President’s Letter – January 2018

Respirable crystalline silica – get ready for the new OSHA regulations

I hope that you have heard this term before and have begun the process of understanding what it means and how it is affecting your business. Believe me when I say that it IS going to affect your business going forward and none of us knows exactly to what extent.

The NTCA has held seminars at Coverings, forums at TSP and published articles in TileLetter on this topic in the past year. Yet, it seems like we are just beginning to peel back the outer layers of the proverbial onion when it comes to understanding the regulation (29 CFR 1926.1153 Respirable Crystalline Silica), including “Table 1” – and what is NOT included in Table 1. Then we begin to see DOL issue “Standard Interpretations” and “Interim Enforcement Guidance” and it all gets very confusing.

From the NTCA perspective and as a business owner, I urge you to take this law very seriously. There are many reasons, but none more important than you and your employee’s safety and wellbeing. Secondly, this law is going to have a significant financial impact on your business either in compliance costs or if you ignore it, in non-compliance costs. As an employer, you should educate yourself so that you can make the appropriate business decisions for your company and make sure your bids include costs to work in compliance. If you are an employee or craft worker you should do the same so that you are aware of the risks that you are taking with you long term health. Visit this site for more information: https://www.osha.gov/dsg/topics/silica
crystalline/ or http://bit.ly/2fI23os.

On the non-compliance side, a non-serious OSHA penalty was increased in 2016 to $12,600. If that doesn’t get your attention, a repeat violation penalty could be as high as $126,000.

At this point, based on the testing that we and others have done, I believe most tile installations can be done safely and in compliance with the newly imposed regulations with proper engineered controls and tools. The one area that remains a concern is performing circular cuts larger than 4” in diameter. If you have a proven solution for this, please email me.

As if this wasn’t enough to think about and absorb, California’s law called Prop 65 – which among many other things – is going to require manufacturers and/or re-sellers to put a warning label on every box of tile and bag of mortar and grout – basically anything that contains silica. This warning label will likely be different from manufacturer to manufacturer. We will not know the full impact of this until we see what the warning labels say, but you can bet it will not make our job any easier. It is also likely that these labels will appear on all products made for our industry regardless if they are made or shipped to California simply because the chance can’t be taken that an unlabeled product shows up in California.

It’s important that you know the NTCA staff and volunteers are working hard to minimize the negative impacts of these issues on all tile contractors. I urge all to take a very proactive approach to these issues and educate yourself as quickly as possible. At the end of the day, we want tile consumption to rise across America so we must be prepared to deal appropriately with these new requirements.

Keep on tiling!

Martin Howard, NTCA President
Committee member, ANSI A108
[email protected]

President’s Letter – December 2017

Is it time to refresh the culture of your company?

Rebuilding a company culture can lead to new levels of engagement and satisfaction for all

Martin Howard, NTCA president

Have you ever thought about the culture (a.k.a.personality) of your company? If you haven’t, I’d like to invite you to give it a try.

There are many cultures that companies seem to gravitate to, and we’ll look at a few for comparison.

  • The Traditional or Hierarchy Culture is common and tends to be found in “Top Down” structured companies. This culture can be demanding with little employee empowerment, expecting employees to just follow directions.
  • The Market Culture is most often characterized as having “market share and profitability” as their top priority. One issue with this culture is that the top goals of market share and profitability can often compete with each other.
  • The Family Business Culture is very common in the construction industry, especially among trade contractors. Multi-generational owners usually hold the leadership or management positions. This can be good if a high level of training and career development exist to ensure competent and smooth transitions of leadership. Employees can feel that if they hold different ideas or opinions than the family, they will not be heard. They can also see that they will never grow to attain a high-level position and this makes it difficult to retain good talent. Additionally, this can cause good people to leave or do enough to get by rather than give their best effort.

At our company – David Allen Company – we had a mixture of cultures that had developed over a 90-year period. In 2010, we hit the restart button to rebuild our culture, led by our Chairman, Robert Roberson. This process required a 100% commitment from the ownership/leadership to establish trust and transparency. Our goal was simple: we wanted to become a great company with high value to our customers and team members while creating a great place to work and build a career.

We utilized several tools to assist us in this process, including 360 Evaluations, Skip Level meetings, and One to One listening sessions. These tools created dialog between departments and group discussions around a set of topics designed to foster honest dialog.

