NTCAU – Regional Training Event mid-year wrap up

Becky Serbin,
Training and Education Coordinator

Members are always asking me about training opportunities. Well, this month I wanted to promote regional training. 

At the start of the year, NTCA announced that it would offer regional day-long events in each of its 12 regions throughout 2018. As we close in on the midway point of the year, NTCA Training Director Mark Heinlein has been traveling the country training NTCA members on one of two topics. Depending on location, he could be leading a day-long training in Industry Standards/Substrate Prep/Large-Format Tile or Gauged Porcelain Tile/Panels. 

Industry Standards/Surface Prep Large-Format Tile

The Industry Standards/Surface Prep/Large-Format Tile session starts with classroom lessons on tile industry methods and standards using ANSI resources. From there, class members learn how to use and navigate the TCNA Handbook. The attendees spend the rest of the day in a physical, hands-on working setting. Heinlein works with the class to check substrate flatness on floors and walls, general examination of framing systems, and proper installation of cementitious backer units. He then reviews various surface prep methods before releasing the attendees to work with the prep materials. 

Attendees are teamed into small groups to explore proper materials and tools for patching and rendering a vertical substrate to meet industry tolerance for large-format tile. The small groups then experiment with and pour self-leveling underlayment (SLU). 

When all substrates have been properly prepared and flattened, the class advances to proper mortar selection, mixing, trowel selection, mortar coverage, and installation techniques for large-format tile. When this event was held in Portland, Ore., Dirk Sullivan, owner of Hawthorne Tile, sent 10 installers with various levels of knowledge. Sullivan stated, “Training and education are key to the success of my company, and more importantly, the industry as a whole. The regional training event that was held here in Portland this past March was a fantastic opportunity for our installers as well as community here in Portland to see firsthand the hands-on [demonstrations], standards, techniques and materials used for successful, by-the-book installations. More please!” 

Gauged Porcelain Tile Panels

The Gauged Porcelain Tile/Panels (GPTP) course begins with streamlined overview of industry standards, then delves into ANSI A137.3 and ANSI A108.19, which have recently been approved and are specific to this new product.

After the classroom work, attendees relocate to the work area to learn about the tools that they will use during the day. Every attendee will join a small team to set a full-sized panel on either on a floor or wall substrate. As the teams work through the process, Heinlein offers tips and tricks to lead to a successful installation.

Visalia Ceramic Tile, Inc., was one of the first locations to hold the GPTP course. Sam Bruce, president, stated, “As a company, a handful of our crews have installed GPTP, but this training gave us the opportunity to have every tile setter get a high level of education and instruction of what GPTP is and how different the installation can be. The training put Visalia Ceramic Tile in a position to confidently send any tile setter to a project where GPTPs would be installed.”

Testimonials

Still not convinced that you should consider attending or sending your team? Well, here is some feedback from others who have attended:

Woody Sanders, Owner, D.W. Sanders Tile & Stone Contracting: “The regional event was a tremendous opportunity that we took full advantage of. The efforts and preparation of the NTCA, along with the workshop sponsors could not go without being noticed and applauded. With the popularity of GPTP growing and the recent completed standards being published, this training focused on GPTP from start to finish. Furthermore, the event focused on proper techniques with hands-on training. This is why a few of my apprentice setters and I attended. Looking back, I should have brought my entire staff, but coming out of Coverings’ Tiny House [Installation Design Showcase] last week, we needed to get back to work.”

Rod Owen, Owner, C.C. Owen Tile, stated: “We had the opportunity to send a diverse group of our men for the Gauged Porcelain Tile Panels training. They ranged from master journeymen to first-year students in our Apprentice Training Program here at C.C. Owen Tile Co.

“The training gave the opportunity to discover new, exciting materials and methods of installation while emphasizing the absolute necessity for a strong core foundation of time proven methods,” Owen continued. “While our veterans were realizing the importance of staying in the know of their ever-changing industry, the apprentices were digesting the many aspects of an industry they have just begun a career in. 

“It’s great to see these guys the several days after the training session because there is a synergy that comes from these sessions: the guys learning something new, and the guys realizing the company cares about their professional growth and development as well,” Owen said. “It’s also intriguing when we tell the general contractor we are pulling guys off their jobsite for the day. As a specialty contractor, logic would tell you that the GC will have a fit but to our disbelief most are in support when you tell them it’s a training session.

“More importantly, the NTCA regional event was an opportunity for our tile setters to experience the tile industry in a different way than they are used to,” Owen concluded. “Meeting Mark, Robb and David Gillespie of Crossville and other superstars in the industry who have a passion for tile was a little astonishing. Receiving the high level of training and event type atmosphere was in a way a version of Total Solutions Plus or Coverings. Our tile setters left this event motivated, refreshed and eager to enhance their skills in the trade, the same way that the national events do for me.”

