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.
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.
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:
Get to know each other (with suggestions on how to do that)
Agree on a goal for the mentee
Have a plan
Keep it going
“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.”
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]
The Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) gratefully acknowledges the generosity of Woody Sanders, President of D.W. Sanders Tile & Stone Contracting. Mr. Sanders has pledged to donate $1,000 per month going forward to help CTEF navigate through COVID-19.
The Ceramic Tile Education Foundation operates solely on industry sponsorship, donations, and registration fees associated with tile installation certification events for the Certified Tile Installer (CTI) and Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT) programs. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has halted all in-person certification testing activities for the foreseeable future.
Woody Sanders, President of D.W. Sanders Tile & Stone Contracting, headquartered in Marietta, GA, is Certified Tile Installer #1295, the Proud Employer of CTIs, and a CTI program Evaluator. Mr. Sanders is passionately committed to nurturing and educating the tile industry workforce and has said, “Had it not been for the invaluable education and certification of the CTI program, I would not be where I am today. Now it is my turn to support the CTEF.”
CTEF can’t thank Woody enough for his generous support of the CTEF mission and the CTI program with his monthly funding commitment. If Woody’s commitment speaks to you and you have found success in these trying times, please consider following in Woody’s footsteps on any level so that CTEF can continue to educate and certify our workforce as soon as in-person contact can be conducted safely.
David G. Allen established his tile, marble, and terrazzo company in 1920. Allen, an exceptionally-skilled craftsman in the masonry arts, was often called on to perform the most difficult, challenging, and complex projects. His commitment to excellent quality and ethical business practices quickly drove his small company to become the preferred tile, marble, and terrazzo company in the region.
Robert Roberson, the current Chairman of the Board, began his career with David Allen in 1957, and purchased the company in 1967. Knowing the value of David Allen’s foundation of high standards and ethical business practices, Roberson and his leadership team remain committed to David Allen’s beginning principles, the result of which has placed the company as one of the largest and most-respected tile, marble and terrazzo companies in the nation, with offices in Raleigh, N.C., Washington, D.C., South Florida, Columbia, S.C., Birmingham, Ala., and Charlotte, N.C.
The company’s work – in airports, museums, hotels, hospitals, coliseums, schools and universities – has received more industry awards for workmanship and professionalism than any similar firm in the U.S. Today, David Allen Company continues its commitment to excellence as an ESOP (employee stock ownership plan) company, instilling pride and ownership at every level.
David Allen Company has a long standing history of supporting industry associations and affiliations. It is one of the few remaining charter members of the National Tile Contractors Association, joining what was then the Southern Tile Contractors Association in 1947. In fact, Robert Roberson is the only person in NTCA history to be named President of the association at two different times, serving in 1971-1973 and again in 1989-1991.
As the company celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2020 as a leading tile industry contractor, we caught up with Mr. Roberson in an exclusive TileLetter One-to-One interview.
What are the main factors that have allowed the David Allen Company to thrive as a leading tile installation contractor for 100 years?
Roberson: From the beginning, the high standards of integrity, professionalism, craftmanship, and customer service practiced by Mr. David Allen himself attracted loyal customers and talented employees.
During the first 10 years of my 63-year career with the company, I was able to witness how those values were truly lived out in Mr. Allen’s personal life as well as in his business life.
As we continued to be authentic in those areas, the company attracted talented leaders and craftsmen. Being a trusted, responsible resource is important to contractors, developers, architects, and owners. Being a trusted employer is certainly valued by team members and potential team members.
Beyond living our core values, I think several things have contributed to our successful longevity:
1. We are future-focused – to see both short- and long-term opportunities and risk.
2. We have attracted capable team members on all levels.
3. Our ongoing education and training emphasis, on all levels, causes good team members to become great team members.
4. We believe being financially sound is a major asset. It eliminates stress so we can focus on opportunities. We have purposely been overcapitalized.
