August 1, 2015

Member Spotlight – July 2015 – EJT Contracting

custom-sponsorEJT Contracting takes pride in tile setting

Eric Tetreault celebrated as one of Coverings’ Rock Stars

By Lesley Goddin

eric-tWhen Eric Tetreault – current owner of EJT Contracting in Saugerties, N.Y. – was in high school, a major construction project in his neighborhood piqued his interest in building trades. He was eager to rush over to the construction site after school and help out, eventually skipping school altogether so he could work on the job all day.

Flash forward a few months, and Tetreault joined the GED program so he could work construction full time. Eventually, he discovered his true interest was in tile installation, and he continued to pursue that passion to the career in residential remodeling with a heavy emphasis on tile he has today.

“I have always been known for my tile installs, knowledge of products, methods, and standards, and attention to details,” Tetreault said. He seeks ongoing knowledge of approved methods for successful installations.

1-MbrSpt-0715“I approach each project as a new challenge to better myself,” Tetreault added, “I take immense pride in the end product and what we as tilers are able to accomplish for our customers.”

Continuing to learn about his trade is paramount to Tetreault, and so is demonstrating his tile prowess. He is the 708th installer to gain Certified Tile Installer status from CTEF and the fifth ACT installer to be certified through the program.

About four years ago, Tetreault joined NTCA during a workshop. “I was so impressed with the presentation and knowledge of [NTCA presenter] Gerald Sloan that I had to join,” he said. “The promises of literature, publications and voucher program were enough to join, but little did I know they were only the tip of the iceberg. I have since taken advantage of every available training, networking, and educational opportunity that I could, including Coverings, Surfaces, special workshops (the Schluter/NTCA joint workshop, for example), webinars, phone and email support, etc.,” he added. “The people behind the scenes are the most pleasant I’ve ever met. Everyone involved is so welcoming, so charming, and so intelligent, I could sit with them for hours. Even local members,  directors and retailers don’t see me as competition, but as a colleague.”

Though he clearly values network and training opportunities as key reasons for joining the association, he also values other member benefits, including TileLetter magazine, discounted Certified Tile Installer exam, product vouchers, and the NTCA Reference Manual.

Tetreault was honored in April as one of the Coverings’ Rock Stars, during the show held in Orlando, Fla. Tetreault was “shocked, excited, and honored to be recognized as an emerging leader.” Some of his industry 2-mbrspt-0715accomplishments include taking the lead in obtaining and helping others achieve certifications, joining and helping promote the industry and NTCA, and being in the forefront of new products, methods, and standards.

For Tetreault, being a tile installer is deeply satisfying. “I get many joys in this line of work,” he said. “The top of the list might be working with designers and architects to help them understand the fundamentals and challenges of complex and demanding installs, then working with them to create them, exactly as planned, aesthetically, functionally, properly, and correctly. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly,” he said, “I enjoy the beauty of a finished product. I really appreciate a well-designed space, and to have a considerable hand in creating it is very satisfying.”

President’s Letter – July 2015

JWoelfel_headshotOwning up on safety

We are in the midst of what I call “silly season” here in Phoenix. It’s the 75-day window for us as tile installers to complete all of the school projects before classes begin again the first week of August. The maxed-out schedule on a condensed time frame is an opportunity to outperform my clients’ expectations. Hopefully, our performance will lead to more work.

It is also more important than ever to make sure everyone on our team at Artcraft stays safe on jobsites.

I was having a conversation with one of my GC clients a couple of months ago on a jobsite for a project we were finishing up on a Sunday. The GC is stringent on safety and I was bragging about how good our experience modification rate was to him. He turned and asked me, “Are your people safe because of your practices or are they on the edge of a cliff because they have not embraced safety as a personal responsibility?”

This question stopped me in my tracks.

0715-safety-presI always thought our teams were listening to me and taking our jobsite talks seriously, but as the GC nonchalantly pointed out, not all of our team members were following company safety practices and policies. We turned our heads to see one of our tile installers cutting a piece of tile without safety glasses. The GC said, “Here’s an opportunity to talk about safety as a personal responsibility. Don’t yell at him; just explain to him why he needs to care about safety.”

