Midwest Mosaic: from possibilities to an American dream

A selfie with Malcom Campbell’s favorite tools: Sigma, Black Beauty and Suspenders.

Malcom Campbell said when opening his company, Midwest Mosaic, Inc., it represented possibilities. Now, 15 years later, the Toledo, Ohio-based company is still going strong with loyal clients, a customer-focused strategic business model, and a plan for the future.

Campbell began his tiling career in 1987 as a helper at a local commercial tiling firm. In 1999, he bought into a local tile firm, but became frustrated with the company after it went through years of jurisdictional disputes. Campbell then decided to start his own company. “[Midwest] Mosaic represented what could be possible if I just took what I knew and all the contacts I had and just did it my way.”

“Take Your Kid to Work Day” – Summer ‘18.

Midwest Mosaic, Inc. now has a long list of loyal clients. One of the reasons its clients are attracted to the company is that its installers are part of the selling package. “People hire us because they know what and who they are getting,” Campbell said. He makes sure the residential projects are assigned to the right installer for the job, while commercial clients know that Campbell will be their project lead.

Midwest Mosaic offers both residential and commercial installations and has two different teams that serve the different customer types. Campbell said the teams almost operate as separate divisions in the company, with the residential and commercial teams rarely crossing over. Installers on the commercial team may have the opportunity to work on residential projects if they the adopt certain habits crucial to working in occupied homes, such as cleaning up after themselves, protecting the homeowner’s belongings, and not smoking on property.

Testing the custom tile rack for Lourdes Cloister Walk in Campbell’s Toledo, Ohio backyard.

According to Campbell, operating the teams separately was a strategic decision that benefits the way the two customer types operate. “In commercial, time is of the essence,” he said. “In high-price residential, care is of the essence. The least caring thing you can tell a client while they suffer through disruption in their home is to tell them you are leaving because Kroger called and it’s your turn at the next store two states away.”

Midwest Mosaic has been a member of NTCA for the last 10 years, and became a NTCA Five-Star Contractor earlier this year. Campbell said the membership is worth more than its cost. He cited benefits such as regional training, webinars, professional services, and a pathway to Certified Tile Installer (CTI) certification as a few of the highlights of being an NTCA member. “If you are selling skilled tile installation and not a member at the NTCA, you are leaving money on the table,” he said.

Progress photo of Lourdes University Cloister Walk in Sylvania, Ohio

Campbell is hoping to use his recent NTCA Five-Star Contractor distinction to target more premium work. He said before becoming one, he wasn’t sure what to expect from the distinction, but now it is presenting interesting opportunities. He feels the NTCA Five-Star “grapevine” also provides good fellowship, and noted the targeted e-newsletter the group receives from Amber Fox as an additional benefit of being an NTCA Five-Star Contractor.

Campbell himself is a CTI and encourages his team to also become certified, crediting the test with providing necessary preparation for everyday occurrences in the field. He contends that it not only teaches you to work within ANSI standards, it forces you to perform at a high level even with time constraints. “The written test forces you to get educated about how to avoid a whole host of common failures,” he said. “By the time you finish that, you should have a new understanding about bonding, mixing cement, grouting, backer board, duty rating, ANSI, TCNA, the Robinson test and more. And the practical test you must finish. This presents a psychic challenge for all us. Anybody working at a high level will only do high-level work but [within] the time-management constraint.”

Getting dirty with the crew at a Burger King in Flint, Mich.

Campbell’s drive and hard work are factors of his company’s success, but he was quick to also note his estimator, Adrian Grec, as another factor. Campbell said Grec began working for him in 2013. After working with Grec, an engineering graduate, for a while, Campbell decided to train him in estimating. Campbell said Grec has become a champion of their commercial estimating. “He has taken it over and he does a really good job at it,” he explained

Campbell’s greatest joy about being a tile contractor is that it allowed him the freedom to spend time with his children. He has pictures and memories of them coming to work with him. Because of this, he feels is he is “living the American dream.”

Seven stars at the 2019 NTCA Awards during Coverings: two Rock Stars and one NTCA Five-Star.

Allstate Commercial Flooring

“The team approach is simply better.”

