March 1, 2015

Helping Hands – February 2015


MRC/TPFH recognize Florida Tile for 10 years’ partnership

Mountain Re-Source Center (MRC) and Tile Partners for Humanity (TPFH), the tile industry partnership that is part of MRC, recognized Florida Tile for 10 years of partnership and support of community improvement projects through generous donations of ceramic tile.

0215_hhMRC and TPFH met Florida Tile employees at the company’s corporate headquarters in Lexington, Ky., last December to personally thank them for the incredible impact of the donations and the involvement of the company. They also presented CEO Michael Franceschelli with a marble plaque thanking Florida Tile for its ongoing partnership.

Florida Tile has donated to TPFH and MRC since 2004, when it provided 895 sq. ft. of floor tile for two Habitat for Humanity homes in Atlanta, Ga. Since then, the company has donated more than 800 loads of tile that have gone to more than 20 states, 40 nonprofit organizations, and 15 countries.

Central West Virginia Outreach Center in Gassaway, W. Va. and Operation Compassion in Cleveland, Tenn., have also benefited from Florida Tile’s generosity, and representatives were present to express thanks to the tile manufacturer.

Herb Miller, executive director of MRC and TPFH, said the partners wanted to demonstrate just how much the donations have meant and to underscore the importance of the longevity of the partnership. He congratulated Florida Tile on its 60th anniversary in 2014 and said the company has done well to focus both on business and supporting communities.

“Florida Tile is one of our longest-standing partners and they have truly made a difference in the lives of thousands of families.  We work with nonprofit partners around the country and tile is one of our most-requested items. We’re grateful that Florida Tile understands the value of donating and the good that their tile does in so many communities. They are one of our core donors and we couldn’t do what we do without them!”

Florida Tile CEO Franceschelli was pleased to have the opportunity to support MRC and its partners.

“Our working partnership with Mountain Re-Source Center is very important,” Franceschelli said. “It provides a simple, functional method for helping local communities. It is also important for Florida Tile, which is owned by international tile manufacturer Panariagroup, to be able to reach more distant communities in need. The affiliation with Mountain Re-Source Center enables distribution of materials internationally as well, including to regions such as Central and South America, the Caribbean and Eastern Europe.”

Diane Hancock, director of the 6th Congressional District, thanked Florida Tile for its incredible community support on behalf of Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear. She presented Franceschelli with a letter from the Governor recognizing the company’s contributions to both the local economy and to communities around the world. She also gave him a pewter mint julep cup from the office of the Governor.

Benefits Box – February 2015

NTCA Partnering for Success

0215-vouchersPartnering for Success is a continually growing exclusive benefit for NTCA members. Manufacturing sponsors of this program feel so strongly about the value NTCA provides, they have agreed to offset membership investment by providing product vouchers good for varying levels of product or services from the sponsor.

As a paid new or renewing contractor member of the NTCA, you can choose $1,800 of FREE product vouchers of the $4,500 that is available – almost $300 in benefits more than what was offered last year. Each year this program continues to grow as more sponsors come on board.

In 2014, a record number 5,781 vouchers were issued to new and renewing members for a value of $902,450 – nearly one million dollars in available product. This is a tremendous benefit, giving you money right off your bottom line on products you may use every day or products you’ve been yearning to try. Since the voucher benefit is over three times the cost of annual membership, this is truly a win-win program.

Participating sponsors for 2015 include: Alpha Professional Tools, American Olean, Aqua Mix, ARDEX Americas, ATR Leveling, Compotite/Composeal, Custom Building Products, Daltile, Dependable Bagging, Florida Tile, LATICRETE, MAPEI, Marazzi USA, Mark E Industries, Metropolitan Ceramics, Noble Company, National Gypsum, NuHeat, OceanCare Products, Proflex, QEP, Rubi Tools, Schluter Systems, Spray-Lock, SunTouch, TEC/H.B. Fuller Construction Products, Texrite, University of Ceramic Tile & Stone, USG, VanHearron, and Warmly Yours.

If you are interested in membership, contact NTCA assistant executive director Jim Olson at or 601-939-2071. Or visit NTCA’s brand-new, user-friendly website at

Stone – February 2015

mapei_sponsorMIA receives Macael Award in Spain from AEMA

On November 21, 2014, MIA president Tony Malisani (Malisani, Inc. of Great Falls, Mont.) accepted the coveted “Institution Award” at the 28th edition of the Macael Awards in Macael, Spain. This award was one of nine awards given by the Asociación de Empresarios del Mármol de Andalucía (AEMA), the leading natural stone association in the Almeria region of Spain.

“It is my honor and great privilege to receive this award on behalf of the members of the MIA,” Malisani said. “The Marble Institute of America (MIA) has 1,700 members that are located in 56 counties around the world. It is our belief that one way to strengthen the stone industry in the United States is to strengthen our ties with the international natural stone community. The marble industry here is one of the oldest, and is also one of the most innovative. Certainly there is much we can learn. We are hoping to continue our outreach and increase cooperation, communication, and education with the Asociación de Empresarios del Mármol de Andalucía.”

0215-STONE-1During the event, AEME president Antonio Martinez highlighted that a strong global stone market demands that collaboration occur between stone associations. He acknowledged that the MIA’s standing in the natural stone industry for developing technical standards, safety initiatives, current development of an international import/export handbook, and innovation were factors that caused the AEME to recognize the MIA with the “Institution Award,” a special award for stone trade associations.

The event drew 500 attendees from several countries and was an impressive presentation and recognition of outstanding stonework. Malisani noted that “with over 10% of the MIA membership residing outside of North America, it is rewarding for the MIA to be recognized for outstanding programs that benefit the entire global stone industry.”

In addition, The MIA also had the opportunity to meet with AEME officials to present several key industry initiatives including the newly adopted, ANSI-approved sustainability standard championed by the Natural Stone Council (NSC). AEME’s first vice president and MIA member Eduardo Cosentino hosted the MIA delegation that included Malisani, MIA secretary David Castellucci (Kenneth Castellucci and Associates of Lincoln, R.I.), and MIA executive vice president Jim Hieb.

