Editor’s Letter – September 2013

Lesley beach picIn early August, I attended the Clay Festival in Silver City, N.M. – which you will be hearing more about in coming months. This event wound up setting the stage for an amazing cascade of serendipity catalyzed through social media.

Social media – love it or hate it. It can be a huge time waster, a fabulous way to stay in touch with friends and colleagues and an efficient way to get your message out to your audiences. Because we at NTCA/CTEF believe it to be the latter, we recently conscripted the services of Social Structure Marketing to manage our TileLetter/TADA, NTCA and CTEF online presence on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and the like, so you’ll be seeing more from us there.

But here’s the kicker – the day I was back in the office after the Clay Festival, I noticed I had a friend request on my work Facebook account, from a Jeffrey Castillo. I checked his page and he appeared to be connected with others in the industry. And, it just so happened that he was from Silver City. I friended him and private messaged him, to find out that he is not only the NTCA State Director for New Mexico, but a tile contractor who performed much of the installation on the historic circa-1938 Murray Hotel in Silver City, which I toured, since the proprietor is using both original tile and
recreations to renovate the facility. The missing piece of the story was details about installation, but social media had brought it right to my laptop! Holy cow! Amazing!

But it doesn’t end there. Newly enthused about handmade/decorative/art tile from my immersion in it at the Clay Festival, I friended the Handmade Tile Association on that same Facebook account. The VERY FIRST post from that association that day turned out to be work from Cirrelda Snyder-Bryan, a New Mexico clay artist who I knew from a church we attended together years ago, but had lost touch with over the years. I re-established contact with her online. A few days later, I happened to be in a coffee shop in town when I quite literally ran into her – a person I hadn’t seen in about a decade, and yet had only hours before re-established contact with via Facebook. You can’t make this stuff up!

Social media also brings me news of fabulous work contractors around the country are doing. It may seem like frivolity to have a Facebook account. Be advised: it is not. In our evolving world, social media is a key way to connect – a way that is only going to get more prevalent as technology advances. Do yourself a favor and establish a presence for yourself and your business, website (you DO have a website, don’t you?) and stay connected to those who want to do business with you. See you online!

Lesley Goddin

TileLetter/TADA Editor

Editor’s Letter – August 2013

LesleyRecently, I did some painting. House painting, that is – getting my sweetie’s place ready for the arrival of his sister for the wedding of his son (which took place July 20!). Three of us were painting two bedrooms and a hallway on a hot July Saturday in the Southwest.

At one point I was holding a plastic cup filled with paint only a few inches from my face as I cut in around the ceilings and baseboards. I had the sarcastic thought, “Oh boy, these fumes are REALLY good for me.” Except, in the next breath, I realized I didn’t smell anything. Then my sweetie revealed that he chose zero-VOC paint since his sister is sensitive to chemical odors and emissions.

Wow, what a huge benefit that was! This personal encounter with a product designed to improve the environment, air quality and the planet brought to mind what the tile industry – and the building industry overall – is doing with the tremendous efforts being made through Green Squared®, GREENGUARD, LEED, and a range of other programs and certifications. I’m proud to be part of an industry that is investing in our personal health and the health of that spinning rock we call home. Read about some of those efforts in the pages of this Green issue of TileLetter and see how they apply to what you do and how you do it.

This has been a busy summer for many of us and maybe the busiest year I’ve ever lived through personally or professionally. On my way back from a visit with my family in New Jersey, I swung down to Kentucky to tour the Florida Tile corporate headquarters, manufacturing and distribution facility. Check out the chronicle of my experience at the tile producer in this issue – a tile producer, I might add, that is one of only 11 companies who currently have Green Squared Certified® products onboard.

One of the events that took place on July 18 was the birth of 7 lb., 2 oz. Jared Conner Sloan to NTCA trainer Gerald Sloan and his wife Connie. (Meet him on the Family Snapshot Page in this issue!) Want to congratulate Gerald? Contact him at [email protected]

Finally, I want to give credit where credit is due. In our April 2013 TileLetter On the Road story, we cited some information about water management that is presented in our 2013 Workshops by Michael Whistler and Gerald Sloan. That information is derived from the work of nationally-recognized shower expert Don Halvorson, CTA, CTC, CMRS, CRMI Forensic Tile Consultant. Don’s work is the basis for a lot of essential information on water management in our industry. To reach Don, contact him at [email protected]

You’ve picked the right publication to stay on top of what’s happening in our industry! Thanks for reading!