According to Gary Sharpe, co-founder and VP of Sales, there’s a guiding principle at work at Allstate Commercial Flooring in Spring, Texas: “The world record 400-meter dash set by an individual is 43 seconds. The world record 400-meter relay set by four people is 37 seconds. The team approach is simply better.” 

The team approach informs all Allstate does, Sharpe says. In fact, one of the company’s cornerstone approaches is to diversify its staff. Estimators focus on estimating. Project managers focus on bringing projects in under budget and on time.

This strategy has helped fuel the company’s success with large commercial projects with an emphasis on new construction. K-12 education is an anchor market for the company, but higher education, hospitals, high-end hotels, assisted living, and high-rise commercial development are among the company’s favorites. Allstate embraces smaller projects too. For example, Allstate does most of the Rudy’s BBQ stores in Texas and the surrounding market ranging into Louisiana, Oklahoma and New Mexico.

The company was born when Sharpe was an estimator for another company and was thinking Tommy Vu would be the perfect complement to his skill set. “Turns out he was thinking the same thing!” Sharpe said. “He actually asked me to partner with him in this new venture back in 2008.” 

Vu himself had a long and luminous history as a tile installer, dating back to 1986 with well-known firms before he started his own, and has been key installer on high profile projects such as the Houston Astros Minute Maid Ballpark, Houston Rockets Toyota Center and Houston Texans NRG Stadium. Sharpe added, “His attention to detail, ability to coordinate with other trades and improve on the overall schedule of a project has won him favor with many customers over the years. In spite of his experience he believes there is always something new to learn.” In 2013, Charlie Adams purchased the company, and is now CEO; Rusty Dennison came on board that same year as VP of operations. 

The passion for learning something new is part of the reason that from day one Allstate was a NTCA member. “Tommy and I knew that the NTCA was the standard setter and bearer for the tile portion of our business,” Sharpe said. “We wanted to stay connected with the latest industry developments. Our budget was small back then but we carved out funds for NTCA membership. 

“Staying up to date on the latest installation trends is a big benefit,” Sharpe said. “Tommy is a stickler for ‘doing it right the first time,’ and the NTCA Five-Star Contractor program provides proof to our customers that we do it right. Going through the process to become one proves to yourself that you are doing it right. We were happy to do that because as it is said, ‘Truth has nothing to hide from inspection.’ There is no shame in finding out you need to tweak something you have done for 20 years when there is a better way to do it.”

Continually credentialing its staff is important to Allstate, which currently has three CTEF Certified Tile Installers (CTIs). Vu was certified in May of 2018. Robert Vasquez and Bill Nguyen were certified in February of 2019.

“We are working with our team to schedule certifying four more before the end of this year,” Sharpe said. “We are proud to include this certification on our proposals and believe – especially in an era where skilled labor is scant around the industry – this is helping our customers and potential customers in their decision-making process about which subcontractor is the best value.”

His company’s work is an ongoing source of pride and joy for Sharpe. “It is a science but it is also an art,” he said. “When you take a project through to completion and get rave reviews from a GC or his customer, there is a lot of satisfaction in that and knowing you didn’t cut corners to get the job or build it – and knowing it will last and your team’s effort is a large part of the reason why. For me personally I felt called to start this business as I was praying about my career.”

See more of Allstate’s work in the February 2019 issue of TileLetter cover story on the University of Houston’s Fertitta Center sports arena.

Allstate projects

Allstate came up with the unique way to lay the restroom wall tile in a pattern that was appealing to the eye yet still achieved the quarter-turn rotation of every three tiles as desired by the architect. Particular attention was given to providing a flat installation to the polished finish large-format tile in the lobby.

Katy Tompkins High School has over 100,000 sq. ft. of tile on it, and – as most schools do – had a tight schedule to work with. Allstate approached this job with utmost efficiency in terms of staging materials and scheduling. Each piece of the 32’ diameter waterjet logo was laid out in a separate location before installing it to make sure it was cut right, then numbered. Each large piece of tile around the logo is trimmed on all four sides in order to provide a clean radial look from the second floor balcony. “There is a reason we have done the last three Katy high schools over the past 10 years,” Sharpe said.