In the upcoming months, the MIA and AEME will also be collaborating on a translation of the MIA’s Dimension Stone Design Manual (DSDM) into Spanish to further expand the use and understanding of technical standards.

MIA’s Castellucci added, “We also had a very good conversation about safety, quality standards, and education for architects, as well as stone professionals. It was also great to tour their technology center (Fundación Centro Tecnológico Andaluz de la Piedra) and discuss advances in stone testing and other technology.”

TexaStone Quarries earns NSF sustainable stone certification

NSF Sustainability, a division of global independent public health organization NSF International, has certified TexaStone Quarries to the sustainability assessment standard for stone – ANSI/NSC 373 Sustainable Production of Natural Dimension Stone.

0215-stone-2Certification to ANSI/NSC 373 is based on point totals to achieve Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum level certification. TexaStone’s quarry earned Gold level certification and its processing facility earned Silver level certification, which includes criteria for the environmental aspects of stone production including water, transportation, site management, land reclamation and adaptive reuse, and management of excess process materials and waste. Monitoring and periodic re-evaluation is required to maintain certification. Once a full chain of custody is established and certified, stone products moving from quarry to customer can also carry the ANSI/NSC 373 Genuine Stone mark.

“Dimension stone is a sustainable product because it is natural and has a long durability, but the industry wanted to identify how the stone was processed from the quarries and the processors,” said Tom Bruursema, general manager of NSF Sustainability. “As the first to earn certification to ANSI/NSC 373, TexaStone leads its industry in adopting more sustainable practices that help its customers and organizations meet the continued growth in green buildings.”

Transparent, credible standards along with independent third-party certification are important to meet the demands of members of the construction industry seeking more sustainable stone products. This includes government agencies (local, state and federal) and others seeking to comply with U.S. Executive Order 13514, which aims for 95% of governmental contracts to include products and services with sustainable attributes, as well as a U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) standard for sustainable construction (GSA PBS-P100 facilities standards for the public building service).

“The purpose of the ANSI/ NSC 373 standard is to drive sustainability practices in the natural stone industry. At TexaStone, we have made a commitment to transforming our organization into a more sustainable company to lead our industry in the transition to verified, more sustainably extracted and processed natural dimension stone,” said Brenda Edwards, owner of TexaStone Quarries.

Certification to ANSI/NSC 373 by quarries and processors such as TexaStone is the first step in the product certification process for natural dimension stone. Full certification for stone products will be achieved through a combination of ANSI/NSC 373 certification for quarries and processors along with the Natural Stone Council Chain of Custody Standard for Natural Dimension Stone (NSC COC) requirements for the rest of the distribution chain.

Coverings ’15 – Conference programs: contractor/installer sessions


Each year, Coverings devises a knockout conference program for its different audiences. Listed below are seminars targeted specifically to installers. Some of these sessions may also be useful for other audiences as well. For a full listing of all conferences, expanded course descriptions and details, go to

Monday, April 13
1:00 PM – 2:00 PM
Questionable Substrates…Jobs I Would Not do Unless the Situation Changed
Speaker: Frank Canto, Canto Tile & Stone, LLC

NTCA Five Star Contractor and recognized industry consultant Frank Canto will discuss jobsite conditions, suitable substrates, questionable substrates in which significant preparation needs to be considered, and projects that should not be accepted in their current condition.

2:15 PM – 4:15 PM
Thin Porcelain Tile Installations: Live Demonstrations
Presented by National Tile Contractors Association
Speakers: Gerald Sloan and Michael Whistler, NTCA

Tile industry leaders are currently working on developing product and installation standards for exciting new thin porcelain tile products, for both wall and floor applications. Learn about the recommendations for product handling and installation that will make or break a thin porcelain tile installation, as well as the many uses and benefits of the product, proper tool selection and investment.

ric_astrachanTuesday, April 14
Keynote Speakers
8:00 AM – 9:15 AM
Industry Update: Latest News on Tile Standards, Specification Issues, and Other Important Developments
Speaker: Eric Astrachan, Tile Council of North America

Tile Council of North America executive director Eric Astrachan will report on select industry current events, including regulatory issues, consumption data, changes to standards, the TCNA Handbook, and other issues including latest developments from the TCNA Lab, including thin tile performance research, latest on tile and green construction, and pitfalls and liabilities to avoid.

Featured Sessions

leatrice_eismann9:30 AM – 10:30 AM
Future Color/Design Trends: Innovation and Impact
Speaker: Leatrice Eiseman, Pantone Color Institute

Staying on top of the latest color forecasts in a highly visual world is vitally important to selling your products or services. Knowing what is driving these color trends and how they will impact your business will help you make those critical color decisions.

sandy_smith10:45 AM – 11:45 AM
Secrets to Creating Remarkable Customer Experiences
Speaker: Sandy Smith, Sandy Smith Seminars

Since April 30, 1993, the emergence of the Internet has shifted power from the seller to the buyer, freeing customers from dependence on sellers for information. Organizations have needed to rethink how they view and do business with the empowered customer who expects sales people to be business people who sell. Learn about the escalating expectations of today’s 24-hour customer and the best practices of organizations that consistently deliver remarkable customer experiences.

vince_marazita1:30 PM – 3:30 PM
Stone Trends 2015
Speaker: Vince Marazita, Marazita & Associates

Get an overall view of the natural stone market and market trends by attending this 17th Annual “State of the Industry” presentation on the dimensional stone market in the U.S. This session covers information, sourcing, marketing and application trends in the stone industry over the last year, with examples of award-winning projects that have been recognized for their use of natural stone.


9:30 AM – 10:30 AM
Stone & Tile Care Strategies – Issues & Opportunities
Speaker: Rod Sigman, Custom Building Products

Lack of understanding and knowledge of the use of sealers and cleaners is a daily problem that can have serious consequences whether you are using, recommending or selling them. For the contractor, incorporating sealers, cleaners and problem solvers into normal installation methods can be highly profitable. Learn how to set yourself apart from your competition and earn repeat business.

Ready-To-Use Grouts
Speaker: Dan Marvin, MAPEI Americas

A new wave of grouts that are ready to use from the bucket has swept over the market in recent years, pushing these once residential-only products into more commercial and institutional installations. With standards lagging since the market growth, this session will give an overview of the current marketplace.

10:45 AM – 11:45 AM
Residential Estimating and Sales Strategies
Speakers: Buck Collins, Collins Tile and Stone; Dana Collins, Collins Tile and Stone

NTCA Five Star Contractors Buck and Dana Collins specialize in residential tile and stone installations. Providing a detailed bid proposal and backing it up with industry knowledge of approved standards, coupled with a strong sales strategy, can tip the scales of being awarded the bid at the price you need to be successful. This team will share their unique approach to working with building professionals and consumers.

11:00 PM – 12:00 PM
SketchUp: An Introduction to 3D Modeling
Speaker: Mike Tadros, SketchUp (Trimble Navigation)

This interactive session will introduce attendees to the foundational skills required to create compelling visualizations using SketchUp, the world’s most popular 3D computer modeling program. Additionally, you will learn the basics for creating presentation graphics using LayOut, SketchUp’s 2D Companion program for creating presentation and construction documents.

1:00 PM – 2:00 PM
Content Strategy on a Shoestring Budget: You CAN be as Successful as the “Other Guys”
Speaker: Melissa Harrison; Allee Creative, LLC

Everyone knows the examples from big companies with large marketing budgets and multiple marketers on staff. What if you don’t fit that bill? This session focuses on the truths about time, resources and what YOU can focus on in order to have a kick-butt content strategy.

1:30 PM – 2:30 PM
Panel Discussion: The Tile Contractor/Tile Distributor Relationship – Challenges and Solutions
Moderator: Bart Bettiga, National Tile Contractors Association

The independent distributor and contractor relationship is extremely important to the success of tile and stone projects. Proper communication, pricing protection, negotiated payments, and more are all part of this vital vendor/customer relationship. Top distributors and contractors will discuss their real-world challenges and successes in this open and frank discussion.

2:45 PM – 3:45 PM
Proper Commercial Estimating and Bidding Strategies: FMI Corporation
Speaker: Tyler Paré, FMI Corporation

After a multi-year trend toward negotiated, cooperative procurement of construction services, the pendulum has swung dramatically back to lump-sum work. Has your company lost its edge? Best-in-class contracting companies are looking at estimating and work acquisition in a completely new way. Take a look at whether you’re getting everything you should from your estimating function.

2:45 PM – 4:15 PM
Heart and Mind Selling – Making Customers for Life
Speaker: Sam Allman, Allman Consulting

Logic wins the sale, but love wins them for life. Customers don’t want to be sold – they want to be serviced, helped – with emphasis on being consulted or educated about decisions. Love is the difference. That’s why the heart trumps skills and intent and is more important than technique. Use your customer’s love language to tap into one of their basic of needs.

3:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Coverings Insiders’ Tour
Tour Leader: Alena Capra

Join Coverings Industry Ambassador Alena Capra for a curated, behind-the-scenes tour of the show. The interactive tour will begin at the Social Media Lounge and include top social media participants who will share insights via Twitter throughout the tour. Join us in person and follow along with @Coverings using the hashtag #Coverings2015.

Wednesday, April 15
8:00 AM – 9:00 AM
HPDs 101: A “Healthy” Crash Course on Today’s Demand for Health-Related Product Information
Speakers: Dr. Jyothi Rangineni and Bill Griese, Tile Council of North America

There are a million questions about HPDs – Health Product Declarations – and this session endeavors to bring attendees up to speed on the subject as a whole. HPDs are one of today’s most common ways of chronicling building product content, health ramifications and disclosures. Some green building initiatives are rewarding credit for the use of products with HPDs. A vital session for the entire industry.

Commercial Project Management and Tile Installations: Panel Discussion
Moderator: Bart Bettiga, National Tile Contractors Association

A candid discussion and interaction with representatives from general contracting, commercial tile installation and the architectural and design community. A discussion of the specification process, jobsite conditions, time schedules, change orders and payment and contract terms.

9:15 AM – 10:15 AM
Installations over Wood Substrates
Speaker: Tom Plaskota, TEC/H.B. Fuller Construction Products Inc.

There are many different industry-approved methods for wood-frame construction. Some entail installing tile or stone tile over two layers of wood, others are on single layer construction substrates, and some involve the use of membranes or high-performing mortars. This session will help you choose the proper system and the appropriate products to ensure a successful installation.

10:30 AM – 11:30 AM
Selecting and Installing the Appropriate Membrane
Speaker: Steve Taylor, Custom Building Products

Learn about the different types of membranes for ceramic and natural stone installation and review the physical properties of all types of membranes. Plus, discuss the ANSI and TCNA standards for various membranes and the areas of use and any limitations to the use of a type of membrane.

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
NTCA Contractor Roundtable Discussions

NTCA leaders will lead lively and interactive roundtable discussions on membranes, backerboards, thinset, tile, grouts and more, and will encourage everyone to participate. Tables will be divided into residential and commercial contracting interests. Leaders of each table will give short summaries of their discussion at the end of the roundtable session.

1:30 PM – 2:30 PM
Large Formats: Thin Porcelain Tile
Speaker: Noah Chitty, Crossville, Inc.

Large-format, thin porcelain tile is a new frontier. Learn about the current state of the industry in regard to the thin tile category, including product standards and certifications, advancements in designs and manufacturing technologies, installation requirements, and more. Participants will take away know-how about how to grow their business with this unique product category.