Due to the magnitude of hands-on work and training by Heinlein, class sizes are limited to the first 20 registrants. In many cases, we are also unable to accept attendees without a registration and don’t have room in the training area to allow people to just stay and watch. If you decide to register, no matter which training event you attend, you are going to learn something even if you think you are an expert already. The next regional training event is in Elk Grove, Ill., on July 13th. To learn more about regional events available in your area, visit  https://bit.ly/2Lccbq6.

Learning to use industry publications: ANSI manual and TCNA Handbook

Becky Serbin,
Training and Education Coordinator

When we first started to develop NTCA University, I reached out to several contractors for feedback on courses that their company needed. Several contractors asked for courses on how to use the ANSI standards and TCNA Handbook. As we started to develop courses for new tile setters, these were near the top of the list as required courses. Courses on both topics were recently added to NTCA University.

Two ANSI standards courses

There are currently two courses covering the ANSI book: Introduction to ANSI A108.01 and Introduction to ANSI A108.02. Neither course reviews word for word all of the information found in each standard, but both courses highlight the type of information that can be found there. We are hoping that these courses will get learners to understand the type of information that these standards contain and get them to open the ANSI book to see all of the information that is useful to every tile installation.

Two TCNA Handbook courses

There are also two courses available on the TCNA Handbook. The first course is TCNA
Handbook
Specifications Section. This course focuses on the information found in the section titled Using
the TCNA Handbook for Specification Writing
, pages 48 – 50 of the 2017 edition. This course uses actual methods in the Handbook to show where the information from components of an installation method can be found and used by the tile setter. While the course is mainly focused on this area, it does review all items found in this section of the actual book. 

The second course is How to Find/Use TCNA Handbook Methods. Many people have told me that it is difficult to find the method they want to use. In this course, we review what information is available in a method number, why methods don’t always appear numerically, and different ways that you can search for methods within the Handbook.

Even though all of these courses are recommended for the start of a tile setter’s career, anyone that has been in the industry will benefit from taking these courses, especially if they feel intimidated by the books and never open them. Also, these courses could be taken by someone who is planning to take the Certified Tile Installer (CTI) test. These courses are a good way to get someone to open each publication and explore the type of information that is available.

To purchase your subscription to NTCA University, visit the NTCA store at https://tile-assn.site-ym.com/store/ListProducts.aspx?catid=490398 or http://bit.ly/2taYmOO to make your selection. If you have any questions or ideas for courses that we should have available, please give me a call at 770-366-2566 or send an email to [email protected].

Installation companies applaud benefits of NTCA University online courses

Becky Serbin,
Training and Education Coordinator

I am always asked how people are using the online NTCA University courses, how they like the courses, what type of feedback I am hearing, etc. So this month I reached out to 10 companies for feedback. With everyone’s busy schedules, I didn’t hear back from everyone but here is the feedback that I did receive.


“We are excited that the finisher courses on NTCA University are 100% complete. We have made the training a part of our orientation process as well as making it available to our existing employees. It is a great tool to introduce new hires to the trade, as well as a great supplement to the hands-on training existing employees are already receiving. We have also assigned some of the training to our showroom sales team to increase their knowledge of product and processes that are used in the field. We believe that continuing education is what sets us apart. The feedback from the team has been very positive.”

Sally Perez,
Human Resource Director,
Visalia Ceramic Tile, Inc.


“At Hawthorne Tile we’ve been really excited about the NTCA University. We feel that education is the most valuable asset we can pass on to our employees. I’m in charge of the education of our apprentices, and being able to customize the courses we have them take based on both skill set and the projects that they’ll be working on has been really helpful. I’ve been going through taking courses myself and have been very impressed with the thoroughness of each course. There is valuable information on there for everyone, from the day-one apprentice to management. This is something our trade has been lacking and I’m excited to see it come to fruition.”

Ryan Willoughby,
Project Foreman,
Hawthorne Tile


“I subscribe to NTCA University because we started this business just over a year ago and, well, – let’s face it – we had A LOT to learn. We joined the NTCA, as I am a big believer in following procedures and standards and want to leave my customers with the peace of my mind that I do indeed know what I’m doing and deserve to get the prices I quote.

“I’m currently taking Tile Standards, Just in Time and Cleaning Agents and Maintenance. I love the courses! Educational, cost effective, and convenient. Just one of the benefits this offers tile installers: an opportunity to actually learn how to do things the ‘right way.’ This only makes you better at your job.”