At the Hobby Doubletree, the work Allstate did has stood the test of time. There was a lot of detail to be worked out on the three fountains that incorporated mosaics, thick stone and stack stone. Specific details were needed for waterproofing, level waterfall edge work etc. Allstate also did the granite tops on this project.

The Klein Cain High School project was an over $2,000,000 tile project and included more than 120,000 sf. of tile. Allstate used a combination of in-house employees and subcontractors to get the job done. The project manager, Cecil Zachary of Satterfield & Pontikes, had not worked with Allstate before. Now, because of his experience with Tommy Vu’s attention to detail, Allstate has done four more projects in the last two years with Satterfield & Pontikes.

NTCA Five-Star Summer Meeting Offers Education and Connections

NTCA Five-Star Contractors Summer Meeting attendees sharing insights.

The National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), the world’s largest tile contractor association, hosted its 2019 NTCA Five-Star Contractor Annual Summer Meeting in Montreal, Canada. The objective of this year’s meeting, hosted by Schluter Systems, was not only to provide valuable education, but also to help the attendees form connections so they would feel comfortable reaching out to one another when advice or support is needed.  

“The NTCA Five-Star Contractor group is grateful to Schluter Systems for their support in this endeavor,” said NTCA Five Star Program Director Amber Fox. “They helped us create a unique experience to connect and to refine and grow our businesses together.” 

The NTCA Five-Star Contractor designation recognizes NTCA members who have demonstrated integrity, professionalism, and craftmanship and has a proven track record of success in tile and stone installation and business management.  

“One of the great benefits of being an NTCA Five-Star Contractor is the custom educational opportunities that come from generous supporters, said Fox. “This meeting creates multiple opportunities for NTCA Five-Star contractor members to come together and work on their business through speakers and from each other.”   

Keynote speaker Mike Moore speaking to NTCA Five-Star Summer Meeting attendees.

Keynote speaker Mike Moore speaking to attendees.

Keynote speaker Mike Moore opened the event with a session on how to approach the task of attracting, developing, and retaining inspired motivated employees. Moore’s process will help the NTCA Five-Star Contractors separate themselves from their competitors by creating an organizational culture that delivers a higher quality of work and customer experience. Besides being a professional keynote speaker, Moore is the author of Build Trust and a leadership, sales and peak performance coach. 

While at the meeting, attendees had two opportunities to attend sessions that focused on addressing current challenges they were facing. The first consisted of small peer groups that tackled specific obstacles attendees were experiencing. Attendees benefitted from insights and solutions offered by their group members. The second session was structured as an in-depth roundtable discussion that covered topics attendees had pre-selected via a poll that was distributed before the meeting. The four topics chosen were: 

  1. Growing and improving your labor force 
  2. Customer and employee engagement/communication 
  3. Vendor relationships 
  4. Profitability 

“This year’s attendees returned home with new plans and strategies designed to help them start, manage, and successfully finish their jobs and reinforced connections that will offer them support they need to help their business to continue to be prosperous,” Fox said. 

To learn more about the NTCA Five-Star Contractor Program, visit www.tile-assn.com/page/FiveStar 

Creating excellence for Northern California Tile & Stone

Custom logoNorthern California Tile & Stone, with offices in Sacramento, Calif., and Reno, Nevada, has been in business for about 20 years, with a tradition of excellence and high compensation. 

“Like a professional sports team, everyone is highly compensated and expected

Roger Leasure, NCTS President

Leasure

to perform well,” said Roger Leasure, NCTS President. “It’s not uncommon for the office to be open and people working at 5:30 a.m., or for staff to be answering or sending emails on the weekends. The field operations on jobs are getting things done over weekends because of the size and scope of our jobs. We authorize overtime almost weekly, and the aggressive installers eat it up.”

Northern California Tile & Stone logoThis high-paying company had several tile setters break the six-figure mark on their paychecks in 2018, excluding benefits. “We work to identify our top players and make sure they are happy and content while identifying our bottom players and replacing them,” Leasure added. “We are constantly looking for energetic, well-qualified individuals to add to the team; we like to look at it in terms of building a ‘Super Bowl team’ around here,” he said. 