2:45 PM – 3:45 PM
Six Trends that will Dramatically Change Your Life
Speaker: Christopher P. Ramey, Affluent Insights and The Home Trust

Your future depends on knowing consumer and industry trends. This session will explore the future and how consumer trends are going to change the way you do business. Learn how to recognize the nature of trends and explore some of the major consumer and industry trends that affect your business.

Steam Shower Applications
Speaker: Art Mintie, LATICRETE

This session will focus on the design and installation of tiled steam showers. Gain an overview of steam shower specification guidelines including a review of industry standards that govern these systems. Learn about the requirements and characteristics for waterproofing membranes and other installation materials used in steam rooms/steam showers, and best practices, methodology and techniques.

harris_rosenThursday, April 16
Keynote Speakers
8:00 AM – 9:00 AM
A Conversation with Harris Rosen
Speaker: Harris Rosen, Rosen Hotels & Resorts
Interviewer: Bart Bettiga, National Tile Contractors Association

Bart Bettiga, Coverings 2015 Chairman, will sit down for a one-on-one exclusive interview with the president of Rosen Hotels & Resorts, Harris Rosen, to discuss business, the industry and what he sees in the future of design. bart_bettiga

Featured Sessions
9:15 AM – 10:15 AM
Design Build Obligations: You May Not Know It, but You Own It
Speaker: Tommy A. Conner, Superior Tile and Stone

Design Build is a project delivery method that provides the owner with a single point of contact for design and construction. Some of these projects achieve great results, while others are saddled with unexpected consequences. This session will provide awareness of the unique financial and liability risks associated with design-build that are essential to avoiding unpleasant surprises.

8:00 AM – 9:00 AM
The Buzz behind Linear Drain and Preformed Shower Drain Mania
Speaker: Brian Pistulka, MAPEI Americas

Pre-formed shower pans with linear drains have recently brought many new manufacturers and product technologies into the marketplace. Hear a discussion of the drivers behind this rapidly-growing phenomenon and the opportunities created due to this transformation.

9:15AM – 10:15AM
Selecting the Appropriate Thinset for Tile or Stone Installation
Speaker: Mike Micalizzi, Custom Building Products

This session will identify the different types of cement and epoxy mortars for ceramic and natural stone installation and discuss the ANSI and TCNA standards for the various tile and stone bonding mortars. Learn the physical properties of the mortars and what is important to the installation and areas of use plus any limitations that should be observed when installing tile.

10:30 AM – 11:30 AM
How to Get Paid, Not Sued
Speakers: Sloan Bailey, Flynn Riley Bailey & Pasek LLP

Sloan Bailey is a trial lawyer whose practice includes construction and complex business litigation. Receive general counseling and advice on contract negotiations and disputes for both public works and privately funded projects.

Managing a Successful Family Business Forum
Moderator: Tony Malisani, Malisani, Inc.
Speakers: Nancy Epstein, Artistic Tile, Inc.; Joey Ganassa, Washington Marble & Granite Co.; Jacqueline Tabbah, International Stoneworks, Inc.

Working in a family business can be a challenge. Why are some businesses successful, while others struggle? What are the best practices? Join a panel of stone professionals from three different family businesses as they share their experiences. Plan to join this robust Q&A session!

11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Obtaining More Clients through Inbound Marketing
Speakers: Brodie Tyler, Inbound Systems, Inc.

Obtaining new clients can, at times, seem like a daunting task, with an overwhelming number of possible methods of finding leads. Learn the value of inbound marketing and how it creates new leads. Through original content creation, complete web presence, and optimized social media campaigns, inbound marketing creates qualified leads for your business at half the cost of traditional marketing!

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
Contractor Roundtable Discussions

NTCA’s leaders will lead lively roundtable discussions on membranes, backer boards, thinset, tiles and grouts, and more. Leaders will share their table’s summaries at the end of the session.

1:30 PM – 2:30 PM
Managing a Project with Owner Supplied Materials
Speaker: Tommy A. Conner, Superior Tile and Stone

Managing a large commercial tile and stone project as a tile contractor is tricky enough. Often, the challenge looms even larger because project owners negotiate materials selections and purchases directly. Review a case study exploring the many challenges that can occur with owner-supplied projects to help prepare contractors for the future.

2:45PM – 3:45PM
International Code Council: CDP Access Program
Speaker: Thomas Allen, International Code Council

In years past, participation in the development of ICC codes was difficult, cumbersome, and time-consuming. This is all changing with the new CDP Access Program. Learn about this new development, which will be important for tile industry participation in the code-development process.

Trends in Tile
Speakers: Christine Abbate, Novita; Marianne Cox, TCNA; Ryan Fasan, Professional Attention to Tile Installations

Advancements in cutting-edge digital technology and the revival of artisanal processes have collided to transform the look and application of tile, creating limitless opportunities for designers – and opening up new channels for customization. Superthin, superthick, supersmall, supersized – tile formats are pushed to extremes, expanding how and where tile can be installed. Join this panel of industry experts to find out how tile trends have changed and where they’ll go next.

3:30 PM – 4:30 PM
Installation Design Showcase Deconstructed
Speakers: NTCA Five Star Contractors and Showcase Designers

Meet with the designers and NTCA Five Star Contractors of the Installation Design Showcase and learn what it takes to pull together these annual vignettes in just five days. During this one-hour interactive session, tour the four bathroom spaces of the showcase – and discover every detail, from product, to installation to design decisions. Press, attendees and exhibitors are all invited to the session and the Installation Design Showcase Reception immediately following at 4:30 PM in the Showcase.

gerald_sloanFriday, April 17
8:30 AM – 10:30 AM
The NTCA Reference Manual: How to Use to Your Advantage
Speakers: Gerald Sloan and Michael Whistler, National Tile Contractors Association

Tile contractors, distributors and manufacturers will all benefit from learning how to use the NTCA Reference Manual. This problem-solving guide addresses the most common industry installation challenges, with prevention and cure strategies. White papers, letter templates, and position statements are also included. The NTCA Reference Manual is essential to industry professionals who are asked to inspect questionable installations in the field.  michael_whistler

New Member/Five Star Contractor Spotlight – February 2015

custom-sponsorElite Tile Setters
South Jordan, Utah

Since: 1998

NTCA5starcontractorSpecialty: Commercial, new construction and high-end remodels.


