Remodeling Show & DeckExpo offers resources; 18-Hour virtual Build Aid conference for remodelers starts April 1

Remodeling Show & DeckExpo has compiled a few of the best industry-related resources on tackling COVID-19 for construction professionals & business owners. Check them out below, and don’t forget Build-Aid—a free 18-hour conference to help remodelers survive now and thrive later—starts tomorrow. Sign up →http://buildaid.live

Worth-reading: Free Resources for Construction Professionals

This 18-hour virtual conference runs from 10:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. April 1-2. This free event to help support is designed to support the remodeling community to explore various ways your business can navigate these tough times, and position yourselves as a leader when the world begins to recover and re-build.

This online event brings together 24 renown speakers, experts and authorities to help guide you through the current challenge. The conference includes:

  • Session Hall: Where each presentation will be live-streamed to your desktop or mobile device.
  • Sponsor Pavilion: Visit virtual booths to learn more from our partners that helped make this possible.
  • Networking Lounge: Connect with speakers, staff and other attendees, or catch up on news and thoughts from our social media feed.

Visit buildaid.live for a list of speakers, to sign up and for the full schedule and agenda.

Listen up: Podcasts

Also available is a bank of podcasts that address and explore how remodelers are navigating through the Coronovirus crisis. Click the links below for more information!

UofCTS offers discounts on course tuitions through April 30

Due to the current pandemic situation that is requiring many employees to stay at home until the virus gets under control, University of Ceramic Tile and Stone (UofCTS) has had many requests to make the UofCTS Online courses available at a lower cost so that company employees can be productive and take advantage of the opportunity to learn more about their trade and job skills while at home.  

The list price for UofCTS Online Tuitions is $150 per tuition per course.  Members of CTDA, Fuse Alliance, and NTCA can purchase course tuitions for $100 each.  This special offer brings the cost down to just $75 each when courses are purchased through one of the respective associations.  TTMAC is offering a similar offer based on their member tuition costs. The UofCTS Online course tuitions gives you 24/7 access for 14 days where you can come and go at your own pace. This special offer is in effect until April 30.

The Understanding the Basics of Ceramic Tile course teaches the basics of tile including terminology, usage, how it is manufactured, how it is installed, describing all of the various installation products, how to assist customers, professional upselling, and how to maintain tile. Throughout the course professional sales techniques and tactics are taught.  This course is designed to give salespeople the tools they need in order to increase sales and avoid customer false expectations.  It introduces tile installers and sales representatives to industry standards.  It teaches how to professionally assist clients with selecting tile and the various types of installation products and systems.  It teaches how to professionally upsell buy giving your customer a choice.  This course can be completed within 6 to 8 hours on average.

The Understanding the Basics of Natural Stone course teaches the basics of natural stone including terminology, the geology of the various types of stone, usage, how it is quarried, processed and fabricated. The course describes how stone is installed with all of the various installation products.  The course teaches how to assist customers, professional upselling, and how to maintain natural stone. Throughout the course professional sales techniques and tactics are taught.  This course is designed to give salespeople the tools they need in order to increase sales and avoid customer false expectations.  It introduces stone installers and sales representatives to industry standards.  It teaches how to professionally assist clients with selecting natural stone and the various types of installation products and systems.  It teaches how to professionally upsell buy giving your customer a choice. This course can be completed within 6 to 8 hours on average. 

The Tile Installer Thin-set Standards (ITS) Verification course teaches installers, setters and helpers, and technical service and sales representatives industry installation standards, practices, and proper installation methods for tile applications.  The course applies to ceramic tile, porcelain tile, stone tile, glass tile and other types of adhered tile materials.  The course covers how to inspect and prepare substrates. How to achieve full thin-set contact.  How to layout and install tile for various types of applications.  How to grout with various types of grout.  And a lesson on how to avoid potential problems and failures. 

The ITS Verification course has an extensive section for teaching installers how to install Gauged Porcelain Tile Panels and showing the tools that will be needed.  It demonstrates and provides in detail on how to install the large thin tile panels on walls as well as on floors.  The course also describes how to install glass tile, shower pans, steam showers, swimming pools, and other applications. This course can be completed within 5 to 6 hours on average.

