AGC of America: 59% of metro areas see construction increases December 2018-2019; firms search for qualified workers

AGC logo

Construction employment grew in 211, or 59 percent, out of 358 metro areas between December 2018 and December 2019, declined in 73 and was unchanged in 74, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released recently by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said that many firms report they are having a hard time finding enough qualified workers to hire, which likely undermined employment gains in some parts of the country.

“There are not enough qualified workers in many parts of the country for firms to be able to keep pace with strong demand for work,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Construction workforce shortages appear to be holding back further job gains in many parts of the country.”

The Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas metro area added the most construction jobs in 2019 (16,700 jobs, 11 percent). Other metro areas adding a large amount of construction jobs during the past 12 months include Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif. (12,300 jobs, 8 percent); Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nev. (9,400 jobs, 14 percent); Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas (9,300 jobs, 4 percent) and San Diego-Carlsbad, Calif. (8,600 jobs, 10 percent). The largest percentage gain occurred in Kansas City, Mo. (17 percent, 4,800 jobs), followed by Omaha-Council Bluffs, Neb.-Iowa (16 percent, 4,500 jobs); Auburn-Opelika, Ala. (15 percent, 400 jobs) and Rochester, N.Y. (15 percent, 3,000 jobs). Construction employment reached a new December high in 71 metro areas and a new December low in four areas.

The largest job losses between December 2018 and December 2019 occurred in New York City (-4,500 jobs, -3 percent), followed by Northern Virginia (-2,900 jobs, -4 percent); Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif. (-2,600 jobs -3 percent) and Cincinnati, Ohio-Ky. (-2,400 jobs, -5 percent). The largest percentage decrease took place in Fairbanks, Alaska (-12 percent, -300 jobs), followed by Longview, Texas (-10 percent, -1,400 jobs); Wichita Falls, Texas (-10 percent, -300 jobs); Victoria, Texas (-9 percent, -400 jobs) and Huntington-Ashland, W.Va.-Ky.-Ohio (-9 percent, -700 jobs).

Association officials said workforce shortages were undermining strong employment gains in many parts of the country and urged federal officials to take steps to encourage more people to pursue high-paying construction careers. These steps include doubling federal investments in career and technical education to expose more students to construction career opportunities. And they called on Washington officials to establish a temporary work visa program to allow people with construction skills to work in markets impacted by labor shortages.

“Given the current state of demand for their services, many construction firms would be hiring more workers if only they could find them,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Instead of convincing young adults to go into debt to pay for college, Congress and the administration should expose them to other options, including high-paying construction careers.”

View the metro employment data, rankings, top 10, history and map.

Schönox Presents Smooth Performer Award to Spartan Surfaces

Schönox HPS North America, Inc. presented its mid-Atlantic distributor partner, Spartan Surfaces, with the 2019 Smooth Performer Award in recognition of their high level of support and dedication to the Schönox brand
LAS VEGAS, Nev. – 29 JANUARY 2020 Schönox HPS North America, Inc. presented its mid-Atlantic distributor partner, Spartan Surfaces, with the 2019 Smooth Performer Award in recognition of their high level of support and dedication to the Schönox brand. The award was announced during The International Surface Event on January 29, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nev.
Spartan Surfaces, headquartered in Bel Air, Md., with showrooms in New York City, Chicago and Washington, D.C., received a trophy and a ceremonial check made out to the charity of their choice. The name Smooth Performer symbolizes the results achieved with the Schönox smoothing, patching and self-leveling products. 
“We developed this award to acknowledge our distributor’s achievements in sales growth. But more importantly, to recognize their contributions in working hand-in-hand with the Schönox team in investing, educating and training our customers, the professional flooring installer. We wanted to ensure that the top performers were given the recognition they deserve,” said Schönox HPS North America, Inc. Principal, Thomas Trissl.
“Spartan Surfaces has been a great resource and partner to us. Their exceptional growth with Schönox products over the past year made them a natural choice to receive the Smooth Performer Award,” said Schönox Vice President of National and Strategic Accounts, Mike Penney.

Natural Stone Institute Announces 2019 Pinnacle Awards

Oberlin, OH, February 5, 2020— The winners of the 2019 Pinnacle Awards were announced during the Natural Stone Institute Awards Ceremony at TISE in Las Vegas, NV. Twenty-two projects were honored with Awards of Excellence. The 2019 Grande Pinnacle Award was presented to Pei Cobb Freed & Partners (New York, NY) for their work on 7 Bryant Park. 

