July 1, 2015

Bostik Airplane Takes off this June

noname (2)Bostik, Inc. (bostik-us.com), one of the world’s largest manufacturers of adhesives and sealants, has announced the debut of the Bostik-branded Boeing 737-800. This sleek aircraft will begin promoting Bostik brand awareness, flying four times per day to 47 destinations across 20 countries.

Michael Jenkins, Business Director for Bostik’s Consumer & Construction Business Unit – Americas, stated, “Bostik high-performance adhesives are being successfully used worldwide for a diverse variety of applications dependent upon products people use each day.  We believe it’s important that consumers in the Americas know of the global acceptance our products enjoy.  Globalizing the distinct image of our brand is a good ‘step one’ in getting everyday people to become even more familiar with the Bostik name and range of solutions our company provides.”

Bostik is the first company to sign a contract with a European airline, Transavia (a subsidiary of Air France-KLM) to re-brand a Boeing 737-800. This unique project incorporates the aircraft’s exterior brandishing Bostik’s new brand identity, introduced in early 2014.  It includes a prominent image of the Bostik omnipresent gecko on its tail fin. This distinctive initiative is one of many activities designed to globalize the Bostik brand.

Scott Banda, Director of Marketing for Bostik’s Consumer & Construction Business Unit - Americas, added, “This is an out-of-the-box program, which really shows the entire world how Bostik is  aggressively on  the  move, beginning to build its brand. Today, our products are on the shelves of roughly 2,000 retail locations across the Americas. This is just one of many exciting new promotional programs that consumers will be seeing from our company over the years to come!”

It is estimated that 145,000 passengers will travel on the Bostik airplane over the next six months… and, millions of others will have a chance to admire it during takeoffs, layovers or while in-flight.

About Bostik, Inc. 

Bostik is a leading global adhesive specialist in industrial manufacturing, construction and consumer markets. For more than a century, they have been developing innovative adhesive solutions that are smarter and more adaptive to the forces that shape people’s daily lives. From cradle to grave, from home to office, Bostik’s smart adhesives can be found everywhere. With annual sales of $1.63 billion, the company employs 4,800 people and has a presence in more than 50 countries. Bostik is a company of Arkema. Visit bostik-us.com for more information.

Business Tip – June 2015


NTCA makes apprenticeship and career development a top priority with web-based Learning Management System

By Dan Welch, Welch Tile & Marble, NTCA Apprenticeship Committee chairperson (Ed. note: This article is a follow-up to the story about the expansion of NTCA educational efforts with CEFGA and MiCareer Quest as reported in May TileLetter’s Benefits Box section. That May story introduced the idea of a Career Development Matrix, which is explained in greater detail here.) The daunting task of updating the existing NTCA apprenticeship manuals and transferring the information to a web-based Learning Management System (LMS) is under way. This Apprenticeship Committee began in San Antonio, Texas, at Total Solutions Plus where I again opened my mouth during a Training and Education Committee meeting and found out that this thought was a common concern and needed a chairperson. As the newly-appointed chairperson I set out to find an easy way to transfer information from the elder employees to the new millennials. BT_matrix_0615A Career Development Matrix idea was spawned during a post company-meeting event. The basic idea was to build a path easily understandable to the young men and women in our trade, linking the job title to the job duty and connecting it to a value or wage increases. The matrix is categorized by Orientation, Task, Skill, Knowledge, and Management. It can be used for personal career growth by an individual, or for a company to use to develop its people and personnel. A matrix shown to me on a YouTube video that night (Crazy/Hot Matrix) fit what I was thinking and the rest is history. Currently it’s in draft stage and is being honed and perfected.

Why an LMS? Apprenticeship development within a working company is tough to implement, and there are several obstacles to overcome if you plan to execute this within your organization. Welch Tile & Marble started a Department of Labor-approved program in 2005 with the help of DMI from Birmingham, Ala., and updated the program in 2008. The first class to go through the program was eager to learn and to improve their earning potential, but the energy it took to set up a class at night and come up with the lessons and hands-on training was exhausting. These are some obstacles to a traditional apprenticeship program:

  • Time out of busy schedule
  • Canceled class time
  • Lesson-plan development
  • Employee engagement
  • Absent employees
  • Out-of-town workers
  • Make-up class
  • Outdated materials
  • Multiple classes needed Apprentice 1, 1a, 2, 2a, 3, 3a training at the same time
  • Cost
  • Employee financial reward upon completion
  • Economy

The LMS is a must-have for two reasons. First, Welch Tile & Marble has 10 years of experience proving that implementing an apprenticeship program isn’t easy. Secondly, the new generation uses the internet for everything and grew up with instant information access. The vision and mission of the Tile Contractors Apprenticeship and Career Development Program is as follows:

  • Vision: A dedicated investment in developing tomorrow’s leaders .
  • Mission: Communicate, educate, evaluate, compensate, and cultivate the future generations of tile professionals through safety, productivity, passion and critical thinking.

Course Description

The Tile Contractors Apprenticeship and Career Development Program is an organized process designed to:

  • Communicate position descriptions, requirements, duties and responsibilities, measures of performance, and expectations.
  • Establish wage and benefit expectations nationwide.
  • Define career paths for all areas of the tile trade.
  • Develop tasks, skills, knowledge, and management modules to install tile successfully.
  • Provide educational tools, limit risk, and maximize productivity through technology and a positive environment.
  • Evaluate using training modules and certifications.
  • Cultivate passion and culture.

Pay for performance

Pay for performance has always been our belief: provide a good day’s work for a good day’s pay. So how do we provide this pay and who is going to identify what is good? Each market segment, region, work category, and job classification offers a different set of guidelines for what the market will bear and what each company’s core project business operations can offer. This draft is just that, a draft of what an average could be with a market that is diversified. For a company offering a service that is considered a commodity, the cost of doing business is very slim. The workforce is well trained to provide a limited skill with very little flexibility in what they can make available to the end user outside of the core competency. The result is lower pay. For a company offering a service that is considered a specialty, the cost of doing business is larger. The workforce is well trained in multiple areas and has the ability to do projects that are challenging and outside of the norm. The result is higher pay. I hope you are as excited as I am with the Tile Contractors Apprenticeship and Career Development Program and our industry’s attempt to attract new talent, build on their strengths, and move this industry forward. Stay tuned for periodic updates on the progress of the web-based Learning Management System, The Tile Contractors Apprenticeship and Career Development Program, and the refinement of the accompanying Career Development Matrix.

Ask the Experts – June 2015


I am a contractor from Northern California and have been setting tile for 23 years. I did a job where two shower walls cracked. The ceramic tile with a high gloss finish, bought from a local distributor, cracked from the inside. No one is sure why these tiles cracked in many directions. The grout lines did not crack, just the tiles, looking like a crackle or crazing under the surface.

The contractor board and its expert came in. He said I used the wrong materials and did not let the mortar bed cure long enough. He did not say how long a mortar bed should cure and he did not ask me how long before I started to set the tile.

crazingThe materials I used for my float bed include a moisture vapor retarder and 20-gauge stucco netting, stapled into the wall. All these products were bought from my local distributor, and are the same materials sold at all the tile stores in my area.

The inspector said I used the wrong materials. I have used these same materials for 28 years. I was in the tile union when I started and papered and wired apartments in the Bay Area. These are the only products I know, so I was very surprised when I was told I am using the wrong materials. If so, why are the tile stores all selling the wrong materials?

I have spoken with the Northern California Tile Institute and was told that in northern California 20-gauge, one-inch galvanized stucco netting stapled to substrate is acceptable in residential applications not to exceed nine feet in height. This is the application I use as well as most of the guys around here.

I am confused. I do not believe that is the reason the tiles cracked. If you could help me in any way, I would greatly appreciate it. I could give more information if you need it.


You are correct that the method you describe using stucco netting (chicken wire) is considered an “Allowed Local Practice” in your area and is allowed when a local building inspector comes to check your rough-in. A few Northern California counties and cities are pretty much the only places in the USA that do allow this method.

This practice was developed in Northern California by large union shops for tiling tub splashes at a time when tile above a tub extended no higher than 5’0” above the floor height. Also, the tile used with this method was almost exclusively 4-1/4” x 4-1/4” or 6” x 6” white body tile, a very lightweight material. At this point in time, almost all of the companies that developed this method have abandoned its use due to the high failure rate.

