August 22, 2014

Five Star Spotlight – Syverson Tile & Stone


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



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

Five Star Contractor Spotlight – Performance Tile and Marble Co., Inc.

custom-sponsorPerformance Tile and Marble Co., Inc.

LaPlace, La.

Since: 1989

Specialty: Custom residential, light commercial, high-risk waterproofing projects (i.e. decks, balconies, showers, steam showers), ADA-compliant projects.

five starWebsite:

Performance Tile and Marble Company was founded in 1989, located in LaPlace, La., near New Orleans, and services all of Louisiana and the Gulf Coast. With vast technical knowledge of the tile industry, Performance Tile is sought out by contractors, designers and architects throughout the Southeast as problem solvers. As one of the original NTCA Five Star Contractors – and the only one in the state of Louisiana – it has always been committed to excellence.

Performance Tile supplies and installs all types of tile and stone – using only premium setting materials – and not only meets, but exceeds industry standards.

Todd Duhe is the president of Performance Tile and Marble Company. His wife, Gina, runs the office and the showroom. They are both committed to advancement of the tile trade. Todd is one of the NTCA Recognized Industry Consultants (InspecTile Consulting), and mitigated over $9,000,000 in damages due to poor installations in one year.

Todd Duhe is certified in mold remediation, mold inspection, and asbestos-abatement projects to manage hazardous work situations that involve mold and existing asbestos floor coverings, and to protect their customers and employees from any health or safety risks.

Other industry involvements include the National Association of Home Builders, American Concrete Institute, Construction Specification Institute, International Code Council, Southeastern Mold Institute, Forensic Expert Witness Association, The Ceramic Tile Institute of America, NTCA Technical Committee, and the NTCA State Director of Louisiana.

The market in which Performance Tile serves has over the last several years been struck with several hurricanes. Along with the devastation came large numbers of less-knowledgeable contractors. Cheap pricing and unskilled labor have resulted in a large number of projects that needed to be totally torn out and redone. This is where most of Performance Tile’s efforts are centered. Unfortunately, it takes a failure and a substantial amount of money for some customers to realize that “cheap” costs plenty. According to Todd, “Price is your initial investment on a project. Cost is the total cash outlay of your original price plus the thousands of additional dollars to correct failures.”

Performance Tile is committed to never cutting corners or standards just to get a job. Over 60% of its work load is re-doing water-related damaged tile installations caused by unskilled contractors. The company’s motto is “It costs less to do it right, than to do it over.”

Dedicated to supporting the industry, Todd is always willing to help anyone who asks. He has an overwhelming drive to educate anyone in the industry, including competitors. “Good competition among skilled labor and friends will eventually drive our industry forward, leaving the less qualified behind,” he said.

Featured Project

performance_tile-5star-1This 8,000-sq.-ft. home in New Orleans is owned by a large commercial roofing contractor. The homeowner had several custom showers and a flagstone balcony. Since he roofs commercial skyscrapers for a living, he has first-class experiences of the importance of proper waterproofing techniques.

Another obstacle was installing 3,000 sq. ft. of Crossville polished porcelain tile over a post-tensioned slab. Performance Tile and Marble used an uncoupling membrane over the post-tensioned concrete and mudded and waterproofed the showers. The project also included an exterior balcony.



The project included an exterior flagstone balcony.

Five Star Spotlight – Wirtz Quality Installations, Inc.


San Diego, Calif.
Since: 1972
Specialty: Providing impeccable quality and service for commercial and high-end residential installations, predicated on long-term relationships with clients; exceeding expectations through accountability to project schedules; and upholding the highest technical standards.
Employees: 60


The Wirtz family has been a solid fixture in the tile industry in San Diego for three generations. It all started with John Q. Wirtz, who would bring his two-year old son John David along with him to work. Years later, the father and son team – along with spouses Wanda and Cookie, respectively – officially started their family business, a two-bucket company, in 1972.

After growing up in the family business, John and Cookie’s daughter Amber Fox decided to officially join the company in 1997. As she made her way up through the company, she became a Ceramic Tile Consultant, and she is currently serving her second term on the NTCA Board of Directors. Her current position at Wirtz is vice president. Fox aspires to run the company one day.