Tracey Guile,
Flawless Floorz


Since Flawless Floorz is new to NTCA, I reached out further to ask what types of courses she may need. And Tracey’s response was, “I have not looked through the course list in detail but one of the biggest problems I have is estimating, so I’d like a guideline to follow from measurement to preparing the estimate. Also, how to deal with all the online ‘find a (fill in the blank)’ services they have everywhere.” This is the type of feedback that I need from all members. In fact, the Training and Education Committee is working on courses for estimating that will be published soon.

To purchase your subscription, you can visit the NTCA store at https://tile-assn.site-ym.com/store/ListProducts.aspx?catid=490398 or  http://bit.ly/2taYmOO to make your purchase. If you have any questions or ideas of courses that we should have available, please give me a call or send me an email. 770-366-2566 or [email protected]

Learn more about NTCA University

Visit Becky Serbin at booth #8209 at Coverings

Becky Serbin,
Training and Education Coordinator

Spring is in the air so that can only mean one thing…it’s time for Coverings. For those of you attending the show, why do you attend? What are you planning to take away from the show? If you are like several people that I have talked with, you are attending to network, learn about new products, and attend several of the educational events to help your business grow. So obviously it is important to you to keep up with current trends and education opportunities. 

Do you also have your employees with you or are they all at home working? Unless you are local to Atlanta, I’m guessing that all of your employees are at home because of the travel expenses to attend. When you go home, what do you do with everything that you learned at Coverings? Do you discuss what you learned with your employees or do you just go on with business as usual? 

Even if you don’t discuss what you learned at Coverings, have you thought about purchasing access to NTCA University to offer training to your employees? Several people have mentioned they just don’t know if it’s worth it to them to offer training to their employees. If you have taken the time to seek out additional training for yourself, you owe it to your employees to enrich their learning too. 

Maybe you’re unsure if what we offer on NTCA University is right for your company. Given that so many of our members have questions about courses offered and how to use the site, I will be available at scheduled times at the NTCA booth #8209 at Coverings. Check the booth daily for times when I will be there to discuss anything associated with NTCA University. 

If you have an opportunity to spend time in the Installation Experience, you will be able to see varying skill levels of installers that you are competing with today. Would you rather be the installer of a really bad installation with lots of call backs or would you rather be an installer like the qualified labor installation? All of the NTCA University courses are based on industry standards and help you grow your knowledge.

If you are unable to attend Coverings but you want additional information on NTCA University, please give me a call or send me an email. I would be happy to discuss the training opportunities available with you. Reach me at 770-366-2566 or [email protected] To purchase your subscription, you can visit the NTCA store at https://tile-assn.site-ym.com/store/ListProducts.aspx?catid=490398 or http://bit.ly/2taYmOO to make your purchase. 

NTCA University Update – March 2018

Primer: format change at NTCA University

Three ways to find the courses you want

By Beck Serbin, Training and Education Coordinator

I was going to dedicate this month to providing feedback from users but I have had so many questions with the format change that I thought I would address those first.

As you may remember, courses were broken out into six-month segments for new hires, but I received so much feedback of “I can’t find the course I want” or “We only do residential” or “We just want our employees to take a few courses in each segment,” that I listened. As a result, we no longer have the six-month segments listed. Instead, every course is listed individually. Even though courses are listed individually, that doesn’t mean that we aren’t offering you some direction on which courses to take or tell your employees to take.

There are actually three ways to find courses. Let’s assume that you are a tile installer with a new hire; you can click on the introductory courses on the home-page of NTCA University. This opens into an Excel spreadsheet and lists all of the courses in six-month segments. You can then tell your new hire to follow the courses as listed or move courses around or delete courses that may not pertain to your company. And as new introductory tile setter courses are added, they will be added to this spreadsheet.

Keyword search

The other two ways to find courses can be found on the subscription tab. The first is a keyword search. So if a word is in the title of the courses, description, or keywords then it will appear. All courses have keywords associated with them that you can do a search on to see what is available. For example, if you search for grout, you will find several different grout courses, then you can scroll through and find the type of grout you wanted to learn about.

Category search

The third way to find courses is by clicking on a category. For example, if you are a beginner tile installer, you can click on “beginner” and all courses that have been tagged will be listed. Then you can decide what you would like to take. Or if there is a management course that you would like to take, click on the type of course and if one is available it will be listed.

To purchase your subscription, you can visit the NTCA store at https://tile-assn.site-ym.com/store/ListProducts.aspx?catid=490398 or http://bit.ly/2taYmOO to make your purchase.  If you have any questions or have ideas of courses that we should have available then please give me a call or send me an e-mail: 770-366-2566 or [email protected].