There is a faction of Northern California Tile Contractors and Inspectors that are pushing to exclude the use of this method altogether, due to the high risk of failure that affects everyone involved in the project: specifier, general contractor, tile contractor, tile distributor and property owner.

Unfortunately for you, when you use the “Allowed as Local Practice” defense, if you ever do experience a failure, all the risk is yours.  The tile industry standards (TCNA Handbook for Ceramic, Glass and Stone Tile Installation, and ANSI A108/118) make no mention of stucco netting as an approved material. In fact, minimum 2.5 lb. per square yard galvanized wire lathe is the specified reinforcement material. Also, as a California C-54 Licensed Contractor, you are obligated to follow the TCNA and ANSI A108/118 standards, since they are the basis of all regulations regarding tile installation in California.

The cracking of your tile could have been caused by several problems, or a combination of problems such as mortar mixed too rich in portland cement, with an excess of lime, too fine sand, too wet- all could be contributing factors. Also cure time could be a culprit, as you mentioned. ANSI A108 specifies that a minimum of 20 hours at 70 degrees F should be sufficient, but cure times of up to 10 days are desirable. This pre-curing before installation allows the mortar bed to shrink and move prior to covering with tile. Many times stress cracking in tile does appear if the mortar bed is not allowed to pre-cure properly.

I am sorry you are having a failure, but this should sway you that following the TCNA and ANSI standards can truly be in your interest.

Michael Whistler, NTCA presenter and trainer

President’s Letter – June 2015

JWoelfel_headshotWhen I am at Coverings, Total Solutions Plus or Surfaces, one of the questions I regularly get from tile contractors is “What’s the big deal about NTCA Five Star Contractor recognition?” If you are not part of the Five Star Contractor program, you may be asking the same.

Time constraints often force me to give a quick answer: “It’s a lot like pre-qualifying to work with a general contractor, but this program allows quality tile contractors to verify through peer review, their skills, business practices and commitment to the tile industry.”

What I don’t often get the chance to explain in depth is the great opportunity the Five Star Contractor program provides for continued growth in these key areas and the doors the program opens for qualified labor.

When the NTCA Executive Committee created the Five Star Contractor program, the goal was to raise the level of all NTCA tile contractor members – especially those who choose to go through all of the qualifications, certifications, recommendations and peer review from both competitors and NTCA leadership. It’s a process designed to delineate the best of the best. The tile contractors who become Five Star-recognized believe in excellence and they illustrate it through continuing education, in being active members of the NTCA, and most importantly, by being ethical in their business practices.

pres-0615The benefits of belonging to this select group help further strengthen and grow a tile contractor’s business and professional network, and the benefits keep getting better. Each year, NTCA Five Star Contractors across the nation gather for an invitation-only business forum. The three days of programming include expert presentations in areas such as marketing, finance, business operations, new product technologies and even using social media better. There are production plant tours, hands-on sessions and even some fun thrown in – which gives us time to share ideas and concerns with other Five Star Contractors. The business forums are designed to help us, as tile contractors of all sizes, be responsive to the changing needs of our customers, the marketplace and our industry as a whole. Crossville believes in the Five Star Contractor program so strongly that it has hosted the event for two years. This year, MAPEI is welcoming Five Star Contractors to Vancouver.

The benefits of being part of the Five Star Contractor program also include rebates from various tile, mortar and allied manufacturers. I know I was pleased when I got my first Crossville check! Future benefits being discussed include regional workshops that provide specialized hands-on training in new methods and products along with business sessions on any number of timely topics.

Another idea under consideration is to have specialized training, free of charge, that would include working with new products and new methods – perhaps also a field-test type of program allowing Five Star Contractors to give valuable feedback to manufacturers on how they can improve product lines.

More manufacturers are recommending Five Star Contractors – especially for their challenging projects, because they know quality labor makes their product look better and costs them less in job complaints. The TCNA Handbook for Ceramic, Glass and Stone Tile Installation also recommends qualified labor – particularly Five Star Contractors – for tile and stone specification and installation.

The NTCA currently has about 50 Five Star Contractors. This is not a lot for a membership over 1,000. We can and should do better. I know for a fact that there are tile contractors who could meet the criteria for this program today. So if you think you can meet these rigorous standards, I challenge you to do it. Come be part of the “big deal” – prove you are the best of the best. You and your company will benefit. Contact Jim Olson at jim@tile-assn.com for more information.


Editor’s Letter – June 2015

Lesley psf head shot“Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way, and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever.”
– Isak Dinesen

Recently I called NTCA headquarters in Jackson, Miss., (I work offsite from my home office in Albuquerque, N.M.) with a question, and wound up catching up with a member of the NTCA staff. We talked about recent vacations, and her observation about the tremendous amount of work and energy involved in participating and attending Coverings, among other things. I value these occasional phone chats, since it’s my best opportunity to stay connected with folks on the NTCA team, both in terms of work and personal aspects of our lives.

Our conversation drifted to news, and specifically bad news that is so easy to consume whether on television, in newspapers, magazines or social media. At the drop of a hat, we get besieged by political outrage, injustice, crime, threats of economic disasters, environmental woes, cruelty to animals or children, and more. You know – you’ve seen it all.

I shared that I often feel a need to call on my editing skills to censor what I let into my life and consciousness. There’s a similarity to how I work – I get a barrage of information streaming into my email inbox every day. To make sense of it and select the best content for TileLetter readers, I edit – delete, download and revise, shorten, expand. I can’t possibly include everything I see or TileLetter would be a 500-page tome each month, with lots of information that – while not completely irrelevant to the industry – is not targeted precisely for our readership. The same principle applies with all I see and experience at industry events like Surfaces, Coverings and Total Solutions Plus. Information and events need to be experienced, digested and summarized, often with links to where details can be obtained.

When I read the news (usually online) or see discussions on social media, I call my editing skills into play. Is this something of value for me, and those in my life? Do I REALLY have to engage in this political discussion (One of the wisest sayings I’ve ever heard is, “You don’t have to attend every fight you’re invited to.”)? Is this a cause that touches my heart? Is that story even TRUE? Will this benefit, support, inspire or delight anyone else if it is shared? Is it moving me closer to a goal? So, in a very real way, I need to delete, download and revise, shorten, expand, act on or ignore pretty much everything that comes across my five senses to determine if it’s in alignment to my vision for my life or if it brings some benefit to me or those I hold dear.

What does this have to do with our industry, you may ask? Everything! How many pieces of information do you encounter every day? How many opportunities do you have to be distracted by naysayers or complainers or drama queens (or kings) who thrive on controversy? Maybe it’s a staff member, employee, sales rep, or the news itself. The best way to counter information overload is to know your mission, be skilled in your role and trade, and sift through the wave of communication with wisdom and discernment to pare it down to usable kernels of knowledge. NTCA can help you do this, with opportunities for education and elevating your company to a higher level, all within a context of open discussion – such as what takes place within the Technical Committee meetings. There is also expert advice, helpful documents such as training manuals and the NTCA Reference Manual, and networking opportunities to talk through experiences with other skilled tile and stone contractors and industry professionals.

So be prepared for the onslaught, because in addition to death and taxes, the only other sure thing is bad news. Connect with NTCA, put on your editor’s hat and cut through the chaos like a hot knife through butter.

God bless!


A-5849-0415_Unversity ad Tile Letter VERT_fianl


The North America Profit Through Knowledge (PTK) Technical Seminar is a two day, intensive training program specifically developed for LATICRETE distributors, dealers, installers and other professionals interested in becoming familiar with LATICRETE® products. Training encompasses both classroom instruction and hands-on product demonstrations by experienced LATICRETE team members.

LATICRETE offers segmented classes covering tile and stone installation and surface care, resinous flooring systems, substrate preparation, construction chemicals and polished concrete.


Technical Sales Support Manager Positions Available


Technical Sales Support Manager Positions available at wedi Corporation for Territories combines from the following States / Provinces:

  • British Columbia / Alberta / Saskatchewan (Home Base Greater Vancouver or Calgary area)
  • California / Nevada / Arizona (Home Base Greater Los Angeles area)
  • Florida / Georgia / Tennessee (Home Base Greater Orlando or Tallahassee area)
Please find detailed job descriptions on wedicorp.com under “Contact” and “Career Opportunities”.
Resumes to Bastian Lohmann (bastian.lohmann@wedicorp.com).

NTCA contractor member and former board member debuts Lippage & Grout Tool at Coverings 

Just hours after filing with the U.S. Patent Office, NTCA contractor member Davis Holland Leichsenring unveiled his Lippage & Grout Tool to an audience of tile contractors and related professionals on the opening day of Coverings.

lippagetoolMade of soft PVC plastic, the multi-function tool helps tile professionals and the general public to instantly evaluate if a tile installation meets industry standards at the level of ‘flatness,’ – otherwise known as “lippage” – between adjacent tiles. It also helps measure and demonstrate grout widths and grout color, and has a handy ruler to help measure thickness of tile substrates and other on-the-job measuring needs. The small tool fits a wallet and is fully customizable to double as a business card.

NTCA has teamed up with Leichsenring to offer the Lippage & Grout Tool to members at a special discounted rate, featuring the NTCA logo. The “NTCA Lippage & Grout Tool” is available on the association’s website www.tile-assn.com, and at www.ntcatiletool.com.

The card can be purchased as the “Lippage & Grout Tool” by the general public, or the “I’m a Proud Member of the NTCA” version exclusive to NTCA members. The customized version can be created by downloading an easy step-by-step template file. Visit www.ntcatiletool.com for details.

The entire Holland Bath & Spa team worked around the clock to produce the tool by Coverings. Erkel Associates (www.erkel.com) finalized the branding and launch of shop.hollspa.com, an online store selling the Lippage & Grout Tool, Eras Noel prepared the patent application, and Allen Irwin created a short video featuring NTCA’s Maryland State Director, Mike Corona, of Corona Marble & Tile (www.coronamarbleandtile.com), presenting the tool.

“The tool is expected to increase the quality and standards by which tile is selected and installed,” said Leichsenring. For more information, visit www.ntcatiletool.com, or contact Leichsenring directly at davis@hollspa.com / 240-372-0513.

NTCA Five Star Contractor Awards Announced at Coverings

NTCA also presented its Five Star Contractor Grand Prize awards for outstanding installations in both Commercial and Residential projects.

An independent panel of judges evaluated numerous submissions and awarded the winners based on Scope (size of project), Complexity (challenges), Technical Soundness (resolution of challenges) and Design and Presentation (Overall appearance, layout and artistic value). Special recognition was given to those projects exemplifying stunning tile and stone in both commercial and residential tile installations.

The Five Star winners received $2,500 each in prize money, sponsored by Daltile Corporation.

GP-commWelch Tile & Marble of Kent City, Michigan, received the Five Star Grand Prize for Commercial Tile Installation. The firm’s installation of 45,000 sq. ft. of floor tile, 1,500 sq. ft. of Ledge Stone and 6,500 sq. ft. of wall tile at the Ferris State University, Rankin Student Center, was a glowing example of the company’s technical expertise when confronted by a multitude of challenges. A major task from the start, this renovation project’s obstacles included weather, time constraints, multiple product lines and the advancing age of the existing building.

GP-resCollins Tile and Stone of Ashburn, Va., was the recipient of the Five Star Grand Prize for Residential Tile Installation. The firm’s project, Modern Tranquility, started off with a complete demolition of the master bathroom including elimination of two picture windows. The most innate challenge of this project was the construction of a steam shower. The project included a decorative mural inset comprised of hand-made, fused glass mosaic. Collins Tile and Stone adhered to every industry standard, not only enhancing the beauty of the bathroom, but ensuring longevity of the tile work.


Best Practice Awards – Kerber & Slutzah

kerberJoe Kerber of Kerber Tile, Marble & Stone of Shakopee, Minnesota, received the first of two Best Practice Awards for his instrumental role in developing and having the Barrier Free Shower Method accepted by the Methods & Standards Commit-tee at Coverings 2014. This method was approved for inclusion in the 2015 TCNA Handbook. A member of the NTCA since 2003, Kerber has served as a State Director and now as a Regional Director. He also flourishes as a voting member on the NTCA Technical Committee and Methods & Standards Committee.

Steve Slutzah of Westside Tile & Stone in Canoga Park, Calif., also received a NTCA Best Practice award. His strong belief in the slutzahimportance of NTCA contractors has been the driving force for increased membership in the state of California. A member since 2007 as a distributor and soon thereafter as a State Director, Slutzah and his company have sponsored numerous NTCA workshops and signed up over 25 new members, even going as far as to pay for their first year membership.