5. We demonstrate genuine concern for the welfare and success of all DAC team players, not just the owners and leadership.
What steps are the leaders of David Allen Company taking to ensure that they will continue to succeed both now and into the future?
Roberson: As it has so appropriately been said, “What got you HERE, won’t get you THERE!”
Aware that society and business, like everything in life, are constantly changing and evolving, we not only accommodate change – we advocate and capitalize on change. We respect and stay true to the core values while continuing to stay focused and prepared for the opportunities, challenges and changes that are coming tomorrow and next year. Our next generation of leadership is in place and being mentored for senior leadership. Forty-five percent of DAC (David Allen Company) ownership is ESOP owned – making everyone an owner.
The David Allen Company has a long history of support of trade associations in the tile and construction industry, including support of the National Tile Contractors Association. How has having the leaders of your company get involved in national and local associations benefitted David Allen Company?
Roberson: Beginning with David Allen himself as a charter member of NTCA, the company has actively participated in the associations that represent tile, marble, terrazzo, and the construction industry. We would never have achieved the level of success and professionalism that we enjoy today had it not been for our significant involvement with those associations. Much of our standing in the industry and certainly much of our knowledge resulted from our association involvement and from our interaction with association members.
To illustrate, DAC has provided four of NTCA’s presidents. I served as president on two occasions, Don Scott and Martin Howard are past presidents, and Chris Walker is the current president.
In 1985, I was appointed Chairman of what had been a three-person technical committee that had reported no activity for the previous three years. I immediately appointed 20 technically-knowledgeable industry members and scheduled quarterly meetings. We promptly started producing documents designed to guide the contractor through the maze of new and challenging installation methods and products. Those efforts resulted in the highly-popular NTCA Reference Manual. I served as Chairman of this committee for 13 years and was followed by Don Scott, who served for another six years. Martin Howard and Chris Walker are current members of that committee. Our team members, on all levels, have been and continue to be “association addicts.” Yes, we know the value of association involvement and recognize that we are largely who we are because of our association involvement.
In comparing today’s construction environment and tile trade to the beginning of your career, tell us a little about the changing world we live in. What was easier about being a tile contractor in the beginning of your career? What was more challenging back then as compared to now?
Roberson: Change is often uncomfortable, but I believe change sustains. None of us wish to return to what we often call the “good old days” when we soaked glazed wall tile in galvanized tubs of water for hours before installing, applying a scratch coat, a leveling coat, and a bond coat, each with its own formula, and rushed to apply the tile before the mortar hardened – and considered installing 60-80 square feet a day as good production. Tile installations were very labor intense.
In those times, the required craft skill was much higher, and the technical skill was much less than today. If one claimed to be a journeyman tile setter with less than a four-year apprenticeship, he would be laughed off the job. There was a high sense of pride among the most gifted craftsmen. It wouldn’t be unusual to see a craftsman, as he finished his work, step back and observe his work, just as an artist may do in critiquing his painting.
Relationships were more likely to be personal and far less likely to end in a legal contest. Contracts were also more likely to be verbal or just one page. Many of my contractor customers were also my friends.
Most commercial tile contractors purchased tile directly from the manufacturer since distributors didn’t exist in most areas. In the 1950s, it was not unusual for tile – especially trim pieces – to be shipped in barrels packed in sawdust.
For many of my earlier years, much of our installations were confined to toilets, bathrooms, and commercial kitchens. As a result of changing and improving installation methods, ever-increasing innovative tile designs and sizes, and effective marketing, we now often are the feature of many buildings. We have moved from the toilet to the lobby!
Communication with the job site usually required a visit since only a few of the larger jobs had phones on site. There was far more conversation about workmanship than about scheduling and production.
There were no copy machines, fax machines, computers, electronic devices, or Makita saws. The closest thing to an electronic device was a mechanical calculator with more than one hundred keys. The solution to most issues and problems back then was just “plain common sense.”
