New House Infrastructure Package to Boost Infrastructure, Economic Recovery and Jobs

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The Moving Forward Act’s Proposed $1.5 Trillion in New Investments Will Improve Range of Public Infrastructure, Creating Needed Demand for Construction While Making the Economy More Efficient

The chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America, Stephen E. Sandherr, issued the following statement in reaction to the release today of a proposed House measure, known as The Moving Forward Act, that seeks to invest $1.5 trillion in infrastructure:

“House leaders understand that one of the best ways to promote new economic growth is by investing in the nation’s aging, and often over-burdened, infrastructure. These investments will create needed new construction careers, promote demand for new construction equipment and materials, and ensure that the economy will be more efficient and effective for years to come. The new House infrastructure proposal will provide the kind of tangible benefits our economy needs to recover.

“The new measure also takes the broadest possible definition of infrastructure. In addition to investing in transportation systems, waterways, energy and drinking water, the measure also provides crucial funding for modernizing schools, health care facilities, new housing and environmental mitigation. These broad investments will support demand across many different construction sectors, helping offset expected declines in private sector activity.

“There is a lot to this bill, and there are details in the proposal that must be improved as the measure works its way through the legislative process. Among those is the need to identify additional, sustainable, long-term funding for future infrastructure improvements. However, we support the goal of rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, restoring demand for construction and reinvigorating our economy. That is why we are eager to work with both parties and the Trump administration to improve this proposal, with the goal of ultimately enacting a measure that helps rebuild America.”

New Data Shows Construction Activity Returning To Pre-Coronavirus Levels In Many Parts Of The Country As Some Firms Begin To Add Workers

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Association Survey and Data Collected by Procore Measure Impacts of the Pandemic, Showing Signs of a Construction Recovery, but Labor Shortages and Project Cancellations Show Industry Needs Federal Help

A new survey by the Associated General Contractors of America and data from construction technology firm Procore show that construction activity is returning to pre-coronavirus levels in many parts of the country and some firms are adding workers. The new economic data, however, also shows some future projects are being canceled and many others are being delayed by supply chain issues and labor shortages, underscoring the need for additional federal recovery measures, association officials noted.

“Many of the immediate economic impacts of the coronavirus have passed and, as a result, activity and hiring are up, a bit,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist.  “But while the immediate crisis appears to have passed, we are just now beginning to appreciate some of the longer-term impacts of the pandemic on the industry.”

Construction activity has returned to pre-coronavirus levels in 34 states, based on data on workers’ hours analyzed by Procore. And construction has returned to pre-coronavirus levels in Dallas and Miami, according to Procore’s data on 8 large metro areas. Meanwhile, the association’s survey found that only 8 percent of construction firms were forced to furlough or lay off workers in June while 21 percent report adding employees, compared to one-in-four firms letting workers go between March and May.

“But it is important to remember that construction activity typically increases quite a bit between March 1 and the end of May as the weather improves and more work gets underway,” Simonson commented. “Getting to March 1 levels is a sign of progress, but it doesn’t mean things are back to normal.”

Simonson added that the AGC survey and Procore’s data show the severe toll the pandemic took on the construction industry. For example, 61 percent of firms report having had at least one project halted or canceled because of the pandemic. One in four firms report that construction materials shortages, caused by lock downs and trade disruptions, are causing delays on current projects. Meanwhile, the Procore data found that smaller firms experienced more severe declines in construction activity during the pandemic than larger firms.

“We are living in a time when change seems to be the new norm, but something that will never change is the resilience of the construction industry,” said Kristopher Lengieza, Procore’s Senior Director of Business Development. “To date, a majority of states are experiencing levels of construction activity equal to, or in some cases, much higher than they reported prior to COVID-19.”

Simonson added that, moving forward, only 12 percent of firms report they plan to furlough or lay off staff over the next four weeks while 17 percent anticipate adding to their headcount during that time span. Yet even as more construction firms predict they will expand during the next several weeks, 42 percent do not expect demand will recover to normal levels for at least four months, and most of those firms expect recovery will take longer than six months.

Simonson noted that construction firms are counting on additional federal help to improve demand for construction and make it easier to return people to their payrolls. Fifty-five percent of firms report they are counting on Congress and the Trump administration to enact liability reform that protects firms that are complying with coronavirus safety protocols from litigation. And 33 percent are counting on Congress to boost infrastructure spending to offset declining private-sector demand.

Many firms are also hoping that Congress will not extend the unemployment supplement that is currently set to expire at the end of July. Notably, 34 percent of firms that called back employees who had been furloughed report having some personnel refuse to return to work because of those unemployment supplements. “Extending the supplement will only make it harder for more employers to bring people back onto payrolls,” Simonson cautioned.