The carefully detailed stone-clad lobby of 7 Bryant Park is the result of an extraordinary effort to procure exactly the right materials and achieve the highest level of craftsmanship. This thirty-story office building in Midtown Manhattan makes the most of its proximity to an important green space with a sculpted facade overlooking the park. The defining element of the design is a pair of mirrored conical forms carved out within the rectangular massing of the tower at the corner facing the park. The conical motif is repeated in the ground floor lobby through the arrangement and detailing of the stone elements. Mocha Crème limestone is used for the walls and Moleanos limestone for the floors, with accents of Calacatta Caldia marble and Jet Mist granite. Limestone was chosen as the primary stone for its warmth, richness, and light tone, with more richly grained white marble and black granite adding contrast.

Stephen Falk (Stone Truss Systems) accepted the Grande Pinnacle award on behalf of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners during the Natural Stone Institute Awards Ceremony at TISE. He is pictured with Veronafiere’s Chiara DeLuca and 2019 Natural Stone Institute president Greg Osterhout (Northern Stone Supply).

Executed with pinpoint precision, this project delighted the jury, who also loved how the conical wall motifs and the triangular floor panels meet on point. They admired how the concave curve of the limestone panels reflected the mirrored conical motif within the exterior façade, and stated that the project exhibits superior stock control in unforgiving lighting conditions, showcasing texture and craftsmanship. 

The full list of 2019 Pinnacle Award winners is as follows. To view the award brochure with information and images of all the winners, visit

Grande Pinnacle

7 Bryant Park

New York, NY

Pei Cobb Freed & Partners 

New York, NY

Architectural Carving/Lettering/Sculpture

Arizona State University Barrett & O’Connor Washington Center

Washington, DC

Las Vegas Rock

Jean, NV

Mosque in Shali City

Chechnya, Russia

FHL Kiriakidis Group

Drama, Greece

Commercial Exterior

Church Street United Methodist Church Expansion

Knoxville, TN

Tennessee Marble Company

Friendsville, TN

Grande Arche de la Defense

Paris, France

Polycor, Inc.

Quebec City, Canada

Hartford Connecticut Temple

Farmington, CT

Dan Lepore & Sons Company

Conshohocken, PA

Oklahoma City LDS Temple

Oklahoma City, OK

IMS Masonry

Lindon, UT

Elberfeld Mall & Train Station

Wuppertal, Germany

VM Kaldorf

Titting-Kaldorf, Germany

Commercial Interior

100 Bishopsgate

London, England


Carrara, Italy

Chapel of the Holy Cross

Tampa, FL

Booms Stone Company

Redford, MI

Dallas High-Rise

Dallas, TX

Dee Brown, Inc.

Richardson, TX

Frost Tower

San Antonio, TX

Camarata Masonry Systems

Houston, TX

Public Landscapes/Parks/Memorials

Drexel Square

Philadelphia, PA

CED Stone North America

Montreal, Canada

Miracle Mile and Giralda Avenue Streetscape

Coral Gables, FL

Earl Jackson Architecture Workshop

Allenhurst, NJ


645 Fifth Avenue, Olympic Tower

New York, NY

Continental Marble

Bohemia, NY

Christ Cathedral

Garden Grove, CA

Carnevale & Lohr

Bell Gardens, CA

LondonHouse Hotel

Chicago, IL

Galloy & Van Etten

Chicago, IL

Saint Catherine of Siena Sanctuary Alteration

Trumbull, CT

Bybee Stone Company

Ellettsville, IL

Residential—Single Family

Boch Garden Pavilion

Norwood, MA

Kenneth Castellucci & Associates

Lincoln, RI


Cold Spring, MN

Piero Zanella

Verona, Italy

Hinsdale Residence

Hinsdale, IL

Galloy & Van Etten

Chicago, IL

L.A. Residence

Los Angeles, CA

Carnevale & Lohr

Bell Gardens, CA

Private Residence 

Highland Park, TX

Dee Brown, Inc.

Richardson, TX

The Natural Stone Institute would like to thank the sponsors of the 2019 Pinnacle Awards: Marmomac (Grande Pinnacle Award), MAPEI (Commercial Awards), GranQuartz (Residential Awards), and Coldspring (Renovation/Restoration Awards). 

Blanke moves to new office and warehouse; adds new president and COO

Blanke Corporation started the year off with major changes.

First off is a move to new office and warehouse spaces at
5091 Goshen Springs Rd. Suite A1
Norcross, GA 30071

Blanke sales representatives can answer any questions about the change. To find out who your Blanke sales representative is, inquire at 800-787-5055 .

man in a suit president of Blanke Corporation
Kristof Scwarz, Blanke Corporation’s new President and COO.
Also new this year is Kristof Schwarz, Blanke Corporation’s new President & COO. Schwarz was formerly Head of Internal Sales at Blanke GmbH & Co. KG and is enjoying his new role and life in the US with his wife Nathalie. Schwarz was a pro basketball player in Germany, so Blanke assures customers they can can expect great sportsmanship and teamwork from their team in 2020.

