Coverings Commemorates National Tile Day, Announces 2020 Tile Trends

Coverings 2020’s National Tile Day Begins with Release of Top 10 Tile Trends from Ceramics of Italy, Tile Council of North America and Tile of Spain, Celebrated by Engaging Social Media Activations. 

ARLINGTON, Va. – Feb.12, 2020 – Coverings (coverings.com), the largest international tile and stone exhibition and conference in North America, today announced the fourth annual  National Tile Day celebration scheduled for Feb. 23, 2020. Brand-new, inspiring imagery of creative tile designs, installations and applications will be shared across Coverings’ social media channels in observance of the holiday. Social media fans and followers are invited to take part in the National Tile Day discussion, using the hashtags #NationalTileDay, #Coverings2020 and #WhyTile. 

ELLE Collection WOW Design – Tile of Spain
WEWOOD, KERABEN GRUPO – Tile of Spain

Members and enthusiasts of the tile and design industries can celebrate National Tile Day 2020 by tuning into Coverings’ KBtribechat Twitter chat Feb. 19, 2020, at 2 p.m. EST and watching Architectural Record’s Facebook Live Tile Trends session with Coverings’ ambassador Alena Capra Feb. 23, 2020, at 11 a.m. Other ways to engage include viewing Interior Design’s Facebook Live Tile Trends interview with Capra Feb. 23, 2020, at 1 p.m. and interacting with the tile community on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, using the three National Tile Day hashtags.

Grey Beauty, Fiandre – Tile Council of North America
Cortina Rectified, Interceramic USA – Tile Council of North America

“National Tile Day is an incredible way to spotlight a timeless element of architecture and design that connects members of the tile community and its supporting industries,” said Alena Capra, Certified Master Kitchen & Bath Designer and Coverings Industry Ambassador. “This National Tile Day, we are excited to share with everyone the progress and importance of one of the most practical and beautiful building materials through some highly engaging and unique social media activations and programs.” 

Porcelain Countertops, Crossville – Tile Council of North America
Oro di, Ce. Vi Ceramica Vietrese – Ceramics of Italy

Capra and Coverings’ sponsors Ceramics of Italy, Tile Council of North America and Tile of Spain collaborated to gather and report this year’s top 10 Tile Trends for 2020, in an effort to celebrate tile’s aesthetic elements, durability and versatility for National Tile Day. The following tile trends are a precursor to the nine miles of tile to be seen at Coverings 2020, April 20-23, in New Orleans. 

GRUNGE, PERONDA GROUP – Tile of Spain
Fluid, APAVISA – Tile of Spain
  1. Mixed Color Palettes: Consumers are currently crazy for Pantone color of the year Classic Blue, blush pinks, sage green, and dusty orange hues for a calming look. 
  2. Refined Natural Wood Looks: Thanks to evolving digital printing technology and innovations in ink and fit technology, mimicking natural wood remains popular in 2020.
  3. Precious- and Gemstone-style Made Sustainable: From designs emulating rare marbles and semi-precious stones, such as onyx and agate, to tiles with an iridescent finish reminiscent of Akoya pearls, precious material styles are set to make a splash in the tile industry in 2020.
  4. Non-Rectangular / Mixed Geometrics: Trapezoid, rhombus and diamond-shaped tiles allow for more interesting layouts than simple grids and running bonds.
  5. Counter Culture: The durability and stain-resistance of porcelain make it an excellent countertop choice, which is why this type of gauged porcelain’s expanding applications will continue to be a 2020 favorite.  
  6. Psychedelic: Expect bright, psychedelic colors, playful geometries and trippy patterns galore this year!
  7. Industrial Chic: Concrete- and stone-look tile options enrich environments with a chic artfulness while opening the door to endless, unique style choices.
  8. Modernized Marble: Traditional-inspired ceramic materials, such as emulated marble, have been modernized to adapt to today’s contemporary styles.
  9. Speckled Surfaces: This trend features technicolor dots and specks, and modern interpretations of terrazzo in 2020.
  10. Large-Scale Patterns: We will see a shift towards ceramic tiles with big, bold patterns that instantly catch the eye this year.
Terrazzo MaxiMini, Fioranese – Ceramics of Italy
VERSAILLES NATURAL-HERMITAGE, MAINZU – Tile of Spain

For in-person looks and examples of each trend, as well as the opportunity to experience the nine miles of tile and stone, network with more than 26,000 colleagues, choose from more than 50 educational opportunities, participate in brand-new business-building workshops, and more at no cost, attendees can register for Coverings 2020 today by visiting coverings.com.