Editor’s Letter – July 2013

Greetings everyone!

Hope your summer is going well. It seems impossible to be looking ahead to our fall industry event, but indeed we are – Total Solutions Plus, scheduled Lesleyfor October 26-29 at Bonita Springs, Fla., at the lovely Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa. This year, the Tile Contractors Association of America (TCAA) joins the Partners in Progress that traditionally stage this conference: National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), Ceramic Tile Distributors Association (CTDA), and Tile Council of North America (TCNA). Flip over to page 66 for a sneak peek of the events in store at this growing must-attend annual industry summit. This is a perfect setting for relaxed networking, learning and inspiration from industry experts and a great chance to talk to suppliers at the tabletop exhibit portion of the conference. Be sure to visit www.tile-assn.com to learn more and register for the event!

Dan Welch’s July letter got me thinking that it was a good time to try to squeeze that page in again – we love our work, but also love our workers, friends, family (even furry ones as you will see) and colleagues, and it’s important to celebrate those whom we treasure.

And in editing this issue, I’ve noticed a few places that TileLetter seems to really make a difference in people’s lives. The first was Dan’s assertion in his letter that it helps tie our industry together. The second comes in the Five Star Contractor Spotlight of Rimrock Designs Inc. Founder Micah Linton got his very first job out of the pages of TileLetter! It’s gratifying to know that this humble publication has played such a role in our industry. Have you benefited from something you’ve read in TileLetter? If so, drop me an email and let me know:
[email protected].

Be sure to also read Donato Pompo’s technical feature about hollow-sounding tile. He gives some important tips for “sounding” tile, what to do if the tile sounds hollow, and installation conditions and methods that may contribute to the situation.

Finally, as you know, the NTCA Tile & Stone Workshop is currently touring the country with NTCA presenters Gerald Sloan and Michael Whistler bringing training and education to local host sites. In this issue, we take a look at the May ISC Surfaces event in Lenexa, Kan., and St. Louis, Mo. – and the impressive showroom setting provided by the ISC Surfaces folks.

Have a great summer, and remember to take time to for the balance of relaxation and quality time with family and friends.

Be well, Lesley

Editor’s Letter April 2013

In stone sculpting, an artist taps a stone lightly with a hammer to see if it’s “true.” If it emits a dull tone, it has faults running through it that will crack it apart when you work on it. A clear ring, one that hangs in the air for a moment, means it’s true, has integrity, and, most importantly, will hold up under repeated blows. This is the same information we seek about our callings, and we need to be continually “tapping in” to discern their truth.
– Gregg Levoy,
Callings: Finding and
Following an Authentic Life

Recently I attended a workshop by Gregg Levoy (www.gregglevoy.com), author of the book Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life, on the subject of the same name.

Part of the workshop involved a process of brainstorming. Actually it was more of a brainstorming barrage. A volunteer who was trying to expand a dressmaking business sat on stage – and once the purpose and target of her business was clarified – we all bombarded her with ideas in answer to the question: “In how many ways can I expand and promote my dressmaking business?”

In 12 minutes, we had 75 ideas. Levoy encouraged us to think outside the box and toss as many ideas as possible into the fray – no matter how outrageous. Of the gathered list, he encouraged asking four questions of each idea:

1. What’s good about this idea?

2. What are its problems?

3. How can they be overcome?

4. What new ideas does this one suggest?

This process seemed like a great one to share with TileLetter readers. How often do you brainstorm with your staff, workers, contacts, vendors, customers, clients about an issue you are trying to resolve? What would happen if you gathered a group of people together (either live or via Skype, email or social media) in a brainstorming session to generate new ideas, actions, contact, solutions, etc., in response to the question, “In how many ways can we __________________?” What untapped reservoirs of creativity might you unleash? What kind of enthusiasm might you generate? What kinds of novel and inspired solutions might result from unexpected sources? If you are feeling stuck concerning a problem or issue facing your business, why not try this approach and run each idea through the gauntlet of questions above to hone your solution to perfectly fit your business?

In the meantime, scour the pages of this issue of TileLetter for inspiration, solutions and suggestions that can enrich your business and make it more professional and profitable. Do you have an idea for a story or do you have one to contribute? Share it with me at [email protected]

Editor’s Letter March 2013

Information technology and business are becoming inextricably interwoven. I don’t think anybody can talk meaningfully about one without the talking about the other. — Bill Gates

LesleyHow nice it would be if the magazine that you hold in your hands right now was 400 pages long every month. Then I could include every single nuance and event and product that comes my way, whether it be by snail mail, email, story pitch, or  trade show discovery.

For instance, I could include more information about the Crossville promotion at SURFACES with architect and HGTV Curb Appeal: The Block host John Gidding. I could go into much more detail about the useful, stunning and innovative products that launched at the show or even about cool things to see in Las Vegas.

Alas, at present, TileLetter has to contain all this information, like the synopsis of the Surfaces show and some of the products seen there, on 92 jam-packed pages.

That’s one reason why we started www.tileletter.com a couple of years ago. In addition to giving you breaking news on industry events, it also gives us a chance to expand some of the information that we just can’t fit on the pages of TileLetter right now – and still have type that is large enough for you to read!

In recent months, we’ve expanded some of the information in the printed version of Tools of the Trade at www.tileletter.com, and done the same for our New Products. We also may print a concise version of a story in your monthly TileLetter, and then present the story in its entirety online at www.tileletter.com — such as we’re doing with the “Best of Everything” interview with Rick Baldini in this issue. Look for  a note on the page that directs you to www.tileletter.com for extended information.

So please do check the pages of www.tileletter.com. You’ll also find archives there of our feature and technical stories as well as the current issue in digital page-turner format – which is handy for reference if you are out on a job with only your phone or tablet, but your printed TileLetter is still back at the office.

So until TileLetter is a 400-page veritable catalog, please keep reading, and check the www.tileletter.com website from time to time for more information about the great goings-on in our industry!

Editor’s Letter – September 2012

Last month, much of this column was devoted to the online version of TileLetter, which allows you to read current or past TileLetter content in digital-page turner form or in an ongoing, frequently-updated list of articles, stories and announcements, organized by category. Just go to www.tileletter.com from your computer, phone or mobile device and the wealth of information you read each month in this printed magazine (and more!) is there at your disposal.

The digital versions of TileLetter, and sister publication TADA: Tile for Architects, Designers and Affiliates (www.ntca-tada.com) aren’t where the NTCA online presence ends. In this world where e-reporters and video are as close as your phone, NTCA has joined the fray with a YouTube channel of its very own. Visit www.youtube.com/user/TheNTCA for 79 videos (at press time) on a range of subjects from NTCA itself to Tile Tips, Coverings, The Installation Design Showcase, Tile-TV, “What Went Wrong” segments which examine specific aspects of a tile job, what went wrong and how to prevent it; spotlights on industry members who are excelling in their field, and technology segments that present emerging technologies that can help you in your business and more.

These videos are available 24/7 for personal use, but that’s not all. You can also employ them as training tools and as part of weekly or monthly meetings, free of charge. Keep checking back for updates and additions or hit the subscribe button and be notified of new segments on the National Tile Contractors Association channel automatically. And for up-to-the-minute Tile-TV content, subscribe to www.youtube.com/user/iwantmytiletv for this monthly internet industry news program delivered to thousands in the tile and stone industry.

As for THIS issue of TileLetter, it’s been designed to make a grand entrance. Because EVERY residential or commercial building has an entryway – and many of them are tile or stone – much of our content in our September issue is devoted to how to have a flawless entry or foyer installation. Check out our cover story by Schluter Systems, our technical story by Michael Whistler and our case study on the installation of the Town Center in Virginia Beach for insights on how to make YOUR next entryway or foyer installation run smoothly.

Happy reading!

Editor’s Letter – August 2012

Here’s a common scenario: you are traveling, and want to reference a story in your recent copy of TileLetter. The only problem is that you left the magazine at the office. Never fear – now your TileLetter is only as far as your laptop, tablet or mobile device. Back by popular demand is the TileLetter digital page turner at www.tileletter.com/current.

The TileLetter website originally featured a digital page turner, which is basically an online representation of the actual magazine, page by page. Then we decided to update the website to the WordPress format so we could more easily and quickly bring you immediate news online. In the process we did away with our original digital page turner, which was a bit cumbersome and slow.

But amidst public outcry for the feature, a new easy-access format is back for your reading pleasure. Just visit the website above to read the most current issue of TileLetter. For timely news posted as it is available, you can always visit www.tileletter.com.

TileLetter isn’t NTCA’s only digital page turner – you can also view the current issue of TADA: Tile for Architects, Designers and Affiliates at the TADA website: www.ntca-tada.com. Launched at Coverings, the first two issues of this quarterly publication have been enthusiastically snapped up at trade shows. Visit the website to view stories from those first two issues or to read the magazine via digital page turner. You can also subscribe to TADA there too.

I don’t want to be remiss in pointing to several of our features in THIS issue of TileLetter, however – starting with the awe-inspiring cover story about NTCA member Port Morris Tile & Marble’s role in the rebuilding of the World Trade Center in Manhattan. I read this story with reverence and awe for the monumental task it is and the significance it holds for giving new life to this very sacred ground, remembrance for lives lost there that day, and a symbol of renewal, recovery and strength to the entire nation.

The overall theme of our August issue is green and sustainability, and you will find stories and articles throughout that reflect developments in this sector of our industry. Notable is the case study of The First State Bank & Trust of Skokie, Ill., that features a ventilated facade and the green benefits therein, as well as numerous other sustainable aspects of the building. DTI of Illinois – who installed the tile for Chicago’s Monroe Building restoration and was a special recognition winner in the Coverings Installation Design Awards – installed this project: their first ventilated facade job. As a result, they are pursuing several other ventilated facade projects.

Enjoy this issue – whether you are reading it in paper, hard-copy format or online.


Editor’s Letter – July 2012

If you read last month’s Business Tip, you’ll remember that it was written by Steve Rausch who represents the Substrates and Specialty Products Division of USG Corporation out of Alpharetta, Ga. You’ll also remember that he’s  the author of the Rausch Ravings blog (http://rauschravings.blogspot.com/).

On Monday, June 25, I read his blog on “How to Handle Stress.” It contains some balancing wisdom I thought was essential.

We all work hard. There never seems to be a lack of opportunities to do a little more or work a little harder at your business. And doing so is often part of the formula that distinguishes a successful business from a floundering one.

But there’s insight in the saying about “all work and no play.” And since it’s summertime, and vacations are on people’s minds and calendars, I wanted to pass on this story from Steve’s blog for your reading pleasure:

I did not write this story, just received it from a friend and thought it worthy to pass along to everyone reading my blog. I had intended on writing about vacations; seems like many are interested in that subject right now, but my take was going to be on those who avoid vacations and seem to wear that like a badge of honor – that they don’t take a vacation. Well, it just isn’t healthy and it is really not good for your company! They provide vacation time for a reason. I believe this below story very well points out that exact reason!

A young lady confidently walked around the room while explaining stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone was sure she was going to ask the ultimate question: “Half empty or half full?” However, she fooled them all. 

“How heavy is this glass of water?” she inquired with a smile. 

Answers called out ranged from 8 ounces to 20 ounces. 

She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you’ll have to call an ambulance. In each case it’s the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” 

She continued, “That’s the way it is with stress. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won’t be able to carry on.” 

“As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we’re refreshed, we can carry on with the burden – holding stress longer and better each time. So, as early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don’t carry them through the evening and into the night… Pick them up tomorrow.

“Whatever burdens you’re carrying now, let them down for a moment. Relax; pick them up later after you’ve rested. Life is short. Enjoy it and the now ‘supposed’ stress that you’ve conquered!” 

