NTCA Five Star Contractor Awards Announced at Coverings

NTCA also presented its Five Star Contractor Grand Prize awards for outstanding installations in both Commercial and Residential projects.

An independent panel of judges evaluated numerous submissions and awarded the winners based on Scope (size of project), Complexity (challenges), Technical Soundness (resolution of challenges) and Design and Presentation (Overall appearance, layout and artistic value). Special recognition was given to those projects exemplifying stunning tile and stone in both commercial and residential tile installations.

The Five Star winners received $2,500 each in prize money, sponsored by Daltile Corporation.

GP-commWelch Tile & Marble of Kent City, Michigan, received the Five Star Grand Prize for Commercial Tile Installation. The firm’s installation of 45,000 sq. ft. of floor tile, 1,500 sq. ft. of Ledge Stone and 6,500 sq. ft. of wall tile at the Ferris State University, Rankin Student Center, was a glowing example of the company’s technical expertise when confronted by a multitude of challenges. A major task from the start, this renovation project’s obstacles included weather, time constraints, multiple product lines and the advancing age of the existing building.

GP-resCollins Tile and Stone of Ashburn, Va., was the recipient of the Five Star Grand Prize for Residential Tile Installation. The firm’s project, Modern Tranquility, started off with a complete demolition of the master bathroom including elimination of two picture windows. The most innate challenge of this project was the construction of a steam shower. The project included a decorative mural inset comprised of hand-made, fused glass mosaic. Collins Tile and Stone adhered to every industry standard, not only enhancing the beauty of the bathroom, but ensuring longevity of the tile work.


New Member/Five Star Contractor Spotlight – February 2015

custom-sponsorElite Tile Setters
South Jordan, Utah

Since: 1998

NTCA5starcontractorSpecialty: Commercial, new construction and high-end remodels.

Website: www.elitetilesetters.com

When Stan Platt started Elite Tile Setters (ETS) in 1998, he was looking for a way to get through college and take care of his young family. The business quickly grew and his wife, Amy, soon took over the financial and administrative duties. Word spread and jobs rolled in.

Matt Newbold was an early hire and became a key building block for the team. Newbold takes point when it comes to innovation and technology. His uncanny ability to keep up with all of the options and proper application and techniques is a huge asset.

0215-platts“If you want to be a part of the Elite Tile Setter team, you better love what you do and be passionate about sharpening your skills and embracing new ideas,” Newbold said. “Let’s face it, if you’re bored with your work it will show.”

The enthusiasm of the Elite Tile Setter team is infectious especially with homeowners. That’s the magic that’s earned the ETS team the trust of builders and homeowners all over Utah and even a few in Hawaii.

In order for Elite Tile Setters to continue to grow, the company finds and develops talent through weekly training and mentoring. It hires not just experienced, qualified setters who are creative with an eye for detail, but setters who know how to work. The culture of the company is such that team members feed off each other to do a little more, be a little more precise, and take responsibility.

“It’s all about trust, responsibility, and communication,” Platt remarked. “They know I trust them. They also know they’re responsible to me and, more importantly, to each other.”
If communication starts breaking down, Platt likes to take the picture of the porcupine off the office wall and review the parable of the porcupine, as a reminder of why teams are important. (See sidebar for the fable.) It always gets a few good-natured eye rolls and groans, but ETS staff knows being a team takes work.

0215-sidebar-parableThe solid relationships extend beyond the ETS team in maintaining good rapport with a network of manufacturers and distributors. Answers come straight from the source – no guesswork.

Newbold is straightforward regarding these relationships. “They’re critical to our business,” he said. “I’m not going to gamble with a client’s project. When we have questions, we’re going to get answers and do it right.” General contractors love these connections because it means things happen on time and the work is reliable. Homeowners love the look and function of their new tile.

The Elite Tile Setters team members are excited about NTCA training and industry-sanctioned certification. They take their craft seriously (they rarely take themselves seriously, but that’s another story). Their professionalism pushes them to learn more and stay current.

The Certified Tile Installer program from CTEF plays right into that attitude. The team benefits from the training of the certified installers as they share and help others prepare for certification. The CTI certification and Five Star Contractor credentials also add to their already Elite status.