As I approached this team member and asked why he was working overtime on a Sunday, he explained that he was earning extra money for his daughter’s birthday party. I complimented him for being such a good father and explained that I wanted him to go home to his family safely that night. He looked a bit puzzled. I then asked him what would happen if I had to call his wife to tell her that he lost his sight in a workplace accident. I didn’t scold him, for as the GC said, he would have just tuned me out. What I tried to do was help him understand that he is an integral part of our team, his efforts to help his family are commendable, and his welfare is vital to both his family and to Artcraft.

Shortly after our conversation, I called a company meeting. Instead of lecturing about safety practices, I asked our team members to tell me what would make them feel safer on the job. Some of the answers surprised me, such as: making sure the other trades were treating safety seriously; making ear plugs mandatory when cutting tile; wearing dust masks when mixing dry products like mortar or grout; and providing mini first-aid kits in addition to the comprehensive ones on the jobsite. The ideas were great and we instituted changes immediately. Team members are happy that they affected change and, in turn, feel safer on the jobsite.

What I learned was that installers and finishers wanted to be part of the plan. They were happy to take on safety as a personal responsibility when we discussed why it’s important to work safely – and the people counting on them to do so are one of the main reasons why they are there in the first place. I also realized that even when we have solid plans in place, safety will require diligence no matter what the season.

James Woelfel
NTCA President

Editor’s Letter – July 2015

Lesley psf head shot“Be prepared before you begin. You save yourself from delay if you are fully prepared. Preparation sets you for excellence.”
Israelmore Ayivor, Shaping the dream

Here is a question about a situation I am sure just about every contractor encounters – delays. In the sense that you tell your customer that you will be at their site at X time at X day, but something happens to prevent this. How do you handle it?

I ask, because I recently had such a situation develop. My very old rotting and rickety evaporative cooler (a popular form of air conditioning in hot, low-humidity climates) needed replacing and the plumbing contractor the store recommended was due to come to the house on Wednesday, June 10 at 2 pm. That time came and went. As a person with a very flexible relationship with time, I understood he might have been detained. But when the clock started ticking around to the quarter hour, I called. Yes, he did have a setback; his son who was helping him had been injured, but he could get here about 4 p.m. Then closer to the appointed hour, he called and said he’d come about 6. I had an appointment, but my sweetie stayed home to be available for the plumber. When I got home later, I learned he had called and said he couldn’t make it at all but he would come the next day at 9 am. I was disappointed and my sweetie was decidedly unhappy.

Now, I had never worked with this plumber before and we were over a barrel – temperatures were heating up and cooling was desperately needed. Plus he was picking up the new unit and disposing of our old one. So we waited. At 9:30 the next morning, he and a helper rolled in. Time was tight because BOTH my sweetie and I had appointments at about noon, which was cutting the installation close. All’s well that ends well; cooler was installed in the nick of time and we’ve been enjoying blessedly cool indoor temperatures ever since. My neighbor asked who my installer was, hired him, and he arrived on time to her home, to her delight.

So how do YOU handle delays? Do you call your client if you know you’ll be late? Is there an alternate member of your team who can go to a customer’s home to get the job started? Do you only give approximate times or suggest a time range – say, between 2 – 4 p.m.?

I’m curious about successful ways to manage delays and customer expectations and not only provide an expert installation for your clients, but keep them happy from the get-go with realistic time frames and contingency plans.

Please email me with your experiences at, and I’ll use your comments for a future Business Tip story that focuses on the topic of delays and successful management thereof. Many thanks!

God bless,


NTCA brings custom workshop to Louisville Tile Distributors

1-louisvilleBy Lesley Goddin

Louisville Tile Distributors (LTD) is deeply invested in education for staff and customers – so much so that the company schedules NTCA Tile & Stone Workshops every other year at several of its locations.

“We believe the workshops are a great opportunity for us to help educate, train and promote the tile industry,” said Don Kincaid, LTD vice president. “The rapid pace of change and introduction of new products and methods makes the workshops more valuable and relevant than ever. Our employees take pride in getting attendance at the events and do not want their branch to be the ‘low man’ on the attendance list.“

Attendance at the June workshop at the Indianapolis/Fisher branch included 80 customers, 15 vendors and 20 employees, said Brian Dillard, operations manager for the location. “The hot topic was the installing of mosaic and the large thin tiles. [NTCA’s Gerald Sloan] is a great guy and always does a good job with these shows.”

J.T. Wenger, general manager of the Evansville, Ind., location, said “We had 19 vendors and 58 contractors in attendance.” Attendees were most interested in cleaning of tile and large-format installation. “This was by far our best seminar to date,” Wenger said.  “We had good participation, excellent fried chicken, and Gerald was very informative as always. We are excited for the next class and thinking of ways to outdo this very successful event!”

2-louisvilleAt this writing, six workshops have been completed with 248 attendees – and two more are scheduled. “We anticipate well over 300 attendees,” Kincaid said.

Kincaid added, “Vendor table tops prior to event and the pertinent subject matter during the workshops allow tile mechanics, architects, estimators and all industry attendees a chance to learn together. In many cases, full-time mechanics who set tile every day never get the opportunity to see the industry. The workshops provide a forum for everyone in the industry to interact with our staff, suppliers and other channel members. The exchange and feedback is invaluable for all attendees.

“Our industry is changing very fast, with bigger and thinner tile , new grouts and thinsets, leveling systems, tools and more,” Kincaid added. “Disseminating information is very challenging, therefore the workshops are a great opportunity for us and the industry to connect and interact.”

3-louisville60 years strong

This year was even more special, since the company, which has grown to eight locations, is celebrating its 60th year in business.

Kincaid said the company is adding its 60th anniversary logo to business cards, stationery, banners and all communication tools this year.

“We will be hosting eight birthday parties, one for each location, in reverse chronological order – newest to oldest,” he added. “The Louisville celebration, September 22, will be a grand finale with attendance of the company founder, Jud Wilcox.”


Wednesday, September 9th - Knoxville

Thursday, September 10th -      Chattanooga

Wednesday, September 16th - Cincinnati

Thursday, September 17th -      Indianapolis

Wednesday, October 14th -       Nashville

Thursday, October 15th -           Evansville

Wednesday, October 21st -       Lexington

Thursday, October 22nd -           Louisville 


Benefits Box – June 2015


NTCA: Constantly working for you

By Lesley Goddin

Each month, we select a specific benefit of NTCA membership and present it in detail to give you an idea of how joining NTCA can enhance and support your business.

This month, we present the whole range of benefits – and counting – that come with NTCA. We say “and counting” because NTCA staff are constantly working to add even MORE benefits and enhancements to NTCA membership.

Running as a thread throughout all these benefits is the concept of “networking.” NTCA makes it easy to interact with other members, staff and suppliers in a supportive, informative, non-competitive way – through events like Total Solutions Plus or special events at shows like Coverings. The other obvious thread is “education” – NTCA’s middle name – and NTCA’s publications, workshops, webinars, conference sessions, enewsletters, TileTV online channel, training manuals and programs are all designed to keep you in the know for the best of your business.

Lastly, but certainly not least, NTCA helps you work smarter and more effectively, with programs that help you cut costs and promote your company. Take a look at Partnering for Success, BidRx or the PartnerShip® shipping discount program for starters.

Want to learn more? Contact Jim Olson at or visit the association website at


BB-RMNTCA Reference Manual: A comprehensive culmination of knowledge, research and development of the Technical Committee members, ceramic tile contractors, distributors, manufacturers and others allied to the ceramic tile industry.

BB-magsTileLetter Magazine: This publication is geared toward the contractor’s business, including; installation advice, new technology and products, and best business practices. Published 15 times a year – 12 monthly issues, a Coverings issue and a TRENDS and TECH issue.

News & Views email newsletter: Twice monthly, our News & Views enewsletter will be emailed to all members to keep you informed of all industry and association activities.

BB-workshopsNTCA Workshops and Webinars: We travel throughout the country providing free educational workshops to those in the tile industry, made possible by generous host sites. NTCA also offers free monthly online webinars presented by industry experts, easily accessible via computer at home or office.

Installation Videos/Tile TV: Available on DVD, NTCA continues to pave the way in technical education with instructional videos for you and your employees. View additional “Tile Tips” and bi-monthly dedicated tile broadcasts at

BB-trainingTraining Manuals: Available as a whole set or individually, professionally-bound instructional manuals are available for training.

