TRENDS: EDITOR’S LETTER: Lesley Goddin

Here we are, in the midst of a long-anticipated spring. Weather is warming, blades of grass are poking out of barren ground and COLOR is everywhere.

That’s fitting since in this issue, we are having a veritable spring explosion of color – and style. Take a look at Shelley Halbert’s story for a bloom of fresh new colors that will be influential, inspiring and blossoming forth from everything from fashion to home decor. And in fact, the Pantone Color of the Year for 2017 is GREENERY – a life-affirming color of hope, and fresh new starts.

There’s a burst of new color and design from around the globe as well – see the stories from Tile of Spain, Ceramics of Italy and Turkish Ceramics to sample the international menu of important trends that will inform our industry. And just how are tiles incorporated into residential and commercial design? Explore the A&D Q&A to see how interior designers Lisa Mende and Patricia Gaylor create magical settings through the use of tile.

Kent Klaser speaks with us about budding stone trends and directions, and suppliers of stone and tile share with us what’s selling in their necks of the woods and identify up-and-coming trends.

Peruse our product sec on for an overview of color, aesthetics and formats in tile and stone this year. We also include a setting materials sec on because a sound foundation, complemented by the proper accessories, treatments and tools, helps ensure the beautiful finishing materials look and perform splendidly for decades.

And I would be remiss to not men on a big event for NTCA – this year marks this association’s 70th Anniversary. A festive celebration is planned Thursday night, April 6, at Coverings to commemorate NTCA’s perennial influence in supporting the trade, advancing the use of tile, and partnering with other sectors of our industry in creative ways to raise tile’s visibility as a beautiful and enduring surfacing material – and to ensure that installations perform beautifully for years to come.

There is so much beauty, drama and style coming into ower this year in tile and stone – and TRENDS is just the beginning. Enjoy the issue and see these trends come to life on the Coverings show floor in Orlando April 4-7, 2017.

March 2017 EDITOR’S LETTER: Lesley A. Goddin

Welcome to spring. The long, dark winter (for some – here in New Mexico, we’ve had 80 degree temperatures in March already!) is over and the tiling season has begun.

Of course, for most contractors, the tiling season is all year round, though the warmer weather affords some flexibility (and struggles – with wind, humidity, high temperatures, sun and rain) and opportunity for indoor and outdoor tiling projects.

Though warm weather is upon us (or nearly upon us, for those of you in the Northeast), cool weather will come round before we know it. That’s why it’s worth discussing electric floor warming with your clients. Today’s technologies make it easy to install and the benefits of a warm, cozy floor (even enjoyed on cool summer nights) will be appreciated for years to come. Take a look at our Tech Talk section for some discussion of electric floor warming challenges straight out of the NTCA Reference Manual.

Despite the push towards spring, we’re taking a look back at The International Surfaces Expo West

(TISE West) that took place in the dead of January in Las Vegas. Take a gander at the events and activities that NTCA sponsored and supported at the show, which has really grown into a vibrant and vital opportunity for tile and stone con- tractors. Our product section this month also contains a sampling of what was seen at the show, both in terms of finishing product and set- ting materials and accessories.

We also have a fun Business Tip this month – Riding Shotgun with Connie Heinlein. Connie is wife and intrepid assistant to NTCA technical trainer/presenter Mark Heinlein, and accompanies him to workshops around the country (many of the excellent photos of Mark you see in TileLetter or on social media are courtesy of Connie). She has a unique perspective on the value of NTCA to installers in the industry, and in the Business Tip section, she shares it with you.

At Total Solutions Plus, Training and Education coordinator Becky Serbin interviewed some of our prominent contractor members on video about the value of being a

Certified Tile Contractor. TileLetter freelancer Terryn Rutford has extracted some salient quotes about the importance of this credential and how it helps in business, and presents it as our Qualified Labor story this month.

And in closing, a little tidbit that came to my attention from the Tile Geeks social media group on Facebook. Schluter’s Shannon Huffstickler had shared some information about Tim Daly – known for his role in television hits Wings and Private Practice, and currently appearing as the husband of the Secretary of State in Madame Secretary opposite Tea Leoni – that she had heard during an interview with him on NPR that morning. It turns out that Daly (whose sister is Tyne Daly, by the way) once had a tile company in California called Silver Dollar Tile Company, because they “signed” their work by installing a silver dollar in every floor.