The The Complete Guide on Developing Tile & Stone Specifications with Architects course is complete. This course is a must take” for anyone doing or interested in doing architectural sales.  It covers everything from how to write what we call “bullet proof specs” (ones that can’t be easily changed), how to find and track projects, and how to develop relationships with architects and others to help ensure making the sale. Upon completion of the course the student is provided with a procelain tile specification template and a natural stone specification template.  This course requires 2 tuitions for registration. This course can be completed within 5 to 6 hours on average.

UofCTS Online educational courses are available through many key organizations in the tile and stone industry where members receive special discounts.  Courses can be purchased through CTDA at www.ctdahome.org, through Fuse Alliance at www.fusealliance.com, through NTCA at www.tile-assn.com, and through TTMAC at www.ttmac.com, or at the UofCTS website at www.uofcts.org.

As is clearly understood by successful businesses, the fastest way to increase profits and avoid problems is through education. Once installers or employees are trained, they will become more confident, credible, and effective in their jobs.  With proper training of your employees, there will be less costly failures and problems, and more sales, profit and repeat business.  The return on your investment is never ending. 

To see video previews of each of the courses visit the www.UofCTS.org website at https://uofcts.org/online-courses/.

NTCA Workshops offer layout training in 2020

If you are a tile contractor, one of the most basic – and important – aspects of the job is being able to design a tile layout in a given room with the specified tile. But as contractors have come to take the Certified Tile Installer (CTI) exams, one of the sticking points has shown itself to be time management and accurate layout.

“We see it as a big issue,” said Becky Serbin, NTCA Education and Curriculum Director. “It all started with the CTI exams, where time management is biggest issue. Often we see contractors laying a dry pattern on the floor next to it because they don’t know how to do a grid pattern on the module.” This slows down the process.

“The Ins and Outs of Layout” uses principles from the ANSI A108.02 manual.

Serbin said that a lot of people don’t understand basics of layout: making a layout centered and balanced and squaring the room. Contractors struggle with where to start when creating a pattern with tile, or establishing a focal point.  “How do you make sure that focal point is correct, and how do you lay out around a kitchen island so you don’t have small cuts on one side and big cuts on the other?” Serbin said.

NTCA is going to be addressing this issue with a third option in its workshop roster, “The Ins and Outs of Layout”. The two existing topics: “Failures – Could it be Me?” and “Tile Matters – Best Practices for the Pros” have been in rotation for NTCA Workshops for a couple of years now. Workshop hosts select the topic that will be presented at their location. This year, NTCA started offering hosts the option of “The Ins and Outs of Layout” – an AIA/CES-registered program for continuing professional education – to teach contractors the basics of layout that they will use every day, beginning with workshops in January. For those who are planning to take the CTI test, perfecting these skills can mean the difference between passing and failing. 

Creating clean corners is addressed in the new NTCA Workshop.

The program draws on layout requirements from ANSI A108.02. It addresses ways to center the design, using the middle of the tile or the grout joint, and centering on a 45-degree design, while avoiding excessive numbers of cuts. The program presents a range of patterns to consider such as straight, running bond/brick, herringbone, checkerboard, diagonal and chevron patterns, and guidelines for working with those patterns. It also addresses managing warpage and avoiding lippage in tile layout patterns with traditional and large-format tiles.

Corners can present a special challenge and this program provides instruction on perfecting folded, mirrored, and folded and mirrored corners. Joints are an important part of the layout and the program deals with determining the proper size grout joint and also how to configure different types of non-linear movement joints. 

Techniques to make sure the layout is centered and balanced and how to square a room are taught.

Squaring the room and ways to determine the focal point of the room are taught in this program, as well as how to utilize a grid system for layout, and what to do when two layouts meet. In addition, the program covers how to create smooth floor to wall
transitions. 

“We will have a mockup of a room, and contractors will do a layout with foam blocks to simulate a kitchen island, to help them figure out how to install around it,” Serbin said. 

Contractors will get to see examples of acceptable and non-acceptable cuts in creating layouts.

Some tips and techniques, such as using storypoles and framing squares, are also taught, as well as the benefits of creating mockups before embarking on the
installation. 