For more information, visit .

NAC introduces David deBear, new Director of Architectural and Commercial Sales at TISE

The International Surface Event was held last month at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, NV. NAC Products attended and exhibited at the show which ran from Jan. 28 through 30.

The TISE exhibition is comprised of three world-class tradeshows: SURFACES, StonExpo/Marmomac, and Tile Expo. With attendees from all over the world, TISE has become the industry marketplace for floorcovering, stone, and tile industry professionals, to engage with new products, hands-on demos and emerging trends, from key manufacturers and industry suppliers.

(L to R) Brian Petit, David deBear, and Dave Hanna, of NAC Products.

NAC introduced David deBear as the new Director of Architectural & Commercial sales while showcasing its membrane solutions for crack isolation, waterproofing and sound control, including Super SAM® 125, featuring the best sound numbers in the industry on a bare 6″ concrete slab.  

“Obviously there was a lot of excitement from NAC as we had the opportunity to introduce David as our new director,” said NAC President, Brian Petit. “We had numerous meetings throughout the week as we laid some groundwork and shared some of our goals and opportunities for the upcoming year. It was a good show for NAC.”  

Next up for NAC will be the Coverings 2020 tradeshow, April 20-23 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, LA. 

Jana Manzella Appointed First Female Senior Vice President in Florim/Milestone History


Jana Manzella

For Immediate Release. Florim USA, Inc., a leader in United States porcelain tile manufacturing, recently announced that Jana Manzella has been appointed Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing.

Notably, Manzella, an M.B.A. graduate with more than 20 years of experience in manufacturing, is the first female SVP in Florim/Milestone history. She brings more than 12 years of experience in porcelain tile sales and business development to this role and previously held the internal position of Key Accounts and Marketing Manager. Manzella stated that she looks forward to leading client retention initiatives and new client acquisitions. She will also provide strategic insights to support Florim’s continued growth in both the residential and commercial markets.  

“It is a tremendous honor to be recognized for the contributions that I’ve made and will continue to make for this great company. Promoting from within for an executive level position is rare, and I believe it says a great deal about the type of leadership foundation that we have at Florim,” commented Manzella. “This strong foundation has fueled our growth and reputation for partnering with customers to achieve objectives together, as a partnership. As we move forward into 2020, I am excited to help lead our customer service, sales, and marketing teams, with a strong emphasis on integrity, customer engagement and responsiveness.”  

For more information, visit and follow Milestone on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest

Schönox Announces Sixth Annual Worst Subfloor Contest Winners

LAS VEGAS, NEV. – 30 JANUARY 2020 The winners of the sixth annual Worst Subfloor Contest were announced recently at a special Schönox ÖN IT Hour event in Las Vegas, Nev. The judges, including Sim Crisler, Peter Craig, Lewis Migliore and Paul Pleshek, said the competition this year was fierce and it was a challenge narrowing down the winners.
This year’s projects were bigger and better than ever with over 500 pictures submitted and more than 950,000 square feet in projects represented. 
“This contest continues to grow year-over-year,” said HPS Schönox Principal Thomas Trissl. “We saw subfloors in every condition you can imagine with entry submissions coming from all over the country. We always look forward to seeing how our products help people take on these tough projects.” 
The winners of the sixth annual Worst Subfloor Contest are:

Second Place Winner
Pro Com Flooring
with Schönox Executive Vice President, Doug Young

First Place: D&R Commercial Flooring – Brooklyn Heights, Ohio. Distributor: CDC Distributors. Team Members: Dan Schrickel, Bob Bassett, Matt Bassett and Allan Bassett. Schönox Representative: Clay Criswell. Type of Project: Corporate. Prize: Offshore Deep Sea Fishing Trip

Second Place: Pro Com Flooring – Greensboro, N.C. Distributor: William M. Bird. Team members: Mike Bowers, Jeff Berg, Santis. Team Schönox Representative: Doug Young. Type of Project: Healthcare. Prize: 256 GB Apple iPhone 11

Third Place Winner
Music City Floors, Inc.
with Executive Vice President, Doug Young and Schönox Regional Business Manager, Tristan Schoeneweiss

Third Place: Music City Floors, Inc. – Nashville, Tenn. Distributor: William M. Bird. Team Members: Jason Frazee, Chris Glass, Blake Burton and Bobby Clymer. Schönox Representative: Tristan Schoeneweiss. Type of Project: Corporate. Prize: 44mm Apple Watch