“Without additional help from D.C., the few gains this industry has made during the past few weeks will likely be fleeting,” Simonson added. “That is why we will continue to push Congress and the Trump administration to enact the kind of long-term economic recovery measures this industry needs to truly rebound from the coronavirus.”

The association’s new survey is based on responses from over 630 firms collected between June 9 and 17. Procore’s data is based on the transactions logged via the company’s software by tens of thousands of construction firms across the country.

Click here for the association’s survey results and here(link is external) for a video summary of the survey responses. Click here for Procore’s new construction data. Procore blogged about its most recent findings here(link is external).

ABC, NAHB Applaud D.C. Circuit Court Decision to Reject Lawsuit to Compel OSHA to Issue Emergency Temporary Standard for Infectious Diseases/COVID-19

WASHINGTON, June 11 — Associated Builders and Contractors Vice President of Health, Safety, Environment and Workforce Development Greg Sizemore and National Association of Home Builders Chief Executive Officer Jerry Howard issued the following joint statement today on the D.C. Circuit Court’s decision to reject a lawsuit brought by the AFL-CIO to compel the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue an “emergency temporary standard” for infectious diseases/COVID-19:

“We applaud the D.C. Circuit’s decision, which affirms that OSHA’s comprehensive response to the COVID-19 outbreak currently eliminates the need for an emergency temporary standard for infectious diseases and COVID-19 covering all employees. The government is learning new information about COVID-19 and how best to mitigate related hazards on an almost daily and sometimes even hourly basis, which is why a static, intransigent rule would not be an appropriate response. OSHA’s resources are better deployed by developing timely and situational-specific guidance documents, which can be adjusted and adapted as the agency and public health authorities better understand the pandemic.

“In the construction sector, even without a COVID-19 outbreak, safety and health is always our No. 1 priority. As representatives of residential, nonresidential and industrial construction contractors across the country, we remain committed to collaborating with state and local health officials, as well as across market sectors, to diligently identify and implement new health and safety protocols on our jobsites to protect construction employees amid the COVID-19 outbreak.” 

Construction Input Prices Rise in May, Says ABC

WASHINGTONJune 11—Construction input prices rose 0.8% in May compared to the previous month, according to an Associated Builders and Contractors analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Producer Price Index data released today. Nonresidential construction input prices rose by 0.8% for the month as well.

Of the 11 subcategories, only three experienced monthly decreases, with the largest decrease in steel mill products, which fell 3.1% in May. The rise in prices was driven primarily by the three energy subcategories, which experienced significant increases over the previous month. Crude petroleum was up 41.6%, while natural gas and unprocessed energy materials were up 36.5% and 26.5%, respectively.

“Those who fixate on monthly data during times like these will find their views on the economy fluctuate from moment to moment,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “Construction input prices were down in April, leading one to believe that deflationary forces were at work in an environment characterized by massive job losses, project postponements, a reeling global economy and plunging energy prices. May came to represent the mirror opposite, with contractors becoming more upbeat, according to ABC’s Construction Confidence Index, rising energy prices and the nation adding jobs as the U.S. economy initiated its reopening.

“Rather than focus on monthly gyrations, those who lead America’s construction firms would be wise to pay attention to broader trends,” said Basu. “For instance, while nonresidential construction input prices rose nearly 1 percentage point in May, they are down nearly 7% from the same time last year. In addition to energy price declines, prices for steel mill products (-13.1%), nonferrous wire and cable (-4.8%) and many other categories are also down from a year ago.   

“The world and nation remain in disarray,” said Basu. “Global supply chains are fragmenting. Trade wars are reemerging. State and local government finances are fragile, and there is an imminent presidential election. These are unsettled times, and therefore data readings are likely to be highly variable from moment to moment. That statistical volatility does not represent a solid foundation upon which to make business decisions. Based on history, input prices are likely to be erratic from month to month, but given the fragile state of the economy, there is unlikely to be a sustained increase in input prices over the near-term. However, the story could be far different a year or two from now.”

Tile of Spain Announces the Launch of New Website for the U.S.

Miami, FL – May 2020 – Tile of Spain, the International ceramic tile brand representing over 120 ceramic tile manufacturers belonging to the Spanish Ceramic Tile Manufacturers’ Association (ASCER) is proud to announce the launch of its newly redesigned website,  www.TileofSpainUSA.com.   Designed with a user-friendly experience in mind the new site includes dynamic features, improved functionality, and more easily accessible information from Tile of Spain manufacturers, allowing visitors to delve into the world of Spanish tile from any device. The newly revamped site also includes:

Interactive Inspiration Gallery – a gallery showcasing inspiring interiors, exteriors and projects featuring products from Tile of Spain manufacturers.
Tile of Spain Connection– stay connected to the latest projects, news and events from all over the world with Tile of Spain USA.
Continuing Education Center – this education hub offers opportunities for in-person and online CEUs, access to the CERASPAÑA Magazine, and a video learning center.
Request a CEU – Architects and Designers can now invite the wonder of Spanish tile to their firm by requesting an in-person or virtual Lunch & Learn with Tile of Spain’s Technical Consultant, Ryan Fasan.
Tile of Spain Quick Ship Collection – a collection of Spanish tiles available for immediate purchase in the U.S.English and Spanish translation.