Early on in this process, we utilized a little book with a big impact: FISH! by Stephen C. Lundin, Harry Paul and John Christensen. Here we learned that, “There is always a choice about the way you do your work, even if there is not a choice about the work itself.” Said another way, we can choose to have a positive attitude while doing work we may not enjoy. To help encourage a positive attitude our leadership began to work harder to regularly communicate clear expectations, create transparency and demonstrate respect on a corporate level.

In our next step, we gleaned lessons from the book Good to Great by Jim Collins. One of the major take-aways was the concept of getting the right people on the bus, and then making sure those people were in the right seats. This brought a renewed commitment to hire only the “best fit” candidates and be willing to wait to hire if necessary. Everyone in the company took the “DISC” personality profile (a measure of Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness), which helped us better understand which seats were the best fit for our employees. DISC also helped us learn how to understand and communicate with personalities very different from our own.

On a structural level, we began dismantling some of the vertical silos that created division and started to build team levels of responsibility and accountability. This only works if all levels believe their voices are heard and can bring about meaningful change. To demonstrate this commitment, we assembled a cross-section of team members to review and modify the company policy manual.

Next, we developed clear career paths and the training and education necessary for success to improve team member fulfillment and job satisfaction. A key principle I learned many years ago is, “There is no success without a successor.” So, as we seek to develop ourselves, we must seek to develop those we mentor. The goal is that as one person takes the next step in their career development, they will have trained and mentored their replacement.

We then took on the task of developing a Standard Operating Procedure so that we could begin to work as a team. This offered the opportunity to scale our productivity by being able to support divisions that needed additional resources without having to hire and train for the short term. Through this process, duplications of effort have been eliminated and efficiency has lifted the level of work satisfaction. Encouraging team members to take ownership of their responsibilities requires empowerment and respect. Compensation and incentives have been reshaped and made available at more levels than ever before.

We then started a two-year company-wide process of studying Stephen M.R. Covey’s book, The Speed of Trust. This took us through the “4 Cores of Credibility:” Integrity, Intent, Capability and Results. Woven through these core concepts are 13 behaviors that build trust. Each month we created intentional opportunities to apply what we were learning by creating SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) goals and team goals.

The study walked us through a progression of building trust within ourselves, in relationships, and within the company. Up until this point our focus had been building trust internally, but now we began to build and extend trust in our markets and with our customers.

We also began to build and extend trust in our community by addressing different areas of need there. Our team was excited to participate in various charity events where the company would provide matching funds, including Stop Hunger Now, Red Cross blood drives, holiday food drives, and Walk for Autism. At our traditional July cook-out and game day we reached new levels of fun as we teamed up with our co-workers to crown one team winner for the year. This spread to our annual Chili Cook-Off, which now attracts 30-40 entries. Our team-building event winners are recognized with trophies, plaques, and gift cards. We have offered Financial Peace University to the team and their families twice at no cost to them and have seen amazing results of personal debt reduction and wealth building.

With our centennial celebration a couple of years away and our desire to build a strong, stable, and enduring company for our team, we became an employee-owned company three years ago. Today the employees are the largest stockholders and we’re enjoying a high level of engagement to maximize the steps taken to improve our company. Throughout this process, the underlying theme has been to think about building others up and treating people like we want to be treated. The people that make up our team are – without doubt – our most important and valuable asset.

We still have much to accomplish, but the goal is closer than before and we are working toward hitting the mark. This journey has been enlightening, challenging and very rewarding. Ways of thinking about each other and work have changed and opened positive new channels of collaboration. I hope you are encouraged to think about your company and how you can make a positive difference for the future.

––––

Martin Howard, president NTCA
Committee member, ANSI A108
[email protected]

President’s Letter – November 2017

It’s that time of year when we are pushing hard to reach the career goals we set back in January, and now there are only weeks left to the finish line. We all lead very busy lives, and even more so as we approach the holiday season.

In the midst of our hectic lives do you ever wish you could hit the pause button for a moment? Years ago, I heard a wise man say, “Keep the main thing, the main thing.”

Here’s a question for us to consider: how can we prioritize those other “main things” like we prioritize our careers? “Main things,” like family, faith, and caring for others in our community. It’s hard to hit pause when most of us are never far from our smart phones, televisions, computers, social media, or the 24-hour news channel. How do we minimize the distractions that rob us from growing and moving forward to achieve our goals?

