NTCA Five Star Contractors reap additional benefits from manufacturers NTCA and TCAA recognition programs raise the bar for the industry

NTCA’s group of premier installers, the Five Star Contractors, has grown to 33 as of March 31, 2012.
The tile industry’s manufacturers are supporting this group in numerous ways. Crossville, in addition to sponsoring a three-day seminar for the elite group at their Tennessee facility this upcoming June, is providing a 1% rebate on purchases by Five Star Contractors. Other manufacturers who are championing the Five Star group are Daltile, which offers a $600 voucher for product; MAPEI offering a $300 voucher and a 2% rebate paid quarterly; LATICRETE, Custom Building Products and H.B. Fuller/TEC will each offer a $250 voucher. Collectively these programs provide a total of $1,650 in product vouchers for Five Star Contractors. Rebates from Crossville and MAPEI will also be significant for volume purchasing by Five Star Contractors.
Demonstrated industry support is broad for the growing Five Star Contractor program, and is expected to increase as new language in the TCNA Handbook for Ceramic, Glass and Stone Tile Installation that recommends specifying qualified labor becomes widely accepted.
Five Star Contractors are required to complete a rigorous peer-approval process, demonstrating their commitment to training, service, quality, safety, fiscal responsibility and superior job performance. Stricter qualifications for applicants in 2012 include certifying a minimum of 10% of installers through the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) Certified Tile Installer program.
In January 2012 the Tile Contractors’ Association of America (TCAA) and the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) announced a major initiative in agreeing to mutually promote and market their company recognition programs, the NTCA Five Star Contractor program and the TCAA’s Trowel of Excellence program. This unprecedented partnership is expected to raise the level of integrity and professionalism in the tile trade, and to provide architects, builders, and project owners the opportunity to demand installation excellence.
NTCA president Nyle Wadford said, “I’m looking forward to where this leads in both our associations’ efforts to acquire work for our membership. The synergy produced from the alliance of labor and manufacturing for the benefit of both demonstrates the power of unifying for similar goals within the industry.”
Carole Damon, TCAA executive director, added, “By working together to increase the professionalism and expertise of tile installation companies, we ensure quality craftsmanship and increase consumer confidence in the durability, beauty and value of tile.”

Currently, about 55 companies in both associations have been approved in the recognition process; this number will increase as awareness of the partnership and benefits are more widely known. The leaders of both groups continue to collaborate in developing jointly-promoted educational efforts for the architectural and design community.
Both NTCA Five Star Contractors and TCAA Trowel of Excellence certified installers are listed in recently approved TCNA Handbook for Ceramic, Glass and Stone Tile Installation language recommending the inclusion of installer and contractor specifications. The revised Handbook stresses, “Matching installer ability to the project at hand requires close evaluation of their experience, training, state licensing…and certification/credentials,” emphasizing the inclusion of qualified labor on tile and stone installation projects.
Visit www.tcaainc.org/trowel-of-excellence.php to learn more about the TCAA Trowel of Excellence Program
Visit www.tile-assn.com/Member/FiveStar for more information on the NTCA Five Star Contractor Program.

Rheinschmidt Tile & Marble Named Five-Star Contractor by NTCA

Rheinschmidt Tile & Marble (RTM), family-owned, national commercial flooring contractor specializing in shopping centers, airports, casinos and retail stores, was recently named a Five-Star Contractor by the National Tile Contractors Association.
The Five Star Contractor status was created by the NTCA as a way to recognize and reward companies with a proven history of excellence in the trade.

Larry Rheinschmidt, President

“This is a great honor for us,” said Larry Rheinschmidt Jr., President of RTM. “To be recognized for all of our hard work is clearly a great feeling.”
To be considered, and ultimately awarded such status by the NTCA, a company must receive excellent recommendations from customers, suppliers and peers. Additionally, RTM has continually demonstrated its commitment to continuing education, training and safety programs, all of which are essential in the eyes of the board of directors for any contractor to be considered Five-Star. Firms who take part in educational seminars and are active members in the NTCA, such as RTM, prove their commitment to adhere by the highest standards, and this is reflected in their work.
“We are delighted that RTM is now listed as one of our Five-Star Contractors,” exclaimed Bart Bettiga, Executive Director of the National Tile Contractors Association. “The firm does professional, first-class work and is comprised of professional, first-class people… most of whom I’ve known for years.”

