NTCA Roundtable Live! Artisan Edition – Session 2 set for Tuesday, November 17, 2020 at 6:00 pm Central

NTCA Roundtable Live Artist Edition

On October 20, NTCA hosted its first ever NTCA Roundtable Live! Artisan Edition.  The goal of this and future artisan roundtables is to infect tile industry professionals with the joy of bringing their finely honed skills to another rewarding level.

Now, NTCA has scheduled a second artist roundtable. The upcoming one-hour NTCA Roundtable Live! Artisan Edition-Session 2 on Tuesday, November 17 at 6:00 p.m. CST, promises to be informational and engaging, with plenty of time for attendee discussion and questions.

Twenty six people attended the initial gathering, and artisan tile setters extraordinaire Joshua Nordstrom of Tierra Tile, Lee Callewaert of Dragonfly Tile & Stoneworks, and Angie Halford Ré of Unique Mosaics LLC gave background on themselves, discussed how tile is used as a medium in the world of the tile artisan creating one of a kind works of art for all types of discrimination clients.  They fielded questions from participants and NTCA’s  Mark Heinlein, Robb Roderick and Randy Fleming.

Here are just a few of the topics that were discussed during this engaging evening:·      

  • How do you get into the artisan tile market?
  • How much creative freedom do you have with your designs?      
  • What materials do you use?      
  • What kind of tools do you need?      
  • How do you develop estimates for such custom work?      
  • How do you interest your clients in custom designs?      
  • How much of your work is traditional tile setting and how much is custom?      
  • How do you develop your renderings and sketches?      
  • How do you manage the different thicknesses of your materials?
The upcoming one-hour NTCA Roundtable Live! Artisan Edition-Session 2 on Tuesday, November 17 at 6:00 p.m. CST, promises to be informational and engaging, with plenty of time for attendee discussion and questions.

TileLetter editor Lesley Goddin also gave a brief overview of a brand new magazine geared towards custom tile work. TileLetter ARTISAN will publish in the spring and fall next year and will focus on the beauty and precision of artisan tile setting in stunning traditional and custom residential  and commercial projects.

The upcoming one-hour NTCA Roundtable Live! Artisan Edition-Session 2 will feature a blend of education and discussion. The session wraps up with the “Ask the REF game,” developed with Custom Building Products and sponsored by the setting materials supplier.  This feature poses questions that are derived from the NTCA Reference Manual. In a fun interactive format,participants who answer correctly have a chance to pick swag of their choice from CUSTOM.

Prior to the program, register and receive the link to the Zoom meeting on the NTCA website by going to this link:  https://www.tile-assn.com/events/EventDetails.aspx?id=1442083&group=

Directly join the Zoom meeting here:   https://zoom.us/j/97750161638?pwd=N0NkVk9KczFMcDBkQklpeFcrMU1wUT09.

Looking forward to seeing you on November 17 at 6:00 p.m., CST!

NTCA Roundtable Live! “Who is NTCA? with President Chris Walker” set for Wednesday, November 11, 1 p.m. CST

Chris Walker, NTCA President

NTCA has set its next NTCA Roundtable Live! for Wednesday, November 11. This session is the first in a series to feature the  NTCA President and Vice Presidents as guest moderators.

The one-hour November 11 event will take place at 1:00 p.m. CST, with NTCA President Chris Walker of David Allen Company, as guest host. Join the discussion to get to know NTCA officers, discover the people behind NTCA, what the association offers you, and why you belong!

Coming months will feature First Vice President Martin Brookes of Heritage Marble & Tile, Second Vice President Sam Bruce of Visalia Ceramic Tile and Third Vice President Rod Owen of C.C. Owen Tile.

In addition to the dialog inherent to the NTCA Roundtable Live!, each session wraps up with the “Ask the REF game,” developed with Custom Building Products and sponsored by the setting materials supplier.  This feature poses questions that are derived from the NTCA Reference Manual. In a fun interactive format,participants who answer correctly have a chance to pick swag of their choice from CUSTOM.

Prior to the program, register and receive the link to the Zoom meeting on the NTCA website by going to this link:  https://www.tile-assn.com/events/EventDetails.aspx?id=1412654. Or directly join the Zoom meeting using this link:  https://zoom.us/j/98679635237?pwd=Rm9yNGY4bkVoM1E3ZW1udXpCTHhSZz09

Looking forward to seeing you on November 11 at 1:00 p.m., CST!