“The methods they will learn will translate to many tile sizes,”
Serbin said. 

Interested in “The Ins and Outs of Layout”? Visit the Training and Education tab at www.tile-assn.com or go directly to the Community Calendar at https://bit.ly/39sPoTk to see what workshops will be offered in your region, then contact the host to determine if the layout program is being offered at that workshop. 

Evaluator boot camp focuses on making CTI exams more accessible

If you read our Training & Education feature by CTEF’s Scott Carothers on page 66 of our February issue, you learned about the efforts afoot by the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF), supported by The National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), to bring more Certified Tile Installer (CTI) exams to contractors across the country. 

Carothers explained the beginning of the program in 2008 has led to the current stable of 1,600 CTIs. CTEF has been churning out about 150 CTIs a year but there’s an outcry from the industry for more opportunities to be tested, and for more contractors to have the opportunity to become CTIs. 

In 2020, there’s a goal of reaching 2,000 CTIs by year’s end. Yet with the current number of evaluators at 11, that has been impossible. Until now.

Starting in the middle of 2019, the CTEF board approved an intense week-long training of evaluators – an Evaluator Training Boot Camp, of sorts. Four intense trainings have been held, each with 14 evaluators-in-training: a mixture of Contractor Evaluators (CEs) and evaluators who hail from manufacturer technical departments; most were once tile installers themselves (Industry Evaluators or IEs). The goal is to have 56 evaluators by spring 2020.

Existing CEs go through an update, to learn the new grading system. They had already taken the CTI exam themselves to become evaluators. But the new recruits go through a rigorous curriculum that includes taking the CTI test themselves. 

Many manufacturers are supporting this program. “CUSTOM decided to participate in this value-add program because it aligns with our commitment to industry support through quality installation by our industries,” said Will White, of Custom Building Products. David LaFleur of wedi, added, “I agreed to become an evaluator as I saw it as a great opportunity to promote qualified labor in the tile industry. I was honored when wedi chose me as their representative to this program. The trade is suffering as a whole right now due to the lack of qualified labor. The CTEF and NTCA are doing a great job at working to improve this situation, and I feel this is a great way for me to help.”

Even though many of the IEs are technical representatives, the Boot Camp was no walk in the park. Ed Cortopassi of MAPEI said he was surprised by the “intricate difficulty of the task” especially time management when taking the CTI exam. CUSTOM’s White added, “With over 240 cuts in the certification test, you better have a plan that factors in the time allotted to complete.” 

For LaFleur, “The toughest part of Boot Camp was actually taking the CTI test,” he said. “I grew a new-found respect for those who completed it and passed. It is easy to assume, given the small quantity of tile installed, that the test may not fully test someone’s abilities. I was hugely mistaken in this thought process. After being away from tile setting for about one year, it was not only difficult to finish, but certainly tested all my abilities fully. I am grateful that I was able to finish and receive a passing grade.”

LaFleur praised the enthusiasm and dedication shown by Mark Heinlein and Scott Carothers in designing and implementing the training, and for making sure IEs were well prepared to administer and evaluate the CTI exam. “I learned how important it was to be accurate and precise when evaluating a test, in order to keep the test fair to all participants,” he said. “This will keep the integrity of the test in place, helping to assure consumers can trust they are hiring someone with the skills required to complete their projects.” Similarly, Daniel Grant of Ardex Americas said he was “happy to learn that the scoring was very clear, and mostly not subjective to the evaluator’s opinion or viewpoint.”

One thing White discovered  during the training was that installation technique and ability are perishable assets. “I have not installed tile on a production scale for 20 years – this camp showed me how an everyday task is not like riding a bike – you must practice this often to remain relevant and capable,” he said.

Ardex’s Grant said that in addition to the extended days in a hot warehouse, one of the tough aspects of the test was “Having to intentionally install several aspects of the module incorrectly for the evaluators to try to catch.” 

After completing the Boot Camp and the CTI exam, IEs had some words of wisdom for those planning to take the CTI exam. 