“We are thrilled to unveil our new comprehensive website that will serve as an informative portal to architects, designers, homeowners, contractors, and journalists seeking to gain a deeper understanding of Spanish ceramic tile,” says Francisco Garzon, Trade Commission of Spain, in Miami. “This redesign truly aligns with Tile of Spain’s vision, showcasing the latest projects, trends, innovations, news and educational initiatives from the industry’s leading manufacturers.”
  The purpose of the new look and update to the Tile of Spain USA website is to better provide quality information and products through an easy to navigate source. The website will highlight all of the tools and resources available at the click of a button and make evident that Tile of Spain remains at the forefront of the tile industry.

NTCA PartnerShip: FedEx is giving $1 million in grants to small businesses

NTCA’s PartnerShip shipping provider FedEx is offering $1 million in grants to small businesses. Small businesses strengthen the economy and make the world more vibrant, creating jobs, as well as unique products, services and spaces. Communities depend on small businesses, especially in these trying times.

Many small businesses are hurting right now. Whether you’re making the move to selling and shipping online or you’re ramping up your safety and cleanliness measures to keep customers and employees safe, you’re putting your all into not just surviving but becoming more creative and resilient than ever.

To honor that spirit, FedEx is committing to provide $1 million in grants for small businesses in the U.S. Each grant recipient will receive $5,000, plus a $500 credit from FedEx Office that can be used for printing banners, posters, floor graphics, custom branded boxes, and more.

The application window opened May 25, 2020 and runs through June 12, 2020. NTCA members can apply at http://fedex.com/supportsmallgrants. But first, make sure you’re signed up for FedEx discounts through the NTCA PartnerShip Program at https://www.partnership.com/. If you’re not already taking advantage of this free benefit, enroll today.

University of Ceramic Tile and Stone offers Certified Tile Specialist and Certified Stone Specialist Programs

San Diego, CA, May 12, 2020 – The University of Ceramic Tile and Stone (UofCTS) offers a certification accreditation program for experienced tile and stone professionals who have a minimum of two years full-time, on-the-job experience within their respective tile or stone industry.

The UofCTS Certified Tile Specialist (CTS) program covers ceramic tile, glass tile, specialty tile, and related installation products. The UofCTS Certified Stone Specialist (CSS) program covers natural stone, engineered stone, manufactured stone and related installation products.

The UofCTS Certified Specialist Program is an effective way to teach and update experienced industry professionals with:

  • Product knowledge, industry standards,
  • Learning how to draft MasterFormat Architectural Specifications,
  • Learning proper selection and installation methods for tile and stone applications,
  • Learning how to properly, clearly and effectively communicate with clients. 

The Certified Specialist courses have been developed with an emphasis on preparing students for their dealings with clients in a consultative manner.  The training program builds confidence, enhances credibility with clients, and improves professionalism, which ultimately leads to more sales.  In addition, companies that have certified professionals on their staff are more likely to avoid costly job failures.

In order to be eligible to display the acronym designating an individual as a UofCTS Certified Tile Specialist (CTS) or UofCTS Certified Stone Specialist (CSS) professional you must:

  • Provide proof of at least two years of full-time experience within the respective industry, including letters from employers.
  • Achieve a passing grade on either the UofCTS’ courses, Understanding the Basics of Ceramic Tile or Understanding the Basics of Natural Stone.
  • Achieve a passing grade on the UofCTS Tile Installer Thin-set Standards (ITS) Verification course and remain current.
  • Achieve a passing grade on the UofCTS The Complete Guide on Developing Tile & Stone Specifications with Architects course.
  • Pass the respective UofCTS Tile and Stone Certified Specialist Final Exam that includes 78 true/false and multiple-choice questions and five essay questions. The prerequisite for taking the exam is to first complete and pass the three respective courses and provide the verification of employment.   
  • Approval from UofCTS Certification Board after reviewing and scrutinizing the student’s final exam results and their course results to verify that they did complete each section of each lesson in each course.  

