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#TransformTheTrade

A new initiative to promote qualified and quality labor

The industry – and the world as we know it – has been going through some changes. But in the midst of the upheaval, some new initiatives and energy are emerging to move the industry forward in a positive way. 

Even though the Certified Tile Installer (CTI) tests have been put on hold in light of COVID-19, in the latter part of April, some discussion began percolating about crafting a message that summarized the mission of the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) and the broader mission of elevating the tile trade as a whole. This phrase would need to be easily and readily accessible by those on social media. 

CTEF board member Joseph Mattice, of On the Level Tile in Greenville, S.C., together with NTCA Assistant Executive Director Jim Olson, NTCA Training Director Mark Heinlein, and CTEF’s Scott Carothers and Cathey McAlister, explored several slogans and tag lines. One of the contenders was “Transform the Trade,” which originally emerged from discussions with Mattice, and other newly-named CTEF board members, Erin Albrecht of J&R Tile, San Antonio, Texas; Trask Bergerson of Bergerson Tile & Stone, Astoria, Oregon; and former CTEF Industry Liaison and Promotions Director Heidi Cronin.

Mattice brought this catch-phrase, as well as several others, to a Zoom meeting of CTIs the last weekend of April for feedback. “We polled everyone about messages – not just about the [CTI] test, but how it correlates with CTEF mission statement,” Mattice said. “Transform the Trade”
(#transformthetrade) was the overwhelming favorite of the group.

The alliterative phrase was also chosen because of the different ways it can succinctly highlight other core messages of the CTEF mission, such as:

  • Transform the Trade – Take the Test
  • Transform the Trade – Prove yourself
  • Transform the Trade – Become a CTI
  • Transform the Trade – Join CTEF

“We determined to begin using #transformthetrade as a hashtag on our posts and emails and YouTube, etc.,” Heinlein added. 

From there, Mattice connected with CTIs Jim Tsigos of Tsigos Construction, Delran, N.J., Ken Ballin of Skyro Flooring in West Creek, N.J., and Brandt Garrison of Garrison Tile & Renovation in Heyburn, Idaho, to create a Facebook group. The Facebook group is intended as both a place for CTIs to exchange information, but also where those who are interested in taking the test can come to get information from existing CTIs. Once live tests start up again, an announcement will be posted at the top of the page with locations and dates, Mattice said. Mattice also runs weekly Zoom meetings to address various aspects of the effort, such as addressing social media and programs for CTEF to support CTIs.

“Transform the trade” gives a context to discuss elevating standards and qualified labor in general: “It’s where we all want to go,” Mattice said. “It’s not just about taking the test – it’s also about getting industry partners involved. For instance, distributors have to eat a lot of terrible installs, so it benefits them to focus more on quality and qualified labor. And qualified contractors tend to buy better product, so that benefits the manufacturer. This is about the overall trade – the test is just one element of it.” 

Mattice is proud to be part of this effort. “An exciting thing is the energy the CTIs have poured into this in 1.5 weeks!” he said. “It just blew up! It’s a positive focus and a call to action. This is a step you can take that will actually transform things.”

Now when you see #transformthetrade starting to crop up on social media and industry communications, you’ll know what it all means. Check out the Facebook group to join in!

COVID Contractor Perspective: Ken Ballin, Skyro Floors

Ken Ballin, Skyro Floors, West Creek, N.J.

NTCA member Ken Ballin, CTI #1392, CFI #13604 of Skyro Floors in West Creek, N.J., shares his experience and his thoughts about life and work during the time of coronavirus.

I remember hearing about [coronavirus] and not thinking much about it. I remember hearing more and more about it and thinking about other times that I’ve heard similar stories in years passed.

I remember coming home from Surfaces, going to soccer practice with my daughter, and as we were wrapping up I let out a single cough. I looked up and said “oh no” out loud, because I knew it felt funny. That’s the sickest I’ve been in a long time, sick enough to actually go to the doctor, and sick enough to keep me from going to work for a couple days. In the 12 years I’ve been in business I’ve never missed a day. Never. Now that was before they were testing for anything besides the regular run-of-the mill influenza, but for me to miss work, even for just those two days, has stuck in my mind since.

I can’t imagine what people are going through who’ve actually been out of work since the lockdowns started. I know what it’s like not to be able to afford the same luxuries as others. I know what it’s like to wonder what you’re going to do after you finish the job you’re on because nothing else has come through yet. I also know what it’s like to use a bad situation to my advantage and come out on top and that’s exactly what I did when I lost my biggest contract a few years back and I had all my eggs in one basket.