“My piece of advice is simple,” wedi’s LaFleur said. “Do not get worked up on the task at hand. All the information you need to pass is given to you in the study material. Treat the test like any other day at work. Devise a plan as to how you will complete the test in the time given and then execute it. The world is not perfect, so do not get hung up on any one detail.”

MAPEI’s Cortopassi added, “Make sure to attend the orientation the night before and pay attention to the many little details.”

And CUSTOM’s White said, “This is a certification test for those who earn it – not a guarantee you will pass. Study, plan and learn. May the Tile Force be with you always!”

One of the highlights of the Boot Camp was the “camaraderie from some of the other attendees,” said Ardex’s Grant, an opinion echoed by White. “What a great experience to understand we are in this together and quality can be achieved,” he said.

The Certified Tile Installer Program is on the move

The Certified Tile Installer (CTI) program began in April of 2008 with just five installers at the Coverings show in Orlando, Fla. Now, 11 years later, the program has grown to over 1,600 CTIs. Not bad, but in order to meet the current consumer demand, we need more qualified labor in the field – and that is exactly what the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) is doing in 2020.

The vapor retarding membrane is off to a good start.

With the help of the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), CTEF is ramping up the CTI program in many ways. First off, Heidi Cronin was hired by CTEF as the Industry Liaison and Promotions Director. The NTCA is generously donating the skills of Assistant Executive Director Jim Olson and the expertise of Training Director Mark Heinlein to help move the CTI program to the next level.

Contract Evaluators: bringing the CTI exam to you!

The current group of CTIs who are evaluating the hands-on test were formally known as Regional Evaluators, but they are now known as Contract Evaluators. This dedicated group of evaluators, for the most part, are self-employed installers or employees of tile contracting companies that are also NTCA members. They have demonstrated that they have the passion to get the job done with high standards and integrity.

The backer board is being installed on the floor.

In order to test more installers who could potentially become CTIs, CTEF needs additional evaluators to conduct the hands-on tests. The idea of how to facilitate this increased number of evaluators came at the CTEF Board of Directors meeting at Coverings ‘19 from the suggestion made by board member Andy Acker of Schluter Systems. His idea was to use manufacturers’ technical service representatives rather than sales people to create a new category of evaluator. Program Managers Mark Heinlein and Scott Carothers developed a plan to train these new evaluators. Within three months, the plan was in place with the first class being held in July, 2019.

This stable of technical reps are being provided through the generosity of numerous tile industry manufacturers who realize the need for qualified labor to utilize their products and install tile successfully the first time. They have responded by placing key employees into this program that CTEF could not launch without their support.

Industry Evaluators: technical reps to expand opportunities for certification

The completed hands-on module is ready to be evaluated.

This new segment of test administrators is known as an Industry Evaluator (IE). The training class for the IEs, known as “CTI Boot Camp,” is an intense five-day program held at the CTEF facilities in Pendleton, SC. The curriculum of the program includes the history of the CTI, a concentrated classroom study of the TCNA Handbook and ANSI documents, how to construct, assemble, erect, and palletize the CTI test module, a thorough study of the CTI Evaluator Scoresheet and Installer Improvement Form, and actually taking the CTI hands-on test. The intensity of the first CTI Boot Camp was further strengthened in the July class where the average warehouse temperature was a sweltering 100° Fahrenheit with matching South Carolina humidity.

The next step finds the IE trainee shadowing one of the CTI Program Managers on one or more tests to score it in real-time. When their training is successfully completed, the new IE will conduct an actual test with a Program Manager monitoring. The final step is to hit the highway as an Industry Evaluator setting up tests at company facilities or distributor locations to grow the CTI ranks.

The existing Contract Evaluators also attended a similar training Boot Camp at CTEF in January, 2020 to ensure that all of the new program enhancements are understood and incorporated into the hands-on testing. An additional Boot Camp is in the planning stages for current CTIs who desire to become a Contract Evaluator.

At the end of the day, it all comes down.

The initial goal of the new CTI Evaluator program was to have 40 Evaluators working within the training process by the end of 2019. This goal has been met and will begin to show significant results in 2020. 

Catch the enthusiasm and help push the CTI wagon up to the top of the hill.

