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]

Editor’s Letter – July 2016

Lesley psf head shot“Learning is the only thing the mind never exhausts, never fears, never regrets.”
– Leonardo Da Vinci

 


 

On June 8, I attended a Continuing Education Program, held in Albuquerque, NM, and organized by NTCA State Director Karl Parker and a group of manufacturers. This is a follow up to the first Continuing Education Program that Parker organized, and took place in March and focused on uncoupling. If you missed the write-up, you’ll find a review in the Coverings TileLetter issue.

Yesterday’s eight-hour session focused on waterproofing. Though it was a little more sparsely attended than the March event, I can assure you that those who invested the time came away with a tremendous wealth of knowledge, and opportunity to meet manufacturer reps up close and personal. We also learned about the Construction Industry Division (CID), State of NM developments in re-instituting certification and licensing requirements for tile contractors (after the GS03 license was recently dropped). Representatives of the CID attended to learn about what our trade actually does – and why we contend that a plumber is not able to do a tilesetter’s job of installing showers and pans. More than once they expressed how detailed and precise our trade is and what it involves. Parker himself explained that a test is in development, with support of NTCA and local manufacturing reps, for the “license to prove general knowledge and two years minimum as the lead setter.” There will also be meetings to explore moving installation of the pan, water testing, and backer boards to the setter’s license, versus the plumbing license.

NTCA NM State Director Karl Parker organized this second NM Continuing Education Program on the topic of waterproofing. Eleven manufacturers participated in the program,  with presentations and live demos of waterproofing products and systems.

NTCA NM State Director Karl Parker organized this second NM Continuing Education Program on the topic of waterproofing. Eleven manufacturers participated in the program,  with presentations and live demos of waterproofing products and systems.

Participating manufacturers, who gave short PowerPoint presentations followed by live demos of products, included MAPEI, USG, CUSTOM, Noble, wedi, Schluter, TEC, Blanke, ARDEX, Bostik, and LATICRETE. The demos were outstanding. With each demo, I thought, “Now THAT is a foolproof method…” and then with each NEW demo, I learned more and more about the features and benefits that each product provides.

Bottom line – in this 21st century, be assured that there are 21st century, high-tech products that have been engineered to make your life as a tile installer easier – and to ensure the end-user will have a problem-free shower. From warranted products, to system warranties that go from 5 to 10 years to the life of the installation, to those that not only cover the tile, setting materials and labor in the rare event of a failure, but that will also cover any DAMAGE resulting from that failure. These are phenomenal products. I was blown away by the level of research and development that goes into each and every one of them and the reps who are supremely versed in the needs of this industry and how their particular product can offer advantages and benefits.

As Schluter’s Tim Whittington said, “Every one of these products is phenomenal, if you do it correctly.” Every one of these products are great products, if you use them right. And there is a ton of choice from fabric membranes to liquid trowel-on membranes to closed cell, cement-covered foam shower system components.

There are a couple of rules of thumb. As Tim Ellison of ARDEX emphasized, “READ THE BAG.” His talked centered on knowing the product and asking the manufacturer for clarification or help if you have a question – they are only too happy to send a rep to work with you to be sure your installation is problem free from the get go. If only every industry (hello, computer industry!!!!) supplied the level of support these manufacturers do.

JT Baca (l.) and Pat McMurray from the NM Construction Industries Division, Regulation and Licensing Department, were on hand to update the group about measures to reestablish the NM tile setter license and learning more about the trade, what it does, and its products.

JT Baca (l.) and Pat McMurray from the NM Construction Industries Division, Regulation and Licensing Department, were on hand to update the group about measures to reestablish the NM tile setter license and learning more about the trade, what it does, and its products.

Also, if you are an NTCA Member, take advantage of your Partnering for Success vouchers to try a new system and see how that works for the kind of jobs you do.
As editor of this publication and a faithful attendee at industry events like Coverings, Total Solutions Plus and TISE West, I am aware of the vast offerings for different product categories in this industry. But it was really interesting to see the light come on for contractors who had never heard of, or been exposed, to a particular setting material company’s products as they learned about the possibilities these products held on their jobs.

Kudos to all the manufacturers who willingly played together in the same arena, revealing their products in an open forum. And also to all the competing contracting companies in the same market who came together to learn and grow and better the industry with their knowledge. And of course, thanks to Karl Parker, whose passion and intense dedication to this industry inspired him to develop this continuing education series. Next on tap? It could be grout…stay tuned for more information.

God bless,

Lesley
[email protected]

Editor’s Letter – June 2016

Coverings in Chicago means experiencing new things – like this Skydeck Ledge Experience at Willis Tower during the Aperitivo Italiano sponsored by Ceramics of Italy.

Coverings in Chicago means experiencing new things – like this Skydeck Ledge Experience at Willis Tower during the Aperitivo Italiano sponsored by Ceramics of Italy.

“If you want something in your life you’ve never had, you’ll have to do something you’ve never done.”
– J.D. Houston

 

So, last month, we started teasing you with reports from Coverings. This month, we launch fully into people, products and news from the show. In this issue, you’ll get an overview of the show, as well as reports from the Coverings Installation Design Awards (CID) Opening Ceremony and Reception, the Installation Design showcase (IDS) and NTCA Award night. Learn about which companies and people are doing an outstanding job in their sector, are working to promote qualified labor, and see the result of designer/installer/supplier partnerships in the IDS recap – including the novel approach Welch Tile & Marble took to constructing its vignette – in a container, so it could transport it back home and use it for educational purposes!

We have a generous collection of products seen at the show for you – and we’d also love to hear what knocked your socks off on display at Coverings. Just email me at [email protected] – and if you have a picture to go along with it, that would be dynamite!
We also have a recap of NTCA Awards night, a relatively new event at Coverings. Ten years ago, when I first began working for NTCA, we didn’t have a NTCA Awards Night at Coverings, per se – we had the TileLetter Installation Awards, which examined many of the technical feats accomplished by installers on stunning projects. Coverings was sponsoring the Prism and Spectrum Awards. Over time, the Prism and Spectrum awards merged with the TileLetter Installation Awards, morphing into the CID Awards, which TileLetter co-sponsored, held the third night of the show.

But three years ago, Coverings management and ownership shook things up and moved the CID Awards to the first night of the show, to welcome visitors and kick off the event with a festive gathering. NTCA leaders saw an opportunity to have a special NTCA night again at Coverings and seized the third-night spot for a brand new event: NTCA Awards Night. In addition to the awards at the Total Solutions Plus gathering in the fall, this spring ceremony allows NTCA to honor and recognize stellar residential and commercial work from our NTCA Five Star Contractors, present Special Recognition Awards to two individuals for their dedication to promoting the tile trade and membership, and to present the NTCA Tile Person of the Year, and Joe A. Tarver Lifetime Achievement Award.

In addition to those awards, presented in a warm, family-type atmosphere, this year NTCA offered something new: The Tom Ade Ceramic Tile Scholarship Award, which was established by the NTCA to provide educational opportunities in college or trade for children or grandchildren of NTCA contractor members. This year, two scholarships were awarded, and NTCA hopes to raise additional funds to offer multiple scholarships in the future.

So if you couldn’t attend the show – and even if you did, because no one can be everywhere – enjoy the reports on the event, beginning on page 70. And remember, if you found something new and outstanding at the show or had an amazing experience meeting up with old friends or meeting new colleagues, feel free to share it for publication in a future TileLetter issue!

God bless,
Lesley
[email protected]

Editor’s Letter – May 2016

Lesley psf head shotWith this issue, we start reporting on some of the news coming out of Coverings such as select products in our Thin Tile and New Product sections, and of course, the U.S. Tile Industry Update, announced at the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) press conference the second morning of the show by TCNA executive director Eric Astrachan. There’s good news for the tile industry, continuing the rebound from the dark days of the recession nearly a decade ago (actually when Coverings was last held in Chicago). Here’s how the tile industry did last year:

  • 2015 U.S. ceramic tile consumption was 2.74 billion sq. ft., up a significant 9.9% over with 2014’s 2.49 billion sq. ft., and 10.4% over 2013’s 2.48 billion sq. ft. – the sixth consecutive year-over-year increase in U.S. ceramic tile consumption, and edging close to 2013’s whopping 12.9% increase over 2012 volume consumption.
  • The value of U.S. ceramic tile consumption in 2015 was $3.2 billion, up 9.8% over the $2.97 billion in 2014 and 15.9% over 2013.
  • Though in 2014 imports decreased 0.7% over 2013, down to 1.71 billion sq. ft. from 1.72 billion sq. ft., that trend reversed itself in 2015, with growth of 9.9% to 1.88 billion sq. ft. Imports in 2015 held steady at 68.7% of U.S. tile consumption in volume, same as 2014, but down from 69.6% in 2013.
  • Although Mexico was the top exporter to the U.S. in 2014, China regained its position as the largest volume exporter to the U.S. China’s share of U.S. imports was 29%, followed by Mexico at 27% and Italy with 18.5%. Spain and Turkey rounded out the top five with 7.2% and 4.6% share of import volume, respectively.
  • In terms of value, Italy remained the largest exporter to the U.S., comprising 34.6% of U.S. value imports. China was second with a 26 % share and Mexico took third with a 14.3% share. The dollar value per square foot of tile imports (including freight, insurance and duty) rose slightly from $1.06 in 2014 to $1.07 in 2015.
  • There is a growing trend towards returning production back to the U.S. In fact, 2015 was a record year for U.S. manufacturers, as an all-time high of 857.2 million sq. ft. – up 10.4% from 2014’s 779.1 million sq. ft. – were shipped domestically.
  • 2015 exports were up 10.1% to 40.7 million sq. ft., up from 2014’s revised total (July 2015) of 37 million sq. ft. The vast majority of these exports (in sq. ft.) were to Canada (57.1%) and Mexico (18.8%).
  • In dollar value, 2015 domestic shipments (minus exports) were $1.26 billion, up 9.4% vs. 2014’s $1.15 billion. The dollar value/square foot of domestically produced tile fell slightly from $1.48 in 2014 to $1.47 in 2015.

There are lots of other great stories in this issue as well, with a focus on electric-floor warming: how it brings comfort and value to your customer, profit to your bottom line and what to keep in mind when you are considering an electric-floor warming installation.

Happy reading!

God bless,
Lesley
[email protected]

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