If the current situation has taught us nothing else as business owners it’s the need to diversify your customer base. If all I was doing at the time of the shut down was residential remodel then I would be sitting home with nothing to do, right back in the same situation I was in a few years back. I’ve been blessed, or lucky — or maybe a combination of the two — enough to be working entirely in unoccupied second and third homes. It’s been mostly new construction with a local builder I’ve developed a very good relationship with and for homeowners still staying at their primary residence.

Having the ability to not limit myself to one kind of installation has kept me working, without needing to take advantage of any of the loans currently being offered to business owners, albeit by myself without any help — but let’s be honest, with social media none of us are really alone. There’s always a voice out there happy to tell us that the first tile should have been 1/8″ to the left.

If you’re currently out of work, or even if you’re working but want to change up your game a bit, diversify your customer base. There are always high-paying jobs out there. You just have to figure out where to look. Be smart. Be safe. This too shall pass.

Your focus determines your reality

Your focus determines your reality.” – Qui Gon Jinn, Star Wars

Happy May. How is everyone doing? We have had quite the wild ride for the last few months. We’ve seen the cancellation of Coverings, and other events – and heavens knows what else between March 20, when I am writing this – and by the time you receive your issue. We are all doing our best to manage the tremendous challenges that we are facing personally and professionally. Since this is a fast-changing situation, we are addressing things as they come up on tileletter.com and in our digital newsletters which allow us to post pertinent information for you as it arises and as it shifts. We also are posting links and resources on www.tile-assn.com. But look to Tileletter print edition for evergreen topics and informative, educational and inspirational articles with information you can incorporate into your business and successes in the industry we can all celebrate, even while social distancing.

For your reading pleasure in this issue, check out Bart Bettiga’s interview with Robert Roberson of David Allen Company. As this company celebrates its 100-year anniversary, Mr. Roberson, a legend in his industry, shares a long-term perspective of the industry, the company and involvement with NTCA.

Are you a qualified installer who yearns to work with Cosentino’s Dekton ultracompact panels? Now’s your chance. Learn about the emergence of Dekton University, which Cosentino has fully committed to and invested in to train tile contractors to handle and install this material, blowing the market wide open for Cosentino and adding to the skill set of dedicated contractors across the country.

We get to know Michelle Blomquist Hamilton – originator of the Tile Chix group on Facebook – in this issue’s Member Spotlight, that focuses on how her passion and desire to excel and create are powering the business she shares with her husband.

Stumped by the estimating process? Luke Miller of Tile Money walks you through a clear, concise process of determining cost and profit in our Business article. And in our Technical section, ARDEX’s Mark Pennine explores proper substrate preparation, even more important these days with large-format and gauged porcelain slabs growing in popularity. 

A special report takes a look at the news coming out of the Cevisama show, held in Spain in early February. 

Finally, if you’re a Star Wars fan, you’ll want to read our Case Study this month. Jonathan Stanton transforms the old broken-down bathroom in his company’s new shop into a mosaic masterpiece and homage to Star Wars, complete with a shower mural of Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader and Yoda, and other intentional finishing and accessory touches that make the space a true delight.

Whatever you do this month, be kind and gentle to yourself and to those around you. These are some crazy times. But our industry – and our country – can get through them if we work together, respect each other, and stay mindful of what’s needed to emerge healthy from this current adventure. May the Force be with you.

God bless,

Lesley
[email protected]

Maryland tile setter pursues a path of excellence; starts social media group for women

“I’m so passionate about the industry as a whole, and always want to be a part of it,” Michelle Blomquist Hamilton of Tile Maryland/Creative Tile & Stone said.

Michelle Blomquist Hamilton is a relative newcomer to the tile business. She runs Tile Maryland, LLC (soon to be Creative Tile & Stone, LLC) in Conowingo, Md.,with her husband John, and her youngest son Josh, who is learning the trade as a helper. 

Though her time in the industry may be short, her passion for the industry, and tile installation excellence is strong.

“I actually got into the business five years ago when I started dating my husband,” Hamilton said. “He asked me to take over the business and wanted me to run the office. I could not effectively run the business without having full knowledge of it.”

So, Hamilton quit her job in finance and set out to learn everything she could. “I am still learning new things and have become really passionate about it,” she said. “I took my Certified Tile Installer (CTI) test twice and did not pass, and am taking it the end of June. I took it right after my mother passed away and I should have waited but I’ll do it until I pass… I may have convinced my husband to take it as well! 

“The CTI is important to me and to the industry,” she added. “There needs to be guidelines set and standards for tile installation, and the CTI is a good start.”

Hamilton gets tremendous satisfaction seeing the job finished and having a satisfied customer. “I try to do something different on each job to further my skills and make each job better,” she added. 

Hamilton makes it a point to sign up for every training available through the manufacturers and through NTCA. “I stay active in the groups and actually go visit other installers in and around my area to network with them as well. I’ve learned a lot from other installers and always want to try new things and be challenged.”

Tile Maryland/Creative Tile & Stone predominantly serves the residential customer, specifically bathrooms and showers as well as swimming pool tile coping and replacement. Hamilton enjoys assisting in the design process, taking the challenges of being a small business owner in stride – staying up to date with products, proper methods and design trends. 

“I’m so passionate about the industry as a whole, and always want to be a part of it,” she said. “Being challenged and being able to inspire and encourage others are what motivates me.” 

She gets tremendous satisfaction seeing the job finished and having a satisfied customer. “I try to do something different on each job to further my skills and make each job better,” she added. “The organizations and groups I belong to have been a great resource in this regard. Lots of tips and ideas are gained from these associations.” 

NTCA benefits

One of those associations is the NTCA, which HamiIton joined last year. “I wish I had joined sooner,” she said. “The workshops they offer are a great way to learn new things and stay up to date on new techniques. Being a member of an organization like this heightens your professionalism. I think it shows that you are serious about your business and growing in the industry. 

“As a member you have access to not just training, but the opportunity to get credentialing, like the CTI,” she added. “Being a member of NTCA is well worth the money. It is not only a tax deduction, but the vouchers more than pay for the membership expense. “

Tile Chix

Hamilton mused about the advantages of being a woman in the tile industry. “We are often intuitive and good listeners, and this goes a long way to understanding your customers,” she said, noting that she finds most women open and eager to participate in available training opportunities. 

“Because we don’t often come with many years of ‘always did it this way’ experience, I think we do not have as many pre-conceived or rigid notions,” she said. “We are open to new information and practices, which is so important.”

The job above was the most challenging for Hamilton. The customer had removed a wall between the kitchen and formal living room and a small wall at the end of their island, leaving space for seven tiles in the middle of the floor. They had no extra tiles and the only ones Hamilton had access to were the remaining seven between the living room and kitchen. 
“I had to remove those seven tiles – and not break any – and move them to the middle of the kitchen around the island,” she said. “I managed to carefully get them up and didn’t even chip any. It looked amazing, was time consuming and I challenged myself as well. Coming up with a way to transition the two rooms was also a challenge and I used the slate and installed diagonally.”

A few months ago, Hamilton decided to reach out to fellow females in tile via the social media group Tile Chix on Facebook. “I noticed that some women in the groups didn’t post too much or would only comment occasionally,” she explained. “We can support each other and create a welcoming place to learn and grow.” 

Hamilton also hopes Tile Chix becomes a catalyst for young women to enter the trades. “Not all students want to go to college,” she said. “Participating in community events, schools, and Girl Scout camps, career days or other demonstrations at the schools – all these can bring exposure to the trades and welcome more young people in. There are opportunities for a career as a contractor, installer, tile artisan, mosaic artist, designer, or company rep. There are many options in the trades to enjoy what you do and make a great income.”

A third reason for the group is for women to discuss challenges in the industry specific to women. “Having a place to discuss things and encourage each other is important,” she said. 

The rapid growth of Tile Chix made Hamilton realize how many women are in the industry. 

“I’ve seen many talented and creative women and the interaction among the ladies is great,” she said. “Having a great group of admins has helped tremendously. It will be nice to meet many of the group members in person at events.” 

A new hope: Louisville contractor transforms shop bathroom with Star Wars shower mosaic

Stanton’s Chinese manufacturing partners took great care in creating the Star Wars mosaics. Luke Skywalker’s lips used about 12 colors alone. 

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…..Jonathan Stanton was born, the same year that the blockbuster phenomenon Star Wars soared across the silver screen, and changed film history forever.

The year was 1977, and the galaxy was actually our very own Milky Way. Over the intervening years, the force awakened as Jonathan grew up learning the tile trade from his father. In 2002, he established Jonathan Stanton, Inc., in Louisville, Ky., specializing in stellar residential installations. 

Flash forward, and Jon and his wife have two sons, 14 and 10 years old, and a 4-year old daughter – and they all LOVE Star Wars. 

So, inspired by his children, he set out to transform the crumbling outdated bathroom in the shop he bought several months ago into a homage to the Star Wars legend, and an example of creative themed bathrooms that designers could attempt for their clients. “I wanted to take a fun approach and be the cool dad,” Stanton said. “I wanted to do something that wasn’t like anything else out there.”

It took Chinese artisans two weeks to create the mosaic of Yoda’s face. 

Stanton amassed his crew of three men to work on the 1,200-square-foot Jedi Unisex bathroom, on weekends, amounting to about two months of framing, electrical, plumbing, and all the tile work – which alone took two to three weeks.

Meantime, he was in touch with companies he’s developed partnerships with in China to create five mosaics of Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, and Yoda for the shower, derived from online images of the characters. “It took almost three months to have the murals made on mesh sheets, and Yoda’s face alone took two weeks,” he said. “Hundreds of colors of glass were used. The lips of Luke Skywalker alone use about 12 different colors.” The company shipped the mosaics in pieces, designed to lock together, along with extra glass tiles for repairs or to fine tune the installation.

Stanton was careful to check into the licensing ramifications of his bathroom. Since it was for his own use, there was no infringement of using the likenesses of movie characters in his project. 

Installing the mosaics in the Star Wars shower.

His job also utilized Repel Systems XPS closed cell extruded polystyrene foam building panels – 1/2” board on the wall, 5’ x 3’ linear presloped shower pan with tileable drain cover, and solid foam curbs and shower header. Stanton wrapped exposed iron pipes and built shelves with 1.5” thick Repel panels. Stanton owns Repel Systems, with product manufactured to meticulous standards in China. Repel Systems recently joined NTCA as an affiliate member.

Positive partners

Stanton’s work with Chinese companies has been a positive, and the partnership he has cultivated with his Chinese partners has opened the door to not only new business opportunities but to outstanding work done to his exacting standards. “A lot of people think Chinese goods and craftsmanship are a negative connotation,” Stanton said. “I’ve had to peel back the layers and work through some of that…what you buy needs to be done with such care. Initially, mosaic orders were filled quickly but they weren’t what I wanted.” After some discussion and direction, his manufacturing partner met and exceeded his expectations. 

Similarly, Stanton and Repel Systems (repelsystems.com) Chinese manufacturing partner Xuancheng JIT New Materials Tech. Co., Ltd., spent 1-1/2 years before even launching the system. “I’ve asked for emissions reports so we are dealing with only the best of standards for the environment,” he said. “We tested it to make sure we have a top quality product.” The products have UPC certificates through IAPMO Research and Testing, and shear strength that surpasses the U.S. ANSI A 118.10 standard.

Foam building panels from Repel Systems formed the shower, shelves, curbs and other elements. 

Stanton has built strong connections and relationships with his partners and their families, and is in touch with them seven days a week. “I was sad to have to recently cancel a trip to China for a wedding due to the Coronavirus,” he said. And he is still dealing with an additional 25% tariffs on products imported from China. But despite that, the connection, quality, and cost of products he’s developed in partnership with Chinese companies is worth it. 

Walls and floors

In addition to the stunning mosaics, Stanton used Emil America Italian Tele Di Marmo Statuario Michelangelo Lappato Lucido porcelain 24” x 48” tiles for the bathroom walls, and 12” x 24” Emil America Tele Di Marmo Calacatta Renoir Lappato Lucido porcelain installed in a modern herringbone on the floor. The black and white palette reflected the Rebellion versus Dark Side theme throughout the films. 

Stanton’s crew poured almost a 1-1/2” of self leveler before snapping electric floor warming wires into the 3/8” Repel Heat Board. 

About 300 square feet of large-format, rust-look Emil Ergon Metal Style 12” x 24” Revival tile clads the outside of the bathroom envelope, transforming it into something you might find on Tatooine. Emil product was sourced from Patria Coverings Co., in Indianapolis. 

LATICRETE setting materials were used throughout, from TRI-LITE mortar for floors and walls, and MULTIMAX LITE mortar – rated for glass – for the murals. SPECTRALOCK epoxy translucent grout was a must for the murals, Stanton said, since the translucent material “takes up the inner tones of red and blues in the glass tiles, and helps blend in the color.” PERMACOLOR SELECT was Stanton’s choice for grouting porcelain floors and walls. 

To level the “out of whack” subfloor prior to installation, Stanton’s crew poured almost a 1-1/2” of self leveler before snapping electric floor warming wires into the 3/8” Repel Heat Board. 

Stanton created a custom light fixture in the shower with Repel board, with rounded corners and tiled with mosaic. It provides light and the shower head runs through the middle of it. 

Another challenge that presented itself was the toilet, sunk into the wall beneath piping. Stanton chose to strike back by working around the old cast iron pipes, designing shelving around the toilet that is integral to the design of the space. 

