NTCA University is now up and running



The NTCA University is no longer a dream but reality! The site went live in January.

There are three separate sections to the University: Apprenticeship, Business, and Continuing Education. The online courses currently available for the apprentice program are introductory courses, such as safety orientation, tile safety awareness, electric tool orientation, and introduction to grout. These courses were developed to educate apprentices new to the tile industry, but they are also beneficial for any employees that are new to the industry such as sales reps.

The Apprentice Finisher program will be a two-year program. The first six months are all orientation courses designed as an introduction to everything one may see on the job, as well as products that may be used on a project. The next six months will be skill development courses. For example, the apprentice will learn about surface profile and prep and will gain more in-depth knowledge about the products introduced during orientation. At the start of year two, the apprentice will gain more detailed knowledge about the topics they’ve been studying. Towards the end of the second year, apprentices will learn how to be a setter helper, and study management skills that are useful in managing other finishers. Each course has a quiz associated with it; student apprentices must score at least 80% on the quiz to receive a completion certificate.

Once more courses are developed, information will be available for contractors to learn how to submit and register the apprentice program to their state Department of Labor.

NTCA has also added business courses for contractor members. Many NTCA contractor members are family-owned businesses, not big companies. They have spent their lives working in the tile industry, not necessarily running a business. There are many courses available to support their business success, such as basic marketing, basic accounting, employee recruitment, social media in the workplace, and workplace diversity.

Lastly, continuing education courses have been added to the site. These courses are registered with AIA and IDCEC to offer continuing education credits. All of the continuing education presentations created by the NTCA will be available online for architects, designers, contractors, and manufacturers. These courses include tile and stone water management, and backer boards for tile installations. Similar to the Apprentice Finisher program, each course has a quiz associated with it that requires a score of at least 80% to receive continuing education credits and a completion certificate.

All of the courses are available for purchase at the NTCA store. Once a course is purchased, the student will receive a link to the course to directly access the course via the link. NTCA members can also log on to their NTCA accounts to access all of the NTCA University courses in one’s account. Courses can be accessed from computers, tablets, or phones.

NTCA will continue to add new courses to all sections of the NTCA University as they are developed. Monthly updates are planned in a dedicated section of future issues of TileLetter. NTCA members can also visit the NTCA Store to find out what courses are currently available.

– Becky Serbin, NTCA Training and Education Coordinator

NTCA Benefits Box – PartnerShip

partnership-logoPartnerShip®, the endorsed shipping management provider of NTCA, 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.  This program is FREE to all NTCA members, with no minimums required.

Members can  request a no-obligation free quote for standard or guaranteed LTL (less-than-truckload) services from PartnerShip freight broker. The service works with the reputable LTL carriers, including: AAA Cooper, Estes Express, FedEx Freight, Dayton Freight, Old Dominion, New Penn, Pitt Ohio, R+L Carriers, Reddaway, Southeastern, UPS Freight, YRC Freight and many more!

Services also include full or partial truckload (dry van, flat bed, step deck, refrigerated, etc.). PartnerShip employs a stringent carrier review process and has access to thousands of the top truckload freight carriers across North America. If you need to ship to a trade show, PartnerShip can help with this as well, as it can arrange great shipping rates with leading exhibit freight carriers. The company has a relationship with UPS Freight and YRC Freight and, if needed,  can secure other carrier options as well.

Many NTCA members are benefiting from the PartnerShip service, including James Woelfel, NTCA president. “We used PartnerShip for a project in another state,” Woelfel said. “Their service was perfect and the shipment was fast, at a fair price. All of my future shipping will be done with PartnerShip. This is a fantastic membership benefit.”

Interested in learning more about PartnerShip or becoming a NTCA member? Contact assistant executive director Jim Olson at 612-788-4726 or [email protected]




NTCA proudly presents TileTV, an association-partnered internet broadcast that is distributed twice monthly to association members across the country. Our internet broadcasts provide practical news and technical information for today’s professional installer.

In addition to tackling industry issues in each twice-monthly issue, TileTV is often on the floor at industry events, including Surfaces/TISE, Coverings and Total Solutions Plus. TileTV will bring you information about the Installation Design Showcase and pertinent information and events unfolding at Coverings.