The company specializes in large, complex, fast-paced commercial projects – mostly mall renovations and expansions, casinos, hotels and resorts, multi-family, government courthouses, spas and high-end commercial workout facilities. NCTS also focuses on thin-brick veneers, thin-panel porcelain, cut-to-fit solid surfaces, and honeycomb slab stone veneers. 

NCTS became a NTCA member five years ago, with a desire to up its game during a period of explosive growth. “We realized we don’t get paid for estimates or how much paper we push,” Leasure explained. “We emphasize that we only get paid by how much tile and stone gets installed on a monthly basis. We use this idea as a mantra inside the company to keep people focused on where we are putting our energies on a daily basis. In that regard I try to put the field workers above other aspects in the company hierarchy because they are your business. If they are not installing a quality product consistently, you are not in business.”

Benefits of NTCA and CTEF

Leasure said The Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) and the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) are doing a great job of educating owners on the importance of properly training their installers, and of providing the necessary schooling. 

“We saw enough of an impact from the CTEF and NTCA education that we decided to start our own in-house school,” he said. “We tailored our concept based on what we saw in the CTEF courses because one thing is true — when your installers know how to do a quality job and perform well on projects for your clients, your work begins to sell itself.”

In 2018, NCTS joined the ranks of the best of the best, the NTCA Five-Star Contractor community, calling the continuing education that NTCA Five-Star Contractors are privy to, “priceless.” The education offered in Nashville during the 2018 NTCA Five-Star Contractor Summit provided a big boon to business.

“The class ‘How to Put Yourself in a Better Position Contractually’ opened my eyes to how we were leaving beneficial items on the table and not pushing risk off our plate,” Leasure said. “Prior to this class I was resigned to the fact I should just blanket sign every contract a general contractor gave me, and if we performed fast and clean, they would treat us fairly. Since the class I have developed a list of 35 items and clarifications on our proposal that gets incorporated into our contracts as an attachment. We have had great success in crafting beneficial deals, which can take months of negotiation. Although it’s sometimes tough and contentious work, it gives us leverage on the critical items that come up on all jobs like labor rates, change order processing, reasonable billing times on change orders, payment terms, and jobsite scheduling/coordination.”

Leasure added, “It’s easy to get caught up working IN your company instead of ON your company and the time with the NTCA Five-Star team and other business owners allows you to work ON your business. It’s also easy to think you have it all figured out…and that the way you manage your logistics, prep and plan your projects, or even float your decks is the only way. When you talk to other business owners and if you have an open mind you will find they have some slick ideas and tools that you never thought of.”

Increasing excellence

The recently completed renovation of the Cache Creek Spa.

The recently completed renovation of the Cache Creek Spa.

NCTS employs CTEF Certified Installers (CTI) with a goal of identifying 5-10 installers annually, and encouraging them to get certified.  “We started the process a few years ago and we believe that this is a critical part of any tile company that wants to consider themselves as quality,” Leasure said. “This process has benefited our company by setting an example to other installers of what it means to be quality. It sets a standard that others want to aspire to, as long as you focus on weeding out the low performers and adding new blood to the ranks on a yearly basis. Our clients see the quality of expertise and knowledge of the installers. When it comes time to recommend a tile contractor for their high-end or difficult projects, they want you to be that contractor.”

NCTS takes tremendous pride and receives great joy in the art of the finished product. Leasure said, “I just took the wife and kids to dinner at a big casino and was showing them the 1” x 1” glass mosaic, stone counters, and large format floors, with pride. The entire casino was covered in our products. We just finished a large spa in another casino that was highlighted on a local news report. It was fun to see all the emails flying around with links to the story. Everyone gets excited when their work gets recognized, especially when they put in so much hard work in an effort to complete a high-end project with over 30 different types of tile and stone.  

“The fact that we completed a million-dollar scope of work in 35 days and to see the level of quality of the finish product, fills me with pride and confidence that our installers can tackle projects that give the GC and the office staff concern,” he added. “There was a lot of project management and pre-planning before we even started, so we knew we had a challenge with the install on our hands. We love a good challenge!”

Cache Creek Casino Resort Spa

This recently completed renovation of the Cache Creek Casino Resort Spa saw the space expand from 5,000 sq. ft. to over 12,000 sq. ft. NCTS installed over 50 different tiles and stone, including a 12.5 ft. high pink Himalayan salt block wall. Many of the materials had to be shipped from overseas, which was one of the major difficulties.