Natural Stone Institute Announces 2020 Stone Industry Education Series


Oberlin, OH, January 14, 2020—The Natural Stone Institute and Stone World magazine are pleased to announce the schedule for the 2020 Stone Industry Education Series. Stone Summits will be held in nine cities across the United States.

The nine Stone Summits scheduled for 2020 will cover topics relevant to stone fabricators, including maximizing shop efficiency and profits, using metrics to measure success, understanding OSHA safety regulations, and creating a plan for finding and retaining top talent. 2020 Stone Summits will be facilitated by a team of experienced industry leaders including GK Naquin, Duane Naquin, Tony Malisani, and Eric Tryon.

2020 Stone Industry Education Series:

February 27

Arkansas Stone Summit: 12 Business Axioms

Pacific Shore Stones

Mabelvale, AR

March 12

California Stone Summit: Stone Shop Management

MSI

Orange, CA

April 2

Colorado Stone Summit: Know Your Business

Arizona Tile

Denver, CO

May 7

Massachusetts Stone Summit: Key Pulse Points for Building a Successful Stone Fabrication Business

Daltile

Westwood, MA

June 4

New Mexico Stone Summit: Key Pulse Points for Building a Successful Stone Fabrication Business

Arizona Tile

Albuquerque, NM

July 16

Oregon Stone Summit: Stone Shop Management

MSI

Tualatin, OR

September 17

Illinois Stone Summit: Know Your Business

Universal Granite & Marble

Chicago, IL

October 8

Alabama Stone Summit: Stone Shop Management

Triton Stone Group

Birmingham, AL

November 5

Texas Stone Summit: 12 Business Axioms

MSI

Austin, TX

To learn more about each event, visit www.stoneindustryeducation.com

CTEF Focuses on CTI Evaluator Training and Finished Tile Work Education Sessions During TISE 2020

Pendleton, SC – During the International Surfaces Event (TISE) 2020 in Las Vegas, NV, the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) which provides education and installer certification for professionals working in the ceramic tile and stone industry will focus on Finished Tile Work education sessions and Certified Tile Installer (CTI) Evaluator Training. CTEF will be sharing booth #4727 with the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA).

On Wednesday, January 29, Scott Carothers, Director of Certification and Training at CTEF will conduct a seminar entitled “Finished Tile Work – Do It Wrong or Do It Right: Lippage, Grout Joints, and Patterns”.  That afternoon, he will have a hands-on demonstration on the show floor to reinforce the same topic.

In its booth space, CTEF will construct three Certified Tile Installer (CTI) hands-on testing modules in progressive stages of completion for display. The CTEF Certified Tile Installer (CTI) program is the only third-party assessment of installer skill and knowledge which is recognized by the tile industry.

More importantly, the organization will offer shadowing opportunities to new CTI Industry Evaluators in order to move them to the next level of expertise of test set-up, the evaluation process and scoring. Industry Evaluators offer CTEF the means to expand the CTI program to more locations around the country in response to more tile installation contractors wanting to become CTIs.

The CTI designation identifies the professional installer who has reached a level of proficiency to independently and consistently produce a sound tile installation that displays good workmanship. Certification is the validation of the skills and knowledge of the men and women who presently are installing tile successfully in the United States. It offers property owners, both residential and commercial, peace-of-mind that their tile installer has the right skills and knowledge to complete a successful tile installation.

The CTI program includes two separate tests.

  • An online open-book exam taken at home or the office as the installer’s schedule allows.
  • A hands-on evaluation conducted at regional locations across the United States.

To qualify for the CTI Program, installers must have at least two years of experience as the lead installer setting ceramic tile on a full-time basis. This means having full responsibility for substrate prep, layout, coordinating with other trades along with properly installing underlayment, tile, grout and sealant materials.

The Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) which sponsors the CTI program is supported by all segments of the ceramic tile industry. CTEF is headquartered in Pendleton, South Carolina, near Clemson University and the offices of the Tile Council of North America (TCNA).

To learn more, visit CTEF at Booth #4727 during TISE 2020 or visit https://www.intlsurfaceevent.com/en/home.html.