Under her tutelage, Wirtz Quality Installation, Inc., (WQI) won the Coverings Installation Awards First Prize Tile for a Commercial project for the Palomar Medical Center West in April 2012, and a 2010 TileLetter Awards Commercial Installation Award of Merit for the Se Hotel in San Diego.

wirtz-employeesThis family story does not end here. The 60 employees of WQI have been with the Wirtz family for an average of 14 years, ranging from over 30 years to those who joined just last year. This company has always taken pride in its goal of treating each person as a member of this family and not just an employee. These employees – along with their depth of experience and the culture of teamwork – give WQI the confidence to take on so many diverse and intricate projects. All of the company’s key positions are filled with long-term employees. The Wirtz family knows that these employees are what make the company stand out.

WQI strongly believes in not becoming complacent, and holds its employees to this same standard. WQI not only stays involved in adapting to industry changes, it also makes sure that employees have the necessary training that will better them as individuals. For example, WQI sent nine installers through the CTEF Certified Installer Program, all of whom passed with excellent workmanship.

One employee who Wirtz considers the heart of the company is Steve McMurphy. He joined the WQI team back in 1982 and has been moving the company forward ever since. As field supervisor he is in charge of all the installers and the scheduling.

wirtz-restroomAs Steve is the heart of the company, Frank Echols – who has been with the company for 25 years – is the backbone. Echols is WQI’s senior estimator.

“You will not find a more thorough and detail-oriented person,” explained Amber Fox. “When we turn in a bid, we have every confidence that it is correct and complete. Anyone who has done commercial work knows how important estimating is to having a successful project.”

Project manager Justin Kylstad is amazing at keeping WQI jobs organized, running smoothly and coming in on budget – not an easy task in this unpredictable monster called construction.

Warehouse manager, Pablo Murillo, Jr. has had the challenge of handling Wirtz orders shipments and deliveries for the past 27 years.

“While he takes his work very seriously, his personality has everyone laughing at the same time,” Fox said.

wirtz-bathroomOffice manager Bernadette Reyes is the sunshine in the company, keeping all of the office on track, and keeping staff and employees all in line. She has the pleasure of processing contracts and their insurance needs as well as accounts payable.

Ryan Wilson is the latest addition to WQI office. “We are thankful every day for Ryan,” Fox said. “He goes above and beyond for this company. He makes sure that our projects are not only paid on time so this company can continue in this economy, but he is a wizard at all of the billing requirements for the different general contractors.”


WQI foremen, Phil Reyes, Albert De La Vega, Dan Gilstrap, Joel Martinez, Victor Fox and Sal Contreras have seen and done it all. They have led numerous tile projects throughout San Diego, including – but not limited to – hospitals, office buildings, condo high-rises, hotels, restaurants, and casinos. And these are just examples from WQI’s commercial division; the foremen feel just as at home in high-end custom homes as they do in a large commercial project. They are the foundation for the company and the excellent relationships and repeat business that Wirtz has with its general contractors today.


What the family of employees brings to the mix are core components of holding to WQI’s mission statement: “We create long-term relationships with our clients, exceeding their expectations through our accountability to project schedules, upholding the highest technical standards, and providing impeccable quality and service.”

Wirtz Quality Installations, Inc., is very fortunate to have the next generation in place in all the key positions. This group is all in their late 30s and already has over a decade of experience. With their enthusiasm and interest for the industry, it looks like Wirtz Quality Installations, Inc., will have a bright future.

Wirtz Quality Installations, Inc., lives and breathes its motto every day: “Work hard but laugh harder.” Having a treasured family of employees makes living that dream a reality.


Five Star Spotlight – Precision Tile Company Inc.

custom-sponsorPrecision Tile Company, Inc.
West Columbia, S.C.
Since: 1982
Specialty: Residential remodel projects; hard tile, marble and granite installations

five starAfter his service in the Navy relocated Scott Heron to Charleston, S.C., from his home state of Michigan, Heron decided to start his own renovation company. It didn’t take long for him to fall in love with setting tile.

scott_heronAfter moving to Columbia, S.C., in 1987, Heron decided to specialize in hard tile, marble, and granite installations; thus Precision Tile Co. was born. Being the new kid on the block posed quite a few challenges in the early years. With word-of-mouth referrals moving only among the established, generational tile setters, it was tough to break into a new market. But Heron equipped himself with knowledge and education to best serve his customers.

Precision Tile takes great pride in transforming someone’s idea into a long-lasting installation, of which both Heron and the homeowner can be proud. For Heron, there’s no better compliment or feeling than when a former customer calls to say how pleased he or she still is, and that they would like him to work on a new project. Repeat business is not only the best mark of a quality installer, but it serves as its own stamp of quality on both an installer and his/her business.

