December 20, 2014


James newJames Woelfel, Vice President of Artcraft Granite, Marble and Tile of Mesa, Arizona has been elected President by the National Tile Contractors Association’s membership. His election was officially announced at this year’s Total Solutions Plus Conference which was held in San Antonio, Texas, October 25-28, 2014.

Woelfel will serve a two-year term which will run until November 2016. He succeeds outgoing president Dan Welch, President of Welch Tile & Marble in Michigan. With his unique leadership and passion for the tile industry, Welch will become the Chairman of the Board for the NTCA. He is currently on the Board of Directors for the CTEF (Ceramic Tile Education Foundation), on the NTCA Technical Committee and was the 2014 NTCA Tile Person of the Year.

After his election, James Woelfel stated, “I am honored to become the next President of the NTCA. It is humbling for me to become the first son of a former president of our association’s history.  My father, Butch Woelfel, served in this capacity from 1985-1987.  In my tenure, I hope to raise the awareness of our association to even stronger international recognition, as we continue to play a leading role in the development of installation standards for tile & stone installations.  We want to celebrate our past and embrace the future of a global tile industry.”

James Woelfel is the current NTCA Technical Committee Chairman, a member of the TCNA Handbook Committee and the ANSI A108 Committee. In 2011, Woelfel was the recipient of the NTCA Tile Person of the Year award.

The National Tile Contractors Association Board of Directors is elected by members at its Annual Meeting. It is comprised of the Executive Officers of the Association, representatives of twelve geographic regions, and allied members from distribution and tile and installation material manufacturers. Terms for the Board of Directors are for two years.

Executive Officers Include:

  • Bart Bettiga: NTCA Executive Director and Chairman of Convention Planning and Finance Committee..

Bart is also on the Coverings Board of Governors and is the Executive Director of the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation.

  • Jim Olson: Assistant Executive Director: NTCA
  • Dan Welch: Chairman of the Board, NTCA
  • James Woelfel:  President, NTCA
  • Martin Howard: David Allen Company ~ 1st Vice President
  • Chris Walker: David Allen Company ~ 2nd Vice President*
  • Nyle Wadford: Neuse Tile Service ~ Executive Officer and Past President
  • John Cox: Cox Tile ~ Executive Officer and Past President

*New addition to the Executive Committee is Chris Walker of David Allen Company. He will serve as the NTCA’s Second Vice President as well as continue to serve on the ANSI A108 Committee and as the Chairman of the NTCA Methods and Standards Committee.

Board members participate in scheduled meetings and conference calls, and serve on several standing committees.  The NTCA Board of Directors is actively involved in the overall management of the Association, and works closely with the NTCA staff to carry out a clearly defined strategic plan in order to meet its goals and objectives.

State directors work closely with NTCA’s staff to promote membership in their region and to support NTCA local events.

This Executive team is comprised of some of the most successful tile contractors and leaders in our industry” announced Bart Bettiga, NTCA Executive Director. “They represent both commercial and residential contractors, participate in every single important standards committee in our trade… and, they have dedicated many years to the growth of our association. Their support of the direction and efforts of our staff has been instrumental in the incredible growth NTCA has experienced the past several years. Our future is secure under their leadership and guidance.”

Education and Curriculum Director


National Tile Contractors Association is seeking applicants for:

Education and Curriculum Director

Position Summary

Responsibilities include revision of existing NTCA curriculum and continuing education programs, and development of new programs and initiatives for both print and digital mediums. Additional responsibilities include management of NTCA Five Star Recognition Program, support of industry efforts at certification development, and development of specifications that support the use of qualified labor; including requirements for certification and  the NTCA Five Star Contractor Program.

o   Existing curriculum and continuing education programs

o   Training Manuals and Apprenticeship Programs

o   AIA Continuing Education Program

o   IDCEC Continuing Education Program

o   Conversion to Internet Based CEU Programs on NTCA Website

o   Develop New Initiatives

o   You Tube and On Line Training Efforts

o   Five Star Company Recognition Program

o   Work with Review Committee on Application Process

o   Solicit New Applications

o   Development Recertification or Recognition Process

o   Certification and Qualified Labor

o   Work with CTEF on CTI and ACT program support

o   Develop Specifications

o   Partner with other organizations to promote certification, company recognition and qualified labor

o   Host Regional and National Events for Continuing Education

o   Work closely with architectural sales support from manufacturing and distribution members

o   Develop programs at national events to cultivate relationships with key organizations like AIA, CSI, IIDA,NAHB, NKBA etc.