NTCA University Update: NTCA completes year two of the DOL-approved five-year apprenticeship program

By Becky Serbin, Training and Education coordinator

In case you missed it, the big NTCA University news at The International Surfaces Event (TISE West) in Las Vegas was that we have completed two of the five years of courses for a new hire that are required for a Department of Labor (DOL) apprentice program.

And to catch you up on previous updates, we are developing five years of introductory courses for a new tile setter. If your company has a DOL-approved program, this means that the two-year finisher program is complete and we are starting to work on the three-year setter program.

The second year of courses build on knowledge that was gained in the first year. And we included several introductory management courses such as crew task management, introduction to communication, and controlling confrontations. These courses were included to support someone who has been on the job for two years to lead grout crews and assist new hires to learn the tasks at which they are proficient.

Even though these courses are being developed with the installer in mind, they aren’t meant SOLELY for a new finisher or setter. While there is a slant to the installer’s perspective, anyone working in the tile industry can benefit from taking these courses. For example, if you are a sales rep, do you understand the entire installation process? Do you know how your product fits in with all of the other steps? Or do you understand issues that may occur with an improper installation? All of these questions can be answered by taking these courses.

Remember that NTCA University now has key word search capabilities. Let’s say that you want to take a course related to epoxy grout. In the past you would have to scroll through all of the courses to look for that particular course; now you can search for epoxy and/or grout and find a list of courses that may meet your needs.

To purchase your subscription, you can visit the NTCA store at https://tile-assn.site-ym.com/store/ListProducts.aspx?catid=490398 or http://bit.ly/2taYmOO to make your purchase. If you have any questions or have ideas of courses that we should have available then please give me a call at 770-366-2566 or send me an e-mail at [email protected]

OCTOBER 2017: NTCA UNIVERSITY UPDATE – 2018 NTCA University pricing includes free option for single contractor members

Thank you to everyone who took advantage of the introductory offer
for NTCA University. This offer gave your company access to NTCA
University through the end of 2017. We received a lot of feedback from members – some positive and some negative – but we listened to everyone and took all of this into consideration when we were developing pricing for 2018.
Below is pricing for all members – contractors or manufacturers – based upon the number of users they would like to have taking courses on the site.

• 1 – $50
• 2 – $99
• 3-15 – $149
• 16-50 – $199
• 51-100 – $299
• 101-150 – $399
• 151-200 – $499
• 201 or more – call for pricing
Free access for one-person shops Remember that NTCA now has a $50 voucher for the NTCA store that contractors can choose as one of their Parnering for Success vouchers. So let’s say that you are a one-person shop and choose to use the $50 voucher for access to NTCA University.

This means that you will have access for free to the site for the whole year. You’ll see this purchase option on the NTCA store as we get closer to the end of the year. And for those of you that want to pay your membership dues and NTCA University access together, we are currently looking into giving you this option when we mail out renewal notices at the end of the year.
As we get closer to completing two years of introductory courses and the development of our setter courses, we will continue to add courses to the site that you can use to train your employees. We have three sub-committees within the Training and Education Committee working on developing content for NTCA University. If you are interested in working with one of these committees please let me know. We can always use a new perspective on the types of courses that should be developed.

 

If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me at [email protected].

Building a better tile setter training process with Dan Welch

By Dan Welch, president, Welch Tile & Marble

Improving tile setter training

In June 2017, Welch Tile & Marble hosted the NTCA Five Star Contractor summit, updated the group on its training journey, and revealed future for hands-on tile training. Welch Training & Development manager Dave Rogers and I – through trial and error – jointly brainstormed about building a better tile setter training process using a shipping container. The plan escalated when we started developing the Five Star Contractor meeting agenda, which forced us to think through our process successes and failures over the past 12 years. We started with our related instruction outline for Apprenticeship and the milestones to build the NTCA online Apprenticeship modules.

Our first challenge with training was engaging the apprentices after working a full day in the field. Much of the classroom training required extensive pre-planning and preparation in the warehouse with tools and products in unused spaces. This situation led us to make small mockups that only one or two individuals could work hands-on at a time, leading to disengagement with class members who weren’t participating in hands-on module work – you knew you lost them when they pulled out their cell phones and their eyes glazed over.

Dan Welch and Dave Rogers worked together to develop a training container concept for house hands-on training modules for apprentices that would not tie up warehouse space.

Training factors to consider

We identified these different factors and aspects of training that needed to be addressed in order to craft an engaging, effective training process.

