Leading the industry in a changing world

Normally I like to call this article a year in review, and then share with our readers what the National Tile Contractors Association is planning for the following year. I can safely tell you that thanks to the new world we live in, it is very difficult to plan ahead. A better way to describe it would be to say that we are ready to react to whatever situation comes our way. 

The COVID pandemic has affected everyone in different ways. In the association world, it was particularly devastating. All of our educational seminars, training programs, and tradeshows were either cancelled or postponed. Certification tests administered by the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) were similarly put on hold. This affects our ability to impact the industry and impacts our revenue and outreach. 

I am proud of the way the staff reacted to this situation. Under their leadership, with volunteer support and interaction from a wide array of active members, NTCA reported ongoing developments on legislation, relief and contractor and industry wide responses to COVID on TileLetter.com and established a Coronavirus Response Hotline on the NTCA website at tile-assn.com. We keep this current today. We partnered with other association leaders to share important information for our members to access. 

The training team at NTCA and CTEF quickly mobilized and created virtual webinars and training programs, including offering NTCA workshops online. They also initiated multiple roundtable talks for contractors to get together to discuss issues ranging from operating in a new world, to best practices and technical installation discussions. These programs have continued to grow in popularity and participation. 

TileLetter gets a digital upgrade; ARTISAN publication launches

The new TileLetter Digital Magazine is easy to navigate via a range of devices.

Moving into 2021, I am excited to make a few major announcements. First and foremost, NTCA has decided to expand our outreach in digital marketing with a new TileLetter Digital Magazine. This monthly feature will include video links and technical and business content that is easy to access and read with smartphones, tablets and computers. 

TileLetter ARTISAN will champion artisan tile setters with spring and fall issues.

In talking with our members for the past few years, it has become very clear that NTCA must continue to be a strong advocate and voice for the craftsmanship and artisanship that our skilled installers possess. This is what sets our trade apart from other industries. In addition to many installation awards we offer for our members, we recently introduced the NTCA Tile Setter Craftsperson of the Year Awards. Based on the incredible submissions we receive, and the artistic impact our installers make in the world, we are introducing two new issues of TileLetter in print in 2021. TileLetter ARTISAN will be featured in both the spring and the fall and will celebrate both residential and commercial artistic and technically-challenging installations and projects, as well as the historical legacy of craftsmanship tile setters share stretching back through time.

Using technology to strengthen training

NTCA training staff has invested in mobile equipment to offer more programs on social media in both live and recorded formats.

We are planning for a return to physical training programs, certification testing and educational seminars in 2021. Currently, we are slating most of our programs to begin in late spring and they will continue throughout the year. In order to supplement these programs and reach a broader audience, the NTCA training staff has invested in mobile equipment to offer more programs on social media in both live and recorded formats. We will film training tips and videos for these platforms, and if and when we can travel again, we will use this technology to feature distributor and manufacturer sponsors, visit contractor members at our events and on their jobsites, and of course showcase NTCA events live and in video channels. We are really excited about what the virtual mobile program will offer. In a worst case scenario, if we are unable to travel in 2021 due to the continued restraints we currently have with the pandemic, we will be able to communicate to our members and the industry utilizing all of these platforms and tools. Let’s hope that is not the case. 

NTCA is in sound financial position and is committed to continuing to expand our outreach to the installation community and the entire tile industry. We are proud of the service we have continued to provide for our members, and we will continue to look to new and innovative ways we can communicate and interact with them no matter what happens in the world. We are proud of the continued commitment our members have made to our staff and to each other. 

Members helping members – Owen, Kemna and Welch gather in Grand Rapids for a strategy session. 

I would like to close with a great example of what getting involved in NTCA means to some people, and can mean for you. Thanks to years of attending NTCA programs and events, Rod Owen of C.C. Owen Tile Company in Atlanta, and Barry Kemna of Kemna Tile in Dallas, flew to Michigan to meet with Dan Welch of Welch Tile and Marble in Grand Rapids. They spent several days and into the weekend together, examining new strategies they were considering based on regional and national changes they are anticipating. This is the type of collaboration that occurs when members helping members takes place; and it happens every day. NTCA is proud to be an organization that encourages and facilitates this type of interaction. 