“We’re proud to be the first in Utah,” Platt said. “You can’t lead from behind.”

As the NTCA state rep, Platt has a particular interest in certification. He understands that raising the bar for all setters is crucial to the growth of the industry, not just ETS. That education extends to builders as they learn more about the importance of the system under the tile: work that experienced, Certified Tile Installers do on a daily basis.

0215-fivestar-1Project Spotlight Hackett Construction & Design

The Salt Lake City job for Hackett Construction & Design that the Elite Tile Setters team just completed is a good example of the high-end home work that ETS is known for. Working closely with lead designer Annie Hackett, Platt had a number of layout and design challenges to work through, selecting and installing porcelain tile and wood flooring throughout the house. The project includes five bathrooms, three washrooms, a spiral staircase and a glass tile backsplash in the kitchen. The kitchen and master bath are the real showpieces.

0215-fivestar-2The elegant large-format glass tile backsplash in the kitchen was a challenge due to the large-format glass, which had some warpage and needed to be cut. This dark glass accents a clean, contemporary look in the kitchen.

ETS installed a heated floor system throughout the master bath, including the bench in the steam shower. The challenge was finding a low-profile heated floor system that would create a smooth transition between the bathroom tile and the low-profile carpet in the master bedroom. The oval, jetted tub is surrounded by metal and glass mosaic, so it required installing different materials in the same piece, and finding a thinset that coordinated with both glass and metal.

0215-fivestar-3While the color palette throughout the house is consistent, the materials and feel vary from room to room by changing the layout of tile to customize each area for a very custom job. Recognizing ETS as experts in the industry, the homeowners and the designer gave ETS freedom to design the layout and features.

0215-fivestar-4 0215-fivestar-5

New Member/Five Star Contractor Spotlight – January 2015

custom-sponsorFor 2015, we broaden the focus from our Five Star Contractor Spotlights to shine a light on the fantastic things NTCA members are doing throughout the association. But first, we have a few new Five Star Contractors we want to introduce, so this month, we focus on Visalia Ceramic Tile, which became a Five Star Contractor right before Total Solutions Plus last year.

NTCA5starcontractorVisalia Ceramic Tile
Visalia, Calif.
Since: 1985
Specialty: Specialty: New construction and/or remodels of commercial, residential and industrial projects, both private and public.
Website: www.visaliaceramictile.com

In 1959, Tony and Betty Martinho started their journey of a new marriage as well as building their business future in ceramic tile in the small town of Tulare, Calif. The Martinhos were blessed with 11 children in the following 12 ½ years. By 1972, Tony owned his own small business installing tile. After years of unsuccessfully urging a colleague to set up a store in Tulare County, Tony and Betty quit installing to start the first tile retail business in Visalia, Calif., just 10 miles up the road. American Ceramic Tile & Supply is still thriving today, with over 40 stone and tile suppliers, and hundreds of tile choices in various sizes, colors, textures, and materials in stock for immediate installation, with special orders arriving within days.

1-5star-0115In 1985, Tony and Betty, together with the help of their adult kids began installing tile again, and Visalia Ceramic Tile, Inc. (VCT) was established. At one time, four out of six sons were installing tile, and four out of five daughters were working in the office and showroom.

In 1993, Tony and Betty sold the company to four of their children, who continue to own and lead the company today. Tony passed away of cancer; Betty is enjoying her retirement at home with numerous hobbies, and pride in her grandchildren and great grandchildren. Over the years, the success of VCT has been established on several ethics that Tony and Betty taught their kids: serve people, build lasting relationships and treat your employees like family – the legacy of Tony and Betty’s vision.

Today, the family business employs over 75 people. Although the company has grown outside of the Martinho family, the family atmosphere continues to be very visible today. The growth of the company is not only reflected in the employee count but also in VCT’s territory, which has reached beyond the San Joaquin Valley to include the Central and Northern Coastal areas of California.

2-5star-0115Traveling throughout California, VCT averages about 500 projects per year, which include new construction and/or remodels of commercial, residential and industrial projects both private and public.