The ideal candidate will have experience in the tile and stone industry and possess basic knowledge of installation.  A background in architectural sales or technical support and proven verbal and written communication skills is preferred. 

Position Details

The Education and Curriculum Director will report to the Executive Director of the NTCA and work closely with the Assistant Executive Director as well as CTEF Executive Director and staff.  The position will office out of NTCA headquarters in Jackson, Mississippi. 


To be determined by candidate qualifications.


NTCA hits a record with new members in August

AUGUST 26, 2014 — JACKSON, MS — Thanks to a new partnership with Starnet® commercial contractors, and a strong summer National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) Tile & Stone Workshop Program on the East and West Coasts, the NTCA has set a new membership record —  50 membership applications in the month of August.  With new memberships — including the August group — NTCA is inching closer to its goal of 1,000 members by the end of 2014.

Many new members joined in the Pacific Northwest, a geographical region the NTCA has targeted with strong growth potential.  NTCA trainer Michael Whistler, who resides in California, continues to reach people on the West Coast with great new information in the Workshop Program, while Gerald Sloan, NTCA’s trainer who has been with the association for many years, utilizes his Alabama residence to hit the Midwest, South and East Coast Regions.

All new members of the NTCA will receive the TCNA Handbook 2014 edition, ANSI Standards, and the new 2014 printed version of the NTCA Reference Manual as part of their joining package.  In addition, NTCA members get to choose up to $1,800 in Partnering For Success product coupons.  For more information on joining the NTCA, contact Jim Olson at

Five Star Contractor Spotlight – Rheinschmidt Tile and Marble







Rheinschmidt Tile and Marble, Inc., based in Burlington, Iowa, is a dedicated, tight-knit, family-style traveling troupe of expert installers that comb the country together for months at a time, installing mall floors in the wee hours of the morning wherever opportunity strikes.

five starThis family business got its start when Walter and Erma Rheinschmidt entered the flooring business in 1935. In 1969 Larry Rheinschmidt, Sr. (son of Erma and Walter) took on the family’s first shopping center project in Iowa. Soon after, his customers were dragging him from state to state to put floors in new malls all over the country.

Today the firm is managed by Larry Rheinschmidt, Jr. along with Darya Rheinschmidt, Robert O. Jones, Jr., and Jeffrey Crowner. With the help of their road warrior staff of 130 people or more, they still travel from state to state putting floors in malls.

Rheinscmidt_famiy_1935One of the most unique aspects of this company is the quality and dedication of its staff. These traits may not be unique in themselves, but considering the demands of a traveling contractor, these characteristics are exceptional.

Rheinschmidt’s average projects are four to six months long. Once the job gets started, most of the crews only visit their home once every six to eight weeks. That puts them on the road for more than 11 months out of the year. It is a life in hotels and away from their friends and families. Not only are they away from home, but in the shopping center world, 90% of the work is renovation work, which is all performed at night. Working from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. means rarely getting to see the light of day.

Even though the work is physically demanding, and the conditions difficult, Rheinschmidt Tile and Marble has assembled one of the most loyal groups of hard-working individuals you could imagine. Several of the employees have been working on Rheinschmidt projects for over 40 years. This really means their home has been more “on the road” than that of their postal address.

At one point, most of the traveling employees were from the company’s home base in Iowa. Since the company started traveling, it has been picking up quality setters and helpers from every state where it works. This crew comes from as far Northwest as the state of Washington, and as far Southeast as Florida.

It takes more than the average setter to want to work nights on the road all year long. Because of that, it has taken years to assemble a traveling family this big. However, the company is still growing, and is always looking for more talented individuals. Not everyone makes the cut. The company is known for its quality, so only above-average setters become traveling members of the team.

Rheinschmidt Tile and Marble is a family business in more ways than one. There are six Rheinschmidt family members currently involved in its operation. In addition to that, several Rheinschmidt employees bring their families on the road. However, in the case of Rheinschmidt Tile and Marble, the term “family business” refers to the fact that the people of the company feel like part of the family, related or not. The road warriors at the heart of this company are a family like no other.

Rheinschmidt Tile and Marble, Inc. is a big believer in participating in the NTCA and being a part of the Five Star Contractor program. This program provides access to a great source of technical information, and the Five Star Contractor group is a great community to learn from. Whenever a Five Star Contractor member poses a question to the group, the answers that come back demonstrate a wide range of knowledge and experience, and a great willingness to help each other succeed.

Rheinschmidt-1Westroads Mall, Omaha, Neb.

The Rheinschmidt team recently finished the Westroads Mall project in Omaha, Neb., consisting of over 120,000 sq. ft. of Italian porcelain tile in a pattern that included 18” x 36”, 24” x 24”, 16” x 24” and 12” x 24” tiles from three different collections. Tiles for the majority of the project have a lappato finish, which has some texture to it with a polished look and feel.

The existing substrate was all double-tee precast concrete, which leaves a potentially moving joint every six feet. The substrate was also far from flat enough to handle large-format tile. After the existing tile was removed, the floor was flattened with a quick-setting, self-leveling underlayment, then the entire floor was covered with a flexible, thin, lightweight, load-bearing, fabric-reinforced “peel-and-stick” crack-isolation membrane to handle any movement inherent in the double-tee construction. The large-format tile was installed with a premium, rapid-setting, non-sag medium-bed / thin-set mortar.





President’s Letter – August 2014

dan welch imageLabor is a significant portion of a tile project. Employing qualified tile installation crews is the name of the game in 2014. As the economy improves, the stress of having enough qualified tile professionals is weighing on firms not prepared for the shift.

This week our managers met to decide how to prepare for the shortage and what we can do to hire and train new people. Our intention is to push up from the bottom. We will hire new helpers to provide a strong back and eager mind. They will learn the trade using our apprentice class and hands-on work. This process requires an entire shift of the company. The current tile setters need training to be able to manage projects on their own and to make sure the new employees are doing the job needed for the apprentice setters. This also requires more supervision and additional staff to manage the handoff of the project.

So how do you do this? Many of our projects are smaller and require less help – such as residential and small commercial jobs. Our answer to those is to pair a 2-3 year improver with a setter on the small jobs to help push the project and get to the next project sooner. This will give the improver needed training and the setter the leadership skills needed to manage people. Larger projects may be able to use more new helpers, but how do you manage spending time with them when it takes so much time away from the setting task? This is tricky and requires good leadership skills. The supervisor needs to divide the crew up into teams. Each team will have a setter as a leader to provide the management of the new helper.

Some of the pitfalls to this arrangement are communication breakdowns, jobsite failures, added cost of redoing work, additional labor on the job than budgeted, more site visits, and a higher cost of doing business. How can you offset this cost and keep a quality job during this training time? My suggestion is to hire quality people first. If you hire wrong, change them out right away! The cost of training new people is too great to waste on someone that’s not going to work out.

Second, take time to decide who has the skills needed for the market section that you want your employee to learn. For example, terrazzo requires a different skill set than residential tile remodel.

Third, communicate and don’t get frustrated. These people need time to learn. Education costs money but before you know it, you have a crew ready for the next challenge.

Embrace this change. Remember, just a few short months ago we were all wondering what we were going to do with our people and how we were going to survive. This trial is much less challenging and much more exciting too.

Dan Welch

Editor’s Letter – August 2014

Lesley psf head shot“In beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities.
In expert’s mind, there are none.”
– Shunryu Suzuki (Suzuki Roshi),
author of Zen Mind, Beginner Mind.

