August 21, 2014

Presidents Letter – July 2014

Today 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 imageDan Welch
President NTCA
[email protected]

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
[email protected]

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 www.coverings.com.

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 (www.coverings.com) and the NTCA Five Star Contractor Awards ([email protected]) – 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.

Lesley

[email protected]

Benefits Box – May 2014

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Whoever thought that NTCA Tile & Stone Workshops are all work and no play, well, must never have been to one.

Yes, it’s true that for over 30 years, the NTCA’s “road show” – one-stop, one-evening training events – free of charge to the trade – have been wowing contractors, helpers, salespeople, and A&D professionals with news of the industry’s latest developments, technical information, materials and installation methods. NTCA technical consultants Gerald Sloan and Michael Whistler travel around the country to 70+ locations, supported by industry experts and sponsors, bringing an evening of information, food, fellowship and fun.

That’s right, I said fun. Whether it’s Michael Whistler throwing sponges into the audience for those who give the right answers to his technical questions, to host sites that go the extra mile, these NTCA Tile & Stone Workshops are a thoroughly enjoyable and valuable experience.

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In addition to the valuable industry information the 55-60 Boise attendees gleaned at the workshop, you can rest assured that they’ll never forget the fun they had posing with other attendees and just having a ball!

In doubt? Take a look at the hardworking attendees literally pictured at a “Fun Box” – a modern version of a photo booth – set up at Daltile in Boise, a recent host of a NTCA Tile & Stone Workshop on February 19. “I thought that it would be a great way to create a lasting memory with our customers, vendors, and employees,” said Justin Carr, sales representative for the Daltile Boise location. “I think that it worked too because now I’m seeing them in my customers’ offices and around Daltile. It was a very fun night!”

“Some locations get extra creative in making our event a real success,” added Jim Olson, assistant executive director, NTCA.

And that’s not all – this year, at each workshop, NTCA will give away a free one-year membership. If you have already paid your 2014 dues then you will receive 2015 for free. Also, tickets will be handed out at each workshop and a drawing will take place to be eligible for all-expense-paid trips to both Total Solutions Plus 2014 (TSP) and Coverings 2015. NTCA will draw one name at each workshop for the chance at a free Total Solutions Plus giveaway and one for the chance at the free Coverings trip. Those winners will qualify for the trip giveaways. The first drawing will take place at the end of August to announce the winner for the trip to TSP in San Antonio, TX at the end of October. The second drawing to announce the Coverings 2015 winner will take place at TSP. For more information contact Jim Olson, at jim@tile-assn.co[email protected]

Those of you attending workshops on the eastern side of the country may see this trailer soon – it’s Gerald Sloan’s brand new workshop trailer, which he pulls with a Ford F-150 to all the NTCA Tile & Stone Workshops in his region. This is a well-supported program, as evidenced by the logos of all our generous sponsors, emblazoned on the trailer sides. Visit www.tile-assn.com and click on Training & Education to see the next workshop located near you!

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Five Star Spotlight – Syverson Tile & Stone

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Syverson Tile & Stone

Sioux Falls and Rapid City, S.D.;
Fargo, N.D.

five starSince: 1932

Specialty: Wholesale distribution to trades, stone fabrication and tile installation

Website: www.syversontile.com

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Syverson Tile & Stone is a third generation, family-owned distributor, fabricator and installer of tile, stone and associated products. Syverson Tile & Stone is wholesale to the trades with locations in Sioux Falls, S.D., Fargo, N.D., and Rapid City, S.D. The company has over 600 active accounts in a territory of more than 150,000 square miles, serving a population base of 1.7 million people.

In addition to the Syverson distribution network, the company provides stone fabrication with shops in the Sioux Falls and Fargo markets as well as tile installation in the Sioux Falls area.

The company was founded from humble beginnings in 1932 in Sioux Falls by Ray G. Syverson, Sr. and his wife Ruth Syverson. Ray had learned the trade in his youth. After taking the train to Sioux Falls from Chicago, Ray walked to construction sites with his bucket of tools in hand, and asked the builders if they needed any tile set. He began to earn a reputation as a reliable, high-quality installer with great attention to detail.