Coverings Social Media: 
Facebook: facebook.com/CoveringsShow
Twitter: @Coverings, #Coverings2020 
Instagram: instagram.com/CoveringsShow
YouTube: youtube.com/TheCoveringsShow
LinkedIn:RequestGroupInvite – Search for “Coverings – The Global Tile & Stone Experience” group.
Blog:coverings.com/blog

CUSTOM® BUILDING PRODUCTS STAR ON “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” on HGTV

Premieres Sunday, February 16 at 9:00 PM ET/PT

ATLANTA (Feb. 13, 2020) – Custom® Building Products is helping “Move That Bus” as building solution partners on HGTV’s reboot of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, which airs on Sundays starting with the February 16 (9:00 PM ET/PT) premiere. Hosted by Modern Family actor Jessie Tyler Ferguson, the iconic reality show celebrates local heroes and their families by providing dramatic, life-changing home renovations during the 10-episode season.

Following the plans of three new designers—Breegan Jane, Carrie Locklyn, and Darren Keefe—QUIKRETE, Pavestone and Custom Building Products join other proud Extreme Makeover: Home Edition partners to deliver dream homes in each episode. The show will also welcome surprise visits by HGTV personalities Tarek El Moussa and Jasmine Roth, and celebrities including LeAnn Rimes, Laila Ali, Anthony Anderson and Derek Hough.

Custom Building Products, the leading provider of flooring preparation products and tile and stone installation systems, contributed Fusion Pro® Single Component® Grout, Prism Grout, Versabond® Thinset Mortar, MegaLite® Ultimate Crack Prevention Large Format Tile Mortar, WonderBoard® Lite Backerboard, RedGard® Crack Prevention and Waterproofing Membrane and other related materials for kitchen and bathroom projects. For more information visit www.custombuildingproducts.com and follow on social media.

The new episodes will be produced by Endemol Shine North America with Sharon Levy, DJ Nurre, Michael Heyerman, Brady Connell and Jesse Tyler Ferguson serving as executive producers. The company also produced the original version of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition for ABC.

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition on HGTV
HGTV’s spin on the iconic home renovation series Extreme Makeover: Home Edition will showcase great stories, inspired volunteers and mind-blowing home renovations for families who give back to their communities. The whole-home overhauls will include interior, exterior and landscaping—all completed in record time while the family is sent away. The 10 new episodes of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition will air on HGTV in 2020 and also will be available on demand across all platforms and on HGTV GO. Fans can follow HGTV on Facebook and Twitter and follow Extreme Makeover: Home Edition on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news and updates. Online users can join the conversation using #HGTVEXTREME.

Walker Zanger Expands Regional Sales Teams with Addition of Three New In-Market Managers

New Tenured Hires of Leading Design-Industry Professionals in Los Angeles, Houston and Atlanta Mark the Company’s Commitment to Deepening Relationships with Customers in Local Markets

LOS ANGELES – Walker Zanger, the leading stone and tile design resource in North America, announced today three new hires to its regional sales teams: North Hills, Calif. showroom manager, Greg Rang, Atlanta branch manager, Anita Crosby and Houston branch manager, Nova Carter.

This announcement comes after Walker Zanger’s investment in local market showrooms with the expansion of its Atlanta showroom and the opening of the new Charlotte location in 2019. Each of the new managers will play a vital role in the brand’s continued growth in showroom sales in their respective markets and strengthening existing client relationships.

In the new position as the North Hills showroom manager, Greg Rang brings his background in brand building, sales and team management. Rang first joined Walker Zanger as showroom sales support at the West Hollywood location and quickly excelled in the position. Prior to joining the team, Rang has 15 years of experience in entertainment and luxury brand marketing as a management executive at Warner Bros. Rang also was leading the product placement division at the public relations firm, PMK/BNC.

As Atlanta branch manager, Anita Crosby is responsible for leading the Atlanta team. Previously, Crosby was showroom manager for Robert Allen, where she optimized customer service and strengthened client relationships. Crosby was also an assistant showroom manager for Pierre Deux, where she improved design solutions to trade and retail clients, and ran a full-service interior design firm, Anita Crosby Interiors.

In her new position as Houston branch manager, Nova Carter is responsible for administering and developing sales with the Houston team. Prior to joining the Walker Zanger team, Carter held the title of store manager for Pacific Kitchen and Home, where she built a 15-person sales team and trained new associates. Carter also served as operations and specialty manager at The Home Depot, where she oversaw the sales floor and visual merchandising.

“We’re thrilled to bring on such an experienced trio of new hires to the Walker Zanger team,” said Jeff Lupica, Walker Zanger’s Vice President of National Sales. “Their combined skills and expertise will play a large role in Walker Zanger’s continued growth and evolution in the Los Angeles, Atlanta and Houston markets.”