Welcome to the green issue of TileLetter. For several years running now, this issue brings you news of new eco-friendly products, development in sustainable materials, LEED and projects that use environmentally-friendly materials, sourced in planet-friendly ways. And we’ve got plenty of this content in the issue you hold in your hands.

This year, I’d also like to explore another understanding of the word, “green,” as in fresh and new – possibly even naive. How can the concept of “beginner’s mind,” and temporarily putting aside everything you think you know, be a positive practice for your business?

You might ask, “Why, should I – an experienced expert in setting tile and stone – think of myself as a beginner?” Stick with me here.

The idea of beginner’s mind or “shoshin” is not to abandon the wisdom you have gleaned over the years. But it does recommend periodically setting all you know aside, in order to be open to new possibilities, ideas and insights. This is an approach that Steve Jobs regularly used to make quantum leaps in creativity and product development.

In addition to the possibilities the opening quote alludes to, the brilliant Albert Einstein once said, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking that created them.” That’s because expert mind keeps running on the same tracks without bringing in fresh ideas, or opening to untried possibilities.

Beginner’s mind observes what is, asks questions, invites in fresh perspectives and novel solutions. It’s not so much about learning as it is about questioning what is to come up with never-before-thought-of solutions. It may all begin with admitting that you don’t know, and being open to what colleagues, employees, spouses or your own intuition might say.

There are a lot of “new” products emerging on the marketplace. For instance, take a look at the Large Thin Porcelain Tile story, Part 2, in this issue. This is a new product that it’s difficult to have expertise about. Can you imagine using the openness of beginner’s mind when encountering these new products and the installation challenges they represent?

But taking a green, fresh attitude when approaching a problem is not limited to new products, technologies or methods coming into the industry. It could just as easily be applied to problems that keep confounding your operations, areas where you get stuck in the tendency to “do what you’ve always done,” or “push through” to a solution.

What might happen if you temporarily “forgot” those approaches and looked at the problem as if you were seeing it for the very first time? For more information about how to invoke beginner’s mind, visit these links:

God bless,

President’s Letter – July 2014

dan welch imageToday I am in the heat of battle, as many of you are each day. But let’s slow down and talk about documentation. Documentation is the single biggest killer of tile contractors today. It seems that tile work is guilty until proven innocent. We are all trying to provide a service the best way we know how.Documentation is just one more item on the list of things you need to do to insure you keep the profit that is rightfully yours.

In the past we have engaged the general contractor and problem-solved a situation until the team agreed with the final decision about a situation on a project. For example: At a jobsite planning meeting, the need for a control joint to be placed directly over the expansion joint in a floor is discussed.All parties agree with the plan to eliminate potential risks. You move forward and complete the project using the correct specifications for the project. Two months later the control joint decision is questioned and placed on a punch list. You discuss this decision with the parties again, but many have forgotten the original debate and its importance. They focus on the esthetically-displeasing result and they form a different opinion.

It’s a no-win situation for the tile setter. You can offer your reasoning for the decision but the person second guessing is the person writing the check. The end result is an unhappy client and your time and resources tied up on the issue instead of on other profitable work. You, as a tile contractor, are hired for your ability to perform a task in the best way possible and your decisions are now “wrong” to someone with little or no experience. You are holding the bag until a resolution is made.

What are you doing to prevent this from happening to you? I have always used the statement that we would install per industry standards. This does little to help your customer’s vision on how they want their tile to look. The contractor and architect are in charge of this expectation. I believe it is imperative to get all post-bid documents to state “all work to be installed per industry standards in the TCNA Handbook and ANSI A-108. The document may add the following, “in the event an owner expectation is not clearly identified in the tile drawing or scope, a change directive will be issued to meet this expectation.”

Another example to consider: You are working with a construction team with a compressed schedule and the contractor hiring you asks you to perform a task outside of your scope of work to speed up completion. You have no responsibility to perform this task as part of your contract. You perform this task in the heat of battle, using an additional work order to track the job on a time and material basis. Years later the work you performed fails and you are stuck paying for it with little knowledge of the work or why the decision was made to implement this work. The work was not clearly specified in any documentation and the people that made the decision are not standing beside you to help. They can blame it on the schedule and expect you to take one for the team.