Cache Creek Spa Cache Creek Spa

Sacramento contractor strikes out on his own after recession; invests in certification

Russell Laird, of A+ Tile & Stone in Sacramento, Calif., (aplustileandstone.thebluebook.com) has made a name for himself in the tiling world, aiming for excellence in his typically commercial, public works projects. 

“Quality is what sets me apart from my competition,” Laird said. “I personally oversee every project and train my employees to do an excellent job so we don’t ever have any patch work or callbacks.” Though his company considers itself a commercial contractor, it applies this same level of quality to residential work for friends and family. 

It wasn’t an easy start. When the recession forced the company Laird was working for to close, he decided to go out on his own. “It was slow going at first,” he explained. “I had to bid very low to land work, but managed to grow each year. Now I am doing large commercial projects for the big reputable contractors like Turner and pricing has bounced back to a respectable level. I hope it stabilizes for a while.”

Laird’s firm foundation allowed him to springboard into his own company in 2010. “I starting doing tile in 1989 for Custom Tile in Oroville where I learned residential (mud work) and some commercial,” he said. “Around 1994 I started working for companies in Sacramento, where I learned larger commercial, which I prefer, and have found my niche today.”

For this pool deck in the San Francisco Bay area, A+ Tile & Stone floated an entire deck that was stamped concrete to make it flat enough to receive large format 12” x 24” tiles. The crews used uncoupling membrane over the entire floor and expansion joints per EJ-171. They finished off with stainless steel edge trim at pool edge and bottom of skirt.

About six years ago, Laird chose to join NTCA, “to be associated with like-minded people who constantly strive to improve and learn. The greatest value from being a member is meeting and learning from other members.”

After three years of association membership, Laird decided to pursue NTCA Five-Star Contractor status. 

“What led me to seek Five-Star is striving to be the best in my field,” Laird explained, adding, “It levels me with union companies as far as some bidding opportunities, and allows me to bid on some commercial projects that I would otherwise be excluded from. It has benefitted my company by allowing me to bid these projects – and I really like including the Five-Star logo on my company shirts.”

Laird is a big believer in the strength of qualified labor, and has made it a goal to get his installers credentialed. “We currently have four installers certified, which is 100% of my full-time installers including myself,” he said. “We all took our test at Surfaces in Vegas, which is about a 10 hour drive for us.” Laird himself is CTI #1091 (See TileLetter’s Qualified Labor story in December 2015, for details), and passed his exam in January, 2015.

“Every year I try to take one person to Surfaces to get certified,” he said. “I took two in 2016, one in 2017 and missed 2018. But I believe I have one ready for this year.”

Being a tile contractor holds many benefits for Laird. “The greatest joy I get from being a tile contractor is I get to pay my bills,” he said.  “Each job is different, so it’s not boring – and I am passing on my knowledge to my two sons so they can take over my company some day when I retire, if they choose. It is also satisfying to see the completed project – which completely transforms the area – and have satisfied customers.”

This lobby at Truckee Public Utility Office features an inlay of Donner Lake with blue tile and river with pebble stone. This remodel had an existing slab that varied 1-1/2“ in elevation, so Laird and his crew ground 1/2” off the high spots and floated everything level to that. They chose this strategy because the elevator was at that elevation and not movable. The floor angled down to the front door to meet that elevation, bending at a grout joint. The contractor employed a tile band saw for some of the radius cuts.

 

Five Star Contractor Meeting in Nashville

Recently, the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) hosted its Five Star Contractor Summer meeting in Nashville, Tenn. The meeting, sponsored by Daltile, and co-sponsored by Custom Building Products and LATICRETE International, attracted over 100 NTCA Five Star Contractor members and sponsor representatives, and centered on education and networking. The three-day agenda featured a seminar from Ron Meler of RW Meler Consulting, networking opportunities, sponsored programs, and education sessions that focused on contract clauses/risk, scheduling and change order processes.