More recently – and as a support to this issue’s print story about Total Solutions Plus 2015 – you can visit the site to see scenes from the industry conference that took place in October in the historic city of Savannah, Ga. Tune in to Tile-TV now as we to take a look back at some of the highlights of the event and showcase the 2015 Ring of Honor recipient John Cox. Information about a very important contractors’ forum discussion that took place at TSP is also presented on TileTV. This forum addressed the disparity between concrete flatness tolerances and tile-industry recommendations for large-format tile. There’s a bonus update on the spot-bonding issue NTCA has been addressing in TileTV since July. This is a TileTV episode you don’t want to miss!

As a member, you’ll be notified twice a month and given a quick-click link to the latest TileTV episode, keeping you up-to-date on industry developments in less than five minutes! Visit
www.tile-assn.com and enter TileTV in the search bar to view the latest TileTV episode or choose from archived programs as well.

NTCA introduces new Member Rewards program



NTCA introduces a new benefit for members only! The program, known as Member Rewards, offers a range of discounts from restaurants, movie tickets, general admission to national attractions, hotels, cell phone services, popular retail stores, select automobile dealers, florists, cable services, airfare, apparel purchases and more.

These fantastic benefits can only be accessed through the member portal at www.tile-assn.com

A sampling of benefits include:

  • Discounted gift card bundles at popular restaurants in your community like Romano’s Macaroni Grill, Chili’s, Maggiano’s, Applebee’s, Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse, On the Border Mexican Grill and Red Lobster
  • 15% off monthly services from Sprint; 10% off monthly services from T-Mobile
  • 15% off oil changes, tires, maintenance and repair at your local Firestone
  • Up to 35% off movie tickets at AMC, Regal Entertainment, Cinemark and more
  • Discount off general admission pricing at over 150 national attractions like Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Six Flags and Sea World
  • Savings of up to $25 at Sam’s Club, free products from Costco and up to 10% off on Target.com
  • Member discounts at over 63,000 hotels within the Abenity Travel Center, like Marriott, Hilton, Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn
  • Up to $500 off new and pre-owned cars from over 10,000 participating dealers like Nissan, Acura, Toyota and Ford
  • 20% off flowers from over 9,000 participating florists like 1-800-flowers.com
  • $25 gift certificates for $10 or less from over 18,000 participating restaurants at Restaurant.com
  • Savings of up to $60 on annual memberships at more than 300 Bally Fitness locations
  • Up to $75 off cable services plus free upgrades for Dish Network and DirecTV
  • 15% – 25% off men’s and women’s apparel purchases at Macy’s, Jos. A. Bank, Brooks Brothers and Pacsun
  • Corporate discounts on laptops, monitors and consumer electronics from makers like Dell, Toshiba, Lenovo and HP
  • 5% off airfare and hotel reservations from Southwest Vacations

Enter through the members only portal on www.tile-assn.com and click on Member Rewards for complete information and to sign up. Membership in this program is only $19.99 per year, with the potential to save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on everyday purchases.

Not yet a member and want to join? Contact Jim Olson at [email protected] or phone 601-939-2071.

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 www.tile-assn.com) 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

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 www.tile-assn.com.


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 www.iwantmytiletv.com.

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.

NTCA Benefits Box – May 2015


NTCA_logo_100pixelsNTCA expands its role in education with CEFGA, Career Quest

By Lesley Goddin

It’s no surprise that NTCA is involved in education at every level, but this year the association and its members have expanded their involvement in reaching young students with information about tile contracting and apprenticeship programs. The eventual goal? Promoting online education and hands-on training as a NTCA initiative.


The first outreach was NTCA’s ongoing involvement in the 2015 Construction Education Foundation of Georgia (CEFGA) CareerExpo and SkillsUSA State Championsips, held March 26-27 at the Georgia International Convention Center. The event drew in record numbers: 7,307 total attendees; 5,179 students; 920 influencers (teachers, counselors, parents, school administrators) and 1,208 industry volunteers, exhibitors and guests all assembled in a space that was as large as six football fields.

NTCA and co-sponsors Rick Payne with Specialty Tile Products, Tod Canfield with Custom Building Products, and Craig Hoffman with Daltile participated in a 40’ x 40’ booth. NTCA was represented by Rod Owen of NTCA Five Star Contractor C.C. Owen Tile Co. of Jonesboro, Ga., and NTCA past president Dan Welch, along with NTCA trainer/presenter Gerald Sloan.