With a desire to know as much as possible about the tile industry and to be better able to create a quality job for his customers, Heron regularly attends Coverings, Total Solutions Plus, and reads as many industry publications as he can get his hands on. Therefore, Heron’s customers are able to discern – from their first meeting – how passionate he is about setting tile and how knowledgeable he has become.

Being certified by the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation and achieving Five Star Contractor status has made a tremendous difference in the amount of business that has come Heron’s way. Having a pedigree has opened doors to new jobs, new builders, and new educational avenues. It has given him the chance to expand his reach in the industry, as well as help to direct the future of the tile industry. Heron also likes having access to the other Five Star Contractors across the country, in case he comes across a new problem. “Having a qualified pool of people from whom I can ask questions is invaluable,” he said.

As chairman of the HBA of Greater Columbia Remodelers’ Council, Heron’s wisdom and expertise is often sought by builders and other installers. He regularly gives advice to contractors and homeowners alike, to the point of giving homeowners his cell phone number, in the event a DIYer hits a snag. Heron has visited many a job site to review the work and help homeowners get past stumbling blocks, without charging the homeowner or contractor for his time. While business and jobs are important, teaching people how to properly set tile is Heron’s number one focus.

Featured Project

Renovating and restyling a bathroom is easy compared to updating one within the original style of the home.

The Browns needed to have leak damage repaired, but also wanted to add some upgrades to their master and guest baths. The challenge was selecting “just the right” material and installing it to look original.

As you can see, neither of these challenges posed any difficulty to Precision Tile.

The new tile selected looks original to the 1930s art-deco style of the home, but updated layouts, fixtures and vanities give the project a more contemporary flair. A clean grey and white motif was used in the master bathroom while the guest bath, which is also used by the children, has a warmer and more durable material selection and color palette of browns and beiges.


Five Star Contractor Spotlight – Lippert Tile Company, Inc.

5starlogoLippert Tile Company, Inc.custom-sponsor
Menomonee Falls/Milwaukee Area, Wis.
Specialty: Commercial flooring contractor; supplies and installs ceramic tile, stone tile, coatings, carpet, resilient and hardwood flooring, with attention to detail, craftsmanship, industry standards and best practices, while maintaining community and industry involvement.

Founded in 1949, Lippert Tile Company, Inc., is a full-service commercial flooring contractor near Milwaukee, serving all of southeastern Wisconsin. Known for attention to detail, craftsman- ship, industry standards, best practices and community and industry involvement, Lippert is regarded as a value-adding solutions provider and problem solver.

Lippert furnishes and installs ceramic tile, stone tile, coatings, carpet, resilient and hardwood flooring, and reclaims 100% of its carpet waste for recycling for the commercial construction market of southeastern Wisconsin.

The company is now in the third generation of leadership. Les Lippert is the president, and
Jeff Lippert is the executive vice president. Both have been with the company for more than 30 years, and represent a continuation of the founder’s commitment to the best attainable quality at a fair price; Lippert stands behind its work.

An area of industry involvement includes Tile Contractors Association of America, to which the company has contributed two past presidents (Les and father, Alan), and two Carl V. Cesery Award winners (Alan in 1996, Les in 2012). Other industry involvement includes NTCA, Starnet Worldwide, various local con- tractors’ associations, and a large ongoing local industry educational initiative for the local architecture and design communities.

Community involvement is also important to Lippert Tile, with an annual golf outing benefiting Homes For Our Troops, monthly shipments overseas through Adopt-A-Platoon, Relay For Life, and other community-service and charity-fundraising events throughout the year. Giving back of its time, treasures, and talents is a core value of the company.

Lippert’s service and craftsman- ship are well regarded, but what sets it apart is its commitment to technical knowledge and skill, industry standards and best practices, its own high standards, and its willingness to proactively solve problems. Whether the issue of the day is a schedule compressed and made challenging by delays earlier in the project, or  technically-challenging site conditions or materials, new applications, or unanticipated changes, Lippert can and will adapt to the circumstances and meet the client’s expectations. This is an area of particular pride; the company is known for its ability to deliver in the most difficult situations.

The company provides access to many continuing education opportunities for its employees, enabling them to serve clients as consultants and solutions providers.

