Training Director Mark Heinlein, Facebook personality extraordinaire, along with able assistant and wife Connie. In addition, I’m grateful for Kevin Insalato, who is the Regional Evaluator Coordinator for the CTI tests, and has worked hard to be sure more Regional Evaluators are trained and able to bring CTI tests to more eager tile setters around the country.

Then there’s the amazing leadership, staff, board of directors and the tireless State Ambassadors and volunteers – everyone pulling together for the good of everyone else. It’s quite a community to be a part of.

Do what you can to get the word out about NTCA. And it is quite serious about being the Voice of the Contractor, so if you have something you want to share or communicate, visit the website at www.tile-assn.com, and get in touch with one of us. We are stronger together.

God bless,

Lesley
[email protected]

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