Apprenticeship Program: A three-year in-house training curriculum developed to coincide with on-the-job training. An online program is in the works to make apprenticeship more accessible.


BB-networkingTotal Solutions Plus: This annual leadership conference focuses on technical and business education. TSP brings together the industry’s leading manufacturers, distributors, and contractors all under one roof for a unique experience.

Free technical advice: We research your problem and answer your tough questions on a timely basis.  If we don’t have the answer, we find someone who does. Just email

BB-directoryNTCA Membership Directory: As a member, your listing in the directory is an indispensable tool for referrals to the very best manufacturers, distributors, contractors, architects, designers, and builders.

Working smarter

Partnering for Success Voucher Program: Our manufacturing sponsors feel so strongly about the value the NTCA provides its members that we will more than offset your investment with product vouchers – to the tune of $1,800 a year.

Marketing Program: Professional marketing tools have been designed and written to make it easy, quick and affordable for you to promote your services, whether you are focused on commercial contracts or residential customers.

NTCA Contractors Safety Program: Started on May 1st, 2006, the NTCA Contractor Safety is different from other safety programs because it was created to meet the specific needs of tile contractors, and available only to NTCA members. It was developed by NTCA in cooperation with Jim Isaminger of D.M.I. Tile and Marble in Birmingham, Alabama.

BB-5starFive Star Contractor Program: Add the NTCA Five Star logo to your already strong list of credentials, heralding your high level of professionalism. Take advantage, too, of sneak peeks of new technologies and special Five Star Contractor summit meetings to get a leg up on the competition.

Discount Vehicle Program: Howard Wilson Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram has agreed to provide NTCA members with fleet pricing on vehicles they purchase from authorized Chrysler dealerships via this program.

BB-fleetBid RX Prescription Program: BidRx is a secure, internet website that links members with pharmacies, manufacturers, prescribers and payers so all can make better decisions when purchasing prescription medications. Choose between pharmacies that are competing for prescription medication business and get the best price.

PartnerShip® shipping discount program offers shipping discounts to all NTCA members on select FedEx® services, as well as savings on less-than-truckload (LTL) freight shipments arranged through PartnerShip. Free, with no minimums required.

LegalShield – IDT

BB-legalshieldPlans/Legal Plans: Everyone deserves affordable legal and identity theft protection.  With LegalShield on your side, you have the power to access legal and identity theft advice and services when you need them, all for one low monthly fee.

NTCA Member Spotlight – June 2015

custom-sponsorHigher Standard Tile & Stone

Lahaina, Maui

1-HSTIn the 1990s, when he was 19, Isaac Homza traveled from his home in rural Goochland, Va. (near Richmond), to Brooklyn, N.Y., to volunteer doing construction work on the World Headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Homza didn’t have a construction background, but was willing to assist where needed. Eventually, he was assigned to a tile crew, and worked with people from around the country and Canada to renovate many historical buildings in the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood that were used for residential and office purposes.

Homza started out as a helper with his first crew of tile setters, which was mostly female. “They were very detail oriented and trained me well,” Homza said. The volunteers had to do their own maintenance and repairs, so they quickly learned to follow industry guidelines and not cut corners, he added.

2-HSTHomza received some training programs in-house during this project, and learned via seminars by LATICRETE and TEC, but mostly it was on-the-job training. “I ended up learning the tile trade and now use it to support my family.” Homza is the owner and lead installer of Higher Standard Tile & Stone in Lahaina, Maui, and has been a member of NTCA since 2009.

Homza’s destiny as a tile setter was also influenced by his mother – an accomplished artist, and his father, a meticulous craftsman – as well as the enduring artistry of destinations in Italy, France, Korea, and India that he has traveled to with his wife. There he witnessed how true craftsmanship and artistic ability can lead to beautiful tile and stone installations that can last for centuries.

3-HSTFast forward to current day: Homza moved to Lahaina, Maui and has been installing tile and stone there since 2006. Homza got his business up and running in March 2009, in the eye of the financial storm. He admits it was “Not exactly the best time to start a tile business. But I think starting when times were tight helped us make good decisions.” This included doing the job correctly and not succumbing to low bidder mentality. “This has helped us attract the clients that appreciate our work and refer us similar clients today,” he said.