CUSTOM supports training with sponsorship, virtual and in-person options

So, pandemics can have silver linings. 

While the training and education aspect of our industry has taken a hit with the suspension of in-person events, workshops and classes, necessity has been the mother of invention when it comes to virtual, on-line classes and events. 

Will White

In September, we reported on the NTCA Roundtables Live that are led by our trainers and aim to keep people in the industry connected, impart information on tile-related challenges and methods, and provide a format that is conducive to civil and productive discussion. From the beginning, Custom Building Products was on board as an NTCA Roundtables Live sponsor. According to Will White CTC/CMT, Director of Technical Communications & Training, Custom Building Products, White brainstormed some ideas with NTCA Training Director Mark Heinlein, then developed a “fun program of answering questions and directing people to the NTCA Reference Manual,” he said. The point was “to make that human connection and provide support and appreciation.”

Thus the Ask the REF (short for “Reference Manual”) was born. This feature of the NTCA Roundtables Live is to “point out the value to the contractors – of not just best methods – but also how to protect themselves in their businesses and set expectations for stakeholders on the job by using letters in the NTCA Reference Manual,” White said. 

The format is more interactive than a Q&A, White said – kind of a combination between Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and Cash Cab, with a group share where everyone can chime in and an “ask a friend” feature to get answer options. 

Ask the REF is also useful to “break up the sequencing of conversation pieces,” White said. “When NTCA Roundtables Live started, everything revolved about COVID: the ups and downs, challenges, safety protocols, do customers want you in their home, etc. Putting in a game piece was important for a brain break, levity and balance. It also offered a ‘people piece.’ It helped direct attention away from COVID into installation and business practices.” And of course CUSTOM supplied swag too for winners – buckets and grout floats and tools that tile installers use every day!

CUSTOM training: live and virtual

In addition to its support of NTCA Roundtables Live and the Ask the REF program, CUSTOM has been running its own training events, which employ a hybrid format at present. “We’ve invested a lot of effort to produce and deliver virtual content,” said White. This is tailored to each segment of the market – architectural, tile contractors, distributors, general contractors. The company has even conducted virtual porcelain tile panel training, he said. The format involves a technical consultant who is giving the virtual instruction and a local rep on-site to assist with hands-on one-on-one trainings with a dozen or so attendees for special projects. There have been three virtual trainings and two of the hybrid trainings so far with plans for more. And reps are also available through a range of platforms – Facetime, Zoom, Webx, Teams, or GoToMeeting to meet customer needs.

Looking ahead, CUSTOM is eager to get Custom Technical University (CTU) up and running again full time in 2021. The facility, located in Seal Beach, Calif., has been closed since March 2020. But White foresees trainings resuming next year, albeit with some adjustments – “Using COVID precautions, working more closely with smaller, focused groups for in-person support where allowable and where makes sense,” White said. “We have to wait until the right time, and be respectful of clients, and their families and our employees’ protection – as early as April all the way out to a June start.” 

The 50,000 sq. ft. CTU is designed to work with groups of about 40 people at a time, and to facilitate classroom and hands-on application with a six-person training team. Courses address surface prep, industry standards, guidelines, best practices, troubleshooting. Though, “We talk about how our products fit into those standards and let you apply those products,” White said, it’s not an “infomercial. Everything is keyed around product and installation standards, designed to be a visual, audio and kinesthetic learning experience for those who attend.” Essential industry manuals and handbooks are given to attendees to support the learning.

IMI/BAC 2019 Western Sates Apprenticeship contest and Cleveland BAC event

In addition, prior to COVID, the CTU was on the road, bringing that experience to local areas, offering road shows in large convention rooms in local venues and working with the local sales team to bring week-long trainings in waterproofing, surface prep or even gauged porcelain panel installations. “It’s like a mini trade show,” White said. “CUSTOM recognizes the value to invest the time and effort into these trainings.”

When the live CTU trainings resume, virtual training won’t disappear – in fact, White said, CUSTOM will soon push out a teaser for a new e-learning platform, called CTUOA – Custom Technical University Online Anytime – that will launch in first quarter 2021. 