As of this writing, the project is nearly complete, waiting for door hardware on order from China that’s been delayed by the COVID-19 outbreak. 

As a finishing touch, the bathroom is accented with actual Disney Star Wars light sabers and Resistance and Empire helmets. 

This contractor’s vision, professional connections and dedication turned an outdated, tumbledown shop bathroom into a new hope, full of fun and delight for years to come. 

As a finishing touch, the bathroom is accented with actual Disney Star Wars light sabers and Resistance and Empire helmets. 

Tile of Spain companies present the latest in products and innovations at the 38th edition of CEVISAMA

Tile of Spain manufacturers returned to Spain in February to bring their latest productions and innovations to CEVISAMA, the International Fair for Ceramic Tiles and Bathroom Furnishings. This year’s annual show took place from February 3rd to February 7th, 2020 and was held the Feria Valencia center in Valencia Spain. 


State of the industry

During the Tile of Spain Press Conference held at CEVISAMA (pictured), Vicente Nomdedeu, the president of The Spanish Ceramic Tile Manufacturers Association (ASCER), highlighted the 2019 production, sales and exports figures that reflect the strength of Spain’s industrial sector.

The Spanish tile industry surpassed the levels of success of those obtained in 2018 with overall sales increasing by 4%. With approximately 75% of all sales made abroad, Spain currently exports to 185 countries worldwide with a total export growth of 3% since 2018. 

Featured trends for 2020

The 38th edition of CEVISAMA saw 800 exhibitors showcase their new collections to over 90,000 industry professionals from all over the world. With no shortage of new styles to inspire interior and exterior design, following are the most prominent trends and innovations on display by Tile of Spain USA’s featured companies at CEVISAMA 2020:

Modern metallics 

Neutral tones enhanced by metallic motifs will shine strong this year. The iridescent reflections seen in the Akila collection from Azteca (pictured), Stardust collection from Fanal, Iron 4D collection from Museum and Grespania’s Patina collection bring an edge of luxury and reflect natural light to visually expand a space.

Artful inspirations 

Geometric patterns and eccentric graphics make their way back to the forefront of tile design after years of toned-down styles. Whimsical looks including Vives’ art deco-inspired Pop collection (pictured), Aparici’s Altea collection, and Arcana’s uniquely-designed wood-look collection Komi, make bold statements and turn spaces into true works of art.

Calming colors 

Soft pastels and soothing hues were in abundance at CEVISAMA this year. Travel from Emotion Ceramics, Clash by Rocersa, and the Bow collection from Harmony (pictured) gradually shift away from the neutral color palette that has been in high demand over the past few years and subtly bring color to interiors. Muted pinks, blues and greens visually enrich environments and lend a relaxing atmosphere.

Three dimensional details 

Not just colors and patterns are making waves in 2020. Curved ridges and beveled surfaces to concaved details, manufacturers are experimenting with texture and dimension that quite literally raise the bar in interior design. Wall tiles like the Donna collection by Peronda, the Underground collection from Keraben Grupo (pictured), and Natucer’s custom D’Autore series expertly portray this unique trend to create a one-of-a-kind look.

Resurgence of shapes and decorative tiles

Iconic and bespoke-shaped tile stood out among its conventional counterparts at CEVISAMA. The shapes featured in Cevica’s Chintz collection (pictured), Roca Tile’s Rockart collection, Apavisa’s Intuition collection and Onix’s Hex XL collection allow for more interesting layouts and bring a sense of sophistication to designs that have not been seen in recent years.

A return to traditional formats

In contrast to unique shapes, traditional formats were in abundance with a return of subway tile in small and square formats. New collections including Pierre by Small Size, Delice by Gayafores, and Antiqva by Equipe (pictured) offer both interior and exterior solutions for all types of surfaces.

To view a brief video highlighting these trends and more from CEVISAMA 2020, visit https://bit.ly/320TI8W

Trans-Hitos exhibit

The Trans-Hitos Exhibition of Ceramics for Architecture celebrated its 15th anniversary at CEVISAMA in a series of three impressive projects entitled “IDENTITY”. The annual Trans-Hitos exhibit was sponsored by the Spanish Ceramic Tile Manufacturers’ Association (ASCER) and coordinated by the Habitat Area of the Instituto de Tecnología Cerámica (ITC).

“IDENTITY” (pictured) reflects on the use of ceramic tile as a material for global use in architecture since the 18th century. Ceramic tile serves as a link both culturally and technologically, accomplishing a relevant role as a functional and aesthetic material that has left a legacy in the history of art and architecture grandiose works that still, to this day, are reference points for the whole world. 

More information on the Trans-Hitos exhibit is available at http://bit.ly/TransHitos2020. For more information on CEVISAMA and Tile of Spain manufacturers, visit http://www.tileofspainusa.com.

Anything you can do – I can do better: tile installers poised to expand Dekton market by storm

Dekton University offers intensive training opportunities to qualified installers

It’s no news that gauged porcelain tile is going gangbusters in the tile industry. This incredibly versatile product can be used for not only walls and floors, but sinks, countertops, or any kind of cladding you can imagine.

In 2013, around the time the term “gauged porcelain” was being coined, the manufacturer of Silestone quartz surfacing launched ultra-compact surface Dekton® by Cosentino, an extremely large-format, extremely and consistently flat material that combines raw materials in a high-heat, high-compaction sintering process that makes it super strong, resistant to staining, scratching, abrasion, high heat/fire resistant, freezing and UV rays. It also is GREENGUARD certified low in chemical emissions, to benefit the environment. 

This highly-technical product originally was the purview of fabricators. But with the introduction of thinner panels – 4mm and 8 mm – Consentino is partnering with qualified labor to equip installers with the knowledge and experience to install these products with confidence and success.

Tomas Echeverria, Technical Coordinator for Cosentino, said the company is willing to invest to train installers to properly work with and install this unique product. “The company has invested a lot in manufacturing and R&D. It wouldn’t mean anything if it’s not installed properly to perform as it should,” he said. 

The benefit of this partnership was revealed at Cosentino’s national sales summit in early February in Houston. Presenters from NTCA Five-Star Contractors J&R Tile in San Antonio, Texas, and Casavant Tile in Saugerties, N.Y., provided the closing two-hour session to explain the opportunities for Cosentino to partner with qualified tile installers to expand the market for Dekton product – specifically 8mm and 4mm panels. 

Eric Tetrault of Casavant Tile (in Dekton jacket) talks with interested sales people after the presentation. 

Cosentino has partnered with NTCA Five-Star Contractors for about five years, offering preferred pricing for these top-tier installers. But the sales summit presentation pointed out the benefits of working with a much larger universe of 1,600 Certified Tile Installers (CTIs) who are dedicated to not only upholding standards in their work, but seeking the training and experience that’s needed to work bring a highly technical product like Dekton into their repertoire.

J&R Tile’s Erin Albrecht (r.) walked the attendees through the program, while J& R Tile’s Triniti Vigil (c.) and Casavant Tile’s Eric Treteault demonstrated the ease of crafting sinks and countertops with Dekton and hand tools.

J&R Tile’s Erin Albrecht walked the attendees through the program, while J& R Tile’s Triniti Vigil and Casavant Tile’s Eric Treteault demonstrated the ease of crafting sinks and countertops with Dekton and hand tools. The speed and quick turnaround of completing Dekton projects by tile installers using hand tools like grinders was eye-opening for the sales force.

Introducing Dekton University

The presentation introduced a brand new concept to the sales team: the development of Dekton University. Cosentino has committed to partnering with and supporting qualified labor locally to develop a network of highly-trained installers to install Dekton panels. Trained CTIs – many who are NTCA members – will be regional trainers in locations where Cosentino has facilities. 

Dekton University is scheduled to kick off this spring, with dates for the year in development at this writing. The plan is for each trainer, who will be funded by Cosentino, to hold two trainings regionally a month, explained Tetrault. In addition LATICRETE and Bostik have signed on to provide complete antimicrobial systems of grouts, mortars and setting materials, punching up the pro-environment qualities Dekton offers.

Dekton Madera Trilium countertop.

Training is an intense two-day, hands-on program, with resources like TCNA Handbooks, tools, equipment and resources supplied by Cosentino. Three attendees at each training will win a complete set of tools specially designed to work with Dekton, valued at between $8,000-$15,000. In addition, contractors who complete the program will have access to this tool set for 12 months on a break-even basis – if a designated amount of Dekton is sold, the contractor can keep the set for free, Tetrault explained. Equipment includes a table, cutter, and cart. They will also each take home two modules created during the trainings for marketing purposes.

That’s not all. As mentioned, NTCA Five-Star Contractors have had preferential pricing from Cosentino and will continue to do so. But pricing advantages will be tiered for CTIs, ACT-credentialed contractors and those who take the training. There will be tangible rewards, benefits and advantages for those contractors who invest in training, education and excellence. 

“Qualified labor and trade associations are at the forefront of everything: the center of the whole program,” Tetrault said “Everything revolves around that. The entire program is geared to open up a new market for Dekton, and provide unprecedented support to the installers and contractors who make the commitment to be educated and trained.” 

Trainers

Dekton University will employ a team of knowledgeable trainers to administer the program at Dekton facilities. Jamen and Chanel Carizzosa, of Icon Tile, a husband-wife installation team out of Washington, are jazzed about this program. “When Erin and Eric approached and told us about this program, we were really excited,” Jamen said. “In our area, most guys are not doing the large panels. If they get a job they try to talk the designer out of it. They are scared to touch it. Chanel and myself have wanted to push ourselves forward in getting to be better with these products.”

Zack Bonfilio, owner of San Antonio’s American Tile & Remodeling, said, “possibilities are endless” using Dekton. He said he created an integrated sink with linear drain on a foam base – including miters and cuts – in just four hours using Dekton and his grinder. There was no need for costly, time-consuming waterjet work. 

Carl “The Flash” Leonard, CTI #1393, from New Jersey asked, “Why would you trust your install to anyone who isn’t certified? Certification is key to our industry – keeping standards high.” 

These passionate and dedicated tile professionals are among those who will run the Dekton University intensives. CTIs will have first dibs on a slot in the classes, and then other promising installers will be contacted about taking the trainings.

“The big message is you don’t need a fabricator,” Albrecht said. “If you partner with skilled labor, you aren’t waiting weeks. As the song goes, ‘Anything you can do – I can do better.’ With trained tile installers, you have a one-stop shop. You can have six or less employees working with thin material, and with the right tools, set up and system, you can do a lot of square footage.” 

As much as a learning curve as it is for installers, it’s also a learning curve for Cosentino, who is open to learn what this new-to-them labor force needs to succeed, and provide strong support. 

“It took a group of tile contractors to sit down and say ‘Let’s do something about this,‘” Albrecht said. “And it took a large tile company to invest. Cosentino is a family-owned business. They care about the installers but have humility to know they are not installation experts. With Dekton University, they are looking to connect with tile contractors.

“They are listening and they care,” Albrecht added. ”They are willing to learn and become leaders – only partner with the best, on high-end installations and protect their brand. Their intentions are for everyone to support each other. They don’t want to sell to everybody. They are trying to do it right.” 

Interested in Dekton University? Contact Tomas Echeverria at (786) 527-1501 or email [email protected].

Installer-focused training planned for Thursday at Coverings Connected

Coverings Connected, the digital manifestation of the annual Coverings trade show this year, has designated Thursday, April 23 as Contractor Day. Special learning opportunities featuring are planned this day, covering a range of topics that interest and benefit tile and stone contractors.

Martin Brookes, Heritage Marble & Tile
Woody Sanders, DW Sanders Tile & Stone

First up, at 11 a.m. – 12: 00 p.m. EDT, Martin Brookes, president of NTCA Five-Star Contractor Heritage Marble & Tile and Woody Sanders, president of NTCA Five-Star Contractor DW Sanders Tile & Stone Contracting will present a live session on the Application and Specification of Tile for Outdoor Use. Exterior living spaces and outdoor living is a growing trend that offers outstanding opportunity for ceramic tile and natural stone. However, there are inherent complications requiring you to implement strategies for installation that will succeed. New technology and systems have recently been introduced that can improve the likelihood of success and control the cost of installation as well. This session will examine the technology and the installer planning and training that must take place to be successful. Continuing Education Credits AIA: 1.0 LUs HSW IDCEC: 1.0 CEU Hours.  Click here to register.

Wally Adamchik, Firestarter Speaking and Consulting

Then from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. EDT, Wally Adamchik, president of Firestarter Speaking and Consulting will explore Acting on the NTCA Culture Survey – Leadership in the Face of COVID-19.  Join this session to learn the results of NTCA-commissioned research on company culture in tile contractors across the country. Gallup reports that only 30% of workers are engaged at work. Is the construction industry even worse? Learn how people (our most important asset) in the tile industry are feeling, and how it compares to the construction industry as a whole. What is the state of the industry from a leadership and culture perspective? And what are the current and future impacts of COVID-19 on labor. Get the good, the bad and the opportunities. Attend this data-rich session to gain ideas on how to assess and improve your company to recruit, retain and engage your employees. Continuing Education Credits AIA: 1.0 LUs IDCEC: 1.0 CEU Hours Click here to register.