The last day of the seminar also featured a tour of Daltile’s 1.8-million square-foot manufacturing plant. “It was a great honor to showcase and tour our Dickson tile plant with the elite Five Star members of the NTCA,” said John Cousins, senior vice president, Dal-Tile Corporation. “The NTCA membership feedback was phenomenal, reinforcing the industry support of high-quality and innovative domestic manufacturing for application in both the residential and commercial business. As the industry leader, Daltile is committed to expanding domestic manufacturing, tile and countertops, aligning with and supporting the needs and opportunities of our customers and industry.”

NTCA Five Star Contractors got to tour Dal-Tile’s 1.8 million sq. ft. Dickson, Tenn., manufacturing plant as part of the summer meeting in Nashville.

NTCA’s Five Star Contractor group is composed of dedicated residential and commercial tile contractor professionals that assemble to identify tile contractor challenges, provide best practices, consensus processes and create business opportunities. They work to develop training initiatives and best practices in business and in the field. NTCA members must go through a rigorous application process in order to obtain Five Star Contractor certification. 

“Our application process is based on integrity, professionalism and craftsmanship,” said NTCA Five Star Program Director Amber Fox. “This process only certifies companies that continually invest in themselves and have proven commitment to service, quality, safety and superior job performance.”

If you are a NTCA member and interested in gaining Five Star Contractor certification, contact Five Star Program Director Amber Fox at [email protected]. 

Member Spotlight – June 2018: NTCA appoints Northern California Tile & Stone, Inc. as 2018’s first Five Star Contractor

The NTCA recently announced the acceptance of Northern California Tile & Stone Inc. (NCTS), Sacramento, California, to its Five Star Program.

Founded by president, Roger Leasure, NCTS began in 2009 as a reliable subcontractor specializing in large commercial and industrial tile and stone installations. Leasure​‘s vision was that the catalyst for success was a driven, trustworthy and high-level experienced team, diligently ​working ​on each project regardless of size or scope. Since that time, NCTS has grown to be a major​ ​installer in Northern California and has expanded its services throughout Nevada, as well.

Roger Leasure

In 2014, NCTS set a goal to expand via training and mentoring employees on standards, stewardship and overall ​excellence. In 2016, Leasure put additional training into practice and implemented Certified Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) programs for NCTS installers. CTEF certification is a total ​validation of industry skills and knowledge, offering training and testing essential in promoting industry-recognized proof of each and every installer’s abilities. These programs effectively ensure that NCTS team members are properly trained on quality workmanship, while continually raising the bar on all quality standards.

“Becoming a Five Star Contractor is the culmination of many years of hard work and attention to detail by our team of Project Managers, Superintendents and most importantly our CTIs (Certified Tile Installers),” stated Eric Witcher, Chief of Estimating at NCTS. “Through their dedication, we have positioned ourselves to be recognized by the NTCA with this classification. It is definitely a distinguished badge of honor, reinforcing to clients​ ​just why we are the best contractor
for the job.”

To obtain Five Star Contractor certification, contractors must be members of NTCA in good standing, and complete an application process that includes submitting examples of work, reviews and recommendations from peers and customers. Furthermore, they must demonstrate a proven commitment to service, quality, safety and superior job performance. Five Star Contractors are also required to certify a minimum of 10 % of their installers through the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) Certified Tile Installer program or, have completed a three-year apprenticeship program approved by the Department of Labor. 

For more information on the Five Star Contractor program, please contact Amber Fox at [email protected] or phone 619-247-1832.

NTCA Announces Winners of the 2018 Five Star Contractor Project of the Year

The National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), the world’s largest tile contractor association announced the winners of its sixth annual NTCA Five Star Contractor Project of the Year Awards at Coverings 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia.

NTCA’s Five Star Contractor Awards were presented for both Commercial and Residential Tile Installations. Many submissions were received and judged via the following criteria: Scope (size of project), Complexity (challenges), Technical Soundness (resolution of challenges) and Design & Presentation (overall appearance, layout and artistic value). 

This year’s judges included: 

  • Kent Klaser of Ceramic Tile and Stone Consultants, Inc., San Diego, CA
  • Gregory Mowat of Forensic Tile Consultants, San Diego, CA
  • Richard P. Goldberg of Professional Consultants International, LLC, Avon, CT

Sponsored by Daltile, NTCA Five Star Contractor Grand Prize Award winners received a custom plaque and were awarded two round-trip airfare tickets and a two-nights hotel stay in Atlanta for the Coverings Show.

GRAND PRIZE – COMMERCIAL
By Christian Brothers Flooring & Interiors, Lakeside, Calif.

The Mesa Commons installation in Irvine, CA resulted in a striking visual appearance, design and layout, and the complex environmental challenges overcome during construction are those a NTCA Five Star Contractor could solve easily with its specialized training. To bring this spec to life, Christian Brothers had to overcome constraints caused by weather conditions up to 100 degrees and soaring exterior heights.  The project was also exemplary in the use of porcelain tile to integrate interior and exterior design with common palette of colors, textures and features.

GRAND PRIZE RESIDENTIAL
by Visalia Ceramic Tile, Visalia, Calif.

Workmanship and artistic qualities brought the Hoffman Residence in Fresno, CA to life. A challenging mixture of both natural stone and ceramic presented the opportunity for Visalia to showcase its Five Star Contractor skills. This residential project showcased new product and installation technologies, as well as the unique capability of tile assemblies to integrate other underlying building systems such as radiant heat and building envelope waterproofing.

 

GRAND PRIZE
COMMERCIAL ELITE
By David Allen Company

David Allen Company of Raleigh, NC was the recipient of the Five Star Grand Prize Award for Commercial Elite Project of the Year (over $1 million). Nearly 80,000 square feet of marble and tile were meticulously installed in the new Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel in Charlotte, NC. Of the many complexities which presented themselves working in a metropolitan area, the narrow doorways offered a unique opportunity for this contractor to showcase its innovative thinking. The team built custom narrow crates and stocked all of the materials required for each guest room into a single crate; saving time and labor on the job.

A trusted Five Star Contractor was preferred and required to partner with the General Contractor to address these many challenges, because the technical challenges associated with this project would need the involvement of an industry-leading trained expert.

NTCA Five Star Contractor Residential and Commercial Project of the Year Achievement of Excellence Awards were also presented. These included:

Residential

  • Floorology for Nature-Made Bathroom
  • W. Sanders Tile & Stone Contracting for Classic Inspiration with Modern Luxury for Her Bathroom Remodel

Commercial

  • David Allen Company for Chancery of Morocco
  • J&R Tile for the Hotel Valencia Riverwalk
  • Artcraft Granite, Marble & Tile Co., for Arizona State University Memorial Union

Commercial Elite:

  • ProFast Commercial Flooring for Sagamore Hotel
  • California Tile Installers for Apple Campus 2 Gateway Tunnel

 “We would like to thank our contest judges and sponsor for their support and of course, all of the Five Star Contractor Members who submitted incredible projects.” stated Bart Bettiga, Executive Director of the NTCA. “Each of these winning installations, as well as the other submitted projects, clearly demonstrates the value of engaging an NTCA Five Star Contractor in such complex arenas. Job site issues such as a confined urban site, mixed product media, material delivery and staging restrictions, new technologies, creative coordination with other trades, and solving problems quickly are exemplary traits of our Five Star Contractors.”

Call for Entries for the 2019 Five Star Contractor Awards will begin January 15, 2019.

NTCA APPOINTS ​2018’s FIRST FIVE STAR CONTRACTOR

The National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), the world’s largest tile contractor association, announced the acceptance of Northern California Tile & Stone Inc. (NCTS), Sacramento, California, to its Five Star Program.

Founded by president, Roger Leasure, NCTS began in 2009 as a reliable subcontractor specializing in large commercial and industrial tile and stone installations. Leasure​’s vision was that the catalyst for success was a driven, trustworthy and high-level experienced team, diligently ​working ​on each project regardless of size or scope. Since that time, NCTS has grown to be a major​ ​installer  in Northern California and has expanded its services throughout Nevada, as well.

In 2014, NCTS set a goal to expand via training and mentoring employees on standards, stewardship and overall ​excellence. In 2016, Leasure put additional training into practice and implemented Certified Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) programs for NCTS installers. CTEF certification is a total ​validation of industry skills and knowledge, offering training and testing essential in promoting industry-recognized proof of each and every installer’s abilities. These programs effectively ensure that NCTS team members are properly trained on quality workmanship, while continually raising the bar on all quality standards.

