Editor’s Letter March 2013

Information technology and business are becoming inextricably interwoven. I don’t think anybody can talk meaningfully about one without the talking about the other. — Bill Gates

LesleyHow nice it would be if the magazine that you hold in your hands right now was 400 pages long every month. Then I could include every single nuance and event and product that comes my way, whether it be by snail mail, email, story pitch, or  trade show discovery.

For instance, I could include more information about the Crossville promotion at SURFACES with architect and HGTV Curb Appeal: The Block host John Gidding. I could go into much more detail about the useful, stunning and innovative products that launched at the show or even about cool things to see in Las Vegas.

Alas, at present, TileLetter has to contain all this information, like the synopsis of the Surfaces show and some of the products seen there, on 92 jam-packed pages.

That’s one reason why we started www.tileletter.com a couple of years ago. In addition to giving you breaking news on industry events, it also gives us a chance to expand some of the information that we just can’t fit on the pages of TileLetter right now – and still have type that is large enough for you to read!

In recent months, we’ve expanded some of the information in the printed version of Tools of the Trade at www.tileletter.com, and done the same for our New Products. We also may print a concise version of a story in your monthly TileLetter, and then present the story in its entirety online at www.tileletter.com — such as we’re doing with the “Best of Everything” interview with Rick Baldini in this issue. Look for  a note on the page that directs you to www.tileletter.com for extended information.

So please do check the pages of www.tileletter.com. You’ll also find archives there of our feature and technical stories as well as the current issue in digital page-turner format – which is handy for reference if you are out on a job with only your phone or tablet, but your printed TileLetter is still back at the office.

So until TileLetter is a 400-page veritable catalog, please keep reading, and check the www.tileletter.com website from time to time for more information about the great goings-on in our industry!

Editor’s Letter – September 2012

Last month, much of this column was devoted to the online version of TileLetter, which allows you to read current or past TileLetter content in digital-page turner form or in an ongoing, frequently-updated list of articles, stories and announcements, organized by category. Just go to www.tileletter.com from your computer, phone or mobile device and the wealth of information you read each month in this printed magazine (and more!) is there at your disposal.

The digital versions of TileLetter, and sister publication TADA: Tile for Architects, Designers and Affiliates (www.ntca-tada.com) aren’t where the NTCA online presence ends. In this world where e-reporters and video are as close as your phone, NTCA has joined the fray with a YouTube channel of its very own. Visit www.youtube.com/user/TheNTCA for 79 videos (at press time) on a range of subjects from NTCA itself to Tile Tips, Coverings, The Installation Design Showcase, Tile-TV, “What Went Wrong” segments which examine specific aspects of a tile job, what went wrong and how to prevent it; spotlights on industry members who are excelling in their field, and technology segments that present emerging technologies that can help you in your business and more.

These videos are available 24/7 for personal use, but that’s not all. You can also employ them as training tools and as part of weekly or monthly meetings, free of charge. Keep checking back for updates and additions or hit the subscribe button and be notified of new segments on the National Tile Contractors Association channel automatically. And for up-to-the-minute Tile-TV content, subscribe to www.youtube.com/user/iwantmytiletv for this monthly internet industry news program delivered to thousands in the tile and stone industry.

As for THIS issue of TileLetter, it’s been designed to make a grand entrance. Because EVERY residential or commercial building has an entryway – and many of them are tile or stone – much of our content in our September issue is devoted to how to have a flawless entry or foyer installation. Check out our cover story by Schluter Systems, our technical story by Michael Whistler and our case study on the installation of the Town Center in Virginia Beach for insights on how to make YOUR next entryway or foyer installation run smoothly.

Happy reading!

Editor’s Letter – August 2012

Here’s a common scenario: you are traveling, and want to reference a story in your recent copy of TileLetter. The only problem is that you left the magazine at the office. Never fear – now your TileLetter is only as far as your laptop, tablet or mobile device. Back by popular demand is the TileLetter digital page turner at www.tileletter.com/current.