Relax today – stop and smell the roses and other flowers you pass so often without notice. — Steve

Thanks, Steve for the reminder. Happy flower smelling, everyone!


Editor’s Letter – May 2012

May is the issue that hangs in the balance between the actual Coverings show in Orlando and the full coverage of the event in our June issue. I don’t want to give everything away, but I do have to say that this Coverings was a fantastic show, with a sense of optimism, good turnout, and great reception to contractor programs sponsored by NTCA. There were demonstrations by Gerald Sloan and Michael Whistler, tag-teaming their way through their educational and lively presentations; and a strong NTCA presence in the conference sessions as well. New this year were the Contractor VIP tours – I got to tag along on one and it was informative and populated with a huge crowd of contractors.

Also this year was the evolution of the TileLetter Awards to the Coverings Installation Design Awards, sponsored by TileLetter and TADA. A healthy crowd turned out to recognize the contractor/designer teams that won accolades for their excellence. Next month we’ll start rolling out the winners.

Speaking of TADA – Tile for Architects, Designers and Affiliates, NTCA’s newest quarterly publication for the architect/design community – it received a rousing response, so much so that by end of day Thursday, there was nary an issue to be found in the magazine bins! It seems that the industry has been hungry for a publication of this type for quite some time. Issue two debuts at NEOCON in June.

The Installation Design Showcase was also a huge hit, with three dynamic contractor/designer teams that planned their vignettes and installed them during the course of the show. Stay tuned for coverage of that as well.

There are a few items from the show in this issue, such as TCNA’s new Dynamic Coefficient of Friction standard and test method you can read about in our News section, and assistant executive director Jim Olson’s letter of thanks in our NTCA News section that celebrates the success of the show and strikes a note of gratitude for the many NTCA member volunteers that helped make the show run smoothly.

Enjoy MAPEI’s fascinating cover story featuring Mike Mandel’s gorgeous murals, and a California labyrinth installation in our case study. David Allen Company’s Chris Walker gives us a tour through new ANSI developments, and C.C. Owen is our contractor spotlight for this issue.

Got some thoughts about what you’d like to see in TileLetter? I’m always happy to hear from you at [email protected]



Editor’s Letter

Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right. ~Oprah Winfrey

Happy New Year! The start of every year is a time for hope, resolutions and new beginnings, and this year is no exception, especially at TileLetter.

We begin 2012 with a newly-designed, clean, crisp format for our monthly publication that includes many of your favorite features and some new ones. You’ll find content that focuses on a project theme each month – such as bath and spa for January. In addition to our cover story, we’ll feature a themed project from one of our contractor members that illustrates challenges experienced and creative, skilled solutions employed.

Our Ask the Experts section has evolved to become Tile Tip, which coordinates with our monthly theme for Tile-TV online (www.iwantmytiletv.com). “New Products” have morphed into Product Links, which are concise announcements of new products with a link to the company website for more information. Our Distributor Bulletin Board provides a place for distributor partners to announce news. We’ll track our NTCA Tile & Stone Symposiums on a monthly basis now, with a short summary of recent workshops and some photos too! Be sure to visit the NTCA home page at www.tile-assn.com and click on the NTCA Tile Symposium link at bottom scrollbar to view the schedule and see when a free Symposium event is coming to your area.

This month we add a regular spotlight on our Five-Star Contractors, which will include a brief overview of the company and of a recent project. And of course, we are continuing our NTCA Family Album as a forum to showcase your families, hobbies, talents, skills and life outside of the tile industry. Please send images to me at [email protected]!

If you haven’t visited www.tileletter.com lately, you’ll find changes there too! While stories, products and news are still posted every month, the WordPress format now allows us to post information daily to keep current with what’s happening in the industry.

Starting at Coverings, we will launch TADA, (Tile for Architects, Designers & Affiliates), a large-format, quarterly publication which is targeted to bring information about tile specification to the A&D community. NTCA publications and media are quickly becoming THE place to go for information about any aspect of our industry, from specification, to design, to installation to new products to news. We’re happy to have you aboard as we venture out into this fresh, exciting New Year!


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