  • Safety tool box talks at the beginning of each class
  • Short classroom pre-hands-on explanation and theory
  • Encompassing real job challenges into our process by building scale mockups of upcoming projects’ conditions
  • Eliminating time-consuming setup and clean up
  • Addressing lack of usable space in a warehouse
  • Cost of training
  • Damage to training modules from week to week
  • Waste

    The excitement and buy-in was inspirational when all the apprentices had a mock up to work with.

  • Apprentice schedule flexibility and accommodating out of town commitments with make-up classes

Building a better training process

With these challenges in mind, we looked back at the 2016 Coverings Installation Design Showcase (IDS) container that we built our IDS vignette in, and contemplated how we could pair our hands-on training concept with a self-contained, movable area that would not plug up our warehouse every week. The concept was further validated by a Certified Tile Installer (CTI) pre-test activity, where our apprentice setters came in for many weeks and took the test two hours at a time and at their own pace. The excitement and buy-in was inspirational when they all had a mock up to work with.

Dave Rogers went a step further by adding proper lighting, and mock construction defects in the build out such as missing studs, multiple curb details, or out-of-level conditions

Our answer was right under our noses! We removed one wall of the 20-ft. shipping container and built various site conditions inside the container, starting with underlayment installation. We continued hands-on training each week, building on the previous week’s activity until it was complete.

Dave Rogers went a step further by adding proper lighting, and mock construction defects in the build out such as missing studs, multiple curb details, or out-of-level conditions.

We are currently working on an awning system that will enable us to leave the containers outside, which would let us move the classroom location and venue. These containers cost very little to purchase and fit out, allowing us to replicate anything we can dream up.

Welch Tile is currently working on an awning system that will enable it to leave the containers outside, which would make the classroom location and venue mobile.

Welch Tile has invested in people, training and education and safe work practices for a long time and this concept will allow us to be more efficient, better prepared, highly productive, and create a strong culture for the future of our business. I can only pray that many of you can invest in your team.

Dan Welch,
president Welch Tile & Marble,
“People Creating Change”

NTCA COMPLETES FIRST YEAR OF APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAM

The National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) has completed the first year of related content for its Apprenticeship Program. Year one of the two-year online training program is composed of 64 courses that serve as an introduction to the tile industry, beginning with the basics of cutting, mixing and grouting, and moving to surface preparation, underlayment application and other installation processes.

With 500 enrollments for the first year of curriculum, these courses are intended to support contractors in training by serving as a training resource for employees who are new to the industry, or as the related learning for the contractor’s Department of Labor-approved apprenticeship program.

In addition to proper training for new hires, these courses may also serve as continued education for tile professionals who would like to refresh their memory on basic knowledge of the industry. “When we started developing these courses, I knew very little of the actual tile installation process including materials, tools, and all of the steps required before installing tile,” said NTCA Training & Education Coordinator Becky Serbin. “We worked with experienced contractors and manufacturers to simplify the courses so that someone such as myself, who is new to the installation process, would be able to understand industry terminology, and apply course information on the job.” The second year of the Apprenticeship Program is under development, and will continue to be announced in six month increments and be available for viewing and purchase online as each course is completed.

For more information regarding the apprenticeship program, please contact NTCA Training & Education Coordinator Becky Serbin at [email protected], or visit www.tile-assn.com.

NTCA University

Knowledge is power, the saying goes. And NTCA is doing its best to be sure you are knowledgeable about your industry and your trade, and a powerful force among customers, clients and competitors.

One of the ways NTCA is doing this is through NTCA University. If you haven’t heard about this veritable online college, visit www.tile-assn.com for details.

To recap, the first six months of the Finisher Apprentice Program in NTCA University are complete, packed with course content from contractors and manufacturers. There are over 40 courses in the 0 – 6 month Finisher Apprentice Orientation section of the program. Each course ranges from 10-20 minutes in length and has a quiz following to test the learner’s knowledge. These courses are, obviously, useful for apprentices, but also for those in the industry for many years since they contain safety and product information that benefits anyone in the trade. For example, if you haven’t worked with epoxy grout for a while, you can take a course on it as a refresher.

One of the benefits of NTCA membership is that NTCA contractor members receive special pricing.

  • NTCA Contractor Members: $99 per company
  • Associate/Affiliate Members: $199 per company
  • Non-NTCA Members: $499 per company

If you purchase this subscription, you will have access to all of the online learning content, including anything new that is created, through December 31, 2017. As long as you have internet access, you can view courses from a computer, tablet, or phone.

Visit the NTCA Store at www.tile-assn.com to purchase your NTCA University subscription. And get started pumping up your knowledge or welcoming new apprentices, armed with know-how and information to make your company a leader in the field.

Want to know more? Visit NTCA University Update on page 98 of this issue.

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