The TileLetter website originally featured a digital page turner, which is basically an online representation of the actual magazine, page by page. Then we decided to update the website to the WordPress format so we could more easily and quickly bring you immediate news online. In the process we did away with our original digital page turner, which was a bit cumbersome and slow.

But amidst public outcry for the feature, a new easy-access format is back for your reading pleasure. Just visit the website above to read the most current issue of TileLetter. For timely news posted as it is available, you can always visit www.tileletter.com.

TileLetter isn’t NTCA’s only digital page turner – you can also view the current issue of TADA: Tile for Architects, Designers and Affiliates at the TADA website: www.ntca-tada.com. Launched at Coverings, the first two issues of this quarterly publication have been enthusiastically snapped up at trade shows. Visit the website to view stories from those first two issues or to read the magazine via digital page turner. You can also subscribe to TADA there too.

I don’t want to be remiss in pointing to several of our features in THIS issue of TileLetter, however – starting with the awe-inspiring cover story about NTCA member Port Morris Tile & Marble’s role in the rebuilding of the World Trade Center in Manhattan. I read this story with reverence and awe for the monumental task it is and the significance it holds for giving new life to this very sacred ground, remembrance for lives lost there that day, and a symbol of renewal, recovery and strength to the entire nation.

The overall theme of our August issue is green and sustainability, and you will find stories and articles throughout that reflect developments in this sector of our industry. Notable is the case study of The First State Bank & Trust of Skokie, Ill., that features a ventilated facade and the green benefits therein, as well as numerous other sustainable aspects of the building. DTI of Illinois – who installed the tile for Chicago’s Monroe Building restoration and was a special recognition winner in the Coverings Installation Design Awards – installed this project: their first ventilated facade job. As a result, they are pursuing several other ventilated facade projects.

Enjoy this issue – whether you are reading it in paper, hard-copy format or online.


Editor’s Letter – July 2012

If you read last month’s Business Tip, you’ll remember that it was written by Steve Rausch who represents the Substrates and Specialty Products Division of USG Corporation out of Alpharetta, Ga. You’ll also remember that he’s  the author of the Rausch Ravings blog (http://rauschravings.blogspot.com/).

On Monday, June 25, I read his blog on “How to Handle Stress.” It contains some balancing wisdom I thought was essential.

We all work hard. There never seems to be a lack of opportunities to do a little more or work a little harder at your business. And doing so is often part of the formula that distinguishes a successful business from a floundering one.

But there’s insight in the saying about “all work and no play.” And since it’s summertime, and vacations are on people’s minds and calendars, I wanted to pass on this story from Steve’s blog for your reading pleasure:

I did not write this story, just received it from a friend and thought it worthy to pass along to everyone reading my blog. I had intended on writing about vacations; seems like many are interested in that subject right now, but my take was going to be on those who avoid vacations and seem to wear that like a badge of honor – that they don’t take a vacation. Well, it just isn’t healthy and it is really not good for your company! They provide vacation time for a reason. I believe this below story very well points out that exact reason!

A young lady confidently walked around the room while explaining stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone was sure she was going to ask the ultimate question: “Half empty or half full?” However, she fooled them all. 

“How heavy is this glass of water?” she inquired with a smile. 

Answers called out ranged from 8 ounces to 20 ounces. 

She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you’ll have to call an ambulance. In each case it’s the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” 

She continued, “That’s the way it is with stress. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won’t be able to carry on.” 

“As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we’re refreshed, we can carry on with the burden – holding stress longer and better each time. So, as early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don’t carry them through the evening and into the night… Pick them up tomorrow.

“Whatever burdens you’re carrying now, let them down for a moment. Relax; pick them up later after you’ve rested. Life is short. Enjoy it and the now ‘supposed’ stress that you’ve conquered!” 

Relax today – stop and smell the roses and other flowers you pass so often without notice. — Steve

Thanks, Steve for the reminder. Happy flower smelling, everyone!