Do you “sign” your work? Send an email to [email protected] and let me know how you make your mark on the installation (apart from your excellent work, of course).

Make this day your best one yet. God bless,

Lesley

[email protected]

 

Editor’s Letter – March 2017

“Spring is the time of plans and projects.” ― Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Welcome to spring. The long, dark winter (for some – here in New Mexico, we’ve had 80 degree temperatures in March already!) is over and the tiling season has begun.

Of course, for most contractors, the tiling season is all year round, though the warmer weather affords some flexibility (and struggles – with wind, humidity, high temperatures, sun and rain) and opportunity for indoor and outdoor tiling projects.

Though warm weather is upon us (or nearly upon us, for those of you in the Northeast), cool weather will come round before we know it. That’s why it’s worth discussing electric floor warming with your clients. Today’s technologies make it easy to install and the benefits of a warm, cozy floor (even enjoyed on cool summer nights) will be appreciated for years to come. Take a look at our Tech Talk section for some discussion of electric floor warming challenges straight out of the NTCA Reference Manual.

Despite the push towards spring, we’re taking a look back at The International Surfaces Expo West (TISE West) that took place in the dead of January in Las Vegas. Take a gander at the events and activities that NTCA sponsored and supported at the show, which has really grown into a vibrant and vital opportunity for tile and stone contractors. Our product section this month also contains a sampling of what was seen at the show, both in terms of finishing product and setting materials and accessories.

We also have a fun Business Tip this month – Riding shotgun with Connie Heinlein. Connie is wife and intrepid assistant to NTCA technical trainer/presenter Mark Heinlein, and accompanies him to workshops around the country (many of the excellent photos of Mark you see in TileLetter or on social media are courtesy of Connie). She has a unique perspective on the value of NTCA to installers in the industry, and in the Business Tip section, she shares it with you.

At Total Solutions Plus, Training and Education coordinator Becky Serbin interviewed some of our prominent contractor members on video about the value of being a Certified Tile Contractor. TileLetter freelancer Terryn Rutford has extracted some salient quotes about the importance of this credential and how it helps in business, and presents it as our Qualified Labor story this month.

And in closing, a little tidbit that came to my attention from the Tile Geeks social media group on Facebook.  Schluter’s Shannon Huffstickler had shared some information about Tim Daly –known for his role in television hits Wings and Private Practice, and currently appearing as the husband of the Secretary of State in Madame Secretary opposite Tea Leoni– that she had heard during an interview with him on NPR that morning. It turns out that Daly (whose sister is Tyne Daly, by the way) once had a tile company in California called Silver Dollar Tile Company, because they “signed” their work by installing a silver dollar in every floor.

Do you “sign” your work? Send an email to [email protected] and let me know how you make your mark on the installation (apart from your excellent work, of course).

Make this day your best one yet.

God bless,

Lesley

Editor’s Letter – February 2017

Lesley Goddin, Editor

“This is the power of gathering: it inspires us, delightfully, to be more hopeful, more joyful, more thoughtful: in a word, more alive.”
– Alice Waters

I just returned home from Surfaces a.k.a The International Surface Event (TISE) West in Las Vegas. You’ll read more about the show in our March issue, since in the wonderful world of magazine publishing, the February issue is already designed and ready to be produced except for this letter. But here’s a little taste of what took place at the show.

What I noticed is a LOT of people – crowds seemed fuller from day one through the end this year. People were excited – about the products, about the conferences, about what they could find to enhance their businesses and take them to a higher level. For instance, there were standing-room-only crowds at presentations by NTCA presenters Mark Heinlein and Robb Roderick conducted at the installation stage.

This crush of people was echoed at the NTCA booth, where State Ambassadors, members and curious showgoers clustered to talk about tile, education, business and membership, and where member volunteers like Chris Dalene of Five Star Contractor Dalene Flooring, and staffers like Amber Fox, newly hired Five Star Contractor Program Director, signed up seven new members. 

