August 27, 2015

Member Spotlight – Hawthorne Tile – August 2015

custom-sponsorHawthorne Tile

Portland, Ore.

Hawthorne Tile is a unique company of educated craftspeople who are able to execute technically-challenging tile and stone installation projects, primarily for discerning homeowners, talented designers, and superb builders. The firm has a reputation as a company of collaborators, problem-solvers, and visionaries, honed over time. Most Hawthorne Tile clients are renovating beautiful older homes, from a variety of eras, utilizing the highest-quality materials and standards to complete their projects.

dirksullivanHawthorne Tile also provides a high level of craftsmanship that makes the company natural partners with builders of fine, custom homes. The company executes a limited number of small custom commercial projects and handles the restoration and maintenance of existing tile projects – especially where a higher level of skill is required to work with fussy materials or forensics are required to solve underlying installation issues.

Hawthorne Tile is dedicated to the timeless art of tile, and to the tradition of creating elegant and lasting tile work. The company’s team of highly skilled and creative craftsmen understand that tile is just a decorative covering.
Without the knowledge and understanding of how to properly build the foundation for a tile system, that decorative covering will leak, crack and fail.


Technical excellence + artistic vision

Dirk Sullivan, a native Oregonian, is the CEO and founder of Hawthorne Tile. After years in the tiling industry, Dirk made the decision to start his own tile company to meet the demands of homeowners for more complex tile projects that require not only technical but artistic vision as well.

1-hawthorne“I have a deep sense of satisfaction from creating a successful company built on referrals,” Sullivan said. “I’ve always enjoyed the creative end of tile – designing with function and longevity in mind. I feel proud that I’ve created a culture within my company that puts education first – allowing my company to grow and someday live on without me.”

Founded in 2000, Hawthorne Tile is Oregon’s only NTCA Five Star Contractor. The company has grown, nurtured and educated its dedicated team, building a reputation among homeowners, builders and designers as Portland’s premier source for interior and exterior custom tile, glass and stone work.

Hawthorne Tile’s thoughtful professionals collaborate and exercise surgical precision to solve design dilemmas, and keep clients up to date on emerging industry trends and installation products.

2-hawthorneHawthorne Tile has been a NTCA member for five years. “I like the idea of being a part of something larger than just my company and myself,” Sullivan said. “Upon meeting [NTCA presenter] Michael Whistler I was instantly inspired by his enthusiasm and knowledge. In 2010, I was really ready to take Hawthorne Tile to the next level and felt that becoming an active member of the NTCA was an essential part of this process.”

3-hawthorneSullivan counts the greatest value in NTCA membership as “the connections made and feeling of support from my colleagues – not just in the building with me or in my city – but all over the United States,” he said. “I’m no longer just a tile setter in Portland, Ore., but a member of a national organization of equally dedicated and like-minded professionals. The insight I have gained in a short time from interacting with fellow NTCA and NTCA Five Star members has been invaluable. Further, as a member of the NTCA Technical Committee, along with outstanding NTCA members, I have had the opportunity to help shape the future of the industry.”

As stated, one of Sullivan’s greatest satisfactions is having built a company that makes education a key component to the culture of Hawthorne Tile.

“We are the proud employers of three CTI (Certified Tile Installers) and two ACT (Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers) holders,” Sullivan explained. “This means our skilled team is formally trained and technically certified, as well as being able to successfully interpret our client’s artistic vision.”

Sullivan is planning to bring the CTI exam to Portland, Ore., with the intent to certify all his installers.

4-hawthorneOne of the goals at Hawthorne Tile is to engage and inspire the young tile professionals of tomorrow. Beginning in September 2015, Hawthorne Tile plans to send 1-3 of its young team members through the Northwest College of Construction’s Apprenticeship program untilizing curriculum developed by the NTCA.

“This investment in the tile craftsmen of the future will ensure Hawthorne Tile’s promise of excellence for years to come, and benefit the entire tile industry for generations,” Sullivan said.


President’s Letter – August 2015 “Green Issue”

JWoelfel_headshotA commitment I made to you six months ago, as part of my vision and goals for the NTCA, was to grow our association both domestically and internationally. Although the NTCA is the largest labor organization in the industry, we have plenty of room for growth in geographic footprint, in membership numbers, in depth of knowledge and in service to members and our communities. This type of growth will strengthen our industry as a whole because it will ensure that labor continues to have a meaningful voice in the important conversations that affect us all.

One of our first efforts in realizing growth is building partnerships with other tile labor organizations in regions where the NTCA is underrepresented. It is vital that we reach out to new areas to ensure we represent the varied interests of labor and that we have a strong pool of future leaders.

0815-pres-ltrThis month, the executive committee is meeting with the Tile and Stone Council of Northern California. Our agenda includes discussions on installation standards, membership and ways we can work together in the future. These meetings will help introduce the NTCA to a region that we have not previously invested in developing membership. The NTCA has been invited to participate in a charity golf event that helps families facing terminal cancer. We will host a reception where we will provide additional information on our programs and initiatives. We anticipate that many of the attendees will be union tile contractors, although the NTCA does not ask any member if he or she is a member of a union, nor do we restrict membership based on union affiliation. Our Membership Director, Martin Brookes, who is also the Regional Director out of San Francisco, explained that if union members work with the NTCA, other tile contractors in the area will likely follow.