Rheinschmidt Tile & Marble is a third-generation, family-owned national commercial flooring contractor with a focus on unmatched quality and customer service. For more information, please contact Rheinschmidt Tile & Marble, 1100 Agency St. Burlington, IA 52601. Call: (319) 754-7567. www.rtmiowa.com.

NTCA recognizes three newly-approved Five Star Contractors

The National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) has awarded the prestigious Five Star Contractor designation to three members: Heritage Marble and Tile, Inc., Mill Valley, Calif.; Maloney Tile and Marble, Inc., Livonia, Mich.; and Rimrock Design, Inc., Lake City, Fla. NTCA now recognizes a total of 29 Five Star Contractors.
Five Star Contractors are required to complete a rigorous peer-approval process, demonstrating their commitment to training, service, quality, safety, fiscal responsibility and superior job performance. Stricter qualifications for 2012 applicants include certifying a minimum of 10% of installers through the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) Certified Tile Installer program.
Both NTCA Five Star Contractors and CTEF Certified Installers are listed in recently-approved TCNA Handbook language recommending the inclusion of installer and contractor specifications, which states: “Matching installer ability to the project at hand requires close evaluation of their experience, training, state licensing…and certification/credentials.”
Martin Brookes, president of Heritage Marble and Tile, Inc., said, “Heritage Marble and Tile is proud to be the first NTCA Five Star Contractor in northern California. As a high-end custom tile and marble installation company, we take great pride in our work. We have over thirty years of knowledge in the industry, and attend many seminars and training programs to keep up with current technology and market trends. We’re in our fifth year as an NTCA member, and are scheduled to certify installers through CTEF in September 2012. Five Star Contractor status will be a great benefit to us in achieving sales goals for 2012 and beyond.”
“The Five Star Contractor designation provides accreditation and respect in the industry, and gives our company a strong basis to hang its hat on,” said Ryan Smith, sales and marketing director for Rimrock Design, Inc. Smith added, “It is a valuable tool to assist in our continued growth for 2012 and well into the future. This recognition is another building block in Rimrock Design’s foundation to pursue larger projects and a more diversified client base. Micah Linton, our company’s founder, obtained his first job from an ad in TileLetter, learning the trade as an installer; we feel a responsibility, with this designation, to become more involved and give back to our great industry.”
Stephen Maloney, Maloney Tile and Marble, Inc., Michigan State director for NTCA, pointed to NTCA membership and participation for boosting the company’s sales through the last few years, regardless of the economic slowdown. Maloney noted, “We are extremely proud to be accepted as a Five Star Contractor. Before applying for the program, I talked with several fellow NTCA members for advice on the application. Everyone welcomed my calls and gave time from a busy day to discuss the process. Membership in NTCA is like being part of a large tile family; a solution to a problem is only a phone call away. We believe that gaining Five Star Contractor status will only further our growth and reputation in the tile industry.”
Five Star Contractors may display the “Five Star” logo on all marketing materials. In addition, each company is prominently displayed in a special section on the NTCA website, with a direct link established from this website to each firm. Product rebates and insurance discounts are available, and AIA-accredited PowerPoint programs give Five Star Contractors the opportunity to be THE tile and stone source for their local architects and designers.
For more information on the NTCA Five Star Program, visit www.tile-assn.com and click the Five Star link on the scroll bar, or contact Jim Olson, assistant executive director, at 601-939-2071.

FIVE-STAR Contractor spotlight: Kerber Tile, Marble and Stone, Inc.