Also percolating at the show was Certified Tile Installer testing, with nine installers taking a timed test to lay tile on the CTI modules.

The effort was supported by several of the new Regional Evaluators, which will allow more frequent CTI tests to take place with smaller class sizes across the country. Twelve new Regional Evaluators are on the job, led by Kevin Insalato of California Flooring. In the testing area were also workshops and testing conducted by other industry sectors like carpet and vinyl.

For NTCA, the whole show kicked off with an executive committee meeting, followed by a well-attended Training & Education Committee gathering, led by Training & Education Committee chair Dave Rogers of Welch Tile and Marble.

NTCA Training & Education Committee chairperson Dave Rogers (l.) with NTCA assistant executive director Jim Olson.

That first evening, NTCA held a reception and dinner in appreciation of its members and State Ambassadors with an address by NTCA president Martin Howard, presentation by Eric Astrachan of TCNA and a video on the history of NTCA and its accomplishments in the last 15 years.

David Allen Company’s Martin Howard, NTCA president, addressed the State Ambassador and Member Appreciation Dinner.

Wish you had been there? Stay tuned to our March issue for more details on the show. For now, enjoy all the information in this issue, from the Bostik’s cover story on the stunning mosaic installation in a Utah lodge to LATICRETE’s Sean Boyle’s economic update, to an exploration of the confounding problem of discoloration of natural stone used in shower installations, to the list of installation track seminars at the Coverings show, coming to Orlando in April. We also have a bonus story on measuring wet film thickness from MAPEI, and voices from the field in our new Hot Topics section, focused this month on grout.

The new year is building momentum. Let’s make it a good one!

Be well, and God bless,
Lesley
[email protected]

EDITOR’S LETTER – JANUARY 2017

“Our business in life is not to get ahead of others, but to get ahead of ourselves – to break our own records, to outstrip our yesterday by our today.”
– Steward B. Johnson

1947. Do you remember what you were doing then? Maybe you were graduating from high school or starting a business, or maybe you weren’t even a twinkle in your mom’s and dad’s eyes yet.
1947 is a popular date here in New Mexico, where I have my home office, since that was the year of the “Roswell UFO Incident,” which purports that an unidentified flying object crashed near Roswell.

It was an important year for India and Pakistan, since both countries gained independence from Great Britain.

 
Harry Truman was the U.S. president, and signed The National Security Act of 1947 into law; the Cold war began; The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank was in the bookstores; The United Nations voted to create an independent Jewish State of Israel; the film “Miracle on 34th Street” premiered in the U.S.; The first of the Dead Sea Scrolls was discovered in Qumran; Princess Elizabeth married the Duke of Edinburgh; Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers; and “I’ve Got a Crush on You,” and “Always” sung by Frank Sinatra were on the top song charts.

 
1947 was important for another reason too – that’s the year that NTCA began as the Southern Tile Contractors Association (STCA) in Birmingham, Ala., under the direction of executive director Jim Trimm. STCA catered to tile contractors in 13 southern states, promoting ceramic tile and quality installation. From humble beginnings (and several name changes), it has evolved into the largest tile contractor association in the world. Joe Tarver took over the leadership of the association in 1972 when it was known as the Southern Tile Terrazzo Marble Contractors Association, and with other dedicated industry members, spearheaded the NTCA Workshop Program which took education on the road around the country; and then in 2002 Bart Bettiga took the reins to develop it to where it is today – expanding the nonprofit association’s charter of education, training, networking.
You’ll undoubtedly be hearing a lot about NTCA history over these next 12 months as we celebrate our 70th Anniversary – from the evolution of the industry convention into Coverings and then spinning off a little management and leadership conference we now know as Total Solutions Plus; the development of the Technical Committee and those first NTCA Reference Manuals and of course TileLetter, which was produced tirelessly by Myra Caldwell, who passed away last year.

 
As we skip down memory lane, I invite you to share with me your favorite memories of NTCA over the years. Maybe you were part of those early “road shows,” committees or conferences; maybe you have a unique perspective of how the industry and association has evolved over the years. Please share at [email protected], and let’s skip down memory lane and celebrate our association’s accomplishments together!