Ruth (Brooks) Syverson grew up on the family farm near Philip, S.D. After working as a bookkeeper, she moved to Sioux Falls where she met and married Ray. The company took a fateful turn when Ray had an allergic reaction to Portland cement and had to stop setting tile. He trained his cousin and one of Ruth’s brothers; then with Ruth at his side, started their own contracting company in 1932 in the midst of the Depression. Hard work, high standards and much perseverance earned Syverson the distinction of being the largest tile contractor between Omaha and Minneapolis by the mid-1940s, a distinction they still hold today.

The company grew over the years and added products and services along the way. By 1961, Ray Syverson Jr. was involved in the company working alongside his parents, starting on the tile crew. The company purchased a Cardinal hand crank saw to cut stone so it didn’t have to wait for distant fabricators to create pieces needed to finish its tile jobs. The company also expanded its tile inventory, establishing a relationship with the largest producer of tile at the time, American Olean. The company began to distribute complementary products like brick, veneer stone and fireplaces.

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Steve (l.) and Dave Syverson run Syverson Tile & Stone today, carrying on the tradition of their grandparents and company founders Ray and Ruth Syverson, pictured in the painting.

By 1979, the company, under the leadership of Ray Jr., had outgrown the facility in Sioux Falls’ industrial park, so a new parcel of land by Interstate 229 on Western Avenue was purchased and a new facility built, which is the company headquarters today. Ray’s sons Steve and Dave also joined the company in 1981 and 1993, respectively.

Fueled by growth in distribution, the company opened its second location in Fargo, N.D., in 1995 and its third location in Rapid City, S.D., in 2009. In the midst of the expansion of the distribution and fabrication businesses, the company has stayed true to its founders’ dream of having the best tile crew in the Sioux Falls area. Today under Steve and Dave’s leadership, Syverson Tile & Stone continues to set the standard for quality products installed the proper way.

Syverson Tile & Stone is proud to be the only NTCA Five star contractor in its market, which assures its clientele that their project will be handled professionally, promptly and within budget. Syverson Tile & Stone has the largest and most experienced installation crew, many of whom have followed family members who have worked for the company or the trade. The company trains constantly and continuously to keep up with the changes in the marketplace. The high standards of installing each job as if it were their own project is something that still holds as true today as it was when Ray Syverson Sr., was a setter over 80 years ago.

Featured project: Denny Sanford Premier Center, Sioux Falls, S.D.

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The Denny Sanford Premier Center, currently under construction, in Sioux Falls, S.D.

The Denny Sanford Premier Center project is currently under way in Sioux Falls, S.D., with the expected completion date of August of 2014. Syverson Tile & Stone performed the work on the original Sioux Falls Arena and Convention Center site building back in 1961 and is excited to be involved on the new $120 million, 12,000 seat, state-of-the-art events center addition, which was designed by Koch Hazard Architects in Sioux Falls, S.D., and Sink, Combs & Dethlefs in Denver, Colo.

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Syverson Tile & Stone crews in the process of setting Lea Slimtech tile around a concession stand in the Denny Sanford Premier Center.

The project consists of nearly 70,000 sq. ft. of tile and stone products, including a unique application of nearly 14,000 sq. ft. of 20”x 40” Lea thin tile with another 3,600 linear feet of 6” base. The majority of the thin tile product is being installed on a 105’ radius wall on the south end of the facility using the MLT removable clip system from Mid America Tile.

Syverson Tile & Stone is also fabricating all the Ajanta Engineered Quartz tops from Hanstone in the suites and loge boxes, as well as the 3cm Cambrian Black honed granite top from Cold Springs Granite in the bar areas. The architects also selected some unique native materials, like Rose Quartzite veneer stone from Jasper Stone Company and Autumn Flame slate ledgestone from the Black Hills of South Dakota, supplied by Hebron Brick Supply.