NTCA previews changes to 2020 hands-on training programs

The new year is here, and so is the new NTCA training schedule. When it comes to training and education, NTCA’s two most popular programs are its workshops and its regional training programs. NTCA Education & Curriculum Director Becky Serbin and NTCA Training Director Mark Heinlein offered TileLetter readers a preview of what’s to come with these two programs in 2020. 

For those who may be unfamiliar with the two training NTCA programs, both programs demonstrate proper techniques according to ANSI Standards and TCNA Handbook methods, and include hands-on training. The NTCA Workshops cover topics that address current issues and solutions in the tile trade. NTCA Workshops are held in the evenings, free of charge, and are approximately three hours long. Previous topics included installation failures, best installation practices, and movement joints. While the core format of the workshops will remain the same, starting this February, NTCA is retiring all previous workshop topics to make way for its newest topic – layout techniques. Heinlein said NTCA is putting emphasis on this topic because proper layout techniques and methods are critical for installers, especially for those planning to take the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) Certified Tile Installers (CTI) exam. 

The hands-on portion of the NTCA Workshops allows attendees to practice techniques demonstrated during the workshop.

“Many times participants fail because they spend so much time on layout and they either have it incorrect or they run out of time to take the test,” Heinlein said. “Our new workshops will focus on teaching installers layout basics, as well as giving them a chance to practice the techniques.” 

Currently, NTCA Workshops begin with a classroom-style lecture and then move into hands-on demonstrations, but the association is looking at possibly changing that format. Serbin said the association is considering a new format that would offer attendees more time to hone their techniques. “This new style will still take place in the evenings like our current workshops, but we will minimize the lecture portion and, instead of having just one large demonstration area, we have small stations that will provide multiple attendees the opportunity to learn and practice proper layout methods,” Serbin said. “The small stations allow the trainer to educate and work with multiple attendees at the same time.”

Serbin noted that the new formats are targeted to be tested in late 2020. If successful, the new format possibly could launch as early as February 2021.

The NTCA Regional Training Program focuses on teaching installers new skills. This program lasts all day and requires a $50 refundable deposit. “The NTCA Regional Training Program concept was launched in 2018 and has been hugely successful. Because the program has been so successful, the association is almost doubling the number of regional training sessions it is offering this year. The session covering substrate preparation and large-format tile will be available only to NTCA members. The session covering the installation of gauged porcelain tile and panels will be open to all professional installers. 

While learning how to install gauged porcelain tile and panels, attendees are taught how the products are made, where they can be used, and the special tools, setting materials and techniques required to install them.

One significant shift the NTCA team is making to all the hands-on training it offers is ensuring that training topics and instruction help prepare attendees for CTI and Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT) exams. Serbin said the shift is in line with the association’s priority to support the industry effort to increase the amount of qualified labor available and to encourage more installers to become certified. Heinlein, who is a CTI evaluator, added that he has seen seasoned installers unable to pass the exams because they lack core installation skills. 

“Many times contractors haven’t had the techniques they need taught to them or they have learned incorrect methods online from people who don’t know how to install tile according to ANSI Standards,” Heinlein said. “Core fundamental skills are needed to successfully pass the CTI and ACT exams. Our goal is to teach some of those skills in our training programs.”

The 2020 NTCA training season will kick off with workshops in Arizona in mid-January. For a complete schedule of NTCA Workshops and Regional Training Programs, visit the Education & Certification tab of the NTCA website.

NTCA sponsors CEFGA CareerExpo

The National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), the world’s largest tile contractor association, is sponsoring the World of Tile Pavilion at the Construction Education Foundation of Georgia (CEFGA) CareerExpo, taking place at the Georgia World Congress Center on March 12-13 in Atlanta, Ga.

Image courtesy of Allen Allnoch and CEFGA.

CEFGA was founded in 1993 by construction leaders who recognized a need for quality construction skills training in Georgia. The CEFGA CareerExpo links students directly to professionals in the areas of construction, utility contracting, highway contracting, electrical contracting, mechanical contracting, energy, mining and more. The event features hands-on displays that allow students to engage with industry leaders, equipment and materials and tap into their unique skills and interests. 

According to Rod Owen, president of NTCA Five-Star Contractor C. C. Owen Tile Company, Inc., the organization held its first career fair in 2005, but the tile trade wasn’t represented until 2008 when Owen asked for a space in the expo.