Les and Jeff Lippert take seriously the responsibility they have to build an organization that remains faithful to the needs of the current and future employees, and their families, through individual and collective excellence and achievement. Being great together provides the basis for employees to achieve the success they hope for on behalf of their families.

lippert-cheesecake_07-02 (2)lippert travertine reilly_house-055 (2)lippert marble installlippert la fitnesslippert barnes and noble east_entrance-02 (2)

Five Star Contractor Spotlight – Lambert Tile & Stone

custom-sponsor5starlogoLambert Tile & Stone, Inc.
Eagle, Colo.
Since: 2001
Specialty: High-end residential tile and stone, installation
Employees: 5


As Colorado’s only Five Star Contractor, Lambert Tile & Stone has been installing high-end residential tile and stone in the Vail Valley for more 13 years. Dan and Elizabeth Lambert, owners of Lambert Tile & Stone, joined the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) more four years ago and now currently sit on the Board of Directors representing Region 10. Dan also currently sits on the Standards and Methods Committee and the Technical Committee.

Elizabeth and Dan Lambert“Joining the NTCA was one of the best decisions we have ever made for our business,” Elizabeth explained. “The education and support we have received from this organization has allowed to us to become experts in our field. The tile industry is always evolving and requires us to stay current with new technology so constant education is key to being a success.

“Since joining the NTCA we have also been fortunate to win two prizes, 2010 TileLetter Residential Award of Merit and 2013 Five Star Project of the Year Residential Installation Grand Prize,” Elizabeth continued. “It is such an honor to be recognized for our passion and expertise in the tile industry.”

The Lamberts credit their employees with their success, all of whom have been trained and certified through the CTEF testing in the current methods and standards of the industry.

“The old adage that you are only as good as your team is the theme at Lambert Tile and Stone,” Dan said.

Lambert Tile & Stone also likes to give back to their community,  such as volunteering to help the local Habitat for Humanity chapter with anything tile related, from educating the volunteers, providing labor, and asking local distributors for donations of tile and installation materials for the projects.

“We would like to thank the manufacturers and distributors in the tile industry who support the Five Star Program,” Elizabeth said. “Those who go out of their way to have us test out tools and equipment and listen to our feedback, offer rebates when we purchase their products, use our company in their marketing campaigns, and even offer to help pay for our employee tee shirts.

“The relationships that we have built through the Total Solution Plus conferences are invaluable,” Dan added. “By becoming a Five Star Contractor we have further set ourselves apart as one of the nation’s highest-quality tile contractors. It represents our commitment to professionalism, experience and service to the tile industry. Come meet the Lambert Tile & Stone team at Coverings in Las Vegas at the Installation Showcase in April 2014.”

Featured Project:
Wolcott, Colorado

This project was just another day at the office, installed by the team of Lambert Tile & Stone.

“The master bathroom and wet bar backsplash are an example of what we install on a daily basis,” Elizabeth said.

The soothing color palette of Crema Marfil marble in various sizes and the flowing leaves mosaic listello was selected and installed in the master shower. A floating corner bench was recommended to the owners as a way to maximize the space in the shower. The wet bar backsplash received black marble with gold aspen leaves popping up from the tile in relief, perfect for this mountain home.

project 3project 2project 1



Five Star Contractor Spotlight – Cox Tile, Inc.

custom-sponsorCox Tile, Inc.
San Antonio, Texas
Since: 1981
Specialty: High-end residential installations, large, difficult, and demanding jobs. Mudwork is Cox Tile’s forte.
cox_logoEmployees: 13
Social media: Cox Tile Inc. on Facebook and YouTube

As a college student in 1975, pursuing a major with little opportunity, John Cox soon learned how the economy can change one’s goals and dreams. Who would have known that a part-time job would inspire a career filled with creativity, hard work, and perseverance – and would lead to the opportunity to become a business owner and completely fall in love with a trade? The challenges that go along with owning your own business cannot be ignored, but the satisfaction of creating and completing a superior installation that inspires the mind, soothes the soul, or breaks all barriers of beauty can be exhilarating.

cox_installsThe foundation of John’s business from the outset has always been to provide an undeniably quality product and customer service second to none. Cox Tile focuses on high-end residential installations and its employees never shy away from the impossible. The team approach and Cox Tile culture has trademarked the company as an outstanding resource for a quality execution of the most challenging and difficult installations. No amount of advertising can compete with the praises of a truly satisfied customer. John strives to be fundamentally involved with each project from design to completion, always working with his team to exceed customers’ expectations, every time.

