Natural Stone Institute Announces 2020 Stone Industry Education Series


Oberlin, OH, January 14, 2020—The Natural Stone Institute and Stone World magazine are pleased to announce the schedule for the 2020 Stone Industry Education Series. Stone Summits will be held in nine cities across the United States.

The nine Stone Summits scheduled for 2020 will cover topics relevant to stone fabricators, including maximizing shop efficiency and profits, using metrics to measure success, understanding OSHA safety regulations, and creating a plan for finding and retaining top talent. 2020 Stone Summits will be facilitated by a team of experienced industry leaders including GK Naquin, Duane Naquin, Tony Malisani, and Eric Tryon.

2020 Stone Industry Education Series:

February 27

Arkansas Stone Summit: 12 Business Axioms

Pacific Shore Stones

Mabelvale, AR

March 12

California Stone Summit: Stone Shop Management

MSI

Orange, CA

April 2

Colorado Stone Summit: Know Your Business

Arizona Tile

Denver, CO

May 7

Massachusetts Stone Summit: Key Pulse Points for Building a Successful Stone Fabrication Business

Daltile

Westwood, MA

June 4

New Mexico Stone Summit: Key Pulse Points for Building a Successful Stone Fabrication Business

Arizona Tile

Albuquerque, NM

July 16

Oregon Stone Summit: Stone Shop Management

MSI

Tualatin, OR

September 17

Illinois Stone Summit: Know Your Business

Universal Granite & Marble

Chicago, IL

October 8

Alabama Stone Summit: Stone Shop Management

Triton Stone Group

Birmingham, AL

November 5

Texas Stone Summit: 12 Business Axioms

MSI

Austin, TX

To learn more about each event, visit www.stoneindustryeducation.com

CTEF Focuses on CTI Evaluator Training and Finished Tile Work Education Sessions During TISE 2020

Pendleton, SC – During the International Surfaces Event (TISE) 2020 in Las Vegas, NV, the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) which provides education and installer certification for professionals working in the ceramic tile and stone industry will focus on Finished Tile Work education sessions and Certified Tile Installer (CTI) Evaluator Training. CTEF will be sharing booth #4727 with the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA).

On Wednesday, January 29, Scott Carothers, Director of Certification and Training at CTEF will conduct a seminar entitled “Finished Tile Work – Do It Wrong or Do It Right: Lippage, Grout Joints, and Patterns”.  That afternoon, he will have a hands-on demonstration on the show floor to reinforce the same topic.

In its booth space, CTEF will construct three Certified Tile Installer (CTI) hands-on testing modules in progressive stages of completion for display. The CTEF Certified Tile Installer (CTI) program is the only third-party assessment of installer skill and knowledge which is recognized by the tile industry.

More importantly, the organization will offer shadowing opportunities to new CTI Industry Evaluators in order to move them to the next level of expertise of test set-up, the evaluation process and scoring. Industry Evaluators offer CTEF the means to expand the CTI program to more locations around the country in response to more tile installation contractors wanting to become CTIs.

The CTI designation identifies the professional installer who has reached a level of proficiency to independently and consistently produce a sound tile installation that displays good workmanship. Certification is the validation of the skills and knowledge of the men and women who presently are installing tile successfully in the United States. It offers property owners, both residential and commercial, peace-of-mind that their tile installer has the right skills and knowledge to complete a successful tile installation.

The CTI program includes two separate tests.

  • An online open-book exam taken at home or the office as the installer’s schedule allows.
  • A hands-on evaluation conducted at regional locations across the United States.

To qualify for the CTI Program, installers must have at least two years of experience as the lead installer setting ceramic tile on a full-time basis. This means having full responsibility for substrate prep, layout, coordinating with other trades along with properly installing underlayment, tile, grout and sealant materials.

The Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) which sponsors the CTI program is supported by all segments of the ceramic tile industry. CTEF is headquartered in Pendleton, South Carolina, near Clemson University and the offices of the Tile Council of North America (TCNA).