Honorable Mention: Garage Experts of North Atlanta – Braselton, Ga. Distributor: Jon Don. Team Members: Jason Lindsey, David Ciontos and Harold Marulanda. Schönox Representative: Doug Young. Type of Project: Commercial 

Schluter®-Systems Wins Seven Awards for Most Preferred Products

Schluter®-Systems recently received seven CLEARSelect product awards for 2019:

Most Preferred Brand of Crack Isolation Products – Contractors  

Most Preferred Brand of Crack Isolation Products – Architects                    

Most Preferred Brand of Waterproofing Membranes – Contractors          

Most Preferred Brand of Linear Drains – Contractors                        

Most Preferred Brand of Preformed Shower Structures– Contractors

Most Preferred Brand of Preformed Shower Structures– Architects          

Most Preferred Brand of Best Installation Tips & Training – Contractors

man with awards
Schluter Systems North America President and CEO, Marco Ludwig with CLEARSelect Product Awards

Awards are presented based on preferences of industry professionals (contractors and/or architects) as captured in the 2019 Tile & Stone Installation CLEAReport.

CLEARselect™ awards are presented by Clear Seas Research to companies that achieve an outstanding level of brand preference among industry professionals. Award winners are selected based on survey responses from precisely targeted industry professionals that participate in a research study.  All winners have to dominate a category from a statistical perspective in order to receive an award.

“Contractors and architects continue to show strong preference for many Schluter installation systems, and for our educational programs,” said Marco Ludwig, president and CEO of Schluter-Systems North America.  “We are gratified to receive this recognition from these customer groups who are very important to us.”

For more information, visit

Jennifer Hoff, CEM, President Taffy Event Strategies

coverings logo

One-To-One with Bart Bettiga, NTCA Executive Director

Jennifer Hoff

I got to know Jennifer Hoff when Taffy Event Strategies, a full-service trade show and event-management company she launched – took on the management of Coverings, of which NTCA is part owner. The show has benefitted from her experience and excellence in show management.

Jennifer is active in trade show industry organizations including the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE), the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), and the Society of Independent Show Organizers (SISO). She has served on the program committee and as Chairman of the Board for the IAEE Capital Chapter and has held various IAEE national positions including Board Director and Education Committee. She serves on the CEM (Certified in Exhibiton Management®) faculty for IAEE. 

Jennifer has spent her career producing trade shows and conferences. Most recently, she founded Taffy Event Strategies, which produces exhibitions and conferences including Coverings and ASPE-The American Society of Plumbing Engineers Expo. Prior to that, she worked with VP International to launch new events in a variety of market segments. 

She has also contributed to the Art of the Show, third edition, which is a textbook used in colleges and universities. In addition, she has instructed the Introduction to Exposition Management course at Northern Virginia Community College. During her trade show industry career, she has received several industry awards and accolades including the IAEE 2018 Woman of Achievement Award.

Jennifer has a Bachelor of Science from Virginia Tech in Production and Operations Management.

In 2020, Coverings will be coming to New Orleans for the first time in almost 20 years. What factors went into choosing New Orleans as the location, and what are the advantages of this venue as well as the challenges that your management team is facing to produce a successful show?

New Orleans is a vibrant city that offers Coverings a robust venue. Given the size of Coverings, there are only a limited number of convention centers that can hold the show. New Orleans enables us to expand the Coverings audience to a new part of the country and provides a new and fun destination for our loyal attendees. 

There are challenges for every show we manage and many times we can’t predict those until the show is moving in or out. Coverings is a very complex show from an operational perspective, so preplanning and preparation are critical especially in a new city. That being said, we have a great internal team and vendors we have worked with for quite some time, so we can collaboratively address the obstacles. In addition, our contacts in New Orleans have been easy to work with and they have been great partners. 

We are excited for Coverings 2020 being in New Orleans because the New Orleans Jazz Festival begins the last day of Coverings so it gives attendees the opportunity to not only attend the show but stay for the Jazz Festival.

Jennifer Hoff with the microphone, preparing for the ribbon cutting that marked the opening of Coverings 19.

What are some of the new or exciting programs that Coverings will offer in New Orleans this year?

We are excited to bring back the Installation & Design Experience. The Installation & Design Experience will showcase today’s best practices relative to a multitude of different tile installations, demonstrate why tile is a great product choice compared to other materials, how to become and find certified tile installers, and so much more. 