As any business owner can tell you, to stay at the top of your game you must continue to hone your expertise and be knowledgeable regarding all materials and tools related to your field, especially as they progress and evolve. You must strive to retain the very best employees and never settle for anything but excellence. Providing superior customer service that instills confidence in your product and your company is paramount. And lastly, it is imperative to seek all avenues to increase your knowledge, skill and expertise so you can rise to the top of your field. These cornerstones have seen John’s company through good times and bad and allowed him the opportunity to work with very best builders, designers, architects, suppliers and other contractors in the business.

In his pursuit of knowledge, an obvious resource was the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) – an organization devoted completely to the professional tile contractor and the tile industry. As a first-generation tile contractor, he had no support system and only the knowledge gleaned from working for several contracting companies early in his career. Each year, as his company grew, it was evident that joining the NTCA was crucial. It has been instrumental in the growth and success of Cox Tile. To this day, John cites it as the best investment he has ever made in his business.

John has been on the NTCA Board of Directors serving as regional director, 2nd vice president, 1st vice president, president, chairman and currently as advisor to the Board. He has been a member of the NTCA Technical Committee since 2004 and co-authored the NTCA Business Reference Manual. Cox Tile is a three-time Grand Prize Installation Winner in the TileLetter Awards competition, and also received an Award of Merit in this competition. In 2013, Cox Tile received the Residential Stone Installation prize in the Coverings Installation and Design Awards. For four years running, Cox Tile has been an active participant in the Installation Design Showcase at Coverings.

John was the 13th member contractor to receive the NTCA Five Star Contractor designation and holds a Certified Tile Installer skills validation from the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation. He is committed to educating his tile setters so they are all Certified Tile Installers. John was honored by the NTCA as Tile Person of the Year in 2009.

Cox Tile is committed to excellence in every endeavor, always taking to heart the principle that “fulfilling a request or performing a task is commonplace – crafting an ambiance, stimulating awe – that’s creativity.”

Visit  the company at or give John a call if you are ever in the San Antonio area at 210-340-1122 – he would love to meet you.

Five Star Contractor Spotlight – Klaser Tile

Klaser Tile Company, Inc.

Chula Vista, Calif.

Since: 1974

Specialty: Commercial tile and stone,
adhered veneer, and industrial flooring installations

Employees: 40


klaserlogoKlaser Tile has been family owned and operated for 39 years. Bill and Merrily Klaser started the company in 1974 and still actively manage the business along with their son Kent. Having installed millions of square feet of adhered-veneer stone, tile and brick, Klaser Tile is considered an expert at commercial flooring, exterior veneers, and industrial flooring.

klaserfamilyLearning from the masters

Founder Bill Klaser started the company in 1974 with his wife Merrily after attending the University of Southern California (USC). Bill, being a very quality-minded person, was persistent in learning every aspect of the trade. He became a Ceramic Tile Consultant (CTC), certified by the Ceramic Tile Institute in 1979. Bill did a short apprenticeship with Herman Schock, a CTI Perpetual Trophy-winning industry installer, and learned how to install Venetian glass mosaics in Roman bathtubs. He later traveled to Germany to briefly work with German master installers to learn some European methods of ceramic tile installation. Bill is currently a Technical Committee member of Ceramic Tile Institute of America (CTIOA) and chairs the Exterior Veneer Technical Committee.

Certified Women’s Business Enterprise

Merrily started working right away with the company, even early on as Bill’s helper. As the company grew over the years, Merrily performed all of the administrative and accounting operations. To this day, she still loves her work and actively manages the business full time. Since Merrily retains 51% of the ownership, Klaser Tile is a certified Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE).

The next generation

Bill’s son Kent has followed in his father’s footsteps by becoming a CTC, serving on the NTCA Board of Directors, and now sitting on the NTCA Technical Committee. Kent, vice-president of operations, has a business management degree and actively oversees all operations, project management, and estimating.