Share with us a few of your favorite or most challenging projects you were involved with during your illustrious career.
Roberson: In today’s construction arena, all large projects are very challenging with demanding schedules, short time frames, tight budgets, difficult coordination of trades, and accessible work areas. We master all of those challenges every day.
The project I enjoyed most was our own 25,000-square-foot office building. We were fortunate that it occurred when we didn’t have a time frame or a budget. I took the architect on a 10-day trip to Italy to be sure he understood what I was trying to accomplish. The contractor built the building in nine months, and it took me over a year and a half to do the finishes. From the day we started construction, the job site became my office. I enjoyed working alongside our artist, Vickie Wilson – creating mosaics and marble patterns, resourcing materials, and watching the building that I had built in my head come to life.
You have been leading the David Allen Company for many decades. What are you most proud of as you look back on the success of the company?
Roberson: In 1957, my first year with the company, our annual billings were $358,000. During the first 10 years, I was working 12 hours or more a day, and six days a week. In 1967 – the year I purchased the company – billings had not reached $600,000.
In 1969, Don Scott joined my one-person team in our tile operations. Don was an education major and had just finished his first year of teaching high school math. He had no previous experience in tile, marble, terrazzo, or business. His impressive character was obvious, and I thought he had tremendous potential. Then, in 1971, David Roberson joined our leadership team in our terrazzo operations. Like Don, David was fresh out of college but had no prior working experience. They were fast learners and hard workers, reinforcing everything that was valuable to our company’s success – a strong commitment to our core values, long hours, sacrifices, and 100% loyal and productive leaders. Don became the President and David is now the CEO.
For me, that was a turning point. Don and David liberated me. I began focusing more on vision and leadership. As things began to change, I was able to attract more very talented and committed people who enhanced our values.
Phil Halcomb joined the team in 1986 and established our highly-successful D.C. office. In 1992, Art Odom, a CPA, became our company CFO. Art is now the President of the company. Following Art, Martin Howard became an important part of our leadership team and is now Executive Vice President and a past president of NTCA. Martin oversees our tile and stone operations and our seven branches.
In 2010, Chris Walker joined the DAC team as Vice President, Northeast Region. Chris is the current president of NTCA, and many others along our 100-year journey have left their indelible and valuable mark.
But back to your question: What am I most proud of? It is not the most monumentally challenging job we ever successfully completed. Nor is it some artistically created masterpiece. Rather, it is the leadership and the team of quality, talented, and committed individuals who have made our company what it is today and who will continue to keep our company exceptional and relevant. It is the people who are David Allen Company – yes, that is what I am most proud of.
April 20, 2020 – ARLINGTON, Va. – Coverings (coverings.com), the largest international tile and stone exhibition and conference in North America, today announced the 18 projects receiving the coveted Coverings Installation & Design (CID) Awards for 2020. The CID Awards celebrate outstanding achievements in the design and installation of tile and stone in both residential and commercial projects.
“We were truly impressed with all of the project submissions we received for this year’s CID Awards program,” said Jennifer Hoff, president of Taffy Event Strategies, LLC, the event management company for Coverings. “However, there were 18 projects that superbly demonstrated the versatility of tile and stone. Coverings is honored to award and recognize their creative and sophisticated applications of tile and stone, each of which showcases the latest industry advances and trends.”
A panel of editors and industry leaders evaluated the project submissions. The submissions were based on tile and stone execution, original usage and overall design and purpose. Special recognition was given to those projects exemplifying spectacular tile and stone applications.
Projects were awarded using eight categorical designations: Residential Tile Installation, Residential Tile Design, Residential Stone Installation, Residential Stone Design, Commercial Tile Installation, Commercial Tile Design, Commercial Stone Installation, and Commercial Stone Design. The CID Awards are sponsored by TileLetter, Tile Magazine and Contemporary Stone & Tile Design Magazine.
2020 CID Award winners and special recognition honorees are as follows:
Each 2020 CID Award winner received $2,000. The honorees will be celebrated with an awards ceremony at Coverings 2021 and have their projects displayed via a specially designed flipbook and video at coverings.com.
The CID Awards judging panel included Chris Abbate, Novità Communications; Eric Astrachan, Tile Council of North America; Scott Carothers, Ceramic Tile Education Foundation; Kristin Coleman, Novità Communications; John Cox, Cox Tile; Kelly Doyle, Frank Advertising; Dean Horowitz, commARCH; Kathy Meyer, Tile Council of North America; Jennifer Quail, i+D; Jennifer Richinelli, BNP Media/Stone World; James Woelfel, Artcraft Granite, Marble and Tile Co.; and Dacia Woodworth, Natural Stone Institute.
Gerald (Jerry) Zakim, age 91, of Wanaque, N.J., formerly of Paterson and Wayne, passed away peacefully on the night of January 4, 2020, at his home. He was the beloved husband of Phyllis H. (nee Hamburg) Zakim for 68 years, devoted father of Stuart Zakim of Montclair, N.J., Elayna Kirschtel and her husband David of New City, N.Y., and the late Leonard Zakim of Newton, Mass., cherished and proud grandfather of Andrew, Alex, Jonathan, Joshua (Grace), Shari (Philip), Deena (Jesse), Aaron (Michal), Jason and Naomi, dear great grandfather of Leo, Lev and Lyla, dear brother of the late Sam Zakim and the late Esther Zakim Fox. Prior to his retirement, “Jerry” was the owner of a construction and consulting firm in Northern New Jersey and had a patent for a waterproof coating system. He was a graduate of Clemson University, in South Carolina where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree and was a Navy veteran of WWII.
Jerry was a lifetime member of the National Tile Contractors Association and an NTCA Recognized Consultant.
Gerald was a longtime member of Temple Beth Tikvah, in Wayne since 1966, and was a member of the Veritans and the YM-YWHA of Northern New Jersey, in Wayne, where he was inducted in the Sports Hall of Fame for his time as a basketball referee in the 1940s.
“I didn’t get my annual birthday call on January 10th this year from Jerry Zakim, and I didn’t get to make my birthday call to him on January 11th,” said Joe Tarver, Executive Director Emeritus of NTCA. “This was a ritual that started many years ago and was uninterrupted just by a few days. Jerry was a unique person in our industry with an insatiable quest for education and training and a willingness to share his knowledge with everyone. His history in the industry covered everything from inventor to consultant. He was a long-time member of the NTCA Technical Committee and participated in many NTCA Workshop programs. There was never a dull moment with Jerry around. RIP my friend.”
Services were at the Louis Suburban Chapel 13-01 Broadway (Route 4 West) Fair Lawn, N.J., and burial followed at Independent United Jersey Verein Cemetery, McBride Avenue, Woodland Park, N.J.. Memorial donations in memory of Gerald Zakim may be made to the Lenny Zakim Fund, 33 Arch Street, 26th Floor, Boston, Mass., 02110.
Albert Maurice Thompson, 81, of Eufaula, Okla., passed away Thursday, January 9, 2020, at his home. Albert was born on August 21, 1938, in Edmond, Okla., the son of Henry and Adelia Thompson, and graduated from Edmond High School. On March 1, 1996, Albert married Joann Bates at the Quail Springs Church of Christ in Oklahoma City. They were happily married for 23 years. Albert enjoyed playing guitar, helping people, and singing at the Plumb Theater.
He owned and operated Thompson Tile and Marble of Edmond and later owned Artistic Tile & Marble of Guthrie for over 25 years. He was a master tile man and was a member of the National Contractors Tile Association where he received the Tile Person of the Year Award in 2001.