VCT’s reputation in California has been built on the service that is provided for customers through performance, quality, timeliness and collaboration with other professionals such as suppliers, architects, general contractors, sub-contractors, designers, and owner representatives.

In September 2013 the CTEF certified 23 VCT installers as Certified Tile Installers! An interesting “first” occurred while conducting the CTI test at VCT facility: in the five year history of the CTI program, VCT set a record for having the largest number of installers from the same company who were tested at the same time over the two-day period.

3-5star-0115“Becoming one of the newest Five Star Contractors is very rewarding for our company,” said Visalia’s Debbi Barton. “We are honored to be a part of an elite group of tile contractors in America. We look forward to how the future of being a Five Star Contractor will benefit VCT. The knowledge gained by attending the Total Solutions Plus Seminars has benefited the company in connecting with other members who can relate to our operations. The training and education that is shared gives new direction in our times of change. Sharing the knowledge and stories from each contact is motivational and inspiring.”

Project spotlight

4-5star-0115VCT spent three months on a recent project: a professional three-story building in Fresno, Calif. This building has 15,000 sq. ft. of polished marble and porcelain tile installed on interior floors, columns, walls and restrooms. Installation included waterproofing, lightweight thin-set mortar on a mortar bed for floated floors, with edge profiles for a finished appearance.

The level of pride founded by Tony and Betty resonates in the business today as the business grows and moves into the third generation of the family business.

Five Star Contractor Spotlight – December 2014

custom-sponsorYoungstown Tile & Terrazzo, Inc.
Canfield, Ohio
Since: 1947
NTCA5starcontractorSpecialty: Providing a superior tile installation on any industrial, commercial or residential project at a reasonable price. Our professional management team and highly skilled and experienced installers deliver a quality installation on time and under budget.
Website: www.yttinc.com

Youngstown Tile and Terrazzo Co., Inc. (YTT), a family-owned business with a family atmosphere, was founded in 1947 by Attillio Bertolini, focusing on quality installations of ceramic tile, terrazzo and marble. The company was purchased in 1981 by Bertolini’s son-in-law Paul Sherba, who remains the owner and president of YTT today.

paulsherba-1214Sherba has been involved with the NTCA for more than 20 years. One of the first NTCA Five Star Contractors, he is also a past president and a Ring of Honor recipient.

In the early years, YTT focused its efforts mainly in the retail market, concentrating on shopping malls and major retailers such as May Co., Dillard’s department stores, and Limited brand stores. Since 2007 the company’s direction and day-to-day management has been handled by vice president Jeff Mason, and senior project manager Josh Cohol, together moving YTT forward in many new and exciting directions. YTT has developed a web presence at www.yttinc.com and has branched out into polished concrete, both decorative and industrial epoxy flooring, and granite countertops. It recently opened a retail showroom.

YTT currently employs 18 dedicated and highly-skilled people including office manager Tracy Higgins, superintendent Don Ferko, and estimator Keith Mason, all of whom oversee individual areas of the business. The bulk of YTT’s employees are field personnel, many of them second-generation employees and craftspeople, thus emphasizing YTT’s commitment to a strong family culture. These highly skilled craftspeople and the professionalism of the entire YTT team are the foundation on which YTT has built a reputation of excellence in the ceramic tile industry.

NEOMED Health and Wellness Center

1-fivestar-1214One recent project that highlights YTT’s commitment to excellence is the new Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) Health and Wellness Center in Ravenna, Ohio. This 177,000-sq.-ft. facility was constructed by Ruhlin Construction at a cost of $65 million, and had a construction duration of approximately 18 months. The building includes a STEM+M (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics + medicine) high school, a conference center including two ballrooms and a 3,400-sq.-ft. quarry tile banquet kitchen. This project also featured a 355-seat lecture hall, café, coffee shop, tenant space for future medical offices, pharmacy, central atrium, and a physical therapy suite. The building’s fitness center includes two pools, aerobics area, weight room, gymnasium, and rock-climbing wall.