History and specialties

klaser-petcoKlaser Tile began by specializing in custom residential installations (1974-1983) which included Roman bathtubs and other complex projects requiring tile expertise. In 1983 the company’s focus shifted to commercial work, which included shopping malls, restaurants, and some thin-brick and ceramic tile exterior veneers. These were the years in which Klaser Tile became known as an expert installer of epoxy thin-set and epoxy grouting systems. In 1993, Klaser Tile started specializing in exterior veneers, including dome-tiled roofs largely done in Venetian glass mosaics. Since the mid-1990s, Klaser Tile has installed over 3 million square feet of exterior veneers, including San Diego’s PETCO Ballpark, where 160,000 square feet of Indian Sandstone was installed.

klaser-holycrossInstalling exterior veneers – and particularly tiled domes – is a very complex job, and it is critical that they are done correctly. There are only a few installers capable of doing this type of work, which is another indication of Klaser Tile’s capabilities and commitment to quality. Klaser Tile has installed many fully-tiled swimming pools – another expertise Klaser Tile possesses.

klaser-biogenKlaser Tile now has an Industrial Division which focuses on Industrial Flooring Installations where corrosion-resistant flooring is critical, such as in the food, dairy, pharmaceutical, and chemical process industries. Klaser Tile recently completed a two-phase project in Colorado where it installed over 250,000 square feet of acid-resistant tile.

Today there are few installation companies that can claim expertise in so many types of stone, tile and brick applications. And, likewise, there are few that stand behind their work with the integrity and commitment of Klaser Tile. It is the mission of Klaser Tile Company to maintain the highest quality standards for the installation of ceramic tile and stone. Maintaining industry standards of the ceramic tile, stone and brick trade is also a top priority of Klaser Tile.

Five Star Contractor Spotlight – October 2012 – Hohn & Hohn, Inc.


ntca5starcontractor_lrg (2)






Hohn & Hohn, Inc.

St. Paul, Minn.

Since 1990

Specialty: Residential remodeling and historic restoration

Employees: 3


Jan Hohn

Jan Hohn

One of the more frequently asked questions of Jan Hohn, president and owner of Hohn & Hohn, Inc., is who is the other Hohn?  For many years, Jan’s answer was “Hohn & Hohn is me & me.”

Hohn & Hohn, Inc. spawned from humble beginnings over two decades ago, when Jan and her husband bought an old house and began the lifelong task of remodeling. As a DIYer, the journey into the tile world instantly began for Jan. Her first project was the kitchen backsplash, and her work brought kudos from the general contractor working for her at the time: “You do that better than most of the guys out there!” That sealed it. Bitten by the remodeling bug and looking for a new career path at the time, Hohn & Hohn , Inc. was born.

But why Hohn & Hohn? Besides her interest in tile, Jan was also interested in design . So one “Hohn” represented a tile contractor and the other “Hohn” a home remodeling consultant. Each “Hohn” just happened to be Jan Hohn.

Looking back, Jan admits that while her first backsplash looked good, she really didn’t understand the necessary prep needed for a quality installation. Therefore, she decided to seek out a tile installation education. Jan frequently attended seminars at distributors, inquired about their products and installation methods and built relationships with vendors. Attending IT&SE (now Coverings) really opened her eyes to the magnitude of the tile industry.

Jan became active in the local tile association and served on the association board and as president. In 2009, she became the first woman NTCA member to be certified through CTEF’s Certified Tile Installer program. Jan now serves as Region 7 Director on the NTCA Board of Directors and is Chair of the Training & Education Committee. Jan is also a member of the NTCA Technical Committee and is active on the Methods & Standards Committee.

Hohn & Hohn, Inc. is known for quality installations, attention to detail and servicing clients — whether they are general contractors, designers, architects or homeowners. Working in the remodeling and historic restoration arena has given Hohn & Hohn, Inc. latitude with clients in design and tile selection. Recently, two Hohn & Hohn, Inc, installations have won Tileletter Awards.

After 20 years of being solo, Jan Hohn finally hired two full time employees in May of 2011. Her husband (and silent partner) recently retired from his career in computer software and helps (when he can) by picking up and delivering materials. Making it a true family affair, Jan hired her son in April 2012. The only downside?  Now when asked the question “who is the other Hohn?,” she no longer can respond, “Hohn & Hohn is me & me.”

Feature Project: Residential Stone Renaissance

This residential stone project consisted of over 1200 sq. ft. of White Bulgarian and Irish Blue limestone throughout the front entry, hallways, powder room, kitchen, back entry, and pool bathroom; along with a three-color stone mosaic kitchen backsplash.

hohn project pic 1 (2)

One of the challenges on this project was the layout. Trying to keep all areas centered with the inset cabochons and borders as the drawings demanded resulted in reframing some of the walls instead of compromising the pattern.

Another difficulty was keeping the stone floor flush with all the adjoining hardwood floors even though

the hardwood floors were not level. Also the limestone came in three different thicknesses which made the installation of a flat, tight jointed floor a bit more work, but ended with great results.