You can order the UofCTS Certified Specialist Final Exam by clicking on the respective acronym: CTS Exam or CSS Exam

Candidates who purchase the respective final exam will get the following:

  • 30 days access to each of the three respective courses that are associated with the CTS or CSS designation. This will allow the candidate to prepare for the test by reviewing or retaking each of those respective courses.
  • Once the candidate is prepared, within those 30 days of access they can take the test.
  • The test will be proctored via a cell phone app like FaceTime or WhatsApp or an online web conferencing app like Zoom or Skype.
  • Final exam that includes completing 78 true false and multiple choice questions and five essay questions to be completed within three hours.
  • UofCTS Certification Board will grade essay questions, will review student’s course results, and student’s qualifications to determine if they will be issued the respective certification.
  • Upon approval from the UofCTS Certification Board, student will be mailed a certificate of accomplishment and the respective Certified Specialist pocket ID card.
  • The designated Specialist will be required to renew their certification every two years by retaking the online Certified Specialist Exam for which they previously earned the Certified Specialist status. It is very important that industry professionals review this material every two years in order to stay current with industry products, methods and standards that are continually changing and improving.

The UofCTS will issue a diploma and an ID card with the industry professional’s name and date in which he/she completed the UofCTS Certification program along with an expiration date. These cards can be presented to potential customers in addition to other credentials. Having a UofCTS Certified Specialist designation will provide added credibility for tile and stone professionals and will give companies a competitive advantage over their competition.

The UofCTS CTS and CSS certifications are not a guarantee that the certified industry professional will perform satisfactory work, nor will it be an indication of their level of competency.  It is verification by UofCTS that a given industry professional has received a passing grade on the respective UofCTS online courses covering industry products, standards and methods, and has demonstrated that they understand this information.

For more information visit the UofCTS website at www.UofCTS.org.

Virginia Tile Company Announces Essential Product Program


Livonia, MI – May 12, 2020 – Virginia Tile Company is excited to announce the ESSENTIAL PRODUCT PROGRAM, a grouping of 29 select porcelain tile product lines that are in stock and ready to ship from two distribution hubs servicing 14 Midwestern states. 

“This grouping of products provides trend relevant tile lines for residential and commercial projects that Virginia Tile can deliver on time to meet our customers’ time-sensitive construction schedules,” said Sean Cilona, Director of Product and Supplier Management at Virginia Tile Company. 

The Essential Product Program Offering 

The Essential Product Program is focused on Made in the USA porcelain tile offerings with a few complimentary import lines. These 29 lines represent the best manufacturers in the industry including American Olean, Atlas Concorde, Crossville, Marazzi and Milestone. The targeted product lines were selected to provide a full range of essential looks, including — but not limited to  — Concrete, Fabric, Marble, Metal, Slate and Wood looks, as well as covering various price points. 

Virginia Tile Company’s commitment to deliver the latest porcelain tile products in one readily-available in stock program reinforces a long-standing reputation the company has for providing the highest quality materials and most celebrated service experience in the industry. The Essential Product Program is available for immediate selection at all Virginia Tile showrooms and purchase at dealer locations. A guide to the entire collection is available at website https://www.virginiatile.com/promotions/


Tile of Spain manufacturer the Peronda Group and Fundación Grupo Peronda have set in motion an initiative to assist the Red Cross in Onda in the different types of support that it is providing during the COVID-19 crisis in Spain.
A plan has been launched by the Red Cross called the “RED CROSS COVID-19 RESPONSE”, aimed at offering assistance to over 11 million people in Spain during the coming months. Peronda Group will be collaborating by adding its grain of salt.  

Peronda Group is collaborating with Cruz Roja Espanola to support the basic needs of infants during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Red Cross Covid-19 Response involves various different plans of action. Peronda Group has decided to collaborate with the Red Cross in Onda by donating a series of basic necessities for young infants, such as diapers, follow-on formula milk and other essential food products for those local babies most in need of them, since a young infant’s growth and development are fundamental.
The Peronda Group, believes in the importance of the Red Cross’ contributions to society, hence its collaboration with the organization over the years and, in particular, now at this current critical moment for Spanish society. This collaborative initiative in a reflection of Peronda Group’s commitment to society, encapsulated in its corporate values and goals. The Peronda Group thanks the Red Cross for all its work.

Mannington manufactures faces shields for front line workers

May 4, 2020 – SALEM, NJ – Even though Mannington Mills no longer supplies ceramic and porcelain tile, this flooring material manufacturer has joined the fray to help out front line workers. Mannington Mills’ facility in Madison, Ga., has collaborated with a materials partner, Klockner Pentaplast, Mannington to make 1,000 clear face shields to donate to front line workers. 

The face shields are currently being used at a number of sites in both Georgia and New Jersey, in areas where Mannington has a significant community presence. Giving back is part of the Mannington credo, and according to Michael Edwards, Sr. Vice President of Operations at Mannington, “We are grateful to Klockner for working with us on this project. We’ve been able to help out our front-line workers in both healthcare and law enforcement as they work to keep us safe every day.” 

Mannington associates delivered face shields to several locations in Georgia and New Jersey including Morgan Medical Center (Madison, Ga.); Morgan County Sheriff’s Office (Madison, Ga.); Salem Medical Center (Salem, NJ); and AdventHealth Gordon (Calhoun, Ga.) – pictured. 

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