NTCA Technical Director Mark Heinlein

Finally, from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. EDT Mark Heinlein, NTCA Technical Director will offer an informative and practical session  with Don’t Let Water Be the Boss: Wet Area Tile Installation. Water goes where it wants to go and does what it wants to do. You don’t want water to be the boss in your wet area installations. Learn the  information you need to be the boss and properly control water in your wet area tile installations. Continuing Education Credits AIA: 1.0 LUs HSW Click here to register.

Click the links to register or visit coverings.com and click on Learning Opportunities for the day desired.

TCNA’s Ryan Marino is a Coverings 2020 Rock Star

TCNA’s Ryan Marino, a 2002 Coverings Rock Star

(Anderson, SC)— The Tile Council of North America (TCNA) announces Ryan Marino, TCNA’s Standards Development and Research Manager, has been named a Coverings 2020 Rock Star recipient. Coverings Rock Stars — an Emerging Leaders Program — honors the best and brightest young talent in the tile and stone industry.

Mr. Marino has been engaged in ceramic tile industry research and standards development for nine years. He served three consecutive terms as Chairman of the ASTM C21 Committee on Ceramic Whitewares and Related Products, manages the TCNA Tile Technical Committee, and is actively involved in the ISO TC189 and ANSI A108 Committees. Additionally, Mr. Marino speaks regularly at industry events, contributes to industry publications, and is a key stakeholder and participant in countless other industry standardization initiatives.
“Ryan has spearheaded several standards development initiatives that have had a direct, positive, and major impact on the ceramic tile industry, in addition to benefiting consumers,” stated Bill Griese, TCNA’s Director of Standards Development and Sustainability Initiatives. “Developing new standards and achieving major revisions requires vision, innovation, ethics, and a focus on the needs of the consensus body. Ryan brings all these skills together, as well as technical excellence and a profound consensus-building ability.”

“We are extremely proud of Ryan and all that he has accomplished for the tile industry and TCNA,” added Eric Astrachan, TCNA’s Executive Director. “Throughout his career, Ryan’s leadership and strengths in project management, research, and innovation have made him an invaluable asset to tile industry standardization initiatives.”

TCNA congratulates Ryan on this important and well-deserved industry award.

Welcome to Coverings Connected!

Coverings Connected logo

If 2020 had gone according to plan, we would all be meeting today in New Orleans today at Coverings 2020. Alas, COVID-19 changed all that, but that doesn’t mean the innovation and information offered at the in-person show is lost. A lot of features are being presented via “Coverings Connected” — a virtual trade show developed by the Taffy Event Strategies, Coverings’ management company.

Visit coverings.com, where you can explore exhibitors, take advantage of learning opportunities – some with AIA and IDCEC CEUs — view Engage Interviews with industry leaders moderated by Irene Williams, see exhibitor  videos  and trend information.

Coverings Rock Stars 2019

The CID Award winners and Coverings Rock Stars will be celebrated all week long at coverings.com. On Tuesday, there is a special session for Coverings Rock Stars and young professionals, plus a Zoom networking happy hour from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.  

The ever-popular Demo Stage is now a Digital Demonstration Stage with how-to –videos and product demonstrations to keep you up to date on materials and techniques. And there’s a connect feature that will put you in touch with others who are “attending” Coverings Connect and help you do business virtually.

And stay in touch with your peeps by sharing your experiences on social media with the hashtag #CoveringsConnected.

This morning — as you’re reading this story and exploring coverings.com — media is attending three hours of press conferences from Tile of Spain, Ceramics of Italy, Tile Council of North America, Ceramic Tile Distributors Association and National Tile Association. You’ll discover findings of those events on these digital pages as the week unfolds.

Wally Adamchik, President of FireStarter Speaking and Consulting.

Thursday is Contractor Day, with special features for contractors and installers. One of those is the webinar listed under Learning Opportunities from 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. by Wally Adamchik, President of FireStarer Speaking and Consulting. He’ll explore the findings of the NTCA Culture Survey, and discuss leadership in the face of COVID-19.

If you are looking for new products, head to coverings.com and search the Online Product Gallery/New Product Showcase. And I want to bring your attention to Lamosa (which you can also find here), which has taken virtual trade shows to a high level by providing a virtual booth. Load the page and you’ll be gently guided throughout the booth where new products are displayed with information icons that bring you to panels with detailed photos and specs about each product. There’s a diagram of the booth with red dots – click on the dots and you’ll be taken immediately to that “room” where you can view products at your own pace. Kudos to Lamosa for using technology to best effect to communicate its products to a worldwide audience.

Tour through Lamosa’s virtual booth at Coverings Connected.

This is a brave new world, and we at TileLetter are exploring it right along with you. Keep checking back here and on TileLetter on Facebook for ongoing news of the show as it unfolds this week.

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