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Rose Quartzite from Jasper Stone Company is one of the unique native materials used for the project.

The Denny Sanford Premier Center will be a signature project for Syverson Tile & Stone since it involves both large scale production work combined with the highest level of quality installation work, using the best products available in the industry, for the region’s newest and most luxurious facility.

President’s Letter – May 2014

dan welch imageSpring has sprung here in Michigan! Our staff and I are looking forward to a summer filled with local work and summer activities around the campfire next to the lake. Since the economic slowdown, we have been working harder just to keep the lights on and our business solvent. Last year was a first for us to show a sustainable profit and this year is the first we have enough business to work close to home. I am definitely ready to do some living this year!

Recently I was fortunate enough to be a part of the NTCA Five Star Conference held at Crossville, Inc., in Crossville, Tenn. The agenda consisted of discussions on thin porcelain panels, Sureclad Porcelain Stone® ventilated façades, Hydrotect™ hybrid photocatalyst coating, technology, marketing, and general business all tied together with a little fun at the end of the three-day event. Those who attended definitely took advantage of the fun.

My take-away from the weekend is that if you plan to stay relevant in the tile business you are going to have to invest in training people, developing processes, purchasing specialized tooling, and partnering with the business segment that you feel comfortable supporting.

With all of these new manufacturing developments one thing is for sure, the tile business you’re involved with today is not your father’s tile business anymore! Opportunity is knocking on the doors of existing contractors willing to step forward and learn to be the most qualified and experienced contractor. All of this change will take time and energy to support and our industry is looking for you to step up to the challenge. Qualified labor specifications are being written for projects bid by tile contractors today. If you want to be prequalified for this work you must get involved, train, and certify your staff.

Dan Welch
President NTCA
[email protected]

Editor’s Letter – May 2014

Lesley psf head shot

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

It takes a village to make an industry.

Actually, that’s what an industry is, isn’t it? A village or community of people who come together to mutually support each other with products and services and reach out to those who can benefit from what they have to offer (a.k.a customers or clients).

One thing that strikes me about the tile and stone village of which I am a part is the tremendous dedication of its members. I think we take this for granted when we are in the thick of a project or a deadline. But when I view the contributions to this issue, I see a collection of dedicated individuals, sharing technical expertise, sending stories about the history of their business, flocking to NTCA Tile & Stone Workshops or going the extra mile to make them an even more memorable event, being willing to test their skills as a Certified Tile Installer – and those CTEF and industry folks who administer, host and sponsor the tests, and publicists that work diligently to get news about their companies into the media. All these efforts, working together, make our industry a mostly-very-smoothly running machine!

Something else that isn’t in this issue – but will be next month – are the Coverings Installation Design Awards winners. I’ve spent the last two weeks reviewing the winners and developing the awards presentation. And I am struck by the partnership and interdependence of all players of each project – investing their best efforts to make their projects shine. I’m also struck by the willingness and help of everyone involved in recognizing these projects – the entrants themselves, the sponsors of the CID Awards program, and of course, the National Trade Productions team members who culled and organized the entries for the judges (thanks for their efforts as well!) and then sent the winners to me to create the presentation.

Next time you have a moment to ponder, think about all the people who participate in making this tile and stone village – and your jobs – great: designers of products and projects, suppliers, delivery people, your crews and foremen, visionary company owners and leaders, your association and the volunteers that make it such a viable and important force in this industry. The list is endless. And though it’s not November, take a moment to give thanks for all these people, parts and pieces that help you do what you do, and for your very own gifts, skills, expertise and vision that make you an important contributor as well.

God bless,
Lesley
[email protected]

Benefits Box – April 2014

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NTCA offers interactive virtual training

NTCA has partnered with expert leadership consultant Wally Adamchik to bring his interactive virtual training system at www.firestartervt.com to NTCA members. His system is compelling, engaging, convenient and effective at developing leadership skills in your business.

At his website, Wally states, “Effective leadership at all levels is the one non-negotiable element for real business success.”