God bless,

Lesley
[email protected]

 

Editor’s Letter – December 2016

Lesley psf head shotHere we are, at the end of yet another year. It’s incomprehensible that the year has flown by so quickly. Personally, I remember like yesterday being at Surfaces/ \TISE West in January and getting a call that my dad’s health had declined, then scurrying to make plans to be with him in his final days in New Jersey. In many ways, the rest of the year has been a bit of a blur, punctuated with many celebrities and musical greats leaving our planet, and people in the industry and their loved ones struggling with health or professional challenges and changes.

There have been victories and there have been disappointments. Our country seems poised for major change. Some fear those changes, some look forward to them with hopeful anticipation. But to reference the Nobel Prize for Literature winner quote that opens this article, “The times, they are a-changin’.” That is for SURE.

We’ve had many changes and developments in our industry, from progress on gauged porcelain tile/installation standards, to reaching the 1300th member for NTCA, to hiring regional evaluators for the Certified Tile Installer testing program and a coordinator to oversee it all. Changes to the NTCA Strategic Plan have been made to include:

  1. Adding value to NTCA membership
  2. Growing apprenticeship and online education programs
  3. Promoting quality through further development of training and education programs
  4. Taking the Five Star Contractor program to a whole new level

This comes with aforementioned investment in new personnel and programs including a Spanish-speaking presenter for our workshops and translations, new coordinators and office support. You’ll learn more about NTCA accomplishments and 2017 plans in our January issue, but hopefully the NTCA Previews section we started a few months ago is giving you an idea of the tremendous progress the industry is making, working together, pulling together, talking and debating together and moving ahead. As I said in my November letter, that quality of collaboration demonstrated by our industry makes me particularly proud to be a member of it.

Several things are well known about change – not many people really love or embrace it – and that change is necessary, will happen and is a necessary factor for growth.

That being said, how do you handle change? Are you a step-on-the-brakes kind of person or a full-speed-ahead person? How do you navigate the roller coaster that change inevitably brings? If negotiating change brings a lot of stress to you and your team, this could be a time to refresh and refine your relationship with it to provide a smoother, more manageable path for the foreseeable future – and beyond. And if you have words of wisdom or experience to share, I’d love to hear about them and feature them in a Business Tip article early next year.

In the meantime, enjoy the coming time that provides a lull or a respite from the regular busyness of life – sometimes by replacing it with busyness of its own. The time known as “The Holidays.” Enjoy those you love and those who love you. These are precious days. May you be blessed with health, joy, prosperity, love and laughter to take you through the end of 2016 and provide an excellent launch pad for 2017.

God bless,
Lesley
[email protected]

Editor’s Letter – November 2016

Lesley psf head shotBoth times I was in India, I could not get people to listen to each other. I had to literally tell people to listen to each other and tell them that they can’t get creative and find alternate solutions if they don’t listen to each other. There’s a lot of arguing and justifying. – Stephen Covey

Here I sit in my Albuquerque home office, as designer extraordinaire Michelle Chapman in our Jackson, Miss., headquarters is feverishly putting the finishing touches on our November issue, pondering my editor letter. It’s a little hard to think of anything else but the election, because tomorrow is Election Day, and by the close of day tomorrow (hopefully), we will have a new president.

Unless you have been living on another planet or under a rock (and even then!) you’ve likely been besieged ad nauseum on television, newspaper, radio, social media or via phone with information, misinformation, memes, opinions, polls and reports about the candidates. It hasn’t been pretty. And no matter who walks away a winner tomorrow, I have a sneaking suspicion that the days of “pretty” are long past us and it will be an uphill battle on The Hill either way.

The contentiousness in our country has grown to alarming proportions. So much so, I see many indications that people forget that we are all still AMERICANS , with a common goal – to live a good, prosperous, free and enjoyable life in our country. Of course, there are diverging views on how to do this, but in this election cycle instead of disagreements being merely that, people on opposing political sides have been couched as “enemies.” That’s a really sad development and does not bode well for our future if we can’t reframe and go forward as a nation with an attitude that pushes for our particular world view while not demonizing the other side.