Walker Zanger owns 13 showrooms and slab galleries and partners with 200 authorized dealers across the United States.

Fast-track tile installation helps drive customers into BMW dealerships

In this day and age, tile installation professionals are well aware that having the luxury of time to complete their projects is a thing of the past. We live in a faster-paced world today; it seems as if everyone wants something yesterday. That certainly was the challenge that faced Tim Naumann, owner of All Set Tile & Marble of Lancaster, Pa., relative to the project he was awarded at Sun Motor Cars BMW of Mechanicsburg, Pa.

“We were called upon for this specific application,” stated Naumann, “which was a 5,000 sq. ft. expanse including a 12”x24” exterior carport. It needed to be turned around as fast as humanly possible. As a matter of fact, its timetable mandated having same-day foot traffic and following-day car traffic, allowing for vehicles that were carrying heavy loads.  

All Set Tile & Marble contractors installing 1,400 sq. ft. of tile with a next-day deadline.

“So, we went to our distributor, H.H. Bealler & Co. of West Reading, Pa., looking for a new, fast-track installation product, clearly because the schedule for this project was so intense,” he added. “We had 1,400 sq. ft. of 12”x24” porcelain tile to install, and the showroom was opening the next day! To add to the pressure,” Naumann continued, “the only way to drive cars into the showroom would be through this carport!”

Naumann’s team found out about Bostik’s new rapid-setting mortar, BAM™,which had not yet even been officially introduced to the marketplace. “What happened after that was amazing,” Naumann declared.

All Set’s people installed and grouted all on the first day, and by the second, not only were cars driving over the newly tiled flooring, they were doing so along with all the construction lifts, as well.

“There is a definite need for a product like this out there,” Naumann said. “Construction schedules are forever changing, becoming more stringent on time constraints than ever before. Once a floor is down, all the other trades come in. If the product is still not 100% cured, tiles will chip and crack. We don’t even want to think about that! BAM had the PSI and bond-strength we were looking for. Other companies’ products simply do not have that turnover rate.

“BAM is a product that I am comfortable with,” Naumann added. “It absolutely proved itself in this installation. We will use it again. In the past, companies such as ours would have to wait two to three days for mortars to set before beginning the grouting process. Now, with BAM we’re done in 1-2 days with the entire installation!” beamed Naumann.

“I’ve been in business 28 years,” he said. “Everyone is always claiming to be coming out with something faster, better,  but BAM – this one really is! 

The only way to drive cars into the showroom was through this newly tiled carport, within 24 hours of setting with Bostik BAM rapid-setting mortar.

“Now it must be mentioned that the weather for this installation was ideal,” declared Naumann. “If [BAM] works well in all weather situations, and we believe it will, it’ll be one of the greatest new products to ever hit the marketplace!”

Bostik’s BAM is a high-performance, fiber-reinforced, extended-open-time mortar, ideal for installation of extra large and heavy tile material. Incorporating Bostik’s RapidCure™ Technology. BAM is specifically formulated for optimal performance in both commercial and residential applications of large-and-heavy tile, glass tile, mosaics, quarry, porcelain, ceramic, most natural stone tiles, and today’s gauged porcelain tile/panels. The RapidCure™ Technology that is included in BAM, results in a consistent cure that, in most applications, will be grout-ready in just four hours. Additionally, BAM offers “open and adjustability times” of up to 30 minutes at exceptional bond strength that exceeds ANSI 118.15 requirements. 

Ideal for use over uncoupling membranes and various sheet membranes, BAM is ideal for use over properly prepared concrete, cement backer boards, masonry, concrete block, mortar beds, cement terrazzo, structurally sound exterior-grade plywood (interior/dry use only), well-bonded vinyl composite tile (VCT), existing tiles, cutback adhesive residue (dry only), and much more.

“Bostik’s focus is to continually come up with high-tech chemical formulations that offer needed solutions, said Adam Abell, Bostik’s Market Manager, Tile & Stone Installation Systems. “We like to call this ‘the intersection of method improvement via chemical advancement’.” 

12” x 24” exterior carport installed with Bostik’s BAM rapid-setting mortar, ready for same-day foot traffic and following-day, heavy-load car traffic.

“Bostik has not only made the commitment to provide the marketplace with high-technology solutions for every stage of surfacing installation (surface preparation, applying mortar, grouting and sealing),” Abell added. “Our flooring installation products also must cure as fast or faster than ever before. This, of course, expedites the process, allowing our flooring contractors the luxury of confidently leaving early. It also makes it possible for the next trade in line to begin their magic ahead of the initial schedule.” 