Mary Yocum of Schluter®-Systems Honored with NTCA Joe Tarver Award

The National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), the world’s largest tile contractor association, is pleased to recognize Mary Yocum of Schluter Systems as the recipient of the 2020 Joe A. Tarver Service to the Industry Award. Named after NTCA Executive Director Emeritus Joe Tarver, who served the industry throughout his career in both manufacturing and association management, this award is given to individuals who have dedicated their careers to improving the tile and stone industry in the United States.

Mary Yocum of Schluter-Systems has received the 2020 Joe A. Tarver Service to the Industry Award from the NTCA

Mary is only the second woman to receive this prestigious award. This well-deserved recognition is derived from Mary’s active participation and support of leading trade associations such as the NTCA and the Ceramic Tile Distributors Association (CTDA), where she was a two-time president.

“Mary has devoted her time and energy to the entire tile industry and is highly deserving of this recognition,” says Bart Bettiga, NTCA Executive Director. “As both a distribution and manufacturing representative, Mary has worked closely with the tile contracting community and has helped communicate the need for hiring qualified and trained installers to the design, building, specification and architectural community. Mary has actively promoted qualified labor language in the specifications and has supported the importance of industry certification offered by the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation.”

“I am beyond humbled,” Mary says while discussing award. “Firstly, it’s the Joe Tarver Award! I worked with Joe and have a great deal of respect for him and all he did for the tile industry. All the people who have received this award prior to me have committed themselves generously to the industry. I am so grateful and extremely humbled to be in their company.”

Marco Ludwig, President and CEO of Schluter-Systems North America, congratulated Mary on receiving the award. “Over the years Mary has formed countless deep and meaningful relationships, and it doesn’t take long to realize just how well respected she is in the tile industry. Her dedication and commitment to improving the industry makes her an excellent choice for the Joe Tarver Award. We, at Schluter- Systems are fortunate to benefit from Mary’s knowledge, experience and enthusiasm.”

The NTCA has produced a video of highlights from Mary’s impressive career in the tile industry and providing insight into her life and character.

The National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) is a non-profit trade association serving every segment of the industry, spearheading education for the professional installation of ceramic tile, natural stone and allied products. For more information, please contact NTCA executive director Bart Bettiga at [email protected], via telephone at (601) 939-2071, or visit www.tile-assn.com.

iQ Power Tools teams up with the NTCA and the American Lung Association to host Silica Discussion via Free LIVE Webinar

iQ Power Tools, manufacturer of premium power tools with integrated dust collection technology, is pleased to announce their team is partnering with the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) and the American Lung Association (ALA) to present a FREE, LIVE webinar,  on Tuesday, November 17th  at 12pm PST. 

Via iQ’s Virtual Visitor, a mobile digital broadcast platform, attendees can join the silica conversation with Paul Guth, iQ’s President, Bart Bettiga, Executive Director of the NTCA, Jim Olson, Assistant Executive Director of the NTCA, Mark Heinlein, Training Director of the NTCA and Dr. Levy, Medical Spokesperson for the American Lung Association.

Via Zoom and Facebook Live, attendees will have the opportunity to “Get Serious About Silica!” According to Sarah Hurtado, iQ’s Marketing Manager, “Silica safety is more than just being OSHA compliant – its saving your own life and that of your employees.”

This will be a roundtable discussion about silica. In addition to discussing hazards, OSHA standards and more, Dr. Levy, from the ALA, will share his experiences with silicosis and how his patients have been affected by the harmful silica dust. Plus, scheduled is a member of the NTCA team to sharing his own personal story. 

“We are encouraging contractors from across the country to join us,” stated Guth, “Now, more than ever, is the time for them to know their options. Our team, along with Dr. Levy, will explain in detail what workers in the construction industry really need to know; for themselves and their crews. We’re going to get scientific and really drive the message home about the seriousness of the health hazards associated with silica exposure.”

Guth added, “This is the first of two Silica Presentations with the NTCA. We’re going to really zone in on the health hazards in this first presentation. With our second one, scheduled for December, we will discuss compliance options and understanding the PEL(permissible exposure limits).”

Bart Bettiga concluded, “The NTCA is committed to providing important and accurate information for our members.  Raising awareness of the OSHA Respirable Silica Rule and the harmful effects that can result if workers fail to properly control potentially harmful dust that contains it is something we have taken very seriously.  We are pleased to partner with IQ Power Tools and the American Lung Association to discuss this issue in further detail from a medical viewpoint; in addition to discussing best practices on the job site to avoid exposure.  We hope to engage our audience with open dialogue and encourage their questions and interaction.”

Attendees can register via ZOOM HERE, or they can follow along on iQ PowerTools and the NTCA’s Facebook Pages. 

Ulas Maris

Mark Heinlein (l) with Ulas Maris

When accidents happen, people’s lives are turned upside down.

Unfortunately, this has recently happened to NTCA Board Member, Ulas Maris of Maris Tile PRO. On the night of October 12, on his way home after helping a friend with a kitchen project, Maris was in a terrible accident leaving him with several broken bones and fractures. He is currently in the recovery process and has started physical therapy. 

Due to the extent of his injuries and the long recovery process, Maris is looking at extensive medical bills and time out of work. 

To learn more about Ulas Maris’s accident or if you would like to make a contribution to his recovery, please see the link below to the GoFundMe account set up by his family. A donation of any amount can make a huge difference. https://gf.me/u/y6zu8m

NTCA Five-Star Contractor Project of the Year winners announced

The National Tile Contractors Association recently announced its 2020 NTCA Five-Star Contractor Project of the Year winners. Seven winners were named – Grand Prize, and Achievement of Excellence in Residential, Commercial and Commercial Elite (projects over $1 million) categories, and one People’s Choice winner selected by popular vote.

Judges included Consultant Dave Gobis;  Richard Goldberg, Professional Consultants International; and Kent Klaser, Tile & Stone Consultants. The criteria included scope, complexity, technical soundness, online voting (People’s Choice award), and presentation.

Winners will receive a trophy or a plaque to honor their achievement plus celebration of their accomplishment in social media, as well as with expanded coverage on NTCA’s print and digital platforms.

Pool grotto with colorful mosaics

Residential Grand Prize: Heritage Marble & Tile, Mill Valley, Calif. — The Ultimate Grotto, Corte Madera, Calif.  

This project also won the 2020 Coverings Installation & Design (CID) Award for Residential Tile Installation. Heritage Marble and Tile installed intricate custom glass mosaic tile by Sicis, and handmade ceramic Pratt and Larson stars onto a Moroccan style gunite grotto shell after floating the walls with mud to meet the tolerances that would accept glass mosaic. When it turned out that the shell did not follow landscape architect’s calculations for the precise placement of the mosaic, the contractor made adjustments on site, hand setting the pattern to avoid re-ordering Sicis mosaic from Italy and delaying the project.

Residential exterior

Residential Achievement of Excellence: Boatman and Magnani, Inc. — French Travertine Villa, Bethesda, Md.

Boatman and Magnani, Inc., installed tile and stone in the interior and on the exterior of this private residence.  1 cm travertine in a French Pattern graced the basement and first floor levels over a radiant floor heating system. The project included eight uniquely-designed and detailed bathrooms plus a stunning Master Bath featuring vein-matched Magnum Gold Marble slabs.  The contractor fabricated and installed the natural stone and quartz elements for the kitchen perimeter tops and islands, as well as other select areas in the home. Random-sized split-faced Texas Cream Limestone wall veneer graced the exterior, as well as many other custom elements.