Kerber Tile, Marble and Stone, Inc.
Since: 1973
Specialty: Ceramic, stone and glass tile installation for medium-high end residential properties.
Employees: Currently six full time
Website: www.kerbertile.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/kerbertile

Joe and Wendi Kerber, KTMS

Joe and Wendi Kerber started Kerber Tile, Marble and Stone, Inc. (KTMS) during the recession of 1973 in Shakopee, Minn. Since then, it has grown into a diverse company with an office, showroom, shop and warehouse. The company’s work has ranged from simple grout repair jobs to large, upscale residential projects.KTMS partners closely with designers,
architects, remodelers, builders and homeowners on multiple aspects of their projects – from tile and stone design and layout work, to product recommendations, and final installations – striving to meet their clients’ tile and stone needs while exceeding the highest level of industry quality standards. KTMS consults and work with clients primarily in the Twin Cities metro area, but have completed projects across the United States.
The company’s efforts to ensure their clients receive a superior-quality installation have been recognized by the tile industry. All of KTMS’ installers have been certified by the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation. Joe served as the past-president and chairman of the local tile association for 15 years and recently completed a term on the National Tile Contractors Association’s (NTCA) board of directors. Currently, he is a member of both the NTCA’s Technical, and Methods and Standards committees.

Featured Project: Residential
Steam Shower Bathroom

This typical steam shower room starts with 18”x18” porcelain as the main floor tile. All of the smaller tiles used are cut from these 18” tiles. The walls have 9”x18” tiles set in a brickjoint pattern. The sloped shower ceiling is made of 9”x9” tiles set on diagonal; the shower floor features 3”x3” tiles. The bullnose pieces are made in-house; pieces were cut for the deco insets and niches to make the specific layout. Glass mosaics and stone trim pieces are also incorporated into the deco design. The floors and shower bench feature electric in-floor heat with a thermal break in the tile at the glass door. The bathroom also has a carved stone sink with the faucet extending from the mirror. Refrigerator in the vanity is optional.

The bathroom has a carved stone sink with the faucet extending from the mirror.

The walls have 9”x 18” tiles set in a brick-joint pattern; glass mosaics and stone trim pieces are also incorporated into the deco design.

The floors and shower bench feature electric in-floor heat and there is a thermal break in the tile at the glass door.

FIVE-STAR contractor spotlight: McCammack Tile, Inc., Indianapolis, Ind.

This January installment kicks off our monthly spotlight of NTCA Five-Star Contractors, a highly qualified and prestigious group of tile and stone contractor NTCA members who meet stringent qualifications and continue to invest in excellence for their businesses and their clients.

McCammack Tile, Inc.,
Indianapolis, Ind.
Since: 1991
Specialty: Ceramic, stone and porcelain tile installation; light, medium and heavy-duty commercial projects.
Employees: 40

McCammack Tile is a merit shop with more than 40 in-house employees. They are highly committed to continuing education for their employees, which provide them with several levels of qualified tile installers within their organization. All of their lead installers are Certified Tile Installers by the CTEF. As a result, they have a very skilled work force that has flexibility to do small projects, as well as million-dollar high design projects. In 2011 McCammack
won the ABC Honor Award for CSO Architects Headquarters and the TileLetter Commercial Tile award for Community Hospital South. They have a remarkable safety record, with an EMR of .81 for 2010. They experienced zero OSHA recordables over the last eight years, and are confident that their commitments put forth in safety efforts will continue this trend.

Featured project: CSO Architects,
Keystone at the Crossing,
Indianapolis, Ind
Established in 1961 CSO Architects completed the renovation of their new facility in February 2011 after six to eight
months of construction. The size of the existing building, the re-purposed Bally Total Fitness center, is 24,000 square feet and the project is valued at $1.8 million. McCammack Tile installed ceramic/porcelain throughout the facility, aiming for a “wow factor” in the two-story lobby with a tile wall that met CSO’s criteria for subtlety, depth and richness.
Natural-looking materials for the main wall and lobby floor exuded a sense of warmth and welcome, and showed sensitivity to the environment. Floor Gres Walk tile contains 10-12% pre-consumer recycled content and is low-emitting, with the random veining and appealing texture of quartzite. McCammack created a 8´x8´ easily-installed module that was rotated 90 degrees along the wall for a random appearance. The large wall provides a “monolithic grounding” for the stairwell and vertical space in the center of the building.