The National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) will be conducting live demonstrations in the lounge area, where trained and certified crews will educate attendees on the proper installation of large-format tile and gauged porcelain tile panels and slabs, as well as the importance of substrate preparation. Lunch, happy hours, giveaways and a game show in the late afternoon will also take place in the lounge. 

CTEF will be showcasing 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.

A new feature for Coverings 2020 includes a Brand + Business Building Zone where attendees can get a professional headshot taken, create a video pitch for their social media channels and website, and amplify their profile across the web and social media for promotion. These business-building resources are complimentary to attendees. 

Special programs and events are also being planned, such as guided tours for attendees, product giveaways, lunch, happy hours, and customized games featuring ceramic tile-related content. This expanded and vibrant area of the show floor will be a great hub for learning, sharing best practices, and networking.

Also new for Coverings 2020 will be Tiler, Coverings’ very own EventBot. He will be available via attendees’ smartphones to answer any questions about Coverings. 

Coverings will focus 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. Individually designed for every type of learning need, Coverings’ education keeps attendees current in today’s highly competitive marketplace with many offering CEUs. And, Coverings is still one of the only events that provides all learning benefits at no cost.

Representing Ceramics of Italy at Coverings 19 with Jennifer Hoff (second from left) are (l. to r.) Danielle McWilliams of Novita Communications, Luciano Galassini, Deputy Director of Confindustria Ceramica, and Kristin Coleman of Novita Communications. 

There are many local, regional and national shows and events. If someone was to pick one event to come to, why should it be Coverings?

Although Coverings is specific to tile and stone, it is unlike most trade shows due to a large number of international exhibitors, which gives Coverings a unique personality. Many of the booths are installed with tile and beautifully display the latest trends and technology. Given the international nature of Coverings, there is plenty of wine, espresso, pasta and paella on the show floor, as many of the exhibitors provide this type of hospitality in their booths. And the entire Coverings event is complimentary, including the educational sessions. Coverings has a robust education program offering CEUs that is completely free.

The tile industry has experienced market share growth for many years, but recently has experienced some concerns in losing sales to competitive products in key areas where we think tile should be the preferred choice by consumers. What role do you think Coverings should play in addressing this industry issue, if any, and what is your management team doing to support this?

Coverings is helping to facilitate a campaign to educate the industry regarding tile versus other competitive products. Our team has been supporting this effort by engaging with the campaign to help to move it forward.  

In addition, we feature the benefits of using tile throughout the promotion of the show. Our monthly newsletter, The Coverings Connection, provides stories and videos about tile projects – installation as well as trends – and promotes the use of tile. The content and programs developed for the show incorporate the benefits of tile and why it is the preferred choice. 

Jennifer Hoff (far left) celebrates with Freeman and Floor Managers after another successful Coverings. 

125 TRI MAX​;​ by LATICRETE Recognized as One of the Industry’s Best Products

125 TRI MAX​™​ by LATICRETE Recognized as One of the Industry’s Best Products Annual Building Design + Construction ‘101 Top Products’ award program spotlights the best new or upgraded products for the building design and construction industry.

​Building Design + Construction has named LATICRETE, a leading manufacturer of globally proven construction solutions for the building industry, a ‘101 Top Products’ award winner for 125 TRI MAX​™​, the flooring industry’s first-ever three-in-one adhesive, sound control and crack isolation product that eliminates the need for sound and anti-fracture mats and membranes. Now in its third year, the annual program recognizes the best new or upgraded products for the building design and construction industry. 125 TRI MAX was named a winner in the ‘Flooring’ category and allows for faster, more effective tile and stone installations.
“​Building Design + Construction’s ‘101 Top Products’ awards focus on innovation and what the leading building products can do for its users. Not only does 125 TRI MAX act as the solution contractors need to carry fewer products on the jobsite for a single installation, but according to our research, it is also 33% faster to install than traditional sound, anti-fracture mat or membranes, and contractors can save 15 to 20% on product costs,” said LATICRETE Senior Product Manager Jay Conrod.

High-performance benefits of 125 TRI MAX include fiber reinforcement to produce a stronger adhesive bond and a “Heavy Service” rating per TCNA performance levels (RE: ASTM C627 Robinson Floor Test) to support traffic in high volume areas. 125 TRI MAX has also been independently tested to meet ANSI A118.12.5.4 “High Performance” specifications for superior crack isolation protection, with the ability to prevent the transmission of cracks up to 1/8 inch (3 millimeters), and ASTM E2179 and ASTM E492 for sound reduction. 125 TRI MAX contains 36% post-consumer recycled materials to contribute to LEED points and is GREENGUARD certified for sustainable building.

1 2 3 4 142