2-BB-0515The perimeter of the space displayed a range of tile-related exhibits: tile types, safety equipment, tile cutting tools, plan table and specs, job titles and descriptions and a PowerPoint of finished installations, said Owen. The center of the space featured opportunities for students to install small tile designs on a 12” square Durock® board they could take with them.

Dan Welch of Welch Tile & Marble in Kent City, Mich., is chairman of the NTCA Apprenticeship Development Subcommittee. He was on hand to show and explain his Career Path Matrix. “The Career Matrix worked great because we were able to show the students how the knowledge and skills acquired within the tile industry equate in compensation over time. It was a road map to success as a tile mechanic,” Owen observed.

Owen continued, saying “convincing the students of the opportunities in tile is just part of the challenge. The students, peers, parents and counselors are the second part of the hurdle. With the Career Matrix we have a better chance of legitimizing ourselves. The tile industry has been so fragmented for many years with everybody training and doing their own thing. The matrix helps ‘defragment,’ or give the industry a unified standard to visibly see, gauge, and execute proper career development for a tile mechanic. It’s going to be an exciting time to be in the tile industry.”

A wide-eyed 11th grader who was attending his first CEFGA CareerExpo and SkillsUSA State Championships exclaimed, “I’m speechless. I thought it would be something where you could look at a lot of things, but there are a lot of opportunities where you can actually work the equipment and really have a hands-on experience. It’s mind-blowing.”

The next 2016 CEFGA CareerExpo and SkillsUSA State Championships will be held March 17-18, 2016, at the Georgia International Convention Center, College Park, Ga.

Career Quest

The following month, on April 28, Welch Tile & Marble partnered with Daltile, Virginia Tile and Genesee Tile at the Grand Rapids, Mich., Career Quest at DeVos Place, an initiative of Michigan Works! Kent, Allegan and Barry counties. The one-day event provided 5,400 students from 6th through 12th grades the opportunity to learn about four industry sectors: construction, health science, advanced manufacturing and information technology. Tile industry participation in Career Quest was sponsored by Welch Tile & Marble, TEC/H.B. Fuller and The Noble Company.

The tile sector had a 30’ x 30’ booth that showcased a range of important areas: career path and apprenticeship opportunities, safety, showroom design, industry-sanctioned Handbook and certifications, and thin tile. Actual modules used in Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT) were on display for students to observe.

“Career Quest offers a look into the different industries for middle and high school students,” said Dan Welch, of Welch Tile & Marble. “Our focus was to show [students] that this trade can offer a path to success, both educationally and financially. Apprenticeship today needs a fresh look involving technology, and the work force is in need of a clear career path. As young people move into the work force, education needs to be factual, visual, competency-based and rewarded. Those days of ‘just do it because I told you so’ are long gone,” he said.

Michigan governor Rick Snyder sent a message via video to Career Quest, saying the event fostered a real synergy between educators and industry, and predicted that it will result in increased resources for career counseling in the schools.

A follow-up meeting about the flagship event resulted in a majority of educators saying Career Quest was “valuable, helpful, needed and engaging;” and a majority of students responding that employers were “prepared, interesting and engaging,” and that they “learned about education opportunities that will help them in high school classes and plan for after high school. “

There was another bonus that Welch discovered – an opportunity to market to general contractors and other contractors about what the tile industry is doing and the emphasis on certifications and qualified labor, Welch said. In addition, other industry segments such as glaziers, plumbers, etc., got to learn about tile apprenticeship programs and new technologies like thin tile, he said.

Full speed ahead

Events like these are just the tip of the iceberg, confirmed Bart Bettiga, NTCA executive director. “Our goal is to develop an apprenticeship program, offer it to our members, and submit it for consideration for community colleges, vocational schools, colleges and online curricula,” he said. “The program will be promoted at local career days and job fairs like these, and will be supported by contracting companies who can either use it themselves through NTCA staff support, or who will partner with a trade school to offer the curriculum and self-source the needed hands- on training component.”

For more information, visit www.tile-assn.com, www.cefga.org or http://michiganworkska.org/


NTCA Benefits Box – April 2015


In an unending quest to provide more value to its members, NTCA is on the brink of rolling out LegalShield, a new benefit for NTCA members.

In our litigious society, it’s important to have access to affordable legal services and identity theft protection. LegalShield gives NTCA members the power to access legal and identity theft advice and services when needed – no matter how large or small the issue – for one low monthly fee.


You may wonder why you need a legal plan. A legal service plan can help with all sorts of planned and unplanned legal issues such as traffic tickets, foreclosures, will preparation, warranty disputes and much more. As a LegalShield member, you can rest assured that whether you’re facing a legal issue that’s big, small or somewhere in between, you’ll have access to legal advice and services when you need them. That means advice on an unlimited number of legal issues, attorney letters or calls made on your behalf, contract and document review and much more – from a dedicated law firm in your area. There’s even 24/7 access for covered emergencies.

And every day it seems, one hears about problems that arise due to identity theft. Victims of identity theft can face issues such as lost job opportunities, problems with securing a loan or harassment from debt collectors. You can get the experts on your side with an identity theft protection plan. Services include access to your credit report (or consumer credit disclosure), consultations, expert restoration and more – a vast array of services from detection to resolution, as close as your phone.

Let LegalShield – provided as a NTCA member benefit – help you worry less and live more. Visit https://w3.legalshield.com/gs/init?grp=tileassn for more information.

Benefits Box – February 2015


NTCA Partnering for Success

0215-vouchersPartnering for Success is a continually growing exclusive benefit for NTCA members. Manufacturing sponsors of this program feel so strongly about the value NTCA provides, they have agreed to offset membership investment by providing product vouchers good for varying levels of product or services from the sponsor.

As a paid new or renewing contractor member of the NTCA, you can choose $1,800 of FREE product vouchers of the $4,500 that is available – almost $300 in benefits more than what was offered last year. Each year this program continues to grow as more sponsors come on board.

In 2014, a record number 5,781 vouchers were issued to new and renewing members for a value of $902,450 – nearly one million dollars in available product. This is a tremendous benefit, giving you money right off your bottom line on products you may use every day or products you’ve been yearning to try. Since the voucher benefit is over three times the cost of annual membership, this is truly a win-win program.

Participating sponsors for 2015 include: Alpha Professional Tools, American Olean, Aqua Mix, ARDEX Americas, ATR Leveling, Compotite/Composeal, Custom Building Products, Daltile, Dependable Bagging, Florida Tile, LATICRETE, MAPEI, Marazzi USA, Mark E Industries, Metropolitan Ceramics, Noble Company, National Gypsum, NuHeat, OceanCare Products, Proflex, QEP, Rubi Tools, Schluter Systems, Spray-Lock, SunTouch, TEC/H.B. Fuller Construction Products, Texrite, University of Ceramic Tile & Stone, USG, VanHearron, and Warmly Yours.

If you are interested in membership, contact NTCA assistant executive director Jim Olson at [email protected] or 601-939-2071. Or visit NTCA’s brand-new, user-friendly website at www.tile-assn.com.

Benefits Box – December 2014


BB-1214Where can you get free, expert and essential education on some of the most pressing issues in the industry in one hour’s time – without leaving the comfort and convenience of your computer?

The NTCA Webinars – that’s where!

Over the last year, NTCA has presented free, archived webinars on Building a Bulletproof Spec, Grouting Solutions for Commercial Kitchens, Barrier-free Design, Residential Contracts and Other Standard Business Practices, Linear Drains, Grout and Tile Specifications, Membranes, Thin Tile Installation, Large Format Tile & Substrates, and Showers.

These conference-grade talks – sponsored by industry experts and their representatives and moderated by NTCA assistant executive director Jim Olson – also offer the opportunity to ask questions of the presenter and review the information or share it with your team through the archives.

On the calendar so far for 2015 is a Thin Tile Update in January, sponsored by LATICRETE; Curbs, presented by The Noble Company in May, and another LATICRETE-sponsored webinar in September on updates to the 2015 TCNA Handbook for Ceramic, Glass and Stone Tile Installation.

Other sponsors for webinars yet to be determined will be sponsored and presented by Custom Building Products (March and November), Coverings, Schluter-Systems, MAPEI, TEC®, Wausau Tile, and Daltile, with more on the roster.

Though you don’t have to be a member of NTCA to access the webinar through the link at Training/Education opportunities at www.tile-assn.com, being a member ties you into a community that values excellence at all levels of business. Enjoy and profit from the webinars and consider becoming a NTCA member. Contact Jim Olson at [email protected] or 601-939-2071 for details.

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