 

Roger Leasure

“Becoming a Five Star Contractor is the culmination of many years of hard work and attention to detail by our team of Project Managers, Superintendents and most importantly our CTIs (Certified Tile Installers),” stated Eric Witcher, Chief of Estimating at NCTS. “Through their dedication, we have positioned ourselves to be recognized by the NTCA with this classification. It is definitely a distinguished badge of honor, reinforcing to clients​ ​just why we are the best contractor for the job.”

To obtain Five Star Contractor certification, contractors must be members of NTCA in good standing, and complete an application process that includes submitting examples of work, reviews and recommendations from peers and customers. Furthermore, they must demonstrate a proven commitment to service, quality, safety and superior job performance. Five Star Contractors are also required to certify a minimum of 10 % of their installers through the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) Certified Tile Installer program or, have completed a three-year apprenticeship program approved by the Department of Labor.

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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. For more information on the Five Star Contractor program, please contact Amber Fox at [email protected] or phone 619-247-1832.

Five Star Contractor Spotlight – March 2018

Premier Tile & Marble, Gardena, Calif.

 

High-profile projects get a professional Five Star Contractor touch

Greg Games, the owner and president of Premier Tile, began his career in the tile industry in the late 70s working for his father, Ray Games. The senior Games owned Orange County Tile, which focused on residential tile installation.

Greg Games joined the union and became a journeyman in 1982 while working for Venetian Tile. Soon, he began estimating and eventually became vice president until its owner retired.

In 1993, Premier Tile & Marble (www.PremierTile.com) was established in Gardena, Calif., with many field and office employees who had worked together for many years. This family-run business prides itself on employing second and third generations of highly-trained craftsmen, who have helped build Premier Tile into one of Southern California’s leading commercial tile installers.

2018 marks Premier Tile’s 25th year providing the highest-quality commercial tile and stone installation that clients have come to expect. The company’s reputation in the industry comes from its dedication to professionalism and strict adherence to the highest standards. The company is proud to have played integral roles in the building of many high-profile projects such as: the award-winning Oaks Mall; The Brickhouse at Playa Vista; Disneyland; Los Angeles Football Club; USC; UCLA; Entrada at Santa Barbara; Glendale Galleria; Santa Monica Mall; Westfield Century City Mall; PetCo Park; Kodak Theater; Del Amo Mall; Kaiser Hospitals; Torrance Memorial Hospital; Great Wolf Lodge; Los Angeles International Airport; LA Federal Courthouse; Waldorf Astoria; Rady’s Children Hospital and many more.

Premier Tile joined NTCA initially in 2010, re-upped in 2017, and recently became a Five Star Contractor. “Collaborating with the NTCA gives us the avenue we need to keep our finger on the pulse of our industry,” said Greg Games. “We believe the Five Star program is very reputable, and a good tool for contractors to use in hiring subs. We are proud to have qualified for the program. We believe that being a member of the Five Star program will set us apart from other companies, and general contractors will choose a company that merits this certification.”

All Premier Tile employees are either enrolled or have graduated from the Local 4 (previously Local 18) apprenticeship program, which helped qualify the contractor for Five Star status. “We encourage all our apprentices to compete in the annual contest, and we are pleased to say that Premier Tile employees have won that contest many times,” Games said. “We require our key personnel to take and pass the UofCT program offered by The University of Ceramic Tile & Stone. Other construction-related areas of education include: OSHA Training, Forklift Certifications, Scaffolding Certifications, ICPI Concrete Paver Installer Certifications and First Responder Certifications. Employees are always encouraged to continue their education and share their experiences with their fellow employees.”

As California continues to build and grow, Premier Tile forecasts continued growth and expansion.  Currently it is in negotiations with many general contractors for a variety of large and exciting projects. The evolution of products in the tile industry has opened many new avenues and Premier Tile is at the forefront of new and innovative installations, looking forward to another successful 25 years!

“After being in business for 25 years, we proudly look back at many successful projects,” Games added. “We have helped build a city where our families live and given employment opportunities to many long- time employees.”

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