“It’s part of our plan to offer various experiences of engagement,” White said. “If you are in an office and can’t get out to an in-person program, we can set up in e-learning in bite-size pieces. New standards are coming, and those will be added to the menu. Most of us have been inundated with virtual world since that’s all we have. Going forward, we will get back to new norm, but I think the virtual experience will be as important.” 

CTEF schedules first Certification Testing event of 2021

CTEF, the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation, has scheduled its first Certified Tile Installer (CTI) hands-on testing event for 2021 at The Carpet & Tile Warehouse in Vero Beach, Florida on Saturday, February 20, 2021. CTEF provides education and installer certification for professionals working in the ceramic tile and stone industry. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, CTEF had to cancel all 2020 certification and training events, effective March 2020.

“Scheduling this first CTI hands-on testing event is a testament to the importance of CTEF’s mission and the support of the entire tile industry,” said Scott Carothers, Director of Certification and Training for CTEF. “The pandemic has reinforced the importance for the tile industry to have a pool of talented and certified installers available to handle the amount of new work on the horizon.”

CTEF has created a four-page Certified Tile Installer COVID-19 policy which will be in effect during installer orientation, set up, and hands-on testing and will coincide with the location’s state and local guidelines. Per CDC guidelines, the following procedures will be in place:

  • Face masks will always be worn by the evaluator, installers, and hosts
  • Social distancing will be in place during orientation, set up, and during the operation of the test
  • No-touch temperature readings will be administered at the beginning of each day
  • PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) must always be in place
  • Tools and equipment may not be shared

“We are very grateful to Deby and Robert Winter of The Carpet & Tile Warehouse for supporting the CTI program especially during these unprecedented times,” added Carothers.

The Certified Tile Installer Program

The Certified Tile Installer Program

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. It offers owners, whether residential or commercial, peace-of-mind that their tile installer has the right skills to complete a successful tile installation.

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.

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

“The CTI program is strictly a test of the installer’s skills and knowledge; it is a self-study course which offers no instructional classes,” says Carothers. “However, many installers who have completed the CTI tests say that studying the written materials was very valuable and assisted in the completion of the hands-on test and that the CTI Manual provided the correct methods for tile installation which may not have been the way they installed tile in the past.”

chanel with cti module
Chanel Carrizosa, Icon Tile & Design, after completing the hands-on portion of her CTI exam.

The CTI program includes two separate tests.

  • An online open-book exam which is taken at home or the office as the installer’s schedule allows.
  • A hands-on test which is conducted at regional locations across the United States. The hands-on portion of the test begins with an hour-long orientation class the day before the hands-on test to provide the installers with all the information they will need, get their tools in place, and have their questions answered. Installers arrive on test day 6:30 am to complete their final set up and be ready to begin. The test starts at 7:09 am and must be completed by 4:00 pm.

The written test must be successfully completed before participating in the hands-on test.

Those interested in registering for the February 20th, 2021 hands-on testing event at The Carpet & Tile Warehouse in Vero Beach, FL should go to https://www.ceramictilefoundation.org/events.

More certification events are forthcoming for 2021.

M-D PRO goes live with the PROVA Digital Product Knowledge Series!

Prova Digital Education Series

M-D PRO recently opened registration for the PROVA Digital Product Knowledge Series to all within the building products, flooring trade and home renovation industries. What started as a private program for its immediate customer-base will now be available to anyone who wants to learn about a North American alternative solution for ceramic installation and waterproofing.

The marketing and technical teams at M-D PRO worked quickly to get a webinar series produced and launched for their flooring distributor customer base back in the Spring amidst the COVID-19 quarantine. “This was a great opportunity to keep us in front of our customers despite the company- wide travel restrictions that were put in place,” said Fredrik Olsson, V.P. of Sales, M-D PRO. “Many of our customers were shut down and their sales teams had an appetite for continued education and training.”

The M-D PRO marketing team took this time to review and refine the webinar process that was initially created. “This allowed us to test our webinar-hosting skills and formulate a soft launch for the newly-
created series through the summer so we could work out the kinks and be ready for a mass audience,” added Melanie Duchak, Marketing & Events Coordinator, M-D Canada.

The PROVA Digital Product Knowledge Series is broken out into quick and easy-to-follow 20-minute modules that can be viewed on a lunch or coffee break. “We understand that a viewer or user will not get the full value of experience out of watching installation-based virtual training,” said Julia Vozza, Director of Marketing, M-D Canada. “That is something that needs to be done in a physical setting where the user can be hands-on to get the true value from it. These days, many are working hard trying to get business back on track and we know that it may be unrealistic to expect users to allot 2-3 hours of their time to virtual installation-based training.”

M-D PRO has instead gone back to basics with PROVA product and technical knowledge to inform those that may not be familiar with the brand or the system and want to learn something new in a timely manner. “This series is meant to provide the specific and key differentiators of the PROVA system to educate a larger audience on what it can offer and how it can create efficiencies and cost-savings to the user,” Vozza said. “And we hope that these succinct modules will provide a level of convenience and
satisfaction to users in today’s environment. We look forward to getting back to physical installation- based training when it is safe for us all to do so.”

The series is moderated by Melanie Duchak, Marketing and Events Coordinator, M-D Canada and presented by Duane Farley, PROVA Technical and Installation Specialist, CDN as well as Mark Albonetti, PROVA Technical and Installation Specialist, U.S. The fall line-up also has some bonus content featuring special guest, Clint Watson of TileFreak, a tile enthusiast and influencer with over 20 years’ experience in the tile trade. The series concludes with an open Q&A session in late Fall titled “The Floor is Yours” where all 3 expert panelists will be ready to take on any and all questions related to PROVA, tile, installation, and the trade.

The Fall schedule is now live and registration open with dates through to mid-November. Those who attend the entire series will be entered into a draw to win 1 of 3 PROVA product prize packs, valued at
$500 each. Winners will be announced at the end of the series in late November.

Registration page:
https://lp.constantcontactpages.com/cu/UIrjYBb/PROVAPRODKNOWLEDGESEPT20

NTCA names residential and commercial Tile Setter Craftsperson of the Year

NTCA has selected the Tile Setter Craftsperson of the Year in both residential and commercial categories, lauding tile setter craftpeople who reflect the best training and resulting skill, and qualities of leadership, positivity and continued striving for excellence.

The commercial winner is Ferid Hasic of Grazzini Brothers & Company, Eagan, Minn., nominated by Greg Grazzini, CEO and President. Leonardo “Leo” Reynaga of Visalia Ceramic Tile, Inc., nominated by Teresa Inglehart, Residential Operations Assistant, walks away with the residential honors. Both winners hailed from NTCA Five-Star contractor member companies. 

Rod Owen, C.C. Owen Co., Mike Micalizzi of Custom Building Products, and James Woelfel, consultant, scored the commercial entries. Jan Hohn of Hohn & Hohn, Inc., William White, ARDEX, and consultant Nyle Wadford judged the residential entries. 

Those submitting a nominee for consideration were required to supply a letter of nomination stating why they were nomimated, a resume that specified noteworthy achievements, examples of leadership and efforts to stay educated on products and methods important to the trade. In addition, each application had to include three to five projects, complete with photos and description of the candidate’s role in the projects. 

Judging criteria included the following factors: 

  • 15 years or more setting tile, and continuing to set tile as part of job today (Yes/No)
  • Technical correctness of tile installations – 25%
  • Craftsmanship/Artistry – 30%
  • Ability to resolve tile installation problems – 20%
  • Self-improvement/continuing education – 15%
  • Mentoring/leading others – 10%

The winners receive round-trip airfare for two to Coverings 2021, hotel accommodations for a three-night stay and will be recognized during NTCA Awards Night during the show. 

Nyle Wadford, a residential category judge, noted, “I am honored to be chosen to judge these entries. Viewing their work and their dedication to their craft was an uplifting experience. When this fast-paced world in which we live demands that it be done more rapidly with ‘get by’ quality, these entrants eschew that notion and proved their dedication to quality on each of the installations reviewed. It is both pleasing and humbling to know that there are still tile installers today that adhere to these practices. Congratulations to all the entrants. They’re all winners in my book!”

Let’s meet our winners!

Ferid Hasic, Grazzini Brothers & Company

Hasic grew up in Bosnia and learned the tile trade from a third generation tile setter in Germany. He and his family moved to the U.S. in January, 1998 and he became a naturalized U.S. citizen. His excellent training in Germany allowed him to skip additional training with the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC) Local Union 1 Minnesota, demonstrate his skill and obtain his Tile Setter Journeyman card with the local. He also holds a Stone Mason Journeyman card. 

With levels of increasing responsibility from tile setter to foreman with Grazzini Brothers, he supervises up to 45 workers, while mentoring crew and overseeing projects. He makes it a point to set tile every day, becoming a role model for crew members. 

“If I show the people by my working hard, they will work hard,” Hasic said. “I take pride in my work and want to set a good example. I strive for no punch list on every job. It is important for the people to see that I put myself in their shoes – both my crew and the company. I want to do a good job, so the company gets more jobs. If the company prospers, I will prosper.” 

He keeps up with products and installation methods by using the NTCA University website, the TCNA Handbook and obtaining Union upgrades when offered. In his 21 years with Grazzini Brothers & Company, he has installed over 300 projects. 

“For the past 21 years, Ferid has worked for Grazzini Brothers & Company,” wrote Greg Grazzini in his nomination letter. “I have always been impressed by the exceptional quality of craftsmanship and service he provides to every job and to every client. Ferid displays the ability to adapt fast and efficiently to changing circumstances. He handles manpower with firmness, fairness, sets a good example and has a quiet demeanor that is respected by all his co-workers. His exceptional craftsmanship is continually requested by past clients.”

Hasic isn’t new to awards and accolades – Grazzini Brothers awarded him its own Tile Setter of the Year award in 2000, Foreman of the Year in 2007 and again in 2013. 

“Ferid is one of those people whose skill and dedication motivate those around him,” Grazzini added. “We are proud to have him as part of the Grazzini team and very proud to recognize his contribution to the tile industry with his nomination for the 2020 NTCA Tile Setter Craftsperson of the Year Award.” 

Hasic said, “I have worked my whole life in this industry, and I feel it has paid off by winning this award.”

Leo Reynaga, Visalia Ceramic Tile, Inc.

As a young father who started working before even finishing high school, Reynaga came to Visalia Ceramic Tile with no experience, and learned his craft through training with owner Robert Martinho, discovering quickly that this career could provide a good living for his growing family. Inglehart said his go-getter attitude propelled him to success.

“Today, with over 24 years in the trade, Leo has become a top setter for commercial and residential applications,” Inglehart said, in her nomination letter. “It is rare to have one guy the best at projects requiring vast differences from small to large areas, simple to custom details – and he’s got it.” His positive attitude, product knowledge, continuing quest for education and experience and willingness to motivate and encourage others have distinguished him as a leader. Inglehart said he’s brought family members and friends into the trade, trained them and pushed them to excel – not only in installation skills but with chops to plan, set goals and develop a true love for the craft. He continues his own education and holds certifications that include safety citations, Certified Tile Installer and has attended classes and workshops by National Tile Contractors Association, Custom Building Products, and Crossville.

“Leo’s knowledge and application have been an immeasurable asset and he continues to be at top of his trade at every project regardless of residential, commercial or complexity,” Inglehart said. “He is a problem solver, a mentor, and a role model for the entire company.”

Reynaga said that receiving this award demonstrates that “no matter what age or time in your career you could always achieve. This award shows my family and coworkers that if you have dedication, hard work, and love for your craft you will succeed.”

He is proud of how far he has come in the industry. “Working for Visalia Ceramic Tile has taught me the key principles of having a hard working ethic and taking pride in what you do, which is something that I have passed down onto my coworkers and kids as well,” he said. 

Challenges from the work – or working with the homeowner – energize Reynaga. “I like the challenge of finding a solution that I can bring to the table that will benefit the outcome and finished product,” he said.

NTCA brings training to you with virtual workshops and roundtables

New NTCA VIP Text Messaging Program keeps you in the loop for upcoming training events

Here we are, in September, and no doubt you are missing some of the great training opportunities NTCA is known for. But did you know that although NTCA trainers are not physically roaming the country to present workshops and conduct roundtables, you don’t have to miss out on these educational events? In fact, you don’t have to leave the convenience of your phone or computer to take part in NTCA Workshops and NTCA Roundtables Live, all presented virtually.

NTCA Workshops

The NTCA Workshops were some of the most-anticipated training opportunities each year. Now you can enjoy the 90-minute virtual program anywhere you have a connected device, through the magic of virtual conferencing! 

The focus of the programs for this year is The Ins and Outs of Layout, which was developed to help contractors and installers master layout principles that can expedite your projects and create balanced layouts. The program reviews the basics of squaring a room, determining the focal point of the room to properly balance the tile installations, using grid pattern in tile installation and more. These principles are utilized by installation companies of all sizes in any type of job, so take the opportunity to tune into this virtual presentation and up your layout game. You’ll also have a chance to ask questions of the NTCA Trainer, and videos of the tips and techniques discussed will be shared with attendees. 

Visit https://www.tile-assn.com/page/VWSHOP for more information and to view a teaser video of the program. 

NTCA Roundtables Live

In June and July, NTCA Roundtables Live were held virtually in each region, with the Regional Directors moderating. This is a change to discuss pressing topics with peers, NTCA trainers, manufacturers and other industry experts and get answers to technical questions. They started up again in August, backed by the sponsorship of Custom Building Products through the end of the year.  

“Losing that human interaction has been crazy and difficult for all of us,” said Will White CTC/CMT, Director of Technical Communications & Training, Custom Building Products. “This roundtable series provides a way we can all connect. CUSTOM has always held high the standard of supporting the contractor on the job, in the trenches, getting it done day in and day out. More now than ever, creating a forum where we can meet, asking the difficult questions about installation issues, challenges and even experiences on this new way of life together is immeasurable. Custom Building Products and I are very pleased, excited for the growing participation and thankful to the NTCA for the honor to engage and support this new effort.”

NTCA Roundtables Live allows viewers the opportunity to discuss technical topics and answer technical questions with peers, NTCA trainers, state ambassadors, and other industry experts.

Each NTCA Roundtables Live is conducted via virtual conferencing and runs for about an hour, beginning at 1 p.m. Eastern Time (12 noon Central/11 a.m. Mountain/10 a.m. Pacific). There is a general topic set for each meeting; some topics that have been explored in past roundtables include: 

  • Exterior Installations
  • Installer Habits (good and not-so-good)
  • Use of Mastic (when and where – or – when not and where not)
  • Substrate Preparation
  • Jobsite Security
  • Qualified Labor in the tile industry
  • Bring your questions and conversation! We want to hear from you!

There’s also plenty of opportunities to discuss other topics that come up in the group. 

NTCA Technical Director Mark Heinlein co-moderates with the Regional Director, and NTCA Trainers Robb Roderick and Randy Fleming are on hand for technical discussion and questions. While all members from the states in the scheduled region will be invited to attend, non-members can take part as well. And going forward, each roundtable will be open to the entire industry, not restricted by state. 

One big advantage of the NTCA Roundtables Live is the format gives seasoned contractors and those new to the industry positive support through a respectful forum, said Heinlein. 

“The roundtables are really starting to take off, with more and more people attending and engaging in fantastic discussions,” he explained. “It’s a tremendous opportunity to talk about tile in a safe place with industry professionals, without fear of ‘keyboard bravado’ that is sometimes seen on social media sites.” In fact, Heinlein said – although participation powers the discussion – contractors and installers can join the call to just listen if they wish. 

One of the new features of the NTCA Roundtables Live in the second half of the year is the “Ask the REF” feature. This feature poses questions that are derived from the NTCA Reference Manual; participants who answer correctly have a chance to pick swag of their choice from CUSTOM. 

Visit https://www.tile-assn.com/page/RT to register for the NTCA Roundtables Live. 

NTCA VIP Text Messaging Program

Got too much going on to check your calendar to see when Virtual Workshops and NTCA Roundtables Live are available? NTCA has you covered. You can now opt-in to NTCA’s VIP Text Messaging program that will alert you no more than 4-6 times a month when and where our next educational event is – or when our trainers get back on the road – in your area. Just text NTCA to 31996 from your mobile phone and you’ll get a confirmation. You’ll receive notification for the next event and information on how to participate. 

Trainers are looking forward to seeing you, talking with you and answering your questions in these new, age-of-COVID, virtual formats. Take advantage of this new format to pump up your tile installation know-how, coming soon to a phone, tablet, or computer screen near you. 

Attend NTCA Roundtable Live, NTCA Virtual Workshop, Wednesday, August 19!

Are you looking for an opportunity to virtually gather with other like-minded individuals to discuss issues pertinent to the industry? Are you looking for some tile-related banter, expert information and inspiration for your business?

Join the next NTCA Roundtable Live on Wednesday August 19

Tune in to the NTCA Roundtable Live on Wednesday – August 19 at
10:00 am Pacific / 11:00 am Mountain / 12:00 noon Central / 1:00
pm Eastern.
“We will be discussing tile related issues that matter to you. Bring your questions, and discussion points for our team,” said Mark Heinlein, NTCA Technical Director.

Register here to receive a Zoom login link to attend the discussion.
Play the “Ask the REF” game — and test your knowledge of the NTCA Reference Manual — to win prizes from Custom Building Products!

In the evening, you’ll have the opportunity to attend a NTCA Virtual Workshop, held at 6:00 pm Pacific / 7:00 pm Mountain / 8:00 pm Central / 9:00 pm Eastern

Register here for the NTCA Virtual Workshop.

Learn from the one and only Randy Fleming as he presents NTCA’s The Ins and Outs of Layout workshop.  Stay to win prizes including a floor warming system provided by SunTouch and WattsWater!

Receive reminder updates for NTCA’s educational events, including NTCA Roundtables Live and NTCA Workshop. Opt in to NTCA’s VIP Text Update by texting NTCA to 31996 or click on this link: https://slkt.io/7gLq

“Fundamentals of Thin-Bed Knowledge” Now Available at No Cost, courtesy of a contribution from Jason Goldberg

Through a generous contribution from Jason Goldberg, founder and CEO of America’s Floor Source, Retail Lead Management and TraLaMa, CTEF’s Fundamentals of Thin-Bed Knowledge is now available at no charge.

The Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) has announced that it is now offering the “Fundamentals of Thin-Bed Knowledge” (FTBK) guide to anyone associated with the tile industry, at no cost.

This guide – along with the Certified Tile Installer “Field Manual for Thin-Bed Installation of Ceramic Tile” and associated tests – have become the industry standards for the professional development of tile installers and others involved in the sale, specification, prep, installation, and service of ceramic tile.

Free access and distribution of this guide have been made possible through an ongoing contribution from Jason Goldberg, founder and CEO of America’s Floor Source, Retail Lead Management, and TraLaMa.

“We need a broader audience beyond installers to be knowledgeable about ceramic tile,” explained Goldberg. “Everyone from salespeople to estimators to construction managers must have a strong understanding of what it takes to do tile correctly. Otherwise, jobs go wrong, and the reputation of the whole industry suffers.”

Mark Heinlein, training director at the NTCA, added, “Tiling ain’t easy. A successful installation requires everyone in the chain to have a thorough understanding of the entire process – including the roles of every other person along the way.”

The CTEF aims to improve the tile industry through education, training, and participation in the development of nationally recognized standards and methods. With the inclusion of the distributor and dealer networks, CTEF will be able to reach the people who will benefit greatly from this new-found knowledge.

The Fundamentals of Thin-Bed Knowledge by CTEF is a valuable resource for the entire industry.

“This new program will enable all of us to reach more people through new avenues,” added Scott Carothers, Director of Certification and Training at the CTEF. “In doing so, we’ll create a more knowledgeable support system which will substantially reduce the number of expensive tile specification and installation failures. These failures, which should not be occurring, give the entire tile industry a ‘black eye,’ and can cause potential tile-using clientele to consider other possibilities. But with more people using the FTBK guide, there will be more tile installations being properly specified and installed correctly the first time, encouraging consumers to purchase more tile in the future.”

To obtain free access to the “Fundamentals of Thin-Bed Knowledge” study guide, tile and flooring professionals can visit www.CeramicTileFoundation.org and click on the red FTBK button.

Additionally, through the CTEF website, FTBK students can use their newly-found knowledge from this guide to complete an online test (for a $99 fee) and earn a Certificate of Completion as a Fundamentals of Thin-Bed Knowledge industry professional.