We know planning and prioritizing our time is always the fundamental first step in the right direction. I’ve learned that if I take a little time to regularly reflect on the blessings in my life, I have that extra boost of motivation to stay the course, whether that applies to business, family, my faith or serving in the community. When we reflect, and realize the many ways our lives are blessed, we walk in a fresh perspective that makes some of the stressful stuff in life take its rightful place in the back seat.

I recently had the opportunity to visit a third-world country with a team that reaches out to the two billion people in the world who have no access to basic financial service and serves them through micro loans for small business enterprises. While there, I was privileged to observe how these people who had limited electricity, no water or sewer services, and limited public or private transportation live contented, even joyful lives, in the midst of severe poverty. How do they live with joy amid poverty? They had the love and support of their families and community and a sturdy faith in God. They had an unquenchable entrepreneurial spirit that propelled them to work hard to better their lives. This experience caused me to embrace the value of every life, the dignity of work regardless the pay scale, and see that we all have purpose. It also reminded me we were all born into a set of circumstances for which and over which we had no choice or control. Those of us fortunate enough to have been born in the United States of America, have not only received blessings beyond compare, we have been given the opportunity – no, I would say the responsibility – to lift others up in every way possible.

So, this Thanksgiving I’d encourage all of us to reflect on how blessed we are and how we can make a difference in the lives of others without compromising their dignity.

Martin Howard, NTCA president
Committee member, ANSI A108
[email protected]

President’s Letter – October 2017

NTCA participates in international outreach during Cersaie in Bologna, Italy

Leaders of the National Tile Contractors Association were recently honored guests at the Cersaie Ceramic Tile Trade Fair, held annually in Bologna, Italy. Cersaie took place September 25th-29th, and is the world’s largest exhibition of ceramic tile and installation
materials. NTCA executive director Bart Bettiga, chairman of the board James Woelfel and

I attended the exhibition and collaborated with leaders of several international associations dedicated to the professional installation of ceramic tile. In addition to attending the fair and technical seminars, with an emphasis on large-format and gauged porcelain tile panels, NTCA leaders participated in an exclusive meeting with representatives of Assopossa, the Italian association dedicated to ceramic tile installation.
The emphasis on the meeting was on training and education, and promoting best business practices of tiling contractors. In addition to the board of Assopossa, leaders of the EUF, the European Federation of National Tilers Associations, also participated in the summit discussions. Topics on the agenda included different systems of certifi cations, for both installers and contracting companies’ education and training initiatives, including apprenticeship programs, keeping pace with changing and innovative technology, and safety in the workplace, especially as it relates to the creation of dust during work place operations.

An official tour of four technical partners of Assopossa was also part of the program, with official visits at Cersaie scheduled with Fila Care and Maintenance Systems, MAPEI Coporation, Raimondi Tools, and Schluter Systems.
The NTCA Board of Directors has identified international outreach as one of its main strategic objectives. The goal of this outreach is to establish dialogue and collaboration with other associations with shared interest in promoting and advancing the proper professional installation of tile and stone in the market place. We seek opportunities to learn and collaborate with these associations to continue to build consensus within the industry where advantageous. The desire is to engage the manufacturers with a broad base of support for training and education that enhances the use of tile and stone with technically sound and beautiful installations around the world. NTCA has previously developed programs and relationships with tile and installation associations in Australia, Canada and Spain. Discussions with other associations are ongoing.

Keep on tiling!
Martin Howard, president NTCA
Committee member, ANSI A108
[email protected]

President’s Letter – July 2017

Developing an attractive career path in the tile trade

This month, we follow up on last month’s President Letter discussing how we become “Best in Class” contractors, and how one of the centerpieces is being skilled and trained craftspeople. Let’s talk about the elephant in the room; there is a serious shortage of young, talented workers entering the construction field as a career choice.

In last month’s Editor’s Letter, we learned that in the 2016 U.S. market, the public consumed approximately 2.8 billion sq. ft. of ceramic tile. Based on some quick number crunching and lots of assumptions, between 70,000 and 80,000 full-time tile mechanics would be required to install that volume of tile. This does not include installing any stone finishes. Even though the NTCA has approximately 1,400 members and CTEF has certified approximately 1,300 Certified Tile Installers nationwide, added together, it’s all a proverbial “drop in the bucket!”