C. C. Owen Tile, leading tile manufacturer Daltile, and installation materials supplier LATICRETE International will be co-sponsoring the Pavilion with NTCA. Together, the four entities are working to promote the ceramic tile industry as a leading career opportunity to consider for high school age students at the 2020 event.

Image courtesy of Allen Allnoch and CEFGA.

Owen believes the CareerExpo is a great avenue to display the opportunities that are available in the tile industry, and is planning for an impact far beyond the day of the event. While he knows many students who come to the expo may use it as an excuse to get out of class, he hopes the experience will educate some of the students or their teachers about the opportunities available. “[After attending the expo], there might be that construction teacher that listened and understood the opportunities, and is now back in the classroom counseling students and advising them about their potential in our industry,” Owen said.

NTCA Executive Director Bart Bettiga agreed the event is a good opportunity to expose students to the tile industry. “Helping to recruit the next generation of tile setters is a part of the NTCA mission,” Bettiga explained. “High school students may not know yet what career path they want to take. If they haven’t been exposed to the tile industry, they may not know what a lucrative career it can be and how many options it holds. At events like this, we can show students how they can become our future industry leaders.”

The CEFGA CareerExpo also features the SkillsUSA state championships, a competition in which students showcase their skills in a number of construction-related disciplines. This CareerExpo continues to grow each year and, in 2019, drew a record 8,615 attendees.  

NTCA Training Program – year-end wrap up

At NTCA Workshops, attendees have the opportunity to test tools and techniques. Shown: training workshops in Lombard, Ill. and West Allis, Wis.

The NTCA Training Team has wrapped up another year of cross-country training. This year, the team taught 16 regional training programs and over 100 workshops across 35 states.

Jim Olson, NTCA Assistant Executive Director, dubbed 2019 as a year of growth for NTCA training programs. “This year, we increased the number of regional training programs – our all-day training sessions – that we offer to NTCA members. Also, to keep up with training demands, we increased our presenter staff, adding Randy Fleming.”

Fleming, a tile contractor from California, joined the team at the start of the year and said his first year with NTCA has been a good one. He feels the association has experienced a positive response to its workshop program this year and he is enjoying having the opportunity to share his knowledge with other installers. “The best thing about being part of the NTCA team is having the pleasure to address so many talented and experienced installers and introducing them to tile industry standards,” he said. “I’ve met highly-experienced tile professionals that are not aware industry standards exist and don’t understand how the standards can help them professionally.”

Olson said there has been a high demand for the regional training programs this year. “Attendance at our regional programs continues to increase with most programs attracting 20-24 or more hands-on attendees and many additional attendees in an observation capacity,” he said.

For those who haven’t been to a NTCA training program, past attendees like Kris Nardone of K Nardone Custom Tilework, LLC, highly recommend you catch one, noting the sessions offer more than just training. “It’s a great experience if you attend one of these NTCA workshops,” Nardone said. “There is a ton of information that’s talked about in the couple hours varying from shower receptors, expansion joints, proper installation methods, and a lot more.”

Learning to work as a unit is emphasized during the gauged porcelain panels and slabs training sessions. Regional training sessions in Columbia, S.C. and Salt Lake City, Utah.

“All the information is great but getting to meet other local tile installers and making new relationships is priceless,” he added. “I try to attend at least one of the workshops each year. I always leave feeling pumped about our industry and am motivated to go out to set some tile correctly per industry standards. I highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t attended a NTCA workshop ever before. Any member or non-member can attend at no cost to you,” Nardone said.

In addition to the regular training assignments, the NTCA Training staff is preparing to conduct the regional events. This will allow NTCA to increase the number of regional training programs offered to NTCA members by 30% in 2020.

Fleming said he is looking forward to next year’s training programs. “The information we present at these events has the power to enrich people’s work and, in turn, their lives,” he said. “I’m excited about the future and what is to come in 2020.”

Olson reminds anyone interested in a NTCA Workshop or Regional Training Program to check the schedule regularly since it is often being updated. To see a list of all currently scheduled sessions, visit the NTCA website under the “Education & Certification” tab. 

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