When Stan Platt started Elite Tile Setters (ETS) in 1998, he was looking for a way to get through college and take care of his young family. The business quickly grew and his wife, Amy, soon took over the financial and administrative duties. Word spread and jobs rolled in.

Matt Newbold was an early hire and became a key building block for the team. Newbold takes point when it comes to innovation and technology. His uncanny ability to keep up with all of the options and proper application and techniques is a huge asset.

0215-platts“If you want to be a part of the Elite Tile Setter team, you better love what you do and be passionate about sharpening your skills and embracing new ideas,” Newbold said. “Let’s face it, if you’re bored with your work it will show.”

The enthusiasm of the Elite Tile Setter team is infectious especially with homeowners. That’s the magic that’s earned the ETS team the trust of builders and homeowners all over Utah and even a few in Hawaii.

In order for Elite Tile Setters to continue to grow, the company finds and develops talent through weekly training and mentoring. It hires not just experienced, qualified setters who are creative with an eye for detail, but setters who know how to work. The culture of the company is such that team members feed off each other to do a little more, be a little more precise, and take responsibility.

“It’s all about trust, responsibility, and communication,” Platt remarked. “They know I trust them. They also know they’re responsible to me and, more importantly, to each other.”
If communication starts breaking down, Platt likes to take the picture of the porcupine off the office wall and review the parable of the porcupine, as a reminder of why teams are important. (See sidebar for the fable.) It always gets a few good-natured eye rolls and groans, but ETS staff knows being a team takes work.

0215-sidebar-parableThe solid relationships extend beyond the ETS team in maintaining good rapport with a network of manufacturers and distributors. Answers come straight from the source – no guesswork.

Newbold is straightforward regarding these relationships. “They’re critical to our business,” he said. “I’m not going to gamble with a client’s project. When we have questions, we’re going to get answers and do it right.” General contractors love these connections because it means things happen on time and the work is reliable. Homeowners love the look and function of their new tile.

The Elite Tile Setters team members are excited about NTCA training and industry-sanctioned certification. They take their craft seriously (they rarely take themselves seriously, but that’s another story). Their professionalism pushes them to learn more and stay current.

The Certified Tile Installer program from CTEF plays right into that attitude. The team benefits from the training of the certified installers as they share and help others prepare for certification. The CTI certification and Five Star Contractor credentials also add to their already Elite status.

“We’re proud to be the first in Utah,” Platt said. “You can’t lead from behind.”

As the NTCA state rep, Platt has a particular interest in certification. He understands that raising the bar for all setters is crucial to the growth of the industry, not just ETS. That education extends to builders as they learn more about the importance of the system under the tile: work that experienced, Certified Tile Installers do on a daily basis.

0215-fivestar-1Project Spotlight Hackett Construction & Design

The Salt Lake City job for Hackett Construction & Design that the Elite Tile Setters team just completed is a good example of the high-end home work that ETS is known for. Working closely with lead designer Annie Hackett, Platt had a number of layout and design challenges to work through, selecting and installing porcelain tile and wood flooring throughout the house. The project includes five bathrooms, three washrooms, a spiral staircase and a glass tile backsplash in the kitchen. The kitchen and master bath are the real showpieces.

0215-fivestar-2The elegant large-format glass tile backsplash in the kitchen was a challenge due to the large-format glass, which had some warpage and needed to be cut. This dark glass accents a clean, contemporary look in the kitchen.

ETS installed a heated floor system throughout the master bath, including the bench in the steam shower. The challenge was finding a low-profile heated floor system that would create a smooth transition between the bathroom tile and the low-profile carpet in the master bedroom. The oval, jetted tub is surrounded by metal and glass mosaic, so it required installing different materials in the same piece, and finding a thinset that coordinated with both glass and metal.

0215-fivestar-3While the color palette throughout the house is consistent, the materials and feel vary from room to room by changing the layout of tile to customize each area for a very custom job. Recognizing ETS as experts in the industry, the homeowners and the designer gave ETS freedom to design the layout and features.

0215-fivestar-4 0215-fivestar-5

Tech Talk – February 2015

TEC-sponsorAchieving successful natural stone installations


By Tom Plaskota, Technical Support Manager, H.B. Fuller Construction Products

Although advances in manufacturing have expanded the possibilities of man-made tile, natural stone remains highly sought after for both residential and commercial installations. A truly timeless building material – among the world’s oldest – natural stone offers a look that cannot be perfectly emulated by a manufacturing process. By guiding your clients to the right stone and setting it with the most appropriate materials, you will achieve beautiful and durable installations.

Natural stone, as its name suggests, is quarried from the earth. Because of this, it does not offer the perfectly consistent appearance of man-made tiles. Encourage your clients to view several sample tiles from the same lot before making their selection. That way, they can get a sense of how their tile’s appearance may vary.

This diverse material is available in a variety of finishes, and the finish your client selects should be dictated by the project’s environment. Polished stones, for example, are very reflective and may be more sensitive to scratching than other tile types. Honed, flamed/thermal and water-jet finishes are rougher, often obtaining higher slip-resistance ratings than polished finishes. Direct your clients toward higher slip-resistant finishes for floor installations – especially in wet areas.

0215-tech-1If your client’s installation will be on an exterior surface, be sure that the tile they select can withstand freeze/thaw conditions. Specific ASTM tests will verify how well a material may hold up in extreme conditions. Suppliers should be able to provide guidance and technical data to support the recommendations.

Similarly, installations in wet environments – like a shower or pool – require particular attention to stone selection. Many green marbles warp when exposed to water, even from water-based adhesives. These moisture-sensitive stones should not be used in wet environments and should be installed with 100% solid epoxy mortar. Take absorption into account during your selection. The higher the amount of water absorption, the greater the likelihood of damage caused by moisture.

Both performance and aesthetics will determine the setting materials to accompany the natural stone you and your client select. Some natural stones – including light-colored marbles, limestone and onyx – can experience staining or darkening from grey mortars. It is best to specify white mortars for these applications.

0215-tech-2Regardless of color, natural stone requires a minimum of 95% mortar coverage. No voids in the adhesive can exceed 2 square inches and no voids should exist within 2” of tile corners. To achieve consistent coverage, use a larger U-notch or square trowel than you would for similarly-sized ceramic tile. You can also back-butter the natural stone to help ensure 95 to 100% coverage.

Grout is the final ingredient for a successful natural stone application. Particles in sanded grout may scratch limestone, travertine, marble and onyx. If using one of these softer natural stone tiles or polished stone, specify unsanded grout and use grout joints of 1/8” or narrower. Be sure that the grout selected – sanded or unsanded – will not stain the natural stone. Using a grout color similar to that of the natural stone tile will help minimize this risk, as will applying a sealer or grout release prior to grouting. Use the same sealer prior to grouting that you plan to use afterwards.

0215-tech-3To make cleanup easier, consider using a grout bag to grout natural stone installations, particularly with textured tiles. Mix small batches of grout, scoop them into the bag, and squeeze grout from the bag directly into joints. Use a grout float to pack each joint, and then scrape away the excess. If the tile is less textured, use a float to apply the grout directly into the joints.

If you have any questions about the aesthetic or performance compatibility of your tile and setting materials, create a sample board using your client’s natural stone with the mortar and grout you’ve selected. This process will help you determine whether staining is prominent and how the grout and tile look together. Share it with your client to ensure that they will be happy with the final installation.


Qualified Labor – February 2015

1_CTI_20x20“Knowledge is power,” for recently-certified installer Kevin Hurla of Fox Ceramic Tile

By Lesley Goddin

Recently, seasoned installer Kevin Hurla embarked on the journey to become a Certified Tile Installer (CTI) through the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) program ( Hurla has been with Fox Ceramic Tile in St. Marys, Kan., since February 2014. Fox Ceramic Tile, which specializes in commercial work, gained NTCA Five Star Contractor status in 2011.

kevin_hurla“I know installers who went through the course, and I took an interest,” Hurla said, who has logged 20 years as an installer, starting as a finisher in 1989 and then completing a two-year apprenticeship.

After taking the written test online, Hurla completed the hands-on test at ISC Surfaces in Kansas City on September 19, 2014. ISC Surfaces’ host Brent Stoller holds the record for hosting the largest number of CTI tests at one site. In fact, he received the first annual CTI Host of the Year award in 2014.

Hurla didn’t think either the written or hands-on tests were difficult. “The whole process has information that installers should know to ensure proper installation,” he said.

Hurla is proud to be a CTI. “The CTI symbol is displayed on the back of our company uniform, and on the sleeves of the Certified Tile Installers,” he explained.

Kevin Fox, PE, owner of Fox Ceramic Tile, added, “We have eight tile setters on our team, and 100% of them are Certified Tile Installers. I have just hired two more tile setters and they are scheduled to take the test in March.”

Fox said that his company just got the green light for a Department of Labor-approved apprentice program – and the CTI test is the final requirement to achieve journeyman status. “What started out as something I was asking the tile setters to consider now has become a requirement if they want to reach full journeyman scale,” Fox said. “I think the certification is that important.”

According to Hurla, becoming a CTI has lasting benefits. “It gives me confidence in my ability to  find the correct solution to any obstacles that may arise,” Hurla said. “I also carry the CTI books in my truck so I can look up any questions I don’t know off the top of my head. “

Since passing the tests, Hurla said he pays “close attention to the products I use and the proper instructions on how to use them.”

Fox added, “Having certified tile installers has been part of the strategy in targeting larger and negotiated work. It is just one of the aspects GCs see, along with the company’s involvement with NTCA and Five Star that shows we are a company that not only ‘says’ we will perform on a project with qualified mechanics (everyone says that), but that we have shown our passion for the industry by validating the skills of the installer and investing the time and talents of the company by being active in the industry’s organizations.” Fox is a NTCA State Director and a member of the NTCA Methods and Standards Committee.

The value of what Hurla learned while going through the certification process and its impact on his work prompts him to endorse every opportunity to gain education. “The most important thing to remember is ‘knowledge is power,’” he said. “If you think you know it all, you’re limiting yourself.”

The next level of certification is Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT), which offer certification for union and open-shop installers in any or all of these skill sets: Large-Format Tile and Substrate Preparation, Membranes, Mud Floors, and Shower Receptors ( The prospect of taking his career to the next level excites Hurla.

“If I have the opportunity to take the ACT certification I would jump at the chance to educate myself even more,” he said.

Feature – Bostik, Inc. – February 2015


Bostik’s Dimension® RapidCure Grout is just what the doctor ordered for Arizona medical center project

0215_glass_tileOn August 26, 2014, Chandler Regional Medical Center, a member of the Dignity Health organization, opened its new 96-bed tower. The 171,000-sq.-ft. expansion – located roughly 25 miles south of Phoenix – brought the hospital’s bed count to 339, and allowed for an ongoing program of adding and growing comprehensive healthcare services.

Kitchell and Orcutt | Winslow Architects were chosen for this project in December of 2011 and given a clear mandate to design and construct the new patient tower. This was an immense task that would ultimately expand the hospital’s overall capacity, enhance key service lines and drive new office and medical development at its location. Site work on the $125 million project began in spring of 2012, with vertical construction of the tower commencing the following November. At the peak of construction, it was estimated that the project had a workforce of more than 200.