2-fivestar-1214After the project, Ruhlin Construction offered the following testimonial to its experience working with YTT. “Youngstown Tile & Terrazzo was critical to the successful completion of the NEOMED Health, Wellness, and Medical Education Center project. As the new showpiece building for the NEOMED campus, this project combined both a very aggressive construction schedule with a high level of finishes and high expectation for quality. YTT provided the manpower and experience necessary to complete their tile work in an accelerated timeframe with no sacrifice in quality. The Ruhlin Company is thankful to YTT for their efforts on this project and looks forward to more successful projects with them in the future.”

3-fivestar-1214The Youngstown Tile & Terrazzo family is looking forward to the future, and providing their customers both new and old with high-quality installations and great customer service on each and every project.


Five Star Contractor Spotlight – November 2014

custom-sponsorFilling Marble & Tile, Inc.
Egg Harbor City, N.J.
Since: 1928
NTCA5starcontractorSpecialty: All aspects of residential installation, fabrication; commercial repair and renovation; custom logos in tile and stone
Employees: 12
Website: fillingmarbletileoutlet.com

fillingtileNTCA Five Star Contractor Filling Marble & Tile, Inc. (FMT), has been involved with NTCA for many years. FMT is a second-generation, family-owned business, formerly owned by Tom Ade with his wife Rose as president. Tom and Rose both retired in 2009, when the company leadership passed to their daughter, Pat Rattigan, and Dennis Wigglesworth.

tomandroseWhen Tom started with the company, it was a plastering business called Edward A. Filling. Eventually, it transitioned into an enterprise that focused on interior plastering, sheet rock and ceramic tile installation. Not long after, the decision was made to concentrate completely on the tile side of the business. In 1991, the name was officially changed from Edward A. Filling to Filling Marble & Tile, Inc.

Filling Marble & Tile, Inc., was one of the first companies to own a waterjet, striving to stay on the cutting edge of ever-changing demands in the industry. Over the years, FMT’s fabrication shop grew, enabling the company to fabricate just about anything in addition to countertops, vanities, or thresholds of natural and manmade stone. Granite is the most-often-requested material, but the company has also fabricated marble, travertine, quartzite and quartz. The slab yard has over 300 different materials to choose from at present, ranging from soft and snowy whites – today’s most popular color – to the most vivid blues.

In 2009, after creating a successful tile, marble and granite company, Tom and Rose retired, passing the torch – or the trowel – to Rattigan and Wigglesworth. President Rattigan manages the day-to-day operations, including consulting with general contractors, homeowners and customers, along with estimating residential jobs and overseeing estimating of commercial jobs. Wigglesworth runs commercial jobs and oversees production in the shop, which includes several full-time employees. He has served NTCA on its board of directors.

FMT is a WBE Certified business – Women’s Business Enterprise. WBE Certification means that the business is at least 51% owned by a woman or women; female owners fund and manage the business, and demonstrate the ability to perform in the area of specialty or expertise without the reliance on either the finances or resources of a non-female owned firm. Rattigan is involved in every aspect of the business.

1-fivestar-1114In the last few years, as a result of the recession and surrounding states opening casinos, Atlantic City’s workload has drastically declined. FMT still does quite a bit of repair and small-scale renovation work in Atlantic City, but the glory days of tower building have long passed.

2-fivestar-1114Once this trend ended, Filling Marble & Tile reinvented itself yet again. FMT revamped its structure into a predominantly residential company, and opened the Filling Marble & Tile Retail Outlet, which Rattigan’s and Wigglesworth’s daughter Allison manages. The outlet provides a residential one-stop shop, where customers can select flooring, countertops and backsplash materials all at the same location.

FMT has been part of NTCA for a number of years. Tom Ade was awarded the NTCA Ring of Honor in 2006 during the Total Solutions conference at the Las Vegas Hilton. Those recognized for this honor have made outstanding contributions to the ceramic tile, stone and allied products industries throughout their long and distinguished career.

3-fivestar-1114Attending Total Solutions Plus and Coverings aids the company’s ability to progress in the tile industry. Tom and Rose remain active in the organization, having made very close friends and met several great people through the years.