Tribal gathering space and community center

Commercial Grand Prize: Grazzini Brothers & Company, Eagan, Minn. — Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) Cultural Center, Shakopee, Minn.

The 92,500 sq.ft. uniquely-constructed multipurpose facility ,community gathering space and historical exhibit featured over 28,000 sq. ft. of ceramic and stone mosaic floor, wall tile, ceramic tile base and glass wall tile installed in the River Gallery, in the lobby, men’s and women’s locker rooms, showers, restrooms, grand staircase, and atrium entrances. The circular-shaped building required ongoing adjustments to fit patterns to the built space and tie in with the lobby layout pattern. Actual river rocks were sliced in half and meshed together so that flat rock faces formed the finished floor in the pebble mosaic, requiring numerous radius cuts, a tile leveling system, and a thicker setting bed to accommodate the uneven rounded stone halves. 

Arial view of four story building with garden and fountain

Commercial Achievement of Excellence: Artcraft Granite Marble and Tile Company , Mesa, Ariz.Mission Improbable: Elevate 24, Phoenix, Ariz.

This massive business complex required exterior installation of 52,000 sq.ft. of 12” x 24” porcelain floor tile with nine different percentages within three uninterrupted 6’ X 8’ patterns specific  to atriums, walking paths, common areas. It flowed though all levels of one building, through walkways and through the four levels of another building. Artcraft used a surveyor’s transit and lasers to find square lines and gridded the entire installation. The contractor had to meet the challenges of 20,000 sq. ft. of loose, unbonded tile and mud bed, devising a tile-over-tile installation, and working through wet soggy, winter weather.

hotel lobby with medallion and grand staircase

Commercial Elite Grand Prize: David Allen Company, Raleigh, N.C. — Hotel Bennett, Charleston, S.C.

This complex project, rife with different patterns, required advance strategic planning. Field measurements were double checked, and dry layouts were done to ensure pleasing pattern placements. The porcelain tile and stone border in the grand lobby were hand-cut in the field to be flush with the radial corners that wrap the room. Cut-to-size stone treads and risers were fabricated for both monumental staircases and mirror each other. Exterior challenges involved keeping crew and materials cool during installation of the roof deck in the heat of summer, and installing 8,000 sq. ft of adjoining balconies and decks with porcelain tile, while keeping proper slope to drains without out-of-tolerance lippage.

hotel lobby with impressive slab front desk treatment

Commercial Elite Achievement of Excellence: DeAnza Tile, Fremont, Calif.Oakland T-12 City Center, Oakland, Calif.

The main level public areas of the 23-floor structure feature Ariostea 24”x48”x3/4” and 24”x24”x3/4”  porcelain pavers for  interior and exterior, with interior elevator lobby and main corridor walls of the LEED Gold building adorned with Granitifiandre Maximum 9’x5’x6mm porcelain panels.  The contractor employed both a pedestal installation system and the TCNA F-121-19 installation method to create seamless alignment of porcelain paver grout joints from interior lobby to exterior and onto the concrete sidewalk. Scissor lifts and rolling scaffolds allowed the contractor to align marble veining on the porcelain wall panels through four different panel varieties.  The illusion of continuous veining was aided by perfectly mitered tile corners, all fabricated onsite.

Iconic Academy Museum of Motion Pictures golden facade

People’s Choice: Premier Tile & Marble, Gardena, Calif. — Academy Museum of Motion Pictures – The Saban Building, Los Angeles, Calif.

The restoration of this iconic 1939 Streamline Moderne Building involved the preservation, rehabilitation and six-story replacement of 350,000 of its 500,000, 24 Karat gold 1”x”1 tile. Working hand in hand with preservationists and conservators, each of the 500,000 tiles were inspected, graded, marked and accepted or deemed unfit for rehabilitation, using technology employed by NASA on the Rover. Crews gave meticulous attention to removing damaged mosaics with small one-inch rotary power tools and low impact pneumatic chisels, and fitting new mosaics flush and aligned with preserved existing tiles, one piece at a time.