0215_bostik-1This was a very big, exceedingly detailed A-grade architectural assignment with virtually nothing overlooked. That, of course, included extremely professional, precision tile work, which to date has been nothing less than outstanding. Scuderi Tile Contractors of Phoenix, a second-generation tile-and-stone installation firm, was the company selected to handle this segment of the tower’s construction.

Anthony Scuderi, of Scuderi Tile Contractors, was asked about the challenging aspects of the Chandler project. “There were round mosaic columns that required very meticulous installation techniques,” he stated. “In particular, two of our lead tile setters on the project (who are Certified Tile Installers through the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation) were always right there on location to ensure that all work was nothing short of being perfect. On the flat work, there was a mixture of 1/8” [thick] glass with 3/8” [thick] porcelain, requiring technical demands which certainly were not for neophytes.”


Scuderi monitored every single minute detail of this intricate tile installation in collaboration with his partner, Bob Heath, and their superintendent, John McKinnon.

“Clearly,” added Scuderi, “the substrate preparation required to accommodate the thin glass tile installation was a key factor to the overall finished product. Our people had to follow an incredibly precise layout of the porcelain tile in conjunction with the glass mosaic banding. This included the cutting and pre-mounting of the glass tile bands onto a rigid substrate to help facilitate a totally flush installation. Incorporating this technique was a major component used to achieve the finished product, as well.”

Scuderi, Bostik + Daltile = total cooperation

Scuderi’s people installed Daltile mosaics using premium installation materials from Bostik. His people worked in close conjunction with James Allred, territory sales manager of Bostik’s Consumer & Construction Business Unit; Rehaan Samat, customer service representative from Daltile (118) in Phoenix, and Maija Johnson, Daltile architectural representative, based out of the same location. By all accounts, the spirit of total cooperation shared by this group of dedicated professionals was perhaps the greatest reason why this tile installation was such a major success.

0215_bostik-sidebar“I greatly appreciated the opportunity, as it has always been a pleasure working with Scuderi Tile and Bostik throughout the past several years,” Daltile’s Samat beamed.

Daltile products that were used in the project included City Lights Glass Mosaics (1/2” x 1/2”) specified by the designers at Kitchell and Orcutt | Winslow in the following colors: CL65 (St. Moritz), CL67 (Paris), CL71 (South Beach) and CL72 (Honolulu). Bostik products included Dimension® RapidCure™ Grout #600 Diamond and Blaze™ Urethane Grout and General Purpose Cleaner.

0215_bostik-3Containing 60% recycled glass content, pre-mixed Dimension RapidCure Grout is a patented, reflective, water-based, urethane grout with a translucent binder that both reflects light and allows it to pass through. This adds an illuminating sparkle, creating one-of-a-kind, three-dimensional effects within glass tile installations.

Offering lifetime stain- and superior-crack resistance, Dimension RapidCure never needs to be sealed. It also installs up to 50% faster than traditional grouts. It contains Bostik’s Blockade® antimicrobial protection, which inhibits growth of bacteria, mold and mildew on the cured grout surface. It resists ugly stains caused by mold, as well. “It’s a great product!” exclaimed Scuderi.

According to Bostik’s Allred, “The Chandler Regional Medical Center is a great example of open and professional communication and proper planning. John McKinnon with Scuderi Tile took the necessary steps to research all aspects of the installation, right down to the specified grout product – Bostik DimensionRapidCure. I’ve known Scuderi Tile for years and jumped at the opportunity to train their crew on the proper installation technique used with Dimension. I credit Scuderi’s professional approach to each of their installations for the outstanding results achieved in this project. Bostik produces great products, but professional installation really makes the difference at the end of the day!

0215_bostik-4“Without a doubt,” continued Allred, “Rehaan Samat at Daltile is a shining example of a true Bostik urethane grout advocate. We have partnered on many urethane grout commercial and residential applications over the years; he takes his customers’ needs very seriously and makes sure that they are using appropriate products in every application. He’s a true professional. Rehaan was adamant that Scuderi and Bostik continually touched base on the Chandler Regional Medical Center, just to make sure it all went smoothly.”

Though the new tower opened just a few months ago, the tile work at Chandler Regional Medical Center is not yet over. “We will be working on a 25’ glass mosaic ‘tree’,” Scuderi stated. “The design is amazing. It will, of course, be designed with Daltile glass mosaics that will be enhanced by Bostik’s glass-filled Dimension grout. We cannot wait until that phase of the project is complete.”

“Today’s top architects and designers are referring to Dimension as ‘another great design component’ that is absolutely unheard of in the grout world,” declared Scott Banda, director of marketing for Bostik’s Consumer and Construction Unit. “Equally important, contractors love it. Dimension gives them an opportunity to up-sell, while cutting grouting time by one-third to one-half and ultimately delivering true works of tile art. We all know glass tile installations are increasing in popularity nationwide. For the best possible glass tile installation, knowledgeable people across the country are now insisting upon Dimension RapidCure!”

Business Tip – February 2015

Five ways to get strong referrals – and lots of ‘em

SponsoredbyMAPEImarc_wayshakBy Marc Wayshak

Running a small business in today’s economy requires a departure from conventional business rules. In order to sell a product or service, businesses can no longer rely upon old-school sales tactics of bygone eras. Prospects are overwhelmingly distrustful of the traditional sales pitch; they’re busier than ever and they have access to more information than ever before.

As a result, small business owners must master a new set of tactics in order to make sales. The key is to start with strong referrals.

It’s no secret that getting referrals from clients who believe in your services is an effective way to connect with new clients. But in today’s business world, it’s not enough to just get referrals – they have to be strong, and there have to be lots of ‘em! Here are five ways to get lots of strong referrals:

1. Ask for introductions, not “referrals”! Salespeople often tell me that when they ask for a referral, all they get is a name, a phone number and an instruction to “tell him I sent you.” This is not a referral – it is, at best, a warm lead. The term “referral” is vague and unclear, which is why requests for them can frequently lead to disappointing outcomes. Instead of asking for referrals, ask for introductions. You want to be introduced directly to the person you want to meet, after all. The introduction can take place via face-to-face meeting, phone call, email exchange, or social media, but the key is that an actual introduction is made. Now, promise yourself you’ll never ask for a “referral” again!