Five Star Contractor Spotlight – October 2014

custom-sponsorKemna Tile, Inc.
Dallas, Texas
Since: 1985
Website: kemnatile.com

NTCA5starcontractorKemna Tile, Inc. is a commercial tile installation company founded by Barry Kemna in 1985. Barry is a second-generation tile professional, who not only grew up in the business, but also worked nationally on many large commercial tile projects. He’s been a Five Star Contractor since April 2009.

Kemna_logoThe company motto is “Small enough to know you, Big enough to serve you,” a realistic statement the company takes great pride in. One of the factors in the company’s successful growth has been associating with quality general contractors and construction managers whose projects demand very high standards in both the worker and the work being performed, holding Kemna Tile personnel and crews to their best, and commanding personal attention from the company president to each tile installer and helper.

barry_kemnaKemna Tile is large enough and financially strong enough to be bondable on any of its projects that require it, which is also a reflection of the company’s dedication to top quality and personal service. The company also is equipped to help with preliminary budgeting or alternate material selections, supporting its contactors budgeting to finish construction.

1-5star_1014In 1999, Kemna Tile created an in-house stone division, and in time added the availability of residential stone work. The company procures, fabricates and installs custom items of granite, marble, soapstone and limestone, including counter tops, desks, boardroom tables, fireplaces, sills, walls, etc. Kemna Tile’s highly skilled, confident, and artistic stone-working craftspeople mean that the project is only limited by the imagination.

Kemna Tile prides itself on being one of the best in its industry, crediting its people with the heart and soul of its business. People who are considered experts in the industry, with skills, talents and the caring to make a project happen.

2-5star-1014The company prides itself in sensing and producing quality in every one of its projects, taking care to layout, align and install tiles with absolute precision. The secret of Kemna’s work is in the details, spending time and energy to plan and execute the smallest details that other companies may not even think about. With Kemna Tile, tile and stone in every project fits right every time.

In addition to being commercial fabrication specialists and tile installers, Kemna Tile also does granite countertops, terrazzo, mosaic, marble, limestone and soapstone, providing full service in nearly any tile and stone finishing a project demands.

Five Star Contractor Spotlight – September 2014

custom-sponsorFive Star Contractors rise above competition with dedication, knowledge, credibility

By Lesley Goddin

NTCA5starcontractorWe take a break in the long-running line of NTCA Five Star Contractor spotlights to talk with a few of our Five Star Contractors about the benefits they find in being part of this elite group.

And an elite group it most definitely is. “Five Star Contractor” is not a token designation. This is a reflection of dedication and commitment on the part of the contractor to adhere to a range of criteria, including being a Certified Tile Installer and obtaining Advanced Certifications for Tile Installer (ACT) credentials, as well as committing to furthering their knowledge and education by attending at least two designated industry events a year.

To be accepted, the contractor must submit recommendations from customers, suppliers and peers and have active membership in NTCA. And NTCA Five Star Contractors also maintain a current and active safety program in their businesses.

Five Star Contractors are way above their competition in terms of proven competency, knowledge, skill and dedication. These are the contractors you want to handle a job that will feature new technology like large thin porcelain tiles or a complicated commercial job.

But how does being a Five Star Contractor benefit these contracting companies themselves?

jan_hohnFive Star Contractor Jan Hohn, of Hohn and Hohn, Inc., of St. Paul, Minn., and the first female Certified Tile Consultant, said “It has given me another creditable aspect to my business. It does help to distinguish me from the others. Adding that I am a Five Star Contractor to a conversation with a prospective client has raised the awareness of the quality of work they can expect.”

Scott_heronScott Heron of Precision Tile, West Columbia, S.C., cites exclusive information and education that Five Star Contractors are privy to as an incentive to be part of the program. “The availability of a vast source of information and special events for Five Stars only has given me an edge against my competitors. Once it is explained to my clients what it entails to achieve the designation, then I have more creditability, and they are willing to pay a higher price point. Five Star Contractors have a larger and broader knowledge base that benefits the client with a superior end product ,” he said.

Frank_cantoFrank Canto, a Five Star Contractor in Tampa, Fla., is in the process of bidding on a commercial project that involves large thin porcelain tile that was specified by Gensler Architects. The Quality Assurance portion of the spec requires use of a Certified Tile Installer and recommends a Five Star Contractor or Trowel of Excellence (union shop) contractor.