NTCA names Tile Setter Craftsperson of the Year winners

The National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) has announced its 2020 Tile Setter Craftspersons of the Year Award in both the residential and commercial categories. 

On the commercial side, the winner is Ferid Hasic of Grazzini Brothers & Company, Eagan, Minn., while the recipient in the residential category is Leo Reynaga of Visalia Tile in Visalia, California. 


The winners receive round-trip airfare for two to Coverings 2021, scheduled to take place at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., next April, as well as hotel accommodations for a three-night stay. They will be recognized at the annual NTCA Awards Night during the show. 

“Since Total Solutions Plus was  changed to a virtual event this year due to COVID-19,” explained Bart Bettiga, NTCA’s executive director, “we will be presenting the award to Ferid and Leo at Coverings 2021.”

Praiseworthy achievement

Nyle Wadford, a residential category judge and industry consultant, noted, “I am honored to be chosen to judge these entries. Viewing their work and their dedication to their craft was an uplifting experience. When this fast-paced world in which we live demands that it be done more rapidly with ‘get by’ quality, these entrants eschew that notion and proved their dedication to quality on each of the installations reviewed. 

“It is both pleasing and humbling to know that there are still tile installers today that adhere to these practices,” he added. “Congratulations to all the entrants. They’re all winners in my book.”

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

Judging criteria for the awards included the following factors: 

  • 15 years or more setting tile, and continuing to set tile as part of the job today (Yes/No)
  • Technical Correctness of tile installations – 25%
  • Craftsmanship/Artistry – 30%
  • Ability to Resolve Tile Installation Problems – 20%
  • Self-Improvement/Continuing Education – 15%
  • Mentoring/Leading Others – 10%

How they got here 

Hasic was nominated for the award by Greg Grazzini, CEO and president, Grazzini Brothers and Company, while Reynaga was nominated by Teresa Inglehart, residential operations assistant, Visalia Tile. Both winners hailed from NTCA Five-Star contractor member companies. 

Ferid Hasic from Grazzini Brothers and Company

Hasic grew up in Bosnia and learned the tile trade from a third-generation tile setter in Germany. He and his family moved to the U.S. in January 1998 and he became a naturalized U.S. citizen. His training in Germany allowed him to obtain his Tile Setter Journeyman card with the local union. He also holds a Stone Mason Journeyman card. 

He supervises up to 45 workers with Grazzini Brothers and Company, while mentoring crew and overseeing projects, and has become a role model for his crew members. 

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

The 1.75 million square foot U.S. Bank Stadium, home of the Minnesota Vikings, located in Minneapolis, is the largest construction project in Minnesota. Ferid Hasic was chosen to install the large format thin porcelain panels, a new form of tile in 2015, which required training/mentoring 10 additional tile setters for this installation. Ferid and his crew installed 35,000 square feet in 3 months on 6 different concourse levels.
Leo Reynaga & VCT owners Robby Martinho (L) Eddie Martinho  (R).jpg – Leo Reynaga is flanked by Visalia Ceramic Tile owners, Robby Martinho (l) and Eddie Martinho.

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

“Today, with over 24 years in the trade, Leo has become a top setter for commercial and residential applications,” Inglehart said, in her nomination letter. “It is rare to have one guy the best at projects requiring vast differences from small to large areas, simple to custom details- and he’s got it.” His positive attitude, product knowledge, continuing quest for education, and experience and willingness to motivate and encourage others has distinguished him as a leader. 

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

Leo Reynaga headed the exterior portion of this project, the Hoffman residence in Fresno, Calif., consisting of Versailles Pattern 3CM travertine pavers running through the edges of the pool deck. His expert ability to prep the substrate made it an easy call to put him on the job. The homeowner wanted as tight of joints as possible, despite the size and variation of the stone.

NTCA names winners of Tom Ade Scholarship Awards

The National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) recently announced its 2020 Tom Ade Scholarship Award winners for academic achievement.

This year’s program features one $5,000 Grand Prize scholarship winner, as well as several $1,000 winners. 