2. Get over your fear and ask! I’ve done extensive research on what holds people back from getting more introductions, and it always comes back to the same issue: fear. Asking for introductions shows vulnerability and can feel uncomfortable. But the reality is that if you don’t ask, people will not think to introduce you. It’s your job to ask everyone in your network for introductions on a regular basis. The more you ask, the easier it becomes. In all of my years as a sales strategist, I’ve never heard of someone losing a client because they asked for an introduction. So what do you have to lose?

3. An introduction a day…really adds up. I have a challenge for you: ask for one introduction every work day. It’s a task that takes less than five minutes, but it holds enormous potential for your business. Here’s how.: One introduction per day equals five per week; five introductions per week equals 250 introductions per year. That’s a lot of introductions! Let’s say that you receive only one in five of the introductions you ask for – that still means you’ll receive 50 introductions in one year. If you turn half of those introductions into sales, then you’ll have closed 25 new pieces of business. What are you waiting for?

4. Ask for help. Help. That simple four-letter word is one of the most powerful in the English language. When you ask for help, people generally want to give it to you. On the other hand, people are turned off by phony confidence and a reluctance to accept assistance. So ask for help when it comes to introductions, just as you would in any other context. Start the introduction conversation by saying, “I’m wondering if you might be able to give me a little help.” Let the person say that she is happy to help – which she probably will be if you have any relationship at all. Then ask for the introduction to the type of prospect you’re looking to meet.

5. Help people help you. Salespeople frequently squander the chance to get introductions by not clearly explaining the exact type of prospect they’re looking to meet. When someone says that he’s willing to help you out with introductions, don’t respond, “Well, who do you know?” This forces the person to have to figure out which of the 1,000 people he knows to introduce you to. Instead, be laser-focused on the exact type of person you want to be introduced to. For example, you might say, “I’m looking to meet high-end custom-home builders or remodelers who invest in qualified labor.” When you get very specific, you narrow a person’s mental rolodex down to 1-3 people. Bingo!

When you focus on receiving more introductions (and actually take action!), your business can grow exponentially. If each of your clients introduced you to one new client, your business would double. By following these five simple strategies, you can bring on more clients without a massive effort.

Marc Wayshak ( is a sales strategist who created the Game Plan Selling System. He is the author of two books on sales and leadership including his latest book, Game Plan Selling ( a regular online contributor to Entrepreneur Magazine and the Huffington Post Business section. Get his free eBook on 25 Tips to Crush Your Sales Goal at (Twitter: @MarcWayshak)

Ask the Experts – February 2015

SponsoredbyLaticreteIn November 2014, TileLetter published the story, “Stacking the deck: manufactured/natural stone veneers pros and cons,” on page 54. Later that same month, this question about installing brick veneer came in from an NTCA member:


Hello – I’m an existing NTCA member, with a question about an upcoming project involving brick veneer.

Does method W243 – 14 apply to brick veneer, and if so, is it applicable in a basement environment? Are there any limitations as to when or where this method can’t/shouldn’t be used?


The method W 243 – 14 that is referred to in the TCNA Handbook for Ceramic, Glass and Stone Tile Installation is a suitable installation method for installing “thin” veneer brick paver tiles but not an acceptable method for “full thickness “ brick veneer installations. “Thin” is typically 5/8” thickness or less. This direct-bond method is only applicable due to weight-pounds per square foot dead load applied to substructure including the facial surface of the gypsum backer unit .

Full thickness brick veneer is much too heavy to direct bond to a gypsum backing unit using this method.

Limitations are listed in the method, such as environmental temperatures not to exceed 125 degrees F and stud spacing not to exceed 16” on center.

Gerald Sloan, NTCA trainer

Our second dialogue concerns a question of replacing grout or the entire floor that was damaged as a result of a flooding situation. Expert response by industry consultant David Gobis helped this homeowner settle the matter with her insurance company.


My kitchen floor is tile that is about 10 years old. We recently had new countertops installed along with a backsplash. We kept the tile floors because they were in beautiful condition. On January 8th, 2014, a second-floor bathroom pipe froze and burst onto our kitchen tile floor. That water sat in an area for about 6-8 hours. Now we have tile that clicks and grout that is coming up in the area where the water sat. The insurance company wants to just re-grout the area and not do anything with the loose tiles. My husband and I have had tile experts to the house who would not recommend just patching the grout since the tile is no longer attached to the board underneath. Please email me your thoughts.


Grout will not fix a floor that clicks, which is likely the wooden panel riding up and down a nail. With a flood, the water works its way through the grout and becomes trapped in the supporting wood structure under the tile. With most tile having a glazed (glass-like surface) it takes a long time to dry out. That causes the wood to change dimension by swelling, often breaking the tile or cracking the grout. While it is possible a regrout will help  the problem, it is not likely. I would let them try their grout fix offer with the caveat that if it does not work  they will look at replacement – and I would ask for it in writing.

David M. Gobis CTC CSI, Ceramic Tile Consultant


Since your last email I just wanted you to know that the insurance company did come to our home along with a tile expert. And what you said is the same thing that the tile expert said. So we have had a new tile floor installed in the kitchen to replace the damaged one.


You answer it!

We received this technical question – what is YOUR opinion about who is the responsible party for this job – the licensed contractor? The first unlicensed contractor to grout the floor – or the last? Send responses to

If an installer installs a tile floor and a second installer grouts the floor but then a third installer removes that grout and re-grouts the floor who is responsible for the floor? The original floor was installed (no grout) by a licensed contractor, grout was done by an unlicensed individual hired by the homeowner, and then a third individual was hired by homeowner to remove the grout and re- grout.  The individuals doing the grouting were independent and not working for the original company.