This doesn’t mean that most – or many – installers not belonging to one of these groups are unqualified; it does mean that we need to work hard to draw them in to a program of continuing education and training along with potential certification. Based on the number and scope of failures that exist in our trade, it’s safe to say that a sizable number of those installing tile have neither been properly trained nor are seeking further professional development.

I was talking with a general contractor recently about this issue, and we began to think about all the impediments that keep non-college aspiring young people from taking a serious look at the construction field as a career choice. We came up with several that might be worth our attention. On average, there are few organized training programs regionally or nationally on the high school/vocational school level that allow students to learn and earn a diploma or work at the same time. The only exceptions we could identify quickly were the electrical and mechanical trades, which also require certifications – and in some cases, licensing – to climb the career ladder. Add to that, the often-poor working conditions on project sites such as limited elevators or buck hoists, non-air-conditioned work areas, and disorganized work spaces with numerous other trades often working in the same rooms. I’m sure there are many more you can think of, but probably one of the most important is the low earning potential of many workers during the training process and potentially even beyond.

We need to start the dialog about how we as an industry can develop an attractive career path, including training that will show entrants what they must achieve to earn their desired income. At the same time, we need to attempt to minimize some of the other negatives of the modern construction environment. As a finish trade with highly artistic components, I believe we have an advantage over some other trades because our work is always on display.

Dan Welch and Becky Serbin – along with the Education and Training Committee – are working hard to put together the complete apprenticeship program, which will include a career path and earning scale. If you haven’t checked it out yet, I invite you to do so. This is only one piece of a comprehensive plan we must develop or eventually we will all suffer the consequences.

I welcome your comments and ideas about how to move forward and I ask for your involvement and participation in the solution.

Keep on tiling!

Martin Howard, NTCA president

Committee member, ANSI A108

[email protected]

President’s Letter – June 2017

Defining a “Best in Class Tile Contractor”

You have heard me use the term “Best in Class Tile Contractor” in past letters. So, what does that term mean? How do we bring our companies to that level of achievement? These are very good questions, and I’m glad you asked.

In a nutshell, the working definition of a “Best in Class Tile Contractor” is a professional contractor committed to excellence in every phase of their business, utilizing industry best practices, and has been recognized by its customers as a preferred contractor.

Other aspects of a “Best in Class Tile Contractor” are to use the right materials for the application and intended use, and carrying themselves in a professional manner, interacting respectfully with the client and other trades. And “Best in Class Tile Contractors” draft proposals and contracts that are well written and clearly identify the specific scope of work, while quoting a fair price — not a cheap price.

One of Stephen Covey’s principles of highly effective people is to “Begin with the end in mind.”  If we want to be successful, profitable, trusted, respected and preferred tile contractors, we must build our businesses on each of these principles. To become a “Best in Class Tile Contractor” we must be willing to invest in every aspect of our business. This means providing the best trained and skilled craftspeople, installing the best materials for the given application, while utilizing the current best practices of the trade.  Each of these elements requires consistent education and updating. Have you heard the statement, “I’ve been doing it this way for 20 years and never had a problem?” I’d say chances are high this individual is not part of a “Best in Class” organization.

Foundational to this is striving to hire and train the best people, and giving them the opportunity to stay on top of the latest industry standards and best practices. If we aren’t aggressively seeking to keep up with these improvements, we will quickly be left behind. Our level of professionalism will gradually decline until we become reactionary in nature rather than proactive.

When I visit job sites and talk with crews of installers and finishers, it becomes clear very quickly that they have received minimal training. They may have had a mentor for a short time, but most have just figured it out in the field, picking up a little here and there. Most of these crews are eager to learn “best practices” because they want to walk away from every completed job with pride in their finished work.

The NTCA has many options for you to take advantage of when considering training and education curricula for your craftspeople. The Finisher Apprenticeship on-line training program is an excellent place to start. Participation and involvement at Total Solutions Plus, Coverings or TISE West (Surfaces) can supplement your regular educational activities. Getting copies of the TCNA Handbook and ANSI A108, and beginning the process of learning how to use these industry recommendations and standards is another great step forward.

We all need to evaluate our businesses and find the areas where we aren’t using best practices and implement procedures to move us toward the goal. The health of our companies is at risk and so is the health of our industry. We all know that skilled craftspeople are in short supply and the only way to improve this is to train and educate those we have and those entering the trade.

Let’s all make a commitment to see the NTCA logo carry recognition and respect from the customers that employ us. Keep on tiling!