This experience is in stark contrast to my recent experience at Total Solutions Plus (TSP), the all-industry conference held this year in Indian Wells, Calif., towards the end of October. I liken our industry to our country – an environment where people want to make a good, prosperous and enjoyable living. We have different players in our industry: manufacturers, distributors, union and open-shop contracting companies and installers; and associations and organizations which speak out for these players. Though we are all doing our part to contribute to a prosperous industry, we all come from our own point of view, and try to get the best deal for our constituencies. (Take a look at our Letters to the Editor in this issue as proof of that!)

But we hold true to a common purpose of making and distributing beautiful products that can be successfully installed, and developing products that make that installation perform better and be enduring. At TSP, there were roundtables and opportunities for people from different sectors to come together and share ideas and impact development of standards and products and methods. Is there contention? Sure. But there’s also understanding that demonizing someone or a company that has a different role in the industry than we do will serve no purpose and will not move us towards our goal. Cooperation and respect is the name of the game. And we accomplish AMAZING things by following this motto.

I wish the political powers that be in our country, including Congress, could witness one of our Total Solutions Plus conferences, as a model to how to structure its own discussions and campaigns for the variety of bills and pieces of legislation that are generated there. I am proud of what we accomplish, of how far we’ve come, and how we are moving intelligently into the future with good information and people willing to come together to work out solutions. I hope – and pray – that after tomorrow, we can reconnect with this same kind of cooperative spirit in our country and remind ourselves of our common heritage as American sisters and brothers – then move forward to work respectfully toward solutions that can continue our country’s history of greatness.

God bless,
Lesley
[email protected]

Editor’s Letter – October 2016

Lesley psf head shotIn this issue, we are beginning a new feature: NTCA Previews. You’ll find it under the NTCA News section.

NTCA Previews is excerpted news from a monthly report on association activity that executive director Bart Bettiga just started issuing to directors and staff. It gives you an idea of all the things NTCA is actively working on.

This was an eye-opener for me as to the vast extent of everything NTCA is involved in, and I hope it will be for you too. NTCA has its fingers in many pies, with committees for training and education, technical, convention planning, social media, business development, NTCA Reference Manual, finance, membership, methods and standards, and a new one being developed for social media. We have regional and state ambassadors who are supporting education and proper training – as well as NTCA membership – in all 50 states. We have a Youth Leader Scholarship and trainers who are on the road bringing education to local markets, as well as a vibrant seminar program that addresses industry issues with the convenience of a computer and our developing NTCA University program as well – plus we are becoming more of an educational presence at shows that cater to different segments of the industry, such as our participation at the recent Remodeling Show | DeckExpo | JLC LIVE (R|D|J) in Baltimore. It’s hard to know EVERYTHING that is going on with NTCA staff, volunteers and officers.

But NTCA Previews is meant to do just that – give you a sense of what your association is doing on a monthly basis to help you be your best in this industry, and help the industry be its best in developing training, standards and addressing issues that cause problems with installations. Check the NTCA Previews each month for ongoing news of new initiatives and updates on existing ones.

The other feature in this issue I’d like to draw your attention to is our annual Women in Tile feature.

We look at female leaders in three companies – J&R Tile, Visalia Ceramic Tile, and Soci Tile & Sink – and the positive, professional contributions they are making to our industry. Women bring a unique skill set to their roles in our industry. Combined with their expertise and success within their companies and in the betterment of the industry as a whole, the women profiled in this TileLetter issue, and in the industry at large, command respect and admiration among their peers for work well done.

God bless,
Lesley
[email protected]

Editor’s Letter – September 2016

Lesley psf head shot“Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere” – Chinese proverb

When I talk to my non-industry family and friends about my work, a question I often get is, “How can you write so much about TILE?” The general public sees pretty tile in a home or a store, maybe knows a little about grout, but has no idea about the details and consideration that go into a tile installation.