To learn more, visit CTEF at Booth #4727 during TISE 2020 or visit https://www.intlsurfaceevent.com/en/home.html.

NTCA previews changes to 2020 hands-on training programs

The new year is here, and so is the new NTCA training schedule. When it comes to training and education, NTCA’s two most popular programs are its workshops and its regional training programs. NTCA Education & Curriculum Director Becky Serbin and NTCA Training Director Mark Heinlein offered TileLetter readers a preview of what’s to come with these two programs in 2020. 

For those who may be unfamiliar with the two training NTCA programs, both programs demonstrate proper techniques according to ANSI Standards and TCNA Handbook methods, and include hands-on training. The NTCA Workshops cover topics that address current issues and solutions in the tile trade. NTCA Workshops are held in the evenings, free of charge, and are approximately three hours long. Previous topics included installation failures, best installation practices, and movement joints. While the core format of the workshops will remain the same, starting this February, NTCA is retiring all previous workshop topics to make way for its newest topic – layout techniques. Heinlein said NTCA is putting emphasis on this topic because proper layout techniques and methods are critical for installers, especially for those planning to take the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) Certified Tile Installers (CTI) exam. 

The hands-on portion of the NTCA Workshops allows attendees to practice techniques demonstrated during the workshop.

“Many times participants fail because they spend so much time on layout and they either have it incorrect or they run out of time to take the test,” Heinlein said. “Our new workshops will focus on teaching installers layout basics, as well as giving them a chance to practice the techniques.” 

Currently, NTCA Workshops begin with a classroom-style lecture and then move into hands-on demonstrations, but the association is looking at possibly changing that format. Serbin said the association is considering a new format that would offer attendees more time to hone their techniques. “This new style will still take place in the evenings like our current workshops, but we will minimize the lecture portion and, instead of having just one large demonstration area, we have small stations that will provide multiple attendees the opportunity to learn and practice proper layout methods,” Serbin said. “The small stations allow the trainer to educate and work with multiple attendees at the same time.”

Serbin noted that the new formats are targeted to be tested in late 2020. If successful, the new format possibly could launch as early as February 2021.

The NTCA Regional Training Program focuses on teaching installers new skills. This program lasts all day and requires a $50 refundable deposit. “The NTCA Regional Training Program concept was launched in 2018 and has been hugely successful. Because the program has been so successful, the association is almost doubling the number of regional training sessions it is offering this year. The session covering substrate preparation and large-format tile will be available only to NTCA members. The session covering the installation of gauged porcelain tile and panels will be open to all professional installers. 

While learning how to install gauged porcelain tile and panels, attendees are taught how the products are made, where they can be used, and the special tools, setting materials and techniques required to install them.

One significant shift the NTCA team is making to all the hands-on training it offers is ensuring that training topics and instruction help prepare attendees for CTI and Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT) exams. Serbin said the shift is in line with the association’s priority to support the industry effort to increase the amount of qualified labor available and to encourage more installers to become certified. Heinlein, who is a CTI evaluator, added that he has seen seasoned installers unable to pass the exams because they lack core installation skills. 

“Many times contractors haven’t had the techniques they need taught to them or they have learned incorrect methods online from people who don’t know how to install tile according to ANSI Standards,” Heinlein said. “Core fundamental skills are needed to successfully pass the CTI and ACT exams. Our goal is to teach some of those skills in our training programs.”

The 2020 NTCA training season will kick off with workshops in Arizona in mid-January. For a complete schedule of NTCA Workshops and Regional Training Programs, visit the Education & Certification tab of the NTCA website.

NTCA sponsors CEFGA CareerExpo

The National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), the world’s largest tile contractor association, is sponsoring the World of Tile Pavilion at the Construction Education Foundation of Georgia (CEFGA) CareerExpo, taking place at the Georgia World Congress Center on March 12-13 in Atlanta, Ga.

Image courtesy of Allen Allnoch and CEFGA.