Martin Howard, president, NTCA Committee member, ANSI A108

[email protected]

President’s Letter – May 2017

It was great to see so many old friends and meet new ones at Coverings in Orlando. I was fortunate to have several opportunities to work in one of the two NTCA booths during the show. This afforded me the chance to meet and talk with many contractors from all over the country working in several different segments of the industry.

I know that we are all challenged to find enough time each day to run a business, finish an estimate, meet with a client, get our crews working in the right direction, meet the payroll and oh yes, everybody’s favorite task, collecting the money we’re owed!!!! Yet that is what we signed up for when we decided to scratch that entrepreneurial itch and start our companies.

So, back to what I learned from these conversations at Coverings: some of our members — and those who haven’t joined NTCA yet — don’t really understand all that we offer to the industry. Early on, I had several encounters where a contractor would say, “I’ve got two minutes before my next meeting, so tell me everything I get if I join NTCA”, while their sales resistance slammed closed like a bank vault.

I changed my strategy to answering their question with a question, “What is your biggest need that will make you more successful and profitable?” This seemed to open a dialog on a different level, and I could explain the education and training available to them through the association. Some chose to sign up and some said they’d think about it. Either way, I hope that I communicated that the NTCA is here to be a resource and advocate for tile contractors. But that’s not all we do.

The staff of NTCA works extremely hard to put together a framework of industry involvement that will represent the tile contractor’s interest. From membership on the TCNA Handbook Committee to the ANSI Committee, to all the groups working with the NTCA Board of Directors on numerous committees, these individuals are tile contractors who donate their time and expenses to participate for the good of the tile industry and specifically for the advancement and protection of the tile contractor — regardless if they are a member of NTCA or not.

Maybe this will help explain a little better. Here is a list of the number of tile contractors working on each of these committees on your behalf.

7 – Tile Council of North America Handbook Committee

6 + 6 Alternates – ANSI A108 Committee

7 – NTCA Executive Board

19 – NTCA Board of Directors

60 + State Ambassadors

27 – NTCA Training and Education Committee

22 – NTCA Membership Committee

11 – NTCA Standards and Methods Committee

19 – NTCA Technical Committee

3 – NTCA Convention Planning Committee

These contractor businesses range in size from two-employee companies to hundreds-of-employee companies, and they cover the residential and commercial markets. Each of them has chosen to give of their time and resources to make this industry better. Your voice is needed and welcome so let us know what’s on your mind and how we might be able to help you. Consider getting involved if you are member and consider joining if you aren’t a member.

Underlying all of this is our strategic objective, which is to see every member of NTCA be a Best in Class Tile Contractor –dedicated to continuing education, training, craftsmanship, integrity and customer service. We all have the choice to purse excellence or accept mediocrity. The NTCA stands for Excellence.

And for those contractors interested in what they get for being a NTCA member, check out the list of member benefits here: http://www.tile-assn.com/?page=Membership.

Keep on Tiling!

 

Martin Howard

President NTCA

Committee member, ANSI A108

[email protected]

 

 

PRESIDENT’S LETTER: NTCA enjoys great success at TISE West

I’ve just returned from TISE West/ Surfaces West in Las Vegas where the NTCA experienced its most productive and successful attendance at this conference to date.

What made it so special, you ask?

This is the fourth year NTCA has been responsible for the tile contactor education track and with the help of the NTCA State Ambassadors, we created quite a buzz around the conference hall. The NTCA booth was much larger, and featured lounge areas for networking and impromptu contractor roundtable discussions. The State Ambassadors worked the booth for the most part and signed up several new members. The Ambassador Reception and Dinner was very well attended by contractors who were excited to be there and exchange ideas and information.

The Board of Directors meeting started out with an update of the NTCA Strategic Plan by executive director Bart Bettiga.

The great news here is that the two-year Finisher program will be completed and available on-line at the NTCA University website by Coverings this year. The two-year Installer program is on track to be complete by the end of 2018. If you haven’t seen this tremendous learning tool, I encourage you to contact Becky Serbin, Training and Education Coordinator for a preview (see NTCA University Update on page 84 of this issue).

Another major initiative that started at the end of 2016 is the hiring of Kevin Insalato, of California Flooring in Manteno, Ill., to work with Scott Carothers and CTEF. His major responsibility is to train and certify Regional Evaluators who will administer the Certified Tile Installer (CTI) examination. