Northern Virginia NTCA Five Star Contractors partner on high-visibility Dekton project

Collins Tile and Stone, David Allen Company collaborate on commercial fabrication showroom install 

The crew (l. to r.): DAC’s Hugo Gonzalez, Chris Walker, and Edgar Martinez; and Collins’ Oscar Cardenas, Arpad Bereczki, and Buck Collins.

 

When Marble & Granite Express, a Cosentino Loyalty fabricator in Chantilly, Va., decided to completely redesign and remodel its DC-area customer showroom and design center, only a beautiful floor that would perform under the most extreme foot-traffic conditions would do. Because this customer is a Cosentino Dekton Certified fabricator – working daily with Dekton for countertops, fireplaces, exterior kitchens, showers, facades and other interior and exterior applications – it knew that Dekton, of course would be the perfect solution for the 2,000 sq. ft. showroom floor.

 

Crews had to diamond-grind the floor to prepare it for primer and self-leveling underlayment.

Dekton is a breed of surfacing material unto itself. The website (www.dekton.com/usa) explains that Dekton “employs exclusive Sinterized Particle Technology, a high-tech process which represents an accelerated version of the metamorphic change that natural stone undergoes when subjected to high temperatures and pressure over thousands of years.” The material has zero porosity and is super strong, lacking micro-defects in other materials that can cause tension or weak spots and it resists heat, frost and thawing. It’s also super flat, with 1/4000th of an inch tolerance.

 

Primer was applied after diamond-grinding and prior to self-leveler application.

 

To best show the value of Dekton, Cosentino has chosen to partner with highly-skilled NTCA Five Star Contractors. These contractors have a proven ability to expertly handle Dekton’s hardness and its size with specialized techniques and equipment necessary to work with the material. That’s why Larry Mazzola, who runs Cosentino DC, turned to Collins Tile and Stone in Ashburn, Va., and David Allen Company (DAC) in Raleigh, N.C.

Stellar collaboration from Five Star Contractors

Crews get ready to level the floor.

 

Both NTCA Five Star Contractors – an industry-recognized measure of excellence and accomplishment — Collins and DAC have had a long professional and personal friendship, born of mutual membership in the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA). Buck Collins, president of Collins Tile and Stone is dedicated to employing installers with Certified Tile Installer (CTI) credentials, an industry-recognized measure of validating tile setting skills.  Buck, along with wife Dana, has a superior reputation for performing high-end

LATICRETE NXT Level created a smooth, flat surface for the Dekton panels.

residential installations with unrivaled customer-satisfaction.  In addition, the company is involved in serving the industry and always learning more. Buck was the NTCA Region #2 director until last year, and was the first Northern Virginia NTCA Five Star Contractor.  He also is a member of the NTCA Technical Committee. 

 

Chris Walker is vice president of the David Allen Company, NTCA vice president , and chairman of ANSI A-108 and the new A-108.19 gauged thin tile panel installation standard.  And it turns out that both Collins Tile and Stone, and the David Allen Company are inaugural members of the Cosentino-Dekton family.

The Dekton panels were 56” x 56” x 8 mm thick.

The project got started when Collins Tile and Stone was contacted by Mazzola because of Collins’ regional reputation for high quality installations and commitment to customer service.  After evaluating the needs of the project, Buck decided to call on Chris and DAC for collaborating on the job.  David Allen Company – one of the nation’s largest contractors — brought experience with installing several gauged thin porcelain tile and large panel projects to the table. Since these sintered ultra-compact Dekton Zenith materials on floors were 56” x 56” x 8 mm thick, DAC’s experience was invaluable in ensuring a smooth installation process.

ETM Grip from European Tile Masters was used to move and handle the ultra-large format Dekton panels.

Good thing too – “The biggest challenges…were the size of the tile,” Collins said.  “While the tools we used made that easier, we were still setting 21.77 square foot per tile!” 

Another key member of the team was LATICRETE’s Kurt Webber, who worked with Collins’ Concrete Coatings crew to facilitate self-leveling necessary for the project.

“Since a perfectly flat floor is instrumental to successful tile installations — particularly large panel installations — significant floor preparation was required,” Walker said.

 

The prep work took three days and the tile installation itself was eight days,” Collins said. Collins Concrete Coatings personnel used diamond-

LATICRETE 4-XLT mortar was used on the job.

wheel concrete grinding equipment in concert with a survey by DAC to identify areas that needed grinding or filling, Walker added. After grinding, crews installed LATICRETE NXT Primer and leveled the floor using LATICRETE NXT Level.  In addition, two coats of LATICRETE Hydro Ban were installed for its crack isolation properties.

To facilitate moving and handling of the Dekton, European Tile Masters’ Brian Runkle reviewed the latest installation techniques and equipment with the installation crews.

 

The installation crews featured three Certified Tile Installers: Collins Tile and Stone’s Oscar CardenasCTI # 1007, along with two from David Allen Company: superintendent Marcos Castillo, CTI #552, and Edgar Martinez, CTI #1257.

Dekton panels were back buttered with a large-format tile mortar.

 

 

Crews used LATICRETE 4-XLT large-format mortar to bond the Dekton and LATICRETE SPECTRALock Pro Premium to grout it.

 

In addition, Collins Tiles and Stone’s experienced finisher Arpad Bereczki (who is on track to take his CTI exam soon) and DAC’s Hugo Gonzalez also assisted with the installation (Hugo is enrolledin the NTCA University’s Apprentice training program). Buck Collins noted that the Marble & Granite Express was “absolutely thrilled” with the installation.

 

Mortar also was applied to the floor to lock in the bond.

 

And the added benefit for Collins Tile and Stone and nearby David Allen Company is that there is now a “2,000 sq. ft. showroom in our backyard.” A true win-win for everyone involved.

 

 

 

 

 

Crews installed 2,000 sq. ft. of Dekton panels on the fabricator showroom floor.

Dekton expertly installed by crews from Collins Tile and Stone and David Allen Company.

 

At Coverings: NTCA 70th Anniversary Awards Presentation

In 2016, the NTCA’S Tile Person of the Year Award was presented to Steve Young of Steve Young & Associates, located in White Plains, Ga.

Among the many events and parties taking place during Coverings 17, April 4-7, 2017 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., will be a very special celebration for NTCA on Thursday night, April 6 from 5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m. On this night, NTCA will mark its 70th year in 2017 as a leading association for tile installers.

Cox Tile of San Antonio, Texas won the 2016 Five Star Contractor Grand Prize Residential Award for its “Brick and Stone Paradise” project.

NTCA will recognize leaders who have made a difference over many years of service to the association as part of this stellar event.  In addition, the prestigious Tile Person of the Year will be honored, and the Tile Council of North America will present its award winners.

Also a part of the 70th Anniversary Awards show will be the Five Star Contractor Project of the Year, the Tom Ade Scholarship Award recipient  and the Grand Prize Winners of the Coverings Design and Installation Awards.  This is a time to celebrate YOUR association!

In addition, former NTCA presidents, Tile Persons of the Year, and Ring of Honor winners will be invited to the event. NTCA will also recognize sponsors and contractors who have supported the Gary Sinise Rise Foundation program. A party to celebrate this 70th Anniversary year will go until 9 p.m. after the presentation. Don’t miss it!

Grazzini Brothers & Company of Egan, Minnesota won the 2016 Five Star Contractor Grand Prize Commercial Award – Residential or its installation of over 24,000 sq. ft. of exterior natural stone wall tile and interior porcelain floor and wall tile at the Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory in Anchorage, Alaska.

NTCA Five Star Contractor Wins Leadership Award

IMG_0778NTCA offers congratulations to Christine Kotara, CEO of Five Star Contractor J&R Tile in San Antonio, TX. Christine was awarded a 2016 Women’s Leadership Award from the San Antonio Business Journal.

When asked for leadership advice, Christine told the Business Journal, “Give your employees tools for success–whether it’s transportation, education, or just somebody to hear what’s on their mind. Walk along with them. Your employees need to know that you have their back at all times.”

Christine’s hard work and leadership have helped J&R Tile lead the way in San Antonio, and meet the standards required to become an NTCA Five Star Contractor. Congratulations, Christine!

To read the San Antonio Business Journal feature on Christine, click here.

Member Spotlight – March 2016 – All American Design and Construction LLC

custom-sponsor

All American Design and Construction LLC

allamerican-logo

After working for different vendors for a series of years, Karl Parker reached his limit, vowing to never work for anyone else again. In 2009, he founded All American Design and Construction LLC (www.aadnc.com) in Albuquerque, N.M., targeting clients who wanted kitchen and bathroom remodels.

karl-parker

Karl Parker, owner, All American Design and Construction, LLC

“My goal is to provide excellent customer service and a quality product at a reasonable price,” Parker said. The attention to detail Parker invests sets his company apart – “not just in craftsmanship, but in relationships as well,” he said. “I believe that quality comes from being attentive to personal relationships with my employees, clients, and distributors. I work to make sure there isn’t a breakdown in communication and that we fully understand what each one of us needs from each other. “

All American Design and Construction holds a GB98 commercial general contracting license. “Throughout my experience in construction I have really fallen in love with the detailed work of kitchen and bathroom remodeling,” Parker added, emphasizing that the company tends to focus on those areas even though it can perform other services.

Parker said that he doesn’t shy away from difficult projects. “The bigger the problem, the messier the job, the more I’m into it,” he explained. “I love a challenge. When a client has a vision of what they want, we discuss how we can make what they want happen. If we need to adjust the goals, I will discuss what options we have. I educate my clients about our capacity and what solutions would work the best for their homes. All American Design and Construction LLC reflects a lot of my personality. For one, I’m OCD! I have great attention to detail. All of my work reflects a high level of attention and care.”

His perfectionism has paid off – All American Design and Construction LLC celebrated its fifth year running as an Angie’s List Super Service Award recipient.

Although Parker has only been a member of NTCA for a little over a year, he already has signed on as a State Director for New Mexico. He was inspired by the values NTCA espouses. For instance, he said, “I value networking with likeminded people and believe that everyone can benefit from bouncing ideas and issues off each other. I also believe in qualified labor (Parker himself is a Certified Tile Installer) and that those in our industry should be properly trained. When providers know the dos and don’ts of the industry, our reputation as an industry grows and helps everyone. Personally, I value education, information about products and continued growth as a business owner.”

Peer support is a key benefit from NTCA membership, according to Parker. “I have created new friendships, and the education that I get from other members is invaluable,” he said. “Through NTCA, I have the opportunity to come out and start the Continuing Education Program. Without the leadership of NTCA and my role as the State Director, I would have a harder time uniting people in the industry.“

Parker’s Continuing Education Program launched earlier this month, with a focus on uncoupling membranes. “This is the first time an event like this is offered in the state of New Mexico and we look forward to having more,” he said. Parker plans three to four annual workshops that will team manufacturers and distributors to present smaller-scale technical programs and hands-on demonstrations for the tile industry as a whole: inspectors, installers, sales teams, designers and more. “These are planned for neutral territory where anyone and everyone can feel comfortable showing up.”

Paperface challenge produces stunning results

Pictured is the company’s very first paperface mosaic installation, that was very detailed and problematic at times, according to Parker.

“We needed to find a thinset that cured a pure white since our client was in love with the color of the tile and was concerned with the hue changing,” he said. “We were to follow the design and wainscot the entire bathroom. There were several issues with the framing of the walls being out of plumb and the tiles coming off the paper as they were cut. We had several areas where the tiles had to be scribed to fit and not look odd.”

Parker’s team spent countless hours hand setting individual 1” x 1/2” tile up the walls in tight areas. Parker and the customer were happy with the results – and working this project expanded Parker’s expertise. “We learned a lot from this install, and now have a better idea about how to attack a similar project like this in the future,” he said. “It certainly raised and tested our skills, and we are very happy to have been able to take this project on.”

parker-job

Member Spotlight – February 2016 – Cravillion Tile & Stone LLC (CTS)

custom-sponsorSince 1985, Tom Cravillion has operated his business in Plymouth, Wis., just a stone’s throw from Kohler, Wis., and the Ann Sacks Showroom, with whom Cravillion Tile & Stone LLC has built a close working relationship.

cravillion

Tom Cravillion of Cravillion Tile & Stone LLC

The contractor specializes in tile and stone work for high-end residential homeowners that are either by referral or are satisfied customers. Cravillion said, “Over 80% of our business this year alone was previous customers.” In addition, the company does small commercial projects as well as new homes and renovations.

True craftspeople, Cravillion Tile & Stone specializes in dry-pack mud floors over hydronic heat tubes that involve marble or stone finishes.

Cravillion got his start in tile at age 12, when he began working with his father Gene – an architect – doing tile projects for family home remodeling jobs. At the age of 15, he started contracting jobs, being dropped off at various job sites. Cravillion took to the work with excellence and craftsmanship, so much so that at the tender age of 18, one of his jobs was featured in Better Homes and Gardens!

In 1982, Cravillion volunteered doing work on the World Headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Brooklyn, N.Y., similar to the course that Isaac Homza took (TileLetter June 2015). When he returned to Wisconsin in 1985, he founded his business, developing close personal working relationships.

“We began to find our niche in doing what others said could not be done,” Cravillion said. “Early on, we began following NTCA, TCNA, and ANSI guidelines. We grew to eventually have over 12 employees and a fleet of trucks, servicing eastern Wisconsin, even doing work in Hawaii, Montana, South Dakota, Florida, Michigan, Connecticut and New York.” In 2006, Cravillion Tile & Stone LLC earned the First Prize Commercial Spectrum Award for “The Women’s Room”.

The economic downturn of 2008 forced the contractor to make some changes, reducing work staff and overhead down to five full and part-time employees.

Sweet sixteen

This year marks the 16th year of NTCA membership for the contractor, which joined in 2000.

“While attending a NTCA work shop conducted by Dave Gobis back in the late 1990s, we were introduced to the NTCA and began to see the value it offered,” Cravillion said. “In 1999 while attending the Coverings show in Orlando, Fla., we cemented the commitment. Because of this we began to see how we could set ourselves apart from the rest of the crowd. We are not always the lowest price in a competitive bid, but specialize in doing the job right according to TCNA guidelines and ANSI standards.” One way the company sets itself apart from others, is by setting up a cleaning schedule and maintenance program that they follow through with on a yearly basis with customers.

Cravillion considers the greatest value in NTCA membership to be the networking with other contractors and industry leaders throughout the country: “people like Jim Olson, Bart Bettiga, John Cox, Michael Whistler, Isaac Homza, and well as many others,” he said. “We have benefited from the training seminars at Coverings, Total Solutions Plus, Daltile and setting materials manufacturers. As a NTCA State Director for Wisconsin, my goal is to bring this wealth of knowledge to those who are willing to participate. We also value the voucher program that is provided each year.”

Cravillion took his professionalism up another notch by becoming Certified Tile Installer #1116 on April 14, 2015. “It was a tremendous accomplishment, yet highly stressful test, being judged by your peers not just the customer,” he said.

Integrity is key to Cravillion. “When we know we have shown integrity, done the best we could, and have a satisfied customer – that is the reward, large or small,” he said. “It’s not about the money or income but knowing you did your job right and did not take any short cuts.”

Projects of excellence
Carriage house

Cravillion Tile & Stone LLC completed this circa early 1900s carriage house project over the summer of 2015, for a repeat customer. It entailed a linear drain system, mud-pack floors, and waterproof membrane system with polished white Thassos/Ming green mosaics.

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Bathroom renovation

This bathroom renovation was also completed in 2015, featuring a mud-pack floor over hydronic heat tubes, waterproofing over mud pack, and waterjet-cut pattern stone in Calacatta and Emperador marble. A linear drain was installed with curbless access. The project featured floor to ceiling marble with base and crown in matching stone.

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California Flooring LTD – NTCA Member Spotlight

1-calif-floorcustom-sponsor

 

 

 

 

 

California Flooring Ltd.

Manteno, Ill.

[email protected]

California Flooring LTD was founded back in 1993 by Kevin Insalato. The company was (and still is) 100% referral-based, servicing new construction, residential and commercial work.

At first, Insala to used subcontactors for all installations on flooring sold: ceramic, carpet, wood and vinyl. But after about a year, he “grew irritated with the quality of the subcontractors in all areas.” Instead, he decided to hire employees with no experience in floor covering and train them himself.

In 1996 he hired two installers who became his top employees: James Carr and Rafael Lopez. Both are now Certified Tile Installers and obtained their ACT certification in Large-Format Tile Installation at Coverings 2015.

Besides his tile certifications, James Carr is a woodworking craftsman, and a top remodel supervisor. Rafael Lopez has also qualified as a carpet installer, is a perfectionist, and are model supervisor. Lucas Turrell is the company’s other CTI and can install all types of flooring.

Insalato said, “This is an example of our company goal to train and certify everyone in as many areas as possible.”

This small company has grown to employ six installers, with Insalato’s wife Renata handling billing, payroll and bill paying, in addition to her regular full-time job. Insalato himself handles all the sales, scheduling and training, miraculously managing to invest 40% of his day in the field working with his installers. The next goal for the company is NTCA Five Star Contractor status, currently in the works.

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California Flooring LTD installed natural 3”x6” marble tile after fully screeding walls to flatten them for the installation. The granite curb and ledge were paired with an imported mosaic for a stunning effect. The company constructed and tiled the niche over the sink and inside the shower.

This one-stop shop is true to its name, handling kitchen and bath remodel fully in-house, including basic plumbing, electrical, drywall and painting needs.“ This allows me to design and sell the work, but more importantly schedule from start to finish,” Insalato said. Converting tub surrounds to luxurious showers with seats, niche and glass door and panels is the biggest percentage of the company’s remodel work.

California Flooring LTD also stocks the porcelain, glass tile and travertine tiles it uses the most. “Our customers can view past jobs and then feel and see the actual tile used in those gorgeous photos, not as a sample, but as several tiles laid out in their home,” Insalato said. Together with its CTIs and ACT-certified installers and a fair price, its competitors have a hard act to follow, Insalato said. “Service and a genuine love for what I do usually will clinch our sale,” he added.

California Flooring LTD started out in a small, rented 1,200-sq.-ft. commercial space with showroom, office and warehouse all in one. In 2001, it purchased and moved onto a 10-acre farm in Manteno. The company has a two-story building with a 5,000 sq. ft., heated warehouse, private showroom, office and living quarters. A second building holds cold storage. It can store up to 90 pallets of tile, underlayment, borders and building materials.

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California Flooring LTD is truly a one-stop shop, with everything in this photo completed by the staff including granite, cabinets, painting, floor and backsplash tile.

The influence of NTCA

Insalato joined NTCA in January 2008, at the height of the recession and when the company was in terrible financial straits, he said. “I first talked to Jim Olson at the NTCA booth at Surfaces,” he explained. “He was so professional and passionate that joining made sense, but spending the money did not. Once he explained the vouchers, I said, ‘I can’t resist this,’ and joined.”

Insalato’s interest was piqued in 2014 when membership was renewed at Surfaces, and the company received an invitation to visit the Schluter facility as part of a joint workshop with NTCA.

“The trip was educational, but I was so impressed with the dedication of all the NTCA members there and how well they functioned with a large organization like Schluter,” Insalato said. “It made sense to me that if Schluter thinks this highly of our organization, I should listen and learn as much as possible. My company and our employees can only benefit from this. Later that year I was nominated and received the position as Regional Director of Region 5 and now serve on our Board of Directors.”

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The design features here include the mirror inset flush with the tile, the glass border lining up with the top of the granite and, the half-wall constructed in the shower to match the border at the top of that wall. The elegant installation also features granite curb, seat and counter top.

The emphasis on standards that Insalato has experienced with NTCA has had a positive effect on his relationship with his installers.

“Since founding the business and training the employees in all facets of flooring and remodeling, everything was always based on MY standards,“ he said. Since joining the NTCA – learning about CTEF, and meeting CTEF’s Scott Carothers – the tile and stone installation standards are now based on industry standards taught by NTCA, TCNA and the CTI and ACT programs. They provide the knowledge and I provide the execution. The ability to perform your job as a tilesetter knowing you are doing your job correctly is vital to the mission statement a company can set.“

Insalato also connects with the industry at different events. “We always attend Surfaces because of our sales and installation of all flooring,” he said. “We have attended Coverings for four of the past seven years. We attended our first Total Solutions Plus [in 2015] and found the networking extremely useful.”

In conclusion, Insalato explained his passion is teaching, and this is reflected in his business.

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This project was completely designed and built in-house, using the wide range of skills and specialties at California Flooring LTD: porcelain tile, granite, glass door and panel.

“To share with someone how you designed, and then convince the client that this is the design for them, is exciting,” he said. “To then be in the field and actually build and fabricate that design with your employees and explain not only the technical, but the color and texture elements that are in play to complete the room – whether it’s simple or stunning – is a feeling you want over and over. It’s addicting and you want to share it with everyone.”

MAPEI Corporation Hosts NTCA Five Star Contractors in Vancouver

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

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

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

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

NTCA Five Star Contractor Awards Announced at Coverings

NTCA also presented its Five Star Contractor Grand Prize awards for outstanding installations in both Commercial and Residential projects.

An independent panel of judges evaluated numerous submissions and awarded the winners based on Scope (size of project), Complexity (challenges), Technical Soundness (resolution of challenges) and Design and Presentation (Overall appearance, layout and artistic value). Special recognition was given to those projects exemplifying stunning tile and stone in both commercial and residential tile installations.

The Five Star winners received $2,500 each in prize money, sponsored by Daltile Corporation.

GP-commWelch Tile & Marble of Kent City, Michigan, received the Five Star Grand Prize for Commercial Tile Installation. The firm’s installation of 45,000 sq. ft. of floor tile, 1,500 sq. ft. of Ledge Stone and 6,500 sq. ft. of wall tile at the Ferris State University, Rankin Student Center, was a glowing example of the company’s technical expertise when confronted by a multitude of challenges. A major task from the start, this renovation project’s obstacles included weather, time constraints, multiple product lines and the advancing age of the existing building.

GP-resCollins Tile and Stone of Ashburn, Va., was the recipient of the Five Star Grand Prize for Residential Tile Installation. The firm’s project, Modern Tranquility, started off with a complete demolition of the master bathroom including elimination of two picture windows. The most innate challenge of this project was the construction of a steam shower. The project included a decorative mural inset comprised of hand-made, fused glass mosaic. Collins Tile and Stone adhered to every industry standard, not only enhancing the beauty of the bathroom, but ensuring longevity of the tile work.

 

New Member/Five Star Contractor Spotlight – February 2015

custom-sponsorElite Tile Setters
South Jordan, Utah

Since: 1998

NTCA5starcontractorSpecialty: Commercial, new construction and high-end remodels.

Website: www.elitetilesetters.com

When Stan Platt started Elite Tile Setters (ETS) in 1998, he was looking for a way to get through college and take care of his young family. The business quickly grew and his wife, Amy, soon took over the financial and administrative duties. Word spread and jobs rolled in.

Matt Newbold was an early hire and became a key building block for the team. Newbold takes point when it comes to innovation and technology. His uncanny ability to keep up with all of the options and proper application and techniques is a huge asset.

0215-platts“If you want to be a part of the Elite Tile Setter team, you better love what you do and be passionate about sharpening your skills and embracing new ideas,” Newbold said. “Let’s face it, if you’re bored with your work it will show.”

The enthusiasm of the Elite Tile Setter team is infectious especially with homeowners. That’s the magic that’s earned the ETS team the trust of builders and homeowners all over Utah and even a few in Hawaii.

In order for Elite Tile Setters to continue to grow, the company finds and develops talent through weekly training and mentoring. It hires not just experienced, qualified setters who are creative with an eye for detail, but setters who know how to work. The culture of the company is such that team members feed off each other to do a little more, be a little more precise, and take responsibility.

“It’s all about trust, responsibility, and communication,” Platt remarked. “They know I trust them. They also know they’re responsible to me and, more importantly, to each other.”
If communication starts breaking down, Platt likes to take the picture of the porcupine off the office wall and review the parable of the porcupine, as a reminder of why teams are important. (See sidebar for the fable.) It always gets a few good-natured eye rolls and groans, but ETS staff knows being a team takes work.

0215-sidebar-parableThe solid relationships extend beyond the ETS team in maintaining good rapport with a network of manufacturers and distributors. Answers come straight from the source – no guesswork.

Newbold is straightforward regarding these relationships. “They’re critical to our business,” he said. “I’m not going to gamble with a client’s project. When we have questions, we’re going to get answers and do it right.” General contractors love these connections because it means things happen on time and the work is reliable. Homeowners love the look and function of their new tile.

The Elite Tile Setters team members are excited about NTCA training and industry-sanctioned certification. They take their craft seriously (they rarely take themselves seriously, but that’s another story). Their professionalism pushes them to learn more and stay current.

The Certified Tile Installer program from CTEF plays right into that attitude. The team benefits from the training of the certified installers as they share and help others prepare for certification. The CTI certification and Five Star Contractor credentials also add to their already Elite status.

“We’re proud to be the first in Utah,” Platt said. “You can’t lead from behind.”

As the NTCA state rep, Platt has a particular interest in certification. He understands that raising the bar for all setters is crucial to the growth of the industry, not just ETS. That education extends to builders as they learn more about the importance of the system under the tile: work that experienced, Certified Tile Installers do on a daily basis.

0215-fivestar-1Project Spotlight Hackett Construction & Design

The Salt Lake City job for Hackett Construction & Design that the Elite Tile Setters team just completed is a good example of the high-end home work that ETS is known for. Working closely with lead designer Annie Hackett, Platt had a number of layout and design challenges to work through, selecting and installing porcelain tile and wood flooring throughout the house. The project includes five bathrooms, three washrooms, a spiral staircase and a glass tile backsplash in the kitchen. The kitchen and master bath are the real showpieces.

0215-fivestar-2The elegant large-format glass tile backsplash in the kitchen was a challenge due to the large-format glass, which had some warpage and needed to be cut. This dark glass accents a clean, contemporary look in the kitchen.

ETS installed a heated floor system throughout the master bath, including the bench in the steam shower. The challenge was finding a low-profile heated floor system that would create a smooth transition between the bathroom tile and the low-profile carpet in the master bedroom. The oval, jetted tub is surrounded by metal and glass mosaic, so it required installing different materials in the same piece, and finding a thinset that coordinated with both glass and metal.

0215-fivestar-3While the color palette throughout the house is consistent, the materials and feel vary from room to room by changing the layout of tile to customize each area for a very custom job. Recognizing ETS as experts in the industry, the homeowners and the designer gave ETS freedom to design the layout and features.

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New Member/Five Star Contractor Spotlight – January 2015

custom-sponsorFor 2015, we broaden the focus from our Five Star Contractor Spotlights to shine a light on the fantastic things NTCA members are doing throughout the association. But first, we have a few new Five Star Contractors we want to introduce, so this month, we focus on Visalia Ceramic Tile, which became a Five Star Contractor right before Total Solutions Plus last year.

NTCA5starcontractorVisalia Ceramic Tile
Visalia, Calif.
Since: 1985
Specialty: Specialty: New construction and/or remodels of commercial, residential and industrial projects, both private and public.
Website: www.visaliaceramictile.com

In 1959, Tony and Betty Martinho started their journey of a new marriage as well as building their business future in ceramic tile in the small town of Tulare, Calif. The Martinhos were blessed with 11 children in the following 12 ½ years. By 1972, Tony owned his own small business installing tile. After years of unsuccessfully urging a colleague to set up a store in Tulare County, Tony and Betty quit installing to start the first tile retail business in Visalia, Calif., just 10 miles up the road. American Ceramic Tile & Supply is still thriving today, with over 40 stone and tile suppliers, and hundreds of tile choices in various sizes, colors, textures, and materials in stock for immediate installation, with special orders arriving within days.

1-5star-0115In 1985, Tony and Betty, together with the help of their adult kids began installing tile again, and Visalia Ceramic Tile, Inc. (VCT) was established. At one time, four out of six sons were installing tile, and four out of five daughters were working in the office and showroom.

In 1993, Tony and Betty sold the company to four of their children, who continue to own and lead the company today. Tony passed away of cancer; Betty is enjoying her retirement at home with numerous hobbies, and pride in her grandchildren and great grandchildren. Over the years, the success of VCT has been established on several ethics that Tony and Betty taught their kids: serve people, build lasting relationships and treat your employees like family – the legacy of Tony and Betty’s vision.

Today, the family business employs over 75 people. Although the company has grown outside of the Martinho family, the family atmosphere continues to be very visible today. The growth of the company is not only reflected in the employee count but also in VCT’s territory, which has reached beyond the San Joaquin Valley to include the Central and Northern Coastal areas of California.

2-5star-0115Traveling throughout California, VCT averages about 500 projects per year, which include new construction and/or remodels of commercial, residential and industrial projects both private and public.

VCT’s reputation in California has been built on the service that is provided for customers through performance, quality, timeliness and collaboration with other professionals such as suppliers, architects, general contractors, sub-contractors, designers, and owner representatives.

In September 2013 the CTEF certified 23 VCT installers as Certified Tile Installers! An interesting “first” occurred while conducting the CTI test at VCT facility: in the five year history of the CTI program, VCT set a record for having the largest number of installers from the same company who were tested at the same time over the two-day period.

3-5star-0115“Becoming one of the newest Five Star Contractors is very rewarding for our company,” said Visalia’s Debbi Barton. “We are honored to be a part of an elite group of tile contractors in America. We look forward to how the future of being a Five Star Contractor will benefit VCT. The knowledge gained by attending the Total Solutions Plus Seminars has benefited the company in connecting with other members who can relate to our operations. The training and education that is shared gives new direction in our times of change. Sharing the knowledge and stories from each contact is motivational and inspiring.”

Project spotlight

4-5star-0115VCT spent three months on a recent project: a professional three-story building in Fresno, Calif. This building has 15,000 sq. ft. of polished marble and porcelain tile installed on interior floors, columns, walls and restrooms. Installation included waterproofing, lightweight thin-set mortar on a mortar bed for floated floors, with edge profiles for a finished appearance.

The level of pride founded by Tony and Betty resonates in the business today as the business grows and moves into the third generation of the family business.

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