Due to his company’s qualifications, Canto Tile is bidding at $10,000 to $12,000 higher than his competitor. “I made the general contractor aware of the specification for the Five Star and Certified Tile Contractor specs. My competitor admired that we have those designations, but said his boss won’t invest in these credentials. But it might be a hammer to the head if I wind up winning the bid, at $12,000 more than his bid.”

Heron has had a similar experience. “I am told by my competitors that when we bid the same jobs I usually am awarded the contract even with a higher price.”

Opportunities Canto has had through the Five Star Contractor program have positioned him well to do the work with Calacatta 6mm large thin porcelain tile from Iris and StoneLite® natural composite stone panels for the Gensler job. He’s attended a workshop with Iris and one with the Five Star Contractor group at Crossville.

“I’ve watched videos and educated myself on these products,” Canto said. “I have a better feel for what the job will take than my competitor, who has never been to a workshop.”

Five Star Contractors enjoy other benefits as well, such as exclusive manufacturer discounts, conferences, and vouchers. But access to peer experts and manufacturers are the top benefits for Hohn. Networking offers a couple of pluses, she said. “First, networking with the other contractors throughout the country, and second, the networking with the different setting material manufacturers. When one calls or has a concern, I have found they will get back to me within a very short time, giving me more credibility as I can get answers quickly.”

Heron sums it up, saying, “The access to the knowledge base of other Five Star Contractors is immeasurable.”

Does the Five Star Contractor Program sound like it’s for you? Contact NTCA assistant executive director Jim Olson for more information at 601-939-2071 or email [email protected]

Five Star Contractor Spotlight – Rheinschmidt Tile and Marble







Rheinschmidt Tile and Marble, Inc., based in Burlington, Iowa, is a dedicated, tight-knit, family-style traveling troupe of expert installers that comb the country together for months at a time, installing mall floors in the wee hours of the morning wherever opportunity strikes.

five starThis family business got its start when Walter and Erma Rheinschmidt entered the flooring business in 1935. In 1969 Larry Rheinschmidt, Sr. (son of Erma and Walter) took on the family’s first shopping center project in Iowa. Soon after, his customers were dragging him from state to state to put floors in new malls all over the country.

Today the firm is managed by Larry Rheinschmidt, Jr. along with Darya Rheinschmidt, Robert O. Jones, Jr., and Jeffrey Crowner. With the help of their road warrior staff of 130 people or more, they still travel from state to state putting floors in malls.

Rheinscmidt_famiy_1935One of the most unique aspects of this company is the quality and dedication of its staff. These traits may not be unique in themselves, but considering the demands of a traveling contractor, these characteristics are exceptional.

Rheinschmidt’s average projects are four to six months long. Once the job gets started, most of the crews only visit their home once every six to eight weeks. That puts them on the road for more than 11 months out of the year. It is a life in hotels and away from their friends and families. Not only are they away from home, but in the shopping center world, 90% of the work is renovation work, which is all performed at night. Working from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. means rarely getting to see the light of day.

Even though the work is physically demanding, and the conditions difficult, Rheinschmidt Tile and Marble has assembled one of the most loyal groups of hard-working individuals you could imagine. Several of the employees have been working on Rheinschmidt projects for over 40 years. This really means their home has been more “on the road” than that of their postal address.

At one point, most of the traveling employees were from the company’s home base in Iowa. Since the company started traveling, it has been picking up quality setters and helpers from every state where it works. This crew comes from as far Northwest as the state of Washington, and as far Southeast as Florida.

It takes more than the average setter to want to work nights on the road all year long. Because of that, it has taken years to assemble a traveling family this big. However, the company is still growing, and is always looking for more talented individuals. Not everyone makes the cut. The company is known for its quality, so only above-average setters become traveling members of the team.

Rheinschmidt Tile and Marble is a family business in more ways than one. There are six Rheinschmidt family members currently involved in its operation. In addition to that, several Rheinschmidt employees bring their families on the road. However, in the case of Rheinschmidt Tile and Marble, the term “family business” refers to the fact that the people of the company feel like part of the family, related or not. The road warriors at the heart of this company are a family like no other.