All Set’s Tim Naumann summed up his first experience with Bostik’s new fast-track product. “We like to be a ‘one-stop-shop,’” he said. “Because of that, we favor bringing in full pallets of a full system from one manufacturer to ensure successful installation, and frankly, warranties usually require that, as well. It looks like BAM is not only a great installation product, it also may help me run our business in a way that we prefer!”

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. 

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MAPEI makes a splash

The Kartrite Resort and Indoor Waterpark – Monticello, NY, U.S.A.

MAPEI’s tile and stone installation and waterproofing products are used throughout the indoor waterpark and adjoining hotel at one of the Catskills’ newest resorts – thanks to intuition and persistence.


In an area known for resorts, New York’s Catskill Mountains, the Kartrite Resort and Indoor Waterpark is unique. In fact, the Kartrite is unique in the world of resorts in general. Not only is it the largest indoor waterpark in the state of New York, it is one of the largest in the world. According to the resort’s website, the waterpark is comprised of 80,000 square feet, featuring 11 water attractions – which run 318,000 gallons of water through them. And, even in the dead of winter it is always a balmy 84º F inside thanks to the structure’s transparent Texlon roof, which ensures that sunlight is filtered in and that the comfortable heat stays in as well.

The fun at this state-of-the-art waterpark is included for guests of the Kartrite Resort, the luxury hotel/spa that is attached to the indoor waterpark. The all-suites hotel features 324 rooms with all of the expected high-tech conveniences. The hotel also features a spa, restaurants, and shopping and fitness activities designed to fill a weekend or an entire vacation with adventure. And, the resort and the waterpark both feature MAPEI products. But, the story behind how MAPEI came to be included on the specification is as wild as any tale from an adventure novel – and highlights the importance of perseverance and trusting your instincts.

MAPEI on the job

As MAPEI sales representative Darin Shocker related, prior to coming to MAPEI, he used to install tile. He said, “One day I received a call about a large job asking if I was interested in installing some tile on a 100,000 sq. ft. project. I explained that I wasn’t installing anymore. And that was that. But the project still was on my mind. I thought that I should go and see if maybe it could be an opportunity for MAPEI. When I arrived at the jobsite trailer, it turned out that MAPEI wasn’t even on the specification. Since I was new to the company, I contacted my supervisor, Matt Hess, Sales Director – Northeast Area. We were able to get equal representation on the spec. From that point, BK Tile, the project’s installing contractor, began using MAPEI products on the project.”

He continued, “They began by using MAPEI products in the hotel bathrooms and foyers. At this point, BK primarily used another manufacturer’s products in their installations. But, when they began to use our products on this job, we began to gain their trust. They proceeded to use MAPEI products in all areas of the hotel until eventually this job was 100% MAPEI systems throughout both the hotel and the waterpark.”


What were those “or equal” products that Shocker’s persistence got included on the spec?

The specification called for large quantities of products to be used between the hotel and the waterpark: 430,000 sq. ft. of waterproofing to be installed in the interior floors and shower walls of the hotel and the waterpark (Novoplan 2 and ECO Prim Grip self-leveling as needed, Mapesil T and Mapelastic Aquadefense), as well as 100,000 sq. ft. of ceramic/porcelain/quarry installation products (Ultracolor Plus FA Grout, Mapelastic Aquadefense, Ultraflex 2, Ultralite, Ultraflex LFT, Kerapoxy CQ, ECO Prim Grip to prime for Novoplan 2 Plus). “The hotel has 324 suites with restrooms and kitchens all using MAPEI systems. It also has a large lobby and other foyer areas,” Shocker said.

Located in a rural area of Sullivan County, New York, the large-scale commercial construction project required a 15-man crew and a year’s work to complete.

Shocker explained that whether working on the hotel or the waterpark, to complete this massive project, the BK Tile & Stone, Inc. crew, “trowel-applied the thin-set materials and used rollers and/or spray equipment to apply the waterproofing depending upon the application.”

The project ran from July 2018 to January 2019, with the resort and waterpark officially opening on May 10, 2019. “This project uses a complete MAPEI system,” Shocker said. “It is also a great example of providing customer service and product deliveries to a remote location. Both the contractor and the owners are happy with the MAPEI experience – people and products.” 

But perhaps the main lesson of this project is to trust your instincts and to visit those jobsite trailers. Shocker concurred, “Boy, am I glad I took the ride to check up on the jobsite that day!” 