4-HSTThese clients are 80% residential, with a 50/50 mix of work directly for homeowners and general contractors, and 20% small-to-midsize commercial. Much of the residential work is for vacation rental properties, which requires Higher Standard to keep a strict schedule to avoid interfering with client’s rental income. The company also does condo projects for individual owners or general contractors, which are part of larger properties that require Higher Standard to strictly follow the association work rules and working hour requirements. In all, clients come from Maui, at least 14 states in the U.S. mainland, three Canadian provinces and Japan. Higher Standard keeps off-island clients informed on work progress with pictures sent via email or text.

5-HSTHigher Standard and its crew of four people specialize in custom homes with lots of exterior stone tile. It also installs beautiful custom mosaic murals designed by local artists, like one that was just completed for a local elementary school, a glass mosaic mural for the new Bank of Hawaii in Kahului, Maui, and an upcoming large exterior glass mural for a public school in upcountry Maui.

Doing the job correctly is tantamount to Higher Standard’s philosophy (hence, the company name), a philosophy the company states on its website:

1. Use the highest quality tile and stone installation materials.

2. Use TCNA, NTCA and ANSI approved installation methods.

6-HST3. Provide superior, friendly customer service.

4. Be nice to everybody!

“We are not the low-priced option but specialize in doing the job correctly, with attention to the details, doing our best to meet TCNA guidelines and ANSI standards,” Homza said. “Whether our client is a corporation or a homeowner, we try to make the installation process as stress free as possible. I think our biggest asset is our crew; they are very friendly and professional. Clients always compliment us on our work but more importantly on our people.”

NTCA: “best tile contractors”

Homza, who is now the NTCA State Director for Hawaii, joined the association in Spring, 2009, after reading positive comments about NTCA on the John Bridge Tile Forum.

7-HST“John Cox, who was NTCA president at the time, reached out to me and spent a lot of time on the phone explaining why he found being an NTCA member helpful for his company,” Homza said. “I appreciated the time and personal interest he showed. I realized that some of the best tile contractors are NTCA members, and I wanted my company to be a part of that and help support the organization that supports the tile contractors who care about doing the job correctly.”

Homza also values the ability to get feedback and “expert advice” on questions or problems from the network of “best tile contractors” who make up the NTCA.

Homza has extensive technical training provided by LATICRETE, Custom, Schluter, TEC, NTCA, TCNA, ANSI, and the John Bridge Tile Forum – and he’s a CTEF Certified Tile Installer since the October 2012 test at the NTCA event at Daltile, Honolulu. It’s part of what he uses in his proposals to explain how Higher Standard Tile & Stone differs from the competition. (For a list of other ways the company sets itself apart, visit

“Being a tile contractor is a lot of hard work but the best part is seeing the smile on our clients’ faces when they see the finished product, and the satisfaction you get when you work together as team to complete a difficult project,” Homza concluded.

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 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!

MAPEI Corporation Hosts NTCA Five Star Contractors in Vancouver

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada — The National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) Five Star Contractors Program continues to grow and develop.  As part of its strategy to offer increased business and technical education — as well as peer review and networking opportunities — the NTCA held a summer Five Star Contractor Program June 2nd-7th in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia.  The conference was generously sponsored by the MAPEI Corporation, who hosted the technical educational program at its plant headquarters located in Vancouver.

NTCA contractors and their spouses combined educational and networking programming with sightseeing excursions.  In addition to discussions centering on the latest standards, Five Star Contractors were treated to technical presentations by MAPEI personnel addressing grout technology, large format and thin tile installations, and substrate preparation.  A lively question and answer session followed each presentation.

The second day of the programming focused on business development, the NTCA utilized the resources of Ethan Cowles, professional educator and facilitator with Fails Management Institute.  Five Star Contractors participated in working groups that interacted with Cowles, addressing project management, estimating, cash flow operations, and understanding in detail balance sheets, income statements, budgets, and financial statements.

The NTCA plans to offer a summer Five Star meeting every year, and is also in discussions to develop regional training opportunities for Five Star Contractor employees as well as operational analysis.

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, and at

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 for details.

The entire Holland Bath & Spa team worked around the clock to produce the tool by Coverings. Erkel Associates ( finalized the branding and launch of, 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 (, 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, or contact Leichsenring directly at / 240-372-0513.