McCammack created a 8´x8´ module that was rotated 90 degrees along the wall for a random appearance, and was easily installed.

McCammack was challenged with tight grout joints, uneven surfaces and articulated modularity. A matching “stick” mosaic was also installed in the reception area to tie the concept throughout the space.

A matching “stick” mosaic was also installed in the reception area to tie the concept throughout the space.

Color Blox EC by Crossville graced the restroom floors, stall walls and showers, bringing durability, easy maintenance, beauty and a minimum of 20% pre-consumer recycled content to the mix. It also allowed a contrast in texture on the wet wall between the 12˝x24˝ Color Blox EC suede-like texture and very, clean, neutral tile elsewhere; the product provided 6˝x24˝ formats for safety in the shower area.

Color Blox EC by Crossville graced the restroom floors, stall walls and showers.

The flooring installation value was $44,000 labor-only, and took approximately 40 days to complete. Installation materials included those from Summitville, Custom Building Products,MAPEI and Schlüter.

Why do NTCA Five Star Contractors all have an active safety program in their company?

In many instances, the need for an active safety program is required to bid or secure work. Effective safety programs perform many positive functions. Here are some examples:
• Avoid costly interruptions to the project
• Reduce Insurance Costs
• Lower workers compensation costs
• Improve employee morale and trust
• Improve company performance
• Improve overall quality of workmanship
• Reduce job site accidents
• Reduce the need for training replacement workers
• Cultivate an environment that encourages quality company applicants

For these reasons, and many more, NTCA Five Star Contractors are making a commitment to improving workplace safety. Many of them have dedicated considerable resources to safety training, which is the cornerstone of identifying potential risks. If a tile installer or helper is educated on the means and methods to protect themselves and others from project site risks, along with the steps necessary to correct these risks, he/she is equipped to manage and eliminate unsafe work practices. This in turn reduces costly delays in the construction process.

One of the key components to reducing risk is to empower employees to take action if they witness unsafe practices or hazards on the job site. This is why it is important for the tile contracting company to properly train their supervisors and employees so they realize that not only do they have the right to take time to correct a safety-related shortcoming, they have an obligation to correct it. There is a fundamental difference between the ability, or right to correct, and the obligation to correct. NTCA Five Star Contractor employees understand that it is completely acceptable to shut down operations in order to address a safety concern.

As you educate your workforce, it is necessary to break the myth that correcting a safety-related problem is an expense. You must educate your workers so they understand that risk or hazard identification and correction offers significant savings and adds value to the project and the company bottom line. Most importantly, though, it is the right thing to do for the safety of each and every individual on site. Most safety-hazard corrections take almost no time at all to correct, while an unsafe practice can have a horribly negative and sometimes life-altering effect.

NTCA Five Star Contractors often require a project-weekly meeting, in order to keep every project team member informed about site-specific issues related to safety. These meetings offer a great opportunity to communicate concerns related to quality and production as well. Furthermore, they can serve as a forum for all individuals on site to express safety concerns. The discussion, and action taken immediately after, can have a positive impact on site for everyone.

NTCA Five Star Contractors are committed to an injury-free worksite, and to increasing safety throughout the tile industry. If each tile contracting company continues or begins to put forth this type of effort into employee education and raising expectations for all involved in the tile trade, our industry will continue to reduce installation-related injuries.

Crossville Announces NTCA Five Star Contractor Rebate Program

Crossville is pleased to announce that it will support the NTCA’s 5-Star Contractor with a rebate specifically designed for them. Crossville, as a company, has always believed in training and education as a foundation of building better business and better business relationships. The NTCA also believes this; so to that end, they have chosen to support the 5-Star Contractor who commits to the requirements to join this elite group.

The program will begin in January, 2012 and will include a quarterly rebate based on paid invoices through Crossville distributor partners. Participation and eligibility in the program will be conditional upon at least 10% of the tile contractor’s field crew to be certified by the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation by January 1st, 2013.