He is survived by: his wife, Joann; his sons, Jim Bates of Washington, Okla., and Chris Thompson of Mo.; his daughters, Karra Sparks of Bentonville, Ark., and Rachel Thompson; his grandchildren, Ashley Deskin, Kynsey Bates, Shelby Bates, Luke Barton, Noah Sparks, Cole Thompson, Christopher Thompson, Jesse Thompson, Taylor Thompson, Noah Thompson and Dallas Thompson; his great grandchildren, Delayney Deskin, Dallas Deskin and Henry Ford Thompson. He is preceded in death by his parents, and his siblings.
NTCA’S Executive Director Emeritus Joe Tarver also counted Thompson among his friends. “Albert Thompson was a dear friend and a staunch supporter of NTCA,” he said. “His talents reached far beyond the ceramic tile industry. Albert was also a guitarist, a singer and played regularly in a band. He was never too busy to answer a call for assistance from anyone related to the entertainment or tile industries.
“When the decision was made to clad the NTCA building with new tile, Jim Isaminger of DMI Tile and Marble came in from Birmingham and did the installation,” Tarver added. “Albert answered the call and came to Jackson and grouted the installation with silicone. That was a unique talent that Albert possessed, and he did the entire building by himself. You will be missed my friend by all who knew and respected you.”
April 3, 2020 – ARLINGTON, Va. – Coverings (coverings.com), the largest international tile and stone exhibition and conference in North America, today announced a brand-new digital experience called Coverings Connected. The multi-session online event will take place April 20-23, 2020, via coverings.com, to provide attendees with digital access to learning opportunities via live webinars, tile and stone trends presentations, on-demand content, and an online showcase of Coverings tile and stone exhibitors from around the world.
Coverings Connected will further Coverings’ mission to grow the vibrant tile and stone industry and provide selected educational opportunities given the recently canceled Coverings 2020.
“Our goal is to support Coverings 2020 exhibiting companies by providing them with an opportunity to feature their products and announcements in a digital environment,” said Jennifer Hoff, president of Taffy Event Strategies, LLC, the event management firm for Coverings. “Similarly, attendees of Coverings Connected will be presented a variety of online offerings, such as live webinars, on-demand content, live chats, and the opportunity to set up appointments with exhibitors.”
Coverings show organizers have learning opportunities for all segments of Coverings attendees. They will cover a range of topics and be presented by notable thought-leaders and leading industry organizations. CEUs will be available for architects and interior designers for selected sessions.
Highlights of the webinar series include, “Innovation: The Key to Success Through Color and Design Trends,” by Leatrice Eiseman, CSA, executive director for the Pantone Color Institute and the Eiseman Center for Color Information and Training; “Acting on the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) Culture Survey – Leadership in the Face of COVID-19,” by Wally Adamchik, president, FireStarter Speaking and Consulting; and “Economics 20/20,” by Elliot Eisenberg, PhD, and economist.
Attendees of Coverings Connected are also able to engage with 900+ exhibitors through online Exhibitor Galleries and the New Product Showcase. Exhibitor information will be made available during and after the Coverings Connected event dates for attendees to search products, view exhibitor press releases, set appointments, watch exhibitor videos, and learn the latest trends in the industry.
For more information about Coverings Connected and to view the schedule, visit coverings.com.
Miami, FL April 2, 2020 – Despite the exceptional situation caused by COVID-19 and the restrictions set in Spain, the Spanish ceramic tile manufacturers will continue to meet their customers’ needs and international orders dispatch times.
Tile of Spain companies are present in more than 180 countries all over the world and their commitment is to keep meeting their clients and customers’ needs with the same quality and service guaranteed by the Spanish ceramic tile industry in international markets.
In response to the international health crisis caused by COVID-19, the Spanish ceramic tile industry has taken the measures needed to protect the health and safety of all workers, adopting, in some cases, even stricter actions than the rules and obligations established by the Health Authorities. The well-being of the workers and their families is above anything else.
This health and economic crisis is affecting everyone and thus, the industry is establishing the necessary mechanisms to return, once this complex situation has been resolved, to usual activity as quickly and normal as possible.