Rheinschmidt Tile and Marble, Inc. is a big believer in participating in the NTCA and being a part of the Five Star Contractor program. This program provides access to a great source of technical information, and the Five Star Contractor group is a great community to learn from. Whenever a Five Star Contractor member poses a question to the group, the answers that come back demonstrate a wide range of knowledge and experience, and a great willingness to help each other succeed.

Rheinschmidt-1Westroads Mall, Omaha, Neb.

The Rheinschmidt team recently finished the Westroads Mall project in Omaha, Neb., consisting of over 120,000 sq. ft. of Italian porcelain tile in a pattern that included 18” x 36”, 24” x 24”, 16” x 24” and 12” x 24” tiles from three different collections. Tiles for the majority of the project have a lappato finish, which has some texture to it with a polished look and feel.

The existing substrate was all double-tee precast concrete, which leaves a potentially moving joint every six feet. The substrate was also far from flat enough to handle large-format tile. After the existing tile was removed, the floor was flattened with a quick-setting, self-leveling underlayment, then the entire floor was covered with a flexible, thin, lightweight, load-bearing, fabric-reinforced “peel-and-stick” crack-isolation membrane to handle any movement inherent in the double-tee construction. The large-format tile was installed with a premium, rapid-setting, non-sag medium-bed / thin-set mortar.





NTCA Five Star Contractor program continues to make strides

By Bart Bettiga

NTCA5starcontractorNTCA recently announced the Grand Prize Winners in our Five Star Contractor Installation Awards at Coverings in Las Vegas. Congratulations to Collins Tile and Stone of Aldie, Va., and Artcraft Granite, Marble and Tile Co., of Mesa, Ariz., for their winning residential and commercial project submissions, respectively. I urge all of our Five Star Contractor members to take photos of your best projects and submit them for consideration next year. Both recognition and a $2,500 cash prize can be yours when winners are announced at Coverings in Orlando.

In addition to award recognition, the NTCA staff organizes and partners with Five Star Contractor Program sponsors to host educational and networking events. At times, we schedule events in conjunction with shows like Coverings and Total Solutions Plus. In other instances, our sponsor will host a training program at one of their manufacturing facilities or training locations. For example, Crossville recently hosted over 40 NTCA Five Star Contractors and TCAA Trowel of Excellence members at their headquarters in Tennessee.

Tennessee is quickly becoming the manufacturing hotbed for domestic tile production. Crossville and StonePeak Ceramics have been producing quality porcelain tile for many years in Crossville, Tenn. Florim USA, our newest Five Star Program sponsor, is in nearby Clarksville, and Del Conca USA unveiled its beautiful new plant this spring in Loudon, Tenn., near Knoxville. Add to that impressive list the announcement that Daltile will be building a new plant in Dickson, Tenn., and that Florida Tile is nearby in Kentucky, you can see how this area is exploding in ceramic and porcelain tile production.

1-5star-0714Thin porcelain tile was the primary topic of conversation at our networking event held at Crossville. The NTCA, TCAA, IMI and IUBAC recently released a statement on thin tile, asserting our recommendation to installers to not accept projects with floor applications for thin porcelain tiles less than 5.5 millimeters thick until product and installation standards are developed. The attendees discussed everything we have learned to date about installing thin porcelain tile, and shared ideas related to training and the development of certification. We are all excited about the opportunities that thin porcelain tile present, but we want to ensure that the products are sold in the right applications, in order to prevent failures that will hurt the future of this exciting technology.

2-5star-9714In addition to technical discussions at our Five Star events, we often retain the participation of strong business speakers, and we hold Best Practice discussions among our peers on subjects such as project management, financial and strategic planning, estimating and bidding procedures, and more.

Efforts to promote the Five Star Contractor Program are beginning to pay dividends. Many project specifications contain language referring to the program in the quality assurance section, generating interest from both NTCA members who have not applied for Five Star Contractor recognition as well as contractors who are not members of the association.