Mentorship: one-to-one support for your business questions

Facebook groups, NTCA offer advice to bolster businesses

Education and training take many forms – workshops, regional programs, lunch-and-learns. In this time of COVID-19, virtual conferencing tools like Zoom have helped convey information that traditionally was taught in person.

Long before COVID even reared its ugly head, Facebook instituted an option where experienced individuals in a group could work one-to-one with others with similar interests, to assist, support, and mentor them. 

Headshot of Bradford Denny
Bradford Denny

NTCA contractor member Bradford Denny, of Nichols Tile & Terrazzo in Joelton, Tenn., has been a mentor through Facebook in the NTCA Members Only group for a while. Once a group gets to a certain size, Facebook opens a popup that invites longstanding members of a group to become members, and Denny decided to give it a try. 

“There has been a spirit of mentorship in NTCA as long as it has been around,” Denny explained. “That naturally happens with contractors in that network. When you come to an event, you meet people who have something going on you can learn from.” 

Denny explained that mentorship is a commitment on the part of the mentor and the mentee. “Mentorship is an investment by both parties,” he said. The mentee has to be willing to act on suggestions that the mentor will offer.”

Facebook provides a virtual board that lists mentors and mentees on the group; when both parties agree to mentorship and are paired up, the mentee comes off the board. “They have to re-up if they want to try with a different mentor or get a separate perspective from someone else,” Denny said.

He observed that you are “witnessing real-time learning” with the Facebook Mentor Program in the NTCA Members Only group. 

Stock photo of a hand with pen and paper checklist
The mentorship process includes a get-to-know-you process in which mentors and mentees learn about each other and their businesses – like primary business, number of employees, annual volume.

Denny has been working with seven people in the past few months. The process includes a get-to-know-you process in which mentors and mentees learn about each other and their businesses – like primary business, number of employees, annual volume. Facebook gives a mentor a list of steps to follow to guide the mentee through the process. These include:

  1. Get to know each other (with suggestions on how to do that)
  2. Agree on a goal for the mentee
  3. Have a plan
  4. Check-in 
  5. Discuss progress
  6. Keep it going
  7. Celebrate progress
  8. Look ahead

“The mentor asks, ‘What is your greatest need in business right now?’ and from there, try to give them solutions,” Denny explained. “Many ask, ‘I want to grow my business,’ so we explore how good a handle the mentee has on their business, for starters.”

Denny has a reading list that he shares with mentees. He also recommends mentees use NTCA University as a resource; vouchers members receive in the Partnering for Success program can be used towards NTCA University coursework. Because Denny also is a mentor on the Tile Geeks Facebook page, he said, “NTCA University is a good way to expose people to NTCA in general. One guy joined and he said ‘I’m in the NTCA, what do I do?’ So I walked him through the process.” 

Mentors and mentees mostly communicate on Messenger as time allows, though sometimes there are also phone calls. Denny lets his mentees know what his availability is, then asks questions, recommends reading, and asks the mentee to read and think about it and answer back. Denny worked with one mentee, referred him to a book and they discussed it, then they worked forward to set a goal. 

Though there are no requirements or vetting of mentors through Facebook, when potential mentors fill out a profile, it lists their knowledge and experience in various aspects of the tile business. “The mentee also fills out a profile detailing where they want to grow or need help, in terms of the business or technical aspects of their business,” Denny said. “The mentor can choose a mentee, or a mentee can choose a mentor, and you can end a mentorship at any time.”

Headshot of Jim Olson
Jim Olson

In addition to the Facebook mentorship program, NTCA has word-of-mouth, member-only mentorship option that is coordinated through NTCA Assistant Executive Director Jim Olson. “I’ve asked new and existing members to let me know what they would like help with,” Olson said. “There is more interest in business mentoring versus technical, due to our technical hotline,” he said. Various NTCA Five-Star Contractors and State Ambassadors have stepped up to mentor, support, and answer questions.” 

Olson said the program is mostly focused on residential business and smaller companies with a goal to formalize it and make it available on a Business Mentor page situated on the Member Only Section of the NTCA association website. For now, to learn more about the NTCA Mentorship Program, contact Jim Olson at
[email protected] 

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