FireStarterVT doesn’t provide you with only academic solutions that work in the classroom. You get proven solutions that actually work in the real world. Leadership experience and ongoing research insures FirestarterVT content is best of class.

In addition, FireStarterVT is user friendly, translating theory into relevant and usable education that will help your people and teams be more successful – with a successful track record of over 20 years.

To give you an ongoing idea of what FirestarterVT offers, Wally is authoring our Business Tip section in selected TileLetter issues this year. You’ll find his article in this issue, in fact.

Interested? Here are the NTCA/FireStarterVT partnership benefits:

 

Course 1: Leadership vs. Management

Description: Leadership vs. Management examines the differences between these two important, yet very different, things done by successful leaders at all levels. At the end of this course, you will know the difference, how to do both better and why it matters to you.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: Characteristics of Leaders

Chapter 3: Leadership

Chapter 4: Management

Chapter 5: More Leadership As We Advance

Chapter 6: Summary

 

Course 2: Generations at Work

Description: The difference between the generations isn’t about whose music is the worst…it’s about understanding why people think and act the way they do. This course helps you understand and work better with members of each generation in the workplace today.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: How Did We Get Here

Chapter 3: The Four Generations,

Plus One

Chapter 4: Growth And Dilemmas

Chapter 5: Three Rs and Three Cs

Chapter 6: Summary

For more information, contact Wally Adamchick at [email protected] to learn more about how the NTCA/FireStarterVT partnership can save you training dollars while improving your leaders at all levels.

Five Star Contractor Spotlight – Battles & Battles Tile

custom-sponsorfive starAlthough the name Battles & Battles Tile sounds as though two people named Battles run this company, the name would be more apt if it were Battles, Battles, Battles and Battles Tile.

Robert Battles had been in the turnkey custom home building business in the Knoxville, Tenn., area for many years when, back in the late ’90s, he realized that his services required more equipment than he cared to own and maintain. He considered many possibilities in which to specialize, and chose flooring – specifically tile.

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Robert, Damon, Maseena and August Battles (l. to r.) are in the Howard Baker Center for Public Policy on the campus of the University of Tennessee where their complex stone installation won a TileLetter Award grand prize in 2010.

“I chose the tile industry due to the low impact the product has on the world’s natural resources,” Robert said. “While in use and when discarded, tile causes no environmental issues. Tile makes sense to me, especially when I think about 2,000- to 5,000-year-old tile installations of ancient Rome and China still in use today. I am disappointed when there is a lack of attention to low environmental impact. Creating something that’s meant to end up in a landfill is not in my nature, period,” he declared.

In the early days of the company, Robert’s children – Maseena, Damon and August – began working at the construction sites and in the office of what was then BB Tile Service. The company purchased an old house near a major highway in Knoxville, and transformed it into a showroom and offices.

Battles & Battles Tile grew over the years, with a big commercial department working closely with architectural firms, the University of Tennessee, and many large and small construction companies.

Education and training are essential to Robert, so he requires his employees to attend any and every pertinent training opportunity available.

“When we began learning about the efforts of the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation to improve the tile trade in the U.S. with a program of education and testing, we wanted to support them in any way we could,” said Robert. “We’ve been more than happy to host the Certified Tile Installer course and are proud to have had other professionals in the area come to us for the test and for advice.

“And becoming the first company in East Tennessee to be known as an NTCA Five Star Contractor was our biggest milestone ever,” Robert added. “Once a potential customer understands what this means, they have confidence in our dependability and know-how, and it helps them understand why they might pay a higher price for our work.

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This Breccia Paradiso and Daino Real stone spa features a tub custom-made by Damon Battles. The tub was formed from a large block of rigid foam; the tub cavity was reinforced with wire and rebar before smoothing the final surface with mortar to accept the flat pebble tile.

“We want to give our customers not only a beautiful tile job, but one we can stand behind – and prove, over the long term, we’re saving them money because of the installation’s longevity,” he said.