Tile contractors are constantly placed in bad situations that can get much worse without documenting or setting expectations prior to starting the work. The heat of battle compounds the issues and the end is always clear when you write the check.

I, for one, am not willing to keep doing this for our customers. We are asked to perform a task within a specification and using manufacturer’s instructions. NEVER perform work outside of these two guidelines. If you are asked to step outside of these very important guidelines, RUN! This is a slippery slope and you will fall down.

I have assembled these questions for your staff to ask when bidding or accepting work.

1. Are drawings and specifications clear enough to order all materials without requesting information?

2. Is the scope of work clearly identified without requesting information?

3. Are the materials selected suitable for the application? Do they meet the specification?

4. Have you provided ALL of the submittals for review and acceptance? Are they accepted?

5. Are all verbal conversations, or changes to scope, spec, or drawings documented and communicated?

This new construction environment is tough to work within when you are always asked to specify or give recommendations with little knowledge of the use or owner expectations. Good luck with your battle – I hope my battle offers you some relief!

Dan Welch
President NTCA

Editor’s Letter – July 2014

Lesley psf head shot“In my eyes, every day is a celebration. Our love, business, and family are not a result but a constant reminder why we must celebrate this success we’ve built out of passion.“ – Jermaine,

In business, we often talk about cultivating relationships with customers and vendors, colleagues and coworkers. There is value in being amiably connected to people with whom you repeatedly do business. Friendliness and affability can grease the wheels of commerce and contribute to everyone’s success.

I’d like to posit that there is another reason why cultivating relationships with those you work with is important – because, in a very real way, they are your family. You probably see coworkers, crews and teams at least as often as your blood family members, maybe more. You work on problems together to come to solutions, press on toward common goals, assist and support each other, and then take time to kick back and enjoy what you’ve accomplished. Much of that is what’s done at home with loved ones, even if the goals differ.

Even those of us who do business in home offices have daily or frequent connection with our coworkers and staffs and regular communication with those in the industry we serve. In my case, with parents who live in New Jersey while I live in New Mexico (here’s a shout out to you, Mom and Dad!), I may see my work “family” more often than my blood family due to the network of meetings, events, conferences and trade shows that tie the tile industry all together.

And some of the businesses in our industry are built on actual familial partnerships – spouses, siblings, fathers, mothers, daughters and sons all working together on a business that’s been passed down through the generations.

How would your business change if you started seriously thinking of those in your business as treasured members of your family? When NTCA president Dan Welch was presented with the NTCA Tile Person of the Year award at Coverings in April, he commented that he considered NTCA family, and said “without the NTCA, we wouldn’t be here; we would be out of business.”

The myth of rugged individualism in our country is being exposed as just that – a myth. We all need each other to survive, and to thrive. Education and training is about people helping each other and sharing their wisdom to help others do better – witness this in the Large Thin Porcelain Tile Update story, part 1 in this issue. Contractors are sharing their experience and knowledge with others to help ensure success with this new product category – even before standards are established. In fact, the whole goal of our association is to educate, support, recognize, celebrate, nurture and negotiate what is best for the industry as a whole – the large family of which we are all a part.

I, for one, am very grateful for this tile industry family that I work with and enjoy – from the NTCA staff that I hold in highest esteem and appreciate for their integrity, energy; skill, vision and commitment to excellence; to fellow trade journalists and publicists that form the media and press corps that populate each event – several of whom have become dear and trusted friends – to the contractors, suppliers, distributors and individuals who all contribute in their own way to this industry we call home.

Did you know we have a family reunion planned? It’s called Total Solutions Plus and it brings the industry together for a chance to learn and visit with each other. Mark it on your calendar October 25-28, at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort & Spa in San Antonio, and read more about it in this issue. Be sure to attend. It just wouldn’t be the same without you!

God bless,

President’s Letter – June 2014

dan welch imageWow! I just finished my OSHA 30 class this morning. In April, I talked about a safety culture and the need to get on board. The 10-hour or 30-hour course investment in safety is just the beginning. Over the past few months we have provided each employee with new personal protective equipment (PPE). We purchased new and replaced old Welch Tile clothing, tools, and equipment – including extension cords. We updated our safety manual, spent a significant amount of money on training our new safety manager, and developed a safety committee. Our first meetings are being planned now and will focus on changing our culture with zero injuries as our goal.

Education is a major hurdle for controlling injury. Our investment in an apprentice training program is how we intend to build a better, more educated workforce. This week we had our second tile-finisher class with 10 new employees in the tile trade. It’s exciting to see their passion to learn and be involved in the company’s success.

I feel that training and education is paramount for many reasons. The ability to spend time with your employees and getting to know them personally, not only builds relationships but trust and loyalty.

An apprenticeship program can benefit in other ways as well. Many requirements are mandated by federal and state government such as a chauffeur’s license for employees driving company vehicles or Hi-Lo certifications. These certifications and requirements can be provided through this type of formal program. MSDS/SDS discussions can be expanded on and will give these new employees a chance to develop good work practices based on facts. Vendors and manufacturers will offer time and money to help with this training as well. They benefit by the education and the end result of a more educated installation community.

2014 is our year for safety. Is this the year to make changes in your organization? I am told that true change happens when the pain of doing something “the way you always did it” outweighs the pain of making the change. I have always embraced change, adapted to it, organized, assessed, planned, implemented, and reassessed it. Safety and apprenticeship programs are the right thing to do but they cost time and money to implement, administer, and keep relevant.

Tile is a trade that requires investment in people. This is the sand box we chose; how we play in it directly affects our industry. The outcome of your investment in people is the same as mine: when we do it well, customers will recognize it and pay for it. When we don’t, they will be stuck with the end result, whatever that is.

Our industry needs us to make these changes. People in our trade need your leadership. This change is tough. It requires vision, dedication, knowledge, and trust. One thing is for sure, when the pain of bad jobs and poorly motivated, uneducated tile setters outweigh the pain of implementing this type of program, true change can happen!

Dan Welch
NTCA president
Welch Tile, president

Editor’s Letter – June 2014




“Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.“
– Vincent Van Gogh

Lesley psf head shotOur June issue is always an interesting one to put together, since it comes on the heels of the Coverings show. This year’s show – the event’s 25th anniversary held at the Las Vegas Convention Center – was especially full, and packed with a growing roster of events and features for every market segment in the industry. Trust me when I tell you that this issue could easily stretch to 300 pages long, but we’ve elected to give you a taste of the expo to deliver essential news and whet your appetite to attend next April 14-17, when Coverings returns to the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla.

There’s good news for the tile industry coming out of Coverings. According to TCNA figures and the U.S. Census Bureau, the 2013 market showed 12.9% growth in volume over 2012 to 2.48 billion sq. ft., and value figures were up 16% for $2.80 billion. The U.S. volume import trends through Feb. 2014 year to date (YTD) show 267.7 million sq. ft. of ceramic tile arrived in the U.S., a 3.4% increase from Feb. 2013 YTD. Visit the TCNA update story in the Industry News section for more details, and the Coverings Review for an overview of the show. Register for Coverings 2015 at

One thing that is exciting is to see the growing level of excellence in our industry, fueled by the effort behind certification – both for basic skills in Certified Tile Installer (CTI) validation, and Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT). The trade is really getting behind these industry-recognized certifications, giving installers a way to showcase their expertise and raising the bar for the industry as a whole. Check out the Qualified Labor section to learn how LATICRETE is expanding its support and making it easier than ever to get certified.

Also, just a plug a year in a advance for both the Coverings Installation Design Awards ( and the NTCA Five Star Contractor Awards ( – riffle through your best projects and enter them in these competitions – there’s no entry fee, and it’s easy to do. There’s great prize money and recognition of the awesome tile and stone contractors you are!

‘Til next time, be well and God bless.