3-5star-0714Florim USA’s recent announcement to offer a rebate program to Five Star Contractors was met with sincere appreciation by our members. In a short presentation to the NTCA Board of Directors, Stefano Rabaioli, vice-president of sales and marketing, gave an overview of the company’s goals and objectives and indicated its intent to grow a stronger presence in the commercial sector of the industry.

In addition to Florim USA, we are finalizing a program sponsorship with Schluter Systems that will be announced in July. These companies join a growing list of supporters who either offer volume rebates or product vouchers to support the investment that contractors make for this recognition.

4-5star-0714The NTCA Five Star Contractor Program is gaining momentum. NTCA members who feel their company can benefit from this recognition should contact Jim Olson of NTCA at [email protected]

Five Star Contractor Spotlight – Memphis Tile and Marble Company

custom-sponsor5 star mtm logoWhen Thomas Cox was 19 years old, he moved his newly-wedded wife, Dianne, to Memphis from Jackson, Tenn., for a life off the farm. With no college education, he went to the Tennessee unemployment line to search for a job. He eventually landed at Hugo Marble and Tile in Memphis, where he did whatever Mr. Hugo wanted or needed – from taking out the trash to delivering tile wherever the job was that day.


Mr. Hugo eventually kicked Tommy out of the nest and encouraged him to start his own ceramic tile contracting company. In 1968, Tommy Cox started Memphis Tile and Marble Company (MTM). He immediately set out to attract new business and quickly make new contacts in the residential builder market. Around 1975, he joined the STTMCA, headed by none other than Joe Tarver. Tommy quickly learned that understanding and implementing quality installation standards into his company was essential. Hosting numerous “lunch-and-learns,” as we call them today, he invited all of his competitors to attend.

tommy_cox_picTommy’s youngest son Ricky joined the company in 1993 to try his hand in the tile contracting business. His first two weeks on the job were spent chopping wall mud and carrying it up two flights of stairs to the tile mechanic. Tommy thought for sure that the work would drive him back to college. The tile mechanic was very weary of the boss’s son but soon realized that he might work out. The mechanic taught him everything he knew and Ricky eventually started installing. After several years of installing, Ricky started managing jobs and learning the business side of tile contracting. In 2002, Tommy and Ricky attended their first NTCA conference together in Charlotte, N.C., and Ricky realized the quality of the tile installation that Tommy was promoting.

From 1975 to 2014, Memphis Tile and Marble has been a proud NTCA member, and owes a lot of its success to the association. Tommy served on the board of directors and was named NTCA’s Tile Person of the Year in 2008. Ricky has served four years on the board and has made close friends from all over the country. As an NTCA Five Star Contractor, Memphis Tile and Marble supports certified tile installers. It currently has four Certified Tile Installers, with industry-recognized credentials from CTEF.

Ricky became the company president in 2013 after Tommy’s retirement, leading MTM’s 10 employees to excel in new residential, remodeling, and light commercial work. The company has been members of the West Tennessee Homebuilders Association for decades and supports local and national homebuilding.

Many close relationships have formed over the past 46 years with different tile contracting companies, suppliers, and manufacturers. Memphis Tile and Marble would like to thank Joe Tarver for his leadership over the years, Bart Bettiga for his dedication to the association, and all of the NTCA staff. Thank you for what you do!

MTM featured project: bath-centric challenge

This project consisted of eight baths, three powder rooms, several fireplaces, a potting room with tile from floor to ceiling, pool house with kitchen and bath, and a fountain that was waterproofed and tiled. It also featured an old barn on the property that was transformed into a caterer’s kitchen for parties. The 15,000-sq.-ft. house took three years to complete.

The master bath was tiled from floor to ceiling with 18” x 18” Italian Brown marble. The shower consisted of Crema Marfil with a medallion centered on the back wall. The lobby floor was also installed with Crema Marfil laid on Schluter DITRA.

The sauna and lap pool area featured 1” x 2” glass tiles on the water feature wall with wainscoting throughout.

The bathroom floor in the barn was installed with 8” x 8” handmade tiles that portrayed a rug once installed. A piece of petrified wood was selected and made into a trough sink basin that MTM floated and tiled with river rocks.

MTMC-1 mtmc-2 mtmc-3 mtmc-4 mtmc-5

1 2 3 4 5 6