Editor’s Letter – May 2012

May is the issue that hangs in the balance between the actual Coverings show in Orlando and the full coverage of the event in our June issue. I don’t want to give everything away, but I do have to say that this Coverings was a fantastic show, with a sense of optimism, good turnout, and great reception to contractor programs sponsored by NTCA. There were demonstrations by Gerald Sloan and Michael Whistler, tag-teaming their way through their educational and lively presentations; and a strong NTCA presence in the conference sessions as well. New this year were the Contractor VIP tours – I got to tag along on one and it was informative and populated with a huge crowd of contractors.

Also this year was the evolution of the TileLetter Awards to the Coverings Installation Design Awards, sponsored by TileLetter and TADA. A healthy crowd turned out to recognize the contractor/designer teams that won accolades for their excellence. Next month we’ll start rolling out the winners.

Speaking of TADA – Tile for Architects, Designers and Affiliates, NTCA’s newest quarterly publication for the architect/design community – it received a rousing response, so much so that by end of day Thursday, there was nary an issue to be found in the magazine bins! It seems that the industry has been hungry for a publication of this type for quite some time. Issue two debuts at NEOCON in June.

The Installation Design Showcase was also a huge hit, with three dynamic contractor/designer teams that planned their vignettes and installed them during the course of the show. Stay tuned for coverage of that as well.

There are a few items from the show in this issue, such as TCNA’s new Dynamic Coefficient of Friction standard and test method you can read about in our News section, and assistant executive director Jim Olson’s letter of thanks in our NTCA News section that celebrates the success of the show and strikes a note of gratitude for the many NTCA member volunteers that helped make the show run smoothly.

Enjoy MAPEI’s fascinating cover story featuring Mike Mandel’s gorgeous murals, and a California labyrinth installation in our case study. David Allen Company’s Chris Walker gives us a tour through new ANSI developments, and C.C. Owen is our contractor spotlight for this issue.

Got some thoughts about what you’d like to see in TileLetter? I’m always happy to hear from you at [email protected]



Editor’s Letter

Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right. ~Oprah Winfrey

Happy New Year! The start of every year is a time for hope, resolutions and new beginnings, and this year is no exception, especially at TileLetter.

We begin 2012 with a newly-designed, clean, crisp format for our monthly publication that includes many of your favorite features and some new ones. You’ll find content that focuses on a project theme each month – such as bath and spa for January. In addition to our cover story, we’ll feature a themed project from one of our contractor members that illustrates challenges experienced and creative, skilled solutions employed.

Our Ask the Experts section has evolved to become Tile Tip, which coordinates with our monthly theme for Tile-TV online (www.iwantmytiletv.com). “New Products” have morphed into Product Links, which are concise announcements of new products with a link to the company website for more information. Our Distributor Bulletin Board provides a place for distributor partners to announce news. We’ll track our NTCA Tile & Stone Symposiums on a monthly basis now, with a short summary of recent workshops and some photos too! Be sure to visit the NTCA home page at www.tile-assn.com and click on the NTCA Tile Symposium link at bottom scrollbar to view the schedule and see when a free Symposium event is coming to your area.

This month we add a regular spotlight on our Five-Star Contractors, which will include a brief overview of the company and of a recent project. And of course, we are continuing our NTCA Family Album as a forum to showcase your families, hobbies, talents, skills and life outside of the tile industry. Please send images to me at [email protected]!

If you haven’t visited www.tileletter.com lately, you’ll find changes there too! While stories, products and news are still posted every month, the WordPress format now allows us to post information daily to keep current with what’s happening in the industry.

Starting at Coverings, we will launch TADA, (Tile for Architects, Designers & Affiliates), a large-format, quarterly publication which is targeted to bring information about tile specification to the A&D community. NTCA publications and media are quickly becoming THE place to go for information about any aspect of our industry, from specification, to design, to installation to new products to news. We’re happy to have you aboard as we venture out into this fresh, exciting New Year!


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