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.
“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.
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.
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.
The 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.
While 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.