Kimberly Callahan with stepfather Woody Sanders, president of DW Sanders Tile & Stone Contracting in Marietta, Ga. Callahan is NTCA’s $5,000 Grand Prize Tom Ade Scholarship Award winner for 2020. 

The Grand Prize Winner is Kimberly Callahan, daughter of Wei Callahan and stepdaughter of Woody Sanders, president of DW Sanders Tile & Stone Contracting in Marietta, Ga. Kimberly has just completed her first year toward a Master’s degree in Social Work, with an emphasis in Clinical Psychology.

The $1,000 scholarship winners include the following: 

  • Sadee Perez, daughter of Sally Perez, Human Resources, of Visalia Ceramic Tile in Visalia, Calif. She also works at Visalia Ceramic Tile on a part-time basis.
  • Meghan Lowery, daughter of William and Emily Lowery. William Lowery is an NTCA member and owner of Lowery Tile in Alsip, Ill.
  • Hailey Peffer, daughter of Meredith Peffer, general manager of NAC Products, Akron, Ohio.
  • Alera Welch, who is the daughter of Dan and Doreen Welch of Welch Tile & Marble, Kent City, Michigan.
  • Emily Martinho, daughter of Edward Martinho, vice president of Visalia Ceramic Tile.
  • Keaton Boerema, grandson of Gary Battaglia, owner of Michigan Tile, and son of Elizabeth Boerema, who also works at Michigan Tile.

Congratulations from the industry

Bart Bettiga, NTCA Executive Director said of the Grand Prize Winner, “I wish Kim the best of luck and good health as she endeavors to make a difference. This world needs her talent.”

Ron Nash, senior vice president of sales and marketing for LATICRETE, an NTCA member and supporter of the scholarship program, said, “This is fantastic. I couldn’t be happier to be part of an organization that supports our industry and, even more importantly, the people who make our industry great.”

Woody Sanders added, “Kim has such a very special heart for people who need help,” he added, “She has an ability to step into another’s shoes and see their perspective and is driven to help while holding onto her values. She is an inspiration that gives me hope for our future. She is so very special.”

COVID delays

The Tom Ade Scholarship Awards were delayed this year due to complications of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bettiga said, which led to having only one Grand Prize winner. “However,” he explained, “we have decided to choose several $1,000 scholarship award recipients, as the quality of the applicants and their deservedness for financial support was outstanding.

“We all need a little good news right now,” added Bettiga, “so celebrating these young people is coming at the right time.”

Funds for the Tom Ade Scholarship Awards are made possible through the generous donations of NTCA members: total donations determine the number of scholarship recipients each year. Scholarship applications are reviewed by a committee of NTCA’s Board of Directors, as well as members of the NTCA staff.

The Tom Ade ceramic tile scholarship was established by the NTCA to provide educational opportunities for children or grandchildren of NTCA Contractor Members. Tom Ade is a former NTCA regional director and a previous recipient of the organization’s Ring Of Honor and Tile Person of the Year Awards. The scholarship also encompasses a contribution to the educational institution of choice for the applicant.

In memory of Gerald Zakim

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 Zakim (l.) with NTCA’s Mark Heinlein.

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.

In memory of Albert Thompson

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.

Albert and Joann Thompson at the 2000 NTCA Annual Convention. 

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.”

Coverings comes to The Big Easy, April 20-23

Making a return to the Ernest N. Morial Center for the first time in nearly 20 years, Coverings attracts visitors from every facet of the tile and stone industry. Incomparable educational events, networking opportunities, and a chance to see nine miles of the best in new tile and stone product are paired with fabulous food (both in NOLA itself and at many booths of international exhibitors at the show), culture and the 51st New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival running April 23 through May 3. You have every reason to travel to NOLA for bettering your business and packing in a little fun at the same time.