The program will be evaluated on an annual basis.

NTCA Five-Star Contractors – “Créme de la créme” of tile contractors

“As far as creative, technical and business resources are concerned, [NTCA Five-Star Contractors] are the crème de la crème!,” So said Buck Collins, of Collins Tile and Stone, a NTCA Five-Star Contractor in Aldie, Va. “The knowledge is deep, with a proven track record of successful installations. The proud employment of Certified Tile Installers is also a trademark of the Five-Star contractor. My ability to personally contact some of the most respected tile contractors in the U.S. has proven to boost our credibility and knowledge.”

These are just a few benefits of membership in this elite group of tile businesspeople. Earlier this year, the group gathered at Crossville’s headquarters in Tennessee for a leadership and networking summit that equipped them with additional resources for success and fostered connection and camaraderie that, in some cases, led to business partnerships with distant contractors.

“I was called by a client of mine to help with a project that another tile company was installing was running behind,” said Kevin Fox, PE, of Fox Ceramic Tile, Inc. in St. Mary’s, Kan. “Since my mechanics were busy, I sent out an email to the Five-Star members. The result was longtime NTCA member Williams Tile (Maryland Heights, Mo.) sent 2-1/2 crews to the project for three weeks, and now Welch Tile (Kent City, Mich.) is there with two crews.  Result: I was able to take care of my client using the Five-Star network with the confidence of having competent installers on the job, which was very important – because even though I was not able to send my in house mechanics, the work that was performed still has my name on it.”

Standards of excellence

This group of contractors, currently 25 strong, is dedicated to upholding standards of excellence in their work and their operations. The NTCA Board of Directors created this program as a way to recognize companies in our association with a proven track record of excellence in our trade. Each contractor goes through an accreditation process, which includes recommendations from customers, suppliers and peers; participation in continuing education and training programs including educational seminars and events; maintenance of an active safety program; and of course, active membership with NTCA.

In addition to being prominently listed on the NTCA member locator site, having a direct link from NTCA’s national website to yours, and being able to use the Five-Star logo on your letterhead and marketing pieces, NTCA is actively working on growing this program and the benefits for members (see sidebar). This translates into more potential top-level business for you and leadership within the tile industry.

How? Take it directly from some current Five-Star members.

“In addition to being extremely proud to carry the Five-Star designation, we feel that when we convey this to a customer, whether a big contractor or a homeowner, we also convey credibility in our knowledge and skill,” said Libby Morgan, Battles & Battles Tile, Knoxville, Tenn. “We are very appreciative for the opportunity to be in a class of professionals who care about quality, and we always search for better methods. A great tile job speaks for itself. A bad tile job turns the end user against tile altogether, so we are doing everything we can to spread the word of the best methods, even to our competitors. We are seen as the tile experts in our region, and our Five-Star designation proves it!!!”

Kevin Fox added, “We just recently installed a stone floor/wall bathroom and shower in a residence for a good general contractor client. We typically do not install residential projects as we specialize in commercial, but make exceptions for these types of clients.  The project called for us to use a self-leveling underlayment with electric heat. Because of the relationships created with this Five-Star Contractor group, I knew just the person to call: Jan Hohn with Hohn & Hohn, Inc., as I know she has performed this type of installation many times. She was very willing to give advice which helped us perform the work: just another reason why this group has had value in my company. I had the application sitting on my desk for well over a year. I guess it never got high enough on the ‘to-do list.’ Wish I would have sent it in sooner.”

Buck Collins summed up: “Recently, I received a call from a prospective customer who had just read an article in the Holmes magazine. They featured an article which made mention of the NTCA and their commitment to quality installations. She visited the NTCA website and was impressed with what she read, and ultimately found us there.

“The NTCA is an organization that is passionate about the success of the tile industry as a whole,” Collins said. “We are grateful for all their leadership and commitment to the needs of, and promotion of, the contractor – it has truly benefitted our business.”
For more information on the NTCA Five-Star Contractor Program, visit www.tile-assn.com and click the Five-Star link on the scroll bar at the bottom of the page.

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