CEFGA was founded in 1993 by construction leaders who recognized a need for quality construction skills training in Georgia. The CEFGA CareerExpo links students directly to professionals in the areas of construction, utility contracting, highway contracting, electrical contracting, mechanical contracting, energy, mining and more. The event features hands-on displays that allow students to engage with industry leaders, equipment and materials and tap into their unique skills and interests. 

According to Rod Owen, president of NTCA Five-Star Contractor C. C. Owen Tile Company, Inc., the organization held its first career fair in 2005, but the tile trade wasn’t represented until 2008 when Owen asked for a space in the expo.

C. C. Owen Tile, leading tile manufacturer Daltile, and installation materials supplier LATICRETE International will be co-sponsoring the Pavilion with NTCA. Together, the four entities are working to promote the ceramic tile industry as a leading career opportunity to consider for high school age students at the 2020 event.

Image courtesy of Allen Allnoch and CEFGA.

Owen believes the CareerExpo is a great avenue to display the opportunities that are available in the tile industry, and is planning for an impact far beyond the day of the event. While he knows many students who come to the expo may use it as an excuse to get out of class, he hopes the experience will educate some of the students or their teachers about the opportunities available. “[After attending the expo], there might be that construction teacher that listened and understood the opportunities, and is now back in the classroom counseling students and advising them about their potential in our industry,” Owen said.

NTCA Executive Director Bart Bettiga agreed the event is a good opportunity to expose students to the tile industry. “Helping to recruit the next generation of tile setters is a part of the NTCA mission,” Bettiga explained. “High school students may not know yet what career path they want to take. If they haven’t been exposed to the tile industry, they may not know what a lucrative career it can be and how many options it holds. At events like this, we can show students how they can become our future industry leaders.”

The CEFGA CareerExpo also features the SkillsUSA state championships, a competition in which students showcase their skills in a number of construction-related disciplines. This CareerExpo continues to grow each year and, in 2019, drew a record 8,615 attendees.  

NTCA Training Program – year-end wrap up

At NTCA Workshops, attendees have the opportunity to test tools and techniques. Shown: training workshops in Lombard, Ill. and West Allis, Wis.

The NTCA Training Team has wrapped up another year of cross-country training. This year, the team taught 16 regional training programs and over 100 workshops across 35 states.

Jim Olson, NTCA Assistant Executive Director, dubbed 2019 as a year of growth for NTCA training programs. “This year, we increased the number of regional training programs – our all-day training sessions – that we offer to NTCA members. Also, to keep up with training demands, we increased our presenter staff, adding Randy Fleming.”

Fleming, a tile contractor from California, joined the team at the start of the year and said his first year with NTCA has been a good one. He feels the association has experienced a positive response to its workshop program this year and he is enjoying having the opportunity to share his knowledge with other installers. “The best thing about being part of the NTCA team is having the pleasure to address so many talented and experienced installers and introducing them to tile industry standards,” he said. “I’ve met highly-experienced tile professionals that are not aware industry standards exist and don’t understand how the standards can help them professionally.”

Olson said there has been a high demand for the regional training programs this year. “Attendance at our regional programs continues to increase with most programs attracting 20-24 or more hands-on attendees and many additional attendees in an observation capacity,” he said.

For those who haven’t been to a NTCA training program, past attendees like Kris Nardone of K Nardone Custom Tilework, LLC, highly recommend you catch one, noting the sessions offer more than just training. “It’s a great experience if you attend one of these NTCA workshops,” Nardone said. “There is a ton of information that’s talked about in the couple hours varying from shower receptors, expansion joints, proper installation methods, and a lot more.”

Learning to work as a unit is emphasized during the gauged porcelain panels and slabs training sessions. Regional training sessions in Columbia, S.C. and Salt Lake City, Utah.

“All the information is great but getting to meet other local tile installers and making new relationships is priceless,” he added. “I try to attend at least one of the workshops each year. I always leave feeling pumped about our industry and am motivated to go out to set some tile correctly per industry standards. I highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t attended a NTCA workshop ever before. Any member or non-member can attend at no cost to you,” Nardone said.

In addition to the regular training assignments, the NTCA Training staff is preparing to conduct the regional events. This will allow NTCA to increase the number of regional training programs offered to NTCA members by 30% in 2020.

Fleming said he is looking forward to next year’s training programs. “The information we present at these events has the power to enrich people’s work and, in turn, their lives,” he said. “I’m excited about the future and what is to come in 2020.”

Olson reminds anyone interested in a NTCA Workshop or Regional Training Program to check the schedule regularly since it is often being updated. To see a list of all currently scheduled sessions, visit the NTCA website under the “Education & Certification” tab. 

Tile apprentice program starts its second year of success

It’s been a little over a year since the Oregon-Columbia Tile Trades Training Trust program kicked off. In its first year, this tile apprenticeship program has faced challenges, successes, and changes, but it looks forward to continuing to grow the program and recruit more tile setters into the industry.

For those who aren’t familiar with the Oregon-Columbia Tile Trades Training Trust, it’s a unique co-op concept that provides monthly training for apprentices and different levels of involvement for co-op members. Current members include Hawthorne Tile, Davis Solutions, Campbell’s Custom Tile, Prestige Tile & Stone, Inc., Level Plane Tile & Stone, Columbia River Tile, Provenzano Enterprises, and Mid-Valley Tile & Design. The program is completely free to apprentices and is funded by a monthly per-student fee paid by co-op members. 

Apprentices learning how to create a proper pitch to the drain.

Apprentices learning how to create a proper pitch to the drain.

Currently, the program includes curriculum for a one-year finishers program and a three-year tile setters program and has apprentices enrolled in each. William White, tile and stone team leader for ARDEX Americas and NTCA State Ambassador, said the apprentices are progressing through the program. “The co-op turned out two finishers last year,” he said. “Currently, they have three enrolled in the finisher program, four enrolled in the first year of the setter program, and those that were in year one and still in the trade have moved to year two, which is eight or nine people.” This year will mark the first year for apprentices moving to the second level of the setters program.

Over this past year, the program has experienced challenges. “As with all programs, there was some attrition,” White said. The program has lost two apprentices and has had trouble finding other companies that understand the value of properly training their employees.

Jeff Occhipinti’s company, Columbia River Tile & Stone, Inc., had invested in one of the apprentices that left the program. “Unfortunately, we did have one person in the year-one program, and they left our company after having invested the time and money into them to enter the apprenticeship program,” Occhipinti said. “This is just one of the unfortunate things that happen when you make an investment in someone.”

Mastering application of SLU.

Mastering application of SLU.

Columbia River Tile & Stone does have a vetting process for potential apprentices. It hires them on a probationary basis to see if they will be a good fit for the company prior to investing in their education in the apprenticeship program.

White said, luckily, the co-op has seen more potential apprentices interested in and interviewing for the program. He says sponsor Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Pacific Northwest is to thank for some of the interest, noting the organization has been instrumental in recruiting people into the program. “ABC is super active,” he explained. “They are at every trade show, high school career day, and women-in-trades career fairs. And since ABC sponsors more than just tile, they are able to feel out the prospects and see which trade would be a good fit for the person.”

The co-op members are still evolving the program. White explained that last year, the co-op had a cooperative effort amongst several CTIs to teach the program. This year, they are adding an instructor with an extensive mud background to teach the year-two apprentices proper mud techniques. He also said there will be changes in the days classes are offered. “All classes last year were on Friday,” he said. “This year, first-year tile setters will have class on Fridays. Then year-two tile setters and tile finishers will have class on Saturdays. Since tile finishers work with tile setters and part of their learning is applying topping mud, the co-op thought that it would make sense for the tile finishers to not only learn the finishing tasks in a separate space but to also spend time with tile setters learning their tasks in the mud process.”

Apprentices constructing shower pans.

Apprentices constructing shower pans.

The first year has been successful for the co-op. This is due to the co-op members that have committed their time to the program’s success. 

Nancy Bebek, owner of Prestige Tile & Stone, Inc. and co-chair of the co-op, and her son Nick Bebek, the co-op chair, have dedicated lots of time to the program. “With Nick and me now as the chairs, we have to stay on top of everything. If someone commits to something, we have to make sure that they follow through so I actually have my admin spending time getting the right information and following up with everyone. I don’t think that Nick and I could have taken on this role if we didn’t have the office support from my admin Brianna.”

Bebek originally became involved with the co-op after her company had a contract that required the use of an apprentice. After reaching out to Northwest College of Construction, which was in the process of dissolving its program, Dirk Sullivan of Hawthorne Tile, and interviewing too many setters that had not been properly trained, she decided she wanted to help train the next generation of setters. “My passion quickly turned from ‘I have to have an apprentice’ to ‘I have to start training people and if they have been trained, breaking them of the bad habits that they picked up from YouTube videos or others in the trade’,” she said. “People may have the attitude that you can get away with a lot of bad work in commercial but here in Portland, the owners require top-notch quality so that means I have to employ top notch setters.”

According to Occhipinti, while his company has experienced positive change since becoming part of the co-op, he too is benefitting from its involvement. ”Working with the other companies, it is a rewarding feeling that we are trying to better the trade,” he said. “While there is an investment into the apprentices that we put through the program, we feel that it is the right decision. In fact, an employee and I will be teaching the first four classes of year-one tile setters this coming year.”

Defining apprenticeships

Several members have mentioned to me their apprentices, which led me to believe that they had a U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)-registered apprenticeship program. In some cases, they do have a registered program, and in other cases they have a detailed in-house training program. No matter which they use within their company, both types of programs are utilizing NTCA University. So this made me wonder what the definition of an apprentice is and when a company should decide to register their training program with the DOL.

According to Lexico.com, the definition of an apprentice is “a person who is learning a trade from a skilled employer, having agreed to work for a fixed period at low wages.” A DOL-registered program requires that the employer pay a specific wage or percentage of current journeyman wages with stated pay increases until the apprentice graduates the program and makes the full journeyman wages. An employer with an in-house training program will offer a wage when hiring the person and discuss when/how pay increases occur. They will also discuss how long it will take to get through their program. Assuming that once the new hire completes either of these programs and they are making competitive industry wages for the particular market, then both types of employees could be considered an apprentice per the definition above.

If your company does not have either of these programs but you want to hire new employees and train them per industry standards and methods, you need to take the time to determine which program is best for your company. To help you make this determination, here are few questions to think about:

  • What type of work do you perform? Is it all residential or all commercial or a mix?
  • Are you always looking for new hires to keep your company growing or are you looking for one or two people to hire over the next couple of years?
  • Do you bid government projects?
  • Do you work on projects that require prevailing wages?
  • Do you bid for work against companies that have registered DOL programs?

Based on these questions, if your company does all residential work or is only planning to hire one or two employees over the next year, then an in-house program is probably the best choice for you. But if you do a lot of commercial work, bid project’s with prevailing wages per the Davis-Bacon Act, or are hiring several apprentices a year to grow your business, then you should consider a DOL-registered apprenticeship program.

Either way, NTCA University can be used as part of your training program. If you decide to develop a DOL-registered apprenticeship program, NTCA has National Guidelines for Apprenticeship Standards that could be used by your company to register your program. While each state is different, we are able to assist you to get the necessary paperwork completed. Once your company is approved as a sponsor, you will work directly with your state to register your apprentices and recruit new hires.

Visit the NTCA website for more information on apprenticeships.

UofCTS announces new course

The University of Ceramic Tile and Stone (UofCTS) just released the new “The Complete Guide on Developing Tile & Stone Specifications with Architects” course.

This course provides the student with thorough and detailed information on how architectural sales representatives can get their tile and stone products specified with “Bullet Proof Specifications” meaning resistant to “Value Engineering and Substitutions.”

The course covers:

  • Selection Process and Considerations
  • Types of Architectural Specifications
  • Architectural Specification Structure – Master Format – Part 1, 2 & 3
  • Getting Your Products Specified
  • Tracking and Protecting the Specification
  • Communication Skills and Strategies

Students completing this course will have learned how to determine product suitability for the intended use, learned the different types of Architectural Specifications, learned how to prepare a “Bullet Proof” MasterFormat Specification Part 1, 2 & 3 sections, learn techniques and strategies for getting your products specified, learned how to track and protect your specifications from substitutions and value engineering, and learned key communication skills and strategies to help them develop meaningful relationships with the specifiers and construction team.

Students will be provided with a tile and stone MasterFormat Specification template that they can use to assist architects in specifying their products.

The content of this course is based on the many years of successful architectural sales by sales representatives who have sold many high-profile projects around the country.
This course is rated at an average of 7 hours to complete. UofCTS online courses are available 24/7 for 14 days from start date at the UofCTS Online Campus.  The cost of this course is $300.00 per student (or two member discounted tuitions from CTDA, NTCA, TTMAC, or Fuse Alliance).

The list price for taking this course is $300.00 per person or two association member tuitions.  Once registered, students have 14 days to complete the course which is accessible online, 24/7. Students can print a personalized certificate when they have passed all lesson assessments with a score of 80% or better.  Upon passing the course the student is provided a link to download a student reference guide that contains all of the key information from that respective course. Volume discounts are available.

The UofCTS is the training division of Ceramic Tile and Stone Consultants (CTaSC) and is committed to developing training programs for the ceramic tile and stone industry utilizing the latest and most effective technology and learning methodologies. Launched in 2003, UofCTS has enjoyed many years of success with trade and design professionals and is the leading online training University for the Tile and Stone Industry.

Chanel Carrizosa CTI #1380: promote qualified labor first

Icon Tile & Design to sponsor a female tile setter’s CTI exam

Chanel Carrizosa

In October 2017, Chanel Carrizosa of Icon Tile & Design (icontileanddesign.com) in Kirkland, Wash., was profiled as one of TileLetter’s Women in Tile. She’s been in the business since 1996, but started Icon with her husband in 2000.

In the story, she declared she was planning to test for the Certified Tile Installer (CTI) credential that year, after reading about it on the Facebook groups Tile Geeks and Global Tile Posse.

Flash forward to CTI #1380, and the history is clear – Carrizosa took the exam in Kent, Wash., at Bedrosians in 2017 and passed. Now both she and husband Jamen (CTI #1381) hold the CTI credentials.

“We heavily advertise about CTI and the NTCA on our website, and have incorporated [these] on business cards,” she said. “We hope that having this credential will keep our price at a premium, and we try to educate consumers, distributors/suppliers about the importance of using CTIs to level the playing field, since many referrals are relationship-based as opposed to promoting qualified labor first.”

Carrizosa got started in tile in 1996.

Carrizosa prepared for the test by making sure her tools were ready and in good working order. “I wanted to make sure I was comfortable, and had a good playlist to listen to keep me going throughout the day,” she said. “Prior to the test, I had great encouragement and support from Shon Parker, Kevin Insalato and Jason McDaniel.”

Carrizosa found the written exam to be relatively easy, with its open-book format. “I did find it to be very informative though and learned how and what to search for, and why the information is so important,” she said.

Going into the hands-on portion of the test, she wondered how something so small could be so challenging as others had mentioned on social media. That was until it was her turn. “It was the hardest 3’x3’ space I’ve had to tile,” she said. “I think a lot of it was the pressure of it all, and the time – it just seemed to fly by. It was down to the wire but I got it done.

Today, she is CTI #1380, and owner of Icon Tile & Design in Kirkland, Wash.

“I think managing your time is a big factor on taking the test,” she said. “I learned how to manage my time better, and really how to install correctly with approved methods.” Carrizosa said that at the end of the test, some good shortcuts were pointed out for use on everyday jobs. She continues to seek training and certifications (like large panel tile installation training) .

“Certification is important to our industry because there are a lot of people out there that think they know how to tile, but really don’t know how to tile correctly and make it last,” she said. “As an unregulated trade, I’m hoping this is a start to get qualified labor noticed by consumers, as it seems to be so important and prevalent in many European countries. Many other trades and jobs require certification, so why shouldn’t ours – especially when dealing with water-evacuation systems?”

“Installers can say how good they are or how busy they are – but are they willing to put their skills to the test?” asked Carrizosa.

Carrizosa is cheering other tilers on towards certification. “I’d encourage other professional tile installers to take the test and join our professional community,” she said. “Besides the fact that you can always learn something, it helps identify professionals in our industry. Join us and be part of our movement. Installers can say how good they are or how busy they are – but are they willing to put their skills to the test?”

Icon to sponsor CTI exam for female tile setter

Icon Tile & Design is putting its money where its mouth is. It plans to sponsor a female tile installer from the Pacific Northwest who is ready and wants to take the CTI exam, within the next year. Requirements are two years working as a tile setter. The candidate is a woman who sees this opportunity as a chance to establish credentials and grow her expertise and business for the future. If this sounds like you, and you would like to take advantage of this CTI scholarship, contact Icon Tile and Design at [email protected]. 

Carrizosa admitted that managing her time was key to completing the CTI exam.

Let’s do this! #BecomeaCTI

There has been a lot of buzz lately surrounding the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation’s (CTEF) Certified Tile Installer (CTI) testing program. As a newcomer into the organization, I see room for the program to grow, and its potential to change the industry. 

The foundation of the program has been established: the CTEF developed a test that incorporates industry standards and challenges. It stretches the common beliefs of an installer, and requires a great deal of time management. Those who are passionate, yearn for education, and like a good challenge are showing interest, and are registering to become a Certified Tile Installer. 

Those who have taken the test know its demands and challenges. What becoming a CTI does is show the consumer/customer you follow industry standards, take pride in staying educated, and strive to do things correctly. Whether you are residential or commercial, becoming a CTI can make a huge difference in the fight for qualified labor. 

It is time for the trade to change the consumer mindset on labor. Budgets on projects should include allowances for quality installation, and not be about the lowest bid. Becoming a CTI increases the leverage needed to engage change. With that leverage, we will be able to build upon the progress that the NTCA Five-Star Contractor program has accomplished in getting qualified labor specified. Getting the architectural, design, builder, and retail community to specify and require CTIs creates a channel for the installer to make the compensation that is deserved.

Joining NTCA is a conduit to becoming a CTI. The CTEF and NTCA are working closely together to educate the industry on tile industry standards, methods, and best practices found in ANSI A108/A118, the TCNA Handbook for Ceramic, Glass and Stone Tile Installation, and manufacturer instructions, giving them the tools needed to become a certified installer. We are in the process of increasing CTI testing opportunities across the country, paying attention to the demographic areas where qualified labor is lacking. In 2020 we will be increasing efforts to secure sites for CTI testing and NTCA Workshops with our industry partners. 

Social media has played a huge role in CTEF’s recruitment of future CTIs, mainly from current CTIs mentoring, encouraging, and sponsoring future CTIs. This outpouring of support is how change gets initiated. The CTEF is grateful for our CTI graduates, and their participation in making the program a success. We are dedicated in 2020 to secure regional locations to expand the Advanced Certification (ACT) program, and have regular
scheduled opportunities available as well. 

I am excited to see what the future brings. 2020 will be a busy year. The opportunity to make a difference is at the industry’s fingertips. The CTEF and NTCA are dedicated to assuring qualified labor is required on jobsites. Become a CTI today. Please visit www.ceramictileeducationfoundation.org for more information. 

CTI testing stretches the common beliefs of an installer, and requires a great deal of time management. It shows your clients that you follow industry standards, take pride in staying educated, and strive to do things correctly.

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