Every year Coverings gets bigger and better and offers more inspiration, education and opportunity for those in the tile and stone industry. The educational program is completely free, and offers a massive number of sessions (find a schedule of speakers and sessions here: https://bit.ly/2sP1043). There are also products, installation demonstrations, and events to attend. 

Here’s a brief rundown of the event that will take place at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center – visit www.coverings.com or stay tuned for the Coverings issue of TileLetter coming to your mailbox in March for more information.

Live Installation Demonstration Stage – These live “how-to” classes offer attendees an up-close look at how top contracting pros handle a variety of challenging tile installations, using a wide variety of new products and techniques to make tile and stone installation more successful. Sponsored by TCNA and NTCA.

Installation & Design Experience (IDE) – Among the aspects of this show feature is a showcase of best practices across a range of tile installations, demonstration of why tile is a great product choice compared to other materials, and information on how to become and find Certified Tile Installers. CTEF will showcase the features and benefits of the Certified Tile Installer (CTI) program and its importance to qualified labor as found in the TCNA Handbook and also contained in the Avitru (formerly ARCOM) MasterSpec for construction specifications. The IDE Lounge will be home to lunch, happy hour, giveaways and a game show in the late afternoon as well as other activities, such as the Brand + Business Building Zone.  

Brand + Business Building Zone – A new complimentary attendee feature for Coverings 2020. Come have a professional headshot taken, create a video pitch for your social media channels and website, and get tips and tricks to amplify your presence and profile across the web and social media for promotion. This is located in the Installation & Design Experience. 

IDE Booth Tours – Make the most of your time with an IDE Booth Tour! Embark on a super-efficient, super-informative guided tour of NTCA sponsor booths – see over 10 booths in one hour. Sign up in the IDE Lounge. 

Tiler EventBot – Another new feature, Tiler, Coverings’ very own EventBot, will be available via attendees’ smartphones to answer any questions about Coverings. 

Educational sessions – Coverings will home in on three key tracks relevant to today’s industry professional: Installation & Fabrication, Workforce & Profits, and Materials & Trends. Coverings’ robust educational offerings span all industry segments, many offering CEUs. And, Coverings provides all learning benefits at no cost. For a full schedule of sessions, visit

SFA Cage – The Stone Fabricators Alliance will once again be presenting “The Cage,” a dynamic, wet fabrication area contained within the exhibition floor. Sponsors of the SFA will showcase new products that you can try yourself, and members of the SFA will have ongoing “Mini-workshops” where fabricators can get hands-on demonstrations on various fabrication techniques like top polishing, mitering, etc.

Cafe du Monde by Paul Broussard

Coverings Installation & Design (CID) Awards – celebrate outstanding achievements in the design and installation of tile and stone in both residential and commercial projects. Awards will be presented at the annual reception, Monday, April 20, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. All are welcome!

Coverings Rock Stars, An  Emerging Leaders Program – This program recognizes and engages the best and brightest young talent in the tile and stone industry.

New Product Showcase: Don’t miss the New Product Showcase available on the Coverings website and mobile app. Discover the new products and trends exhibitors are bringing to Coverings 2020. Mark your favorites and visit those booths on the show floor.

Show Floor Happy Hours – Relax and network on the show floor from 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m., Monday through Wednesday. 

Art Tile Courtyard – Visit the TCNA Art Tile Courtyard located in the heart of the Art Tile Village at Coverings 2020 and enjoy beautifully tiled doghouses provided by TCNA members. These decorated doghouses are wonderful displays of creativity using tile. After Coverings, the doghouses will be donated to a local New Orleans pet charity that will be onsite during the show with canine companions.

Quickfire sessions – Experience short, 20-minute single focused presentations on the latest in tile and stone trends and installation. 

Engage Interviews – Learn from one-on-one interviews with trend-setting industry leaders in design and installation

NTCA Awards Night – Join NTCA for its annual Awards Night on Wednesday, April 22 from 5:30 – 7 p.m. Immediately after the awards event, NTCA will host a sponsored party till 10 p.m., featuring musical entertainment from NTCA members! 

1 2 3 6