We have several international efforts underway as well. In February 2016, I will speak at Qualicer, the XIVth World Congress on Tile Quality in Castellón, Spain. Congress organizers graciously invited me to explain how and why tile contractors have become such a major force in helping to develop standards for the installation of ceramic tile and stone in the United States. I will, of course, be sharing the benefits of NTCA membership and extending membership invitations.

As Australia moves into its fourth year of using the NTCA Reference Manual, we are exploring ways of providing greater opportunities for their NTCA involvement. Educational workshops are already taking place in locations such as Trinidad and Tobago to serve members there. As membership grows in places like Canada and England, we will look to expand our outreach.

Working to grow our association also means that established members are important to our success by attending workshops and events to keep learning – and by sharing ideas and concerns with your regional and national leadership. We share common goals and only together can we continue to strengthen and grow the voice of the contractor.

James Woelfel,
NTCA president

Editor’s Letter – August 2015 “Green Issue”

Lesley psf head shot“Sustainability can’t be like some sort of a moral sacrifice or political dilemma or a philanthropical cause. It has to be a design challenge”
– Bjarke Ingels

Is there anyone among you whose business is not touched by sustainable practices in some form? Recycling office waste and paper, purchasing products in containers with recycled content, selecting tile and setting materials that are Green Squared® Certified, following LEED parameters in the content, manufacturing and sourcing of products to obtain a Silver, Gold or Platinum certification, or adhering to Green Globes parameters, all of which helps safeguard the resources of our planet and the quality of our environment?

The importance of sustainability isn’t going anywhere but up. At its foundation is a conscious, responsible use of natural resources in a way that helps and does not harm air, land, plants, waterways and animals who live and breathe on this planet.

But coming to this consciousness and acting on it is a learning curve. It wasn’t so long ago that we would just throw things “away,” before realizing that on this closed system we call planet Earth, there IS no “away.” Sustainable and eco-friendly practices started out being optional; today more and more specs require implementation of pro-environment practices and product selections at every level of construction. And rightly so.

In some ways, it’s more challenging than ever before, with the ever-increasing transparency of EPDs and HPDs in LEED V4. And in some ways it’s easier to make eco-conscious choices with the broader range of responsible manufacturing processes being implemented by tile makers and Green Squared® Certified tile and setting materials from which to choose.

To wit, we look at “green” issues from a number of angles in this issue. From an update on the status of HPD deadlines from TCNA’s Bill Griese, to an A&D perspective from Anne Rue and Robin Wilson on incorporating sustainable principles and products into projects, to a sampling of green materials in our New Product section to Wally Adamchick’s original perspective on sustainability in your company from a people perspective, we venture a bit further into green waters with information we believe can help support your business and inform your decisions.

God bless,


NTCA Reference Manual: published and available this month

C1-2015_RM_coverThe NTCA Reference Manual is a compendium of knowledge, research and development, brought to you by the NTCA Technical Committee and its members. These members include leading experts from various industry sectors: tile and stone contractors, distributors, manufacturers and others allied to the tile industry.

The NTCA Reference Manual identifies recurring challenges to tile and stone installations and recognizes potential problems. Industry experts come together to achieve consensus on solutions, presented here. The problem-prevention-cure format presented for many issues in the book is complemented by clarifying photographs as well as letter templates that address common issues in documentation and negotiation on the jobsite, and can be customized to fit the needs of the contractor. A collection of general position statements about industry issues is also included.

Each year Technical Committee subcommittee members review and revise the publication, since new technologies, methods and products all impact the experience, practice and outcome of tile and stone installations. In fact, this month the new 2015-2016 NTCA Reference Manual is being published, printed and mailed free of charge to all NTCA members.

Because the information is so crucial to the industry, NTCA also makes the NTCA Reference Manual available on its website (enter NTCA Reference Manual in the search bar at the top of website to non-members or those who desire additional copies.

Familiarize yourself with this well-respected companion document to the TCNA Handbook for Ceramic, Glass and Stone Tile Installation and ANSI standards. Together these publications form a triumvirate of expertise and knowledge that creates a strong framework from which to conduct your business. Additional copies can be purchased at

NTCA brings workshops to Tennessee and Oregon

Over the summer months, NTCA presenters Gerald Sloan and Michael Whistler continue road-tripping across the country, bringing the NTCA Tile & Stone Workshops to host sites for an evening of education, camaraderie, raffle prizes, networking and of course, delicious food.

1-workshopLouisville Tile Knoxville

We reported on Sloan’s swing through several Louisville Tile Distributors (LTD) sites in our July issue. This month, we wrap up with the Knoxville installments of the Tile& Stone Workshop at LTD.



2-workshop 3-workshop








4-workshopDaltile Oregon

Bend and Salem

In June, NTCA presenter Michael Whistler toured the Pacific Northwest, bringing the NTCA Tile & Stone Workshop to Daltile locations in Bend and Salem, Ore. Whistler focused on bringing information on mosaic installation, glass tile and pre-manufactured shower systems to the attendees at these events.


5-workshop 6-workshop 7-workshop 8-workshop
















Portland, Ore.

Whistler also rolled out the NTCA Tile & Stone Workshop program at the Portland home of American Olean and Marazzi, two Daltile brands.


9-workshop 10-workshop 11-workshop

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 [email protected], 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,

[email protected]

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 [email protected] 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 [email protected]

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.