Michael Kephart, President American Wonder Porcelain

One-to-One with Bart Bettiga


Michael Kephart, President
American Wonder Porcelain

While attending Total Solutions Plus in Nashville recently, I had the opportunity to tour the American Wonder Porcelain plant with its president, Michael Kephart. This state-of-the art plant that opened in 2017 and employs more than 200 people in the Nashville area, continues the trend of international investment in domestic tile manufacturing plants on U.S. soil. There are many distinct advantages these manufacturers enjoy, and this is especially true recently with the impact that tariffs have had on imported ceramic tile from China. 

Kephart was hired as president to oversee the development of the plant and to strategically launch the products into the U.S. market. He is uniquely qualified to lead this operation, with many years of experience in production and product development in the tile industry. While we toured the plant on an enjoyable fall Tennessee day, Kephart and I took the opportunity to chat about producing tile, strategy, and the tile industry.


What are the advantages you see of producing high-quality porcelain tile domestically in Tennessee and how have you taken advantage of this in today’s competitive market?

The technical aspects of delivering high-quality porcelain tile to the U.S. market from Tennessee are as normalized today as ever. The domestic production materials are stable and plentiful, the vertical sources for design and application are localized, the energy source is among the lowest in world cost level, innovation is where innovators are, the latest modernized equipment is readily available and domestic ceramic unit production scale has and will continue to grow. Capital intensive projects like tile factories require market demand and acceptance, segment growth, great teams of people working hard and smart, mix management, patience and a little luck. Heavy, large units are most effective produced closest to the customer base desired.

Explain your strategy towards growing your market share. Do you sell through independent distribution, specialty retailers, etc. and how do you see this evolving over the next few years?

We started our company with a simple but unique message. We are the “brand behind the brand” in the market. We worked to promote our customers’ brand as the prevailing factor with our tile in the box. The tile distribution market is changing and evolving quickly in the U.S. We are invested in manufacturing, not end-use promotion. Our assets are centralized to leverage this concept and not compete with the distribution or retailer unlike most of our competition. We believe the need for promotion, education and presentation of the broad use of ceramic tile today and in the future requires localization and investment to reach the end user or specification driver residentially and commercially.

What investments in technology are you making to continue to manufacture products that will appeal to consumers, specifiers and designers. What trends do you see developing in popularity, including patterns and sizes, and types of finishes that can be applied to porcelain tile?

American Wonder Porcelain has invested significantly in technology and resources to develop sophisticated, high-styled, market-driven products. We are innovating with glaze, graphics and finished surfaces to develop a realism and versatility in tile that energizes our customer. The “skin” of our new tile surface can be as smooth as satin yet react with high slip resistance when wet. The gloss of our polish is glass-like transparent, yet resistant to chemicals and staining. Clean rectified edges with mono-caliber matte, polished and honed options allow for wall and floor alignment with low maintenance versus natural stone. Combining digital graphics with new surface options, all in square or plank units up to
24” x 48”, we provide great value to our customers and capture the style and trend imagination of the market.

What are the biggest threats you see to growing tile market share and what is your company doing to address this?

The biggest threat to growing ceramic industry market share is ourselves (and LVT growing faster)! With an unprecedented tariff action pending against China for our U.S. tile industry, we must act to gain the domestic customer’s confidence as cost-effective, capable and reliable suppliers of the most sustainable, durable and fashionable floor and wall product on the planet. We have long been an industry “behind the curtain” with imports driving the development of our U.S. market and other floor and wall material options more heavily promoted than ceramics. Investment has been made and more will be made to grow a U.S.-based sustainable ceramic tile industry, supplying the U.S. consumer. Our retail and distribution customers are presenting tile in more creative and visually inspiring ways. Internal industry promotions such as “Why Tile” through TCNA are gaining traction to promote the positive sustainable facts of ceramic tile. More needs to be done. More industry alignment among the major labor, distribution and technical affiliations in the U.S. working with our international affiliations is needed to unite around promotion of ceramic tile features and benefits to the consumer. The current LVT category growth is certainly impressive. The plastic products, however, are simply not comparable in technical quality, sustainability, durability and safety with high-quality porcelain tile. It is exactly what it is.

How does American Wonder Porcelain Tile support the installer to ensure your innovative products are installed correctly?

American Wonder Porcelain is proud to support all of our industry affiliations in labor, distribution and technical services. We have doubled our Platinum Level commitment for 2020 to CTEF for certification of high-quality labor. We participate in the TCNA Technical Committee with labor for higher-quality standards in tile production. And, in 2020, we will host an NTCA training seminar supporting labor. All of the wonderful tiles we produce and our valued distribution and retailer may stock are unproductive in the warehouse without high-quality labor to install and light the torch of fashionable sustainability for our customers with ceramic tile.

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