Indeed, when I was writing and doing publicity about carpet and floor covering for decades, even I didn’t dream the tile industry was as intricate and involved as I came to learn. Coming from primarily a retail/sales perspective on floor covering, I didn’t realize the precision, engineering, and technical aspects that tile (and stone) installers have to deal with every single day – not to mention the artistry and business acumen that has to come into play. I’ve said in this column before that it was through attending the NTCA annual conference in Charlotte, N.C. in the fall of 2002 and talking with James Woelfel, that I got insight into the passion and the level of complexity that contractors need to encompass in day-to-day operations.

Add in the constant evolution of manufacturing technology and setting material refinements and you have plenty of material for a monthly (and then some) magazine on this topic!

This month’s issue is no exception. We focus intently on membranes and underlayments in this issue, from the MAPEI cover story on the company’s ShowerPerfect system, to contributed pieces on crack isolation and permeation by Dean Moilanen of Noble Company, acoustical underlayments by Ryne Sternberg of Pliteq, and our By The Book feature on membrane use in a steam shower, authored by Elizabeth and Dan Lambert, Five Star Contractors from near Vail, Colorado. There’s a wealth of information on the fine details of these subjects, for starters.

Then read about a recent gauged porcelain tile installation at the U.S. Tennis Association’s training and development center in Orlando. Five Star Contractor David Allen Company partnered with MAPEI and European Tile Masters – with early-on assistance from Crossville – to install Fiandre 5’ x 10’ Marmi Maximum Premium White tiles – 3 floors up. All partners putting their heads together made this installation a huge success.

And one of our stories this month is a preview of Total Solutions Plus – the eventual evolution of that NTCA conference I attended 14 years ago. The opportunities here for education and connection with colleagues and suppliers are immense. If you are still on the fence about attending, please read Bart Bettiga’s article and then go to www.ctdahome.org/tsp/2016 to register.

There are lots of opportunities to learn more about our venerable industry – that’s what NTCA is all about. Whether it’s workshops or webinars, educational programs, conferences, or publications, NTCA has got it all going on to help you excel in your trade and get support while doing it.

God bless,

Lesley
[email protected]

Editor’s Letter – August 2016

Lesley psf head shotNever doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. – Margaret Mead

Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work. – Vince Lombardi

Every month or so, all the NTCA staff members, together with Scott Carothers and Cathey McAlister of CTEF, come together in a phone conference to update each other on what we are working on and progress made since the last meeting.

Yesterday (June 28) was one such staff meeting. I am always amazed at all the things everyone is working on – updates and additions to our NTCA University; expansion of our on-the-road and webinar educational opportunities and private training sessions; NTCA presence at Surfaces, Coverings and A&D events; the expanded reach of the NTCA Reference Manual, which by next year will be published in Australia and Canada in addition to the U.S., with the intent of translating it to Spanish for dissemination in Mexico; more timely publishing of TileLetter and its associated publications TRENDS and TECH.

One fact that always strikes me is the update on our membership, and this is always something I want to share with our members and our readers as a testament to the strength and reach of our association. So I will do so with the latest figures here:

As assistant executive director Jim Olson (who oversees our membership activities) reported yesterday, NTCA gained 22 new members in June, largely through the efforts of our technical trainer/presenters Mark Heinlein, Robb Roderick and CTEF’s Scott Carothers on the road. At the end of May 2015, NTCA had 974 members, but this year we have 1170 members. Overall this year, we are up 200 members, about 100 new members and 100 retained members.

Why is this important? The more members we have, the greater the body of knowledge, expertise, involvement and energy to influence the industry in the direction of what benefits tile installers, and the more people have a voice. And what benefits tile installers ultimately benefits the entire industry – tile and stone and all the amazingly engineered setting materials are wonderful products, but without an installer who knows which products to use for which application, the entire project can be reduced to a massive, costly failure.

I’ve said this before, but there are many situations in our lives where we feel relatively powerless (or we scratch our heads – witness the presidential election process this year: yowza.). But the NTCA offers a true opportunity to make a difference and to shape the future for the trade. The brilliance of NTCA members, working together, has made huge strides in methods, standards, certifications, publications and products that – when heeded – spell the difference between the unskilled and the professionals.

If you are passionate about your industry – and your own business – consider investigating what NTCA offers you. Visiting www.tile-assn.com is a great place to start.

God bless,

Lesley
[email protected]

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