Residential jobs have always been a big part of the company’s efforts, and that’s where the skill and artistry of Robert’s youngest child, August, has blossomed.

With more than 15 years of tile and stone installation experience and a natural artistic ability, August has become the Knoxville area’s elite home spa specialist.

He sometimes spends weeks on a bathroom makeover, depending on substructure work and complexity of the design.

“I like to do all of the work from the beginning, because I know how I want the finished tile layout to work out,” August said. “For instance, an inch or two of difference in a partial wall can cause it to end up with a sliver of tile. I can avoid problems like that if I’m the one installing the framing. I always have the finished look in mind, starting with the first draft of drawings,” he said.

“I make sure the customer thinks about where they may want a grab bar, and where they want to reach for the handle of a plumbing fixture,” August added.” And if a user has physical limitations, I want to be sure they can manage the use of their shower space. All of these details must be carefully worked in to the design before we start,” he concluded.

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Schluter’s linear drain with a tileable grate enables the artisans at Battles & Battles Tile to make a shower drain practically invisible.

Behind the scenes, Maseena, Bob’s daughter, fills the role of comptroller, keeping a close eye on the financial health of Battles & Battles Tile.

“Cash flow is king, and my biggest challenge is making sure billing is correct and current. This is critical, especially when a commercial project exceeds $100,000,” said Maseena.

Maseena first started in the company showroom, leading the residential sales and design team. After working toward a degree in nursing, she decided to stay with the company after graduation.

“Battles & Battles may be Bob’s ‘baby,’ but I feel like it’s my other kid,” she adds.

So what does the future hold for this second-generation family-owned company? It’s hard to say what the ‘kids’ will do, but the third generation, Maseena’s son, Caden, now 12, and Damon’s son, four-year-old Gage, are regularly at the shop, hanging out with Papaw.

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The success of a steam shower installation depends on a partner in the glass business who does excellent work. Battles & Battles Tile recommends only a tried-and-true local company.

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This contemporary shower with a “floating” bench is one of August Battles’ recent accomplishments in precision tile installation.

President’s Letter – April 2014

dan welch imageAlive 365 Safety Week 2014 (www.elzinga-volkers.com/safetyweek) was a fitting name for a symposium topic offered in western Michigan by Elzinga & Volkers Construction Professionals recently. The concept is to inspire the construction trade to step up its game with regard to safety.

This topic could not have been timelier to us as we have hired our very first, full time safety person. Safety has not always been high on our priority list as a company. Our staff has always been knowledgeable when it comes to quality and production, but some of our work habits need adjusting, and our new hires need to be trained correctly.

When I started in the tile trade one of my first tasks was to mix a solution of sulfamic acid crystals with water. As I poured the crystals into the water bucket a large chunk fell into the water splashing up directly into my eyes. This near miss is just an example of the many things that can happen to your staff working on the job. 2014 is the year that safety becomes one of our priorities.

DanLetter_cons_profSafety is the buzz word around work sites but during this symposium it became increasingly clear that if you don’t get on the bus, you and your staff will be left standing on the curb. E&V Construction did a small skit showing the evolution of safety within the workforce. It started with a 1990s employee wearing a Hard Rock t-shirt with cut-off sleeves, a bandana, tennis shoes, and blue jeans full of holes. Then it showed the employee of the 2000s and on to the 2010 employee, wearing a professional-looking company shirt, hard hat, safety glasses, safety vest, fall protection, and work boots ready for work. I agree with the importance of looking professional, dressing the part, and performing work safely. I want our staff to do the same.

Safety, moving forward, is a necessary part of each and every job we do. Employees becoming aware of the system, buying into the need, and changing the culture of a business safety plan is essential to providing a working system. Documenting and sending the safety data sheets, tool box talks, offering employee training, researching and purchasing new and better equipment, reviewing job hazard analyses, and analyzing the current loss rates to see what you do well and what you don’t do well are all imperative to your success. Remember, the employee into whom you have invested so much is counting on the leadership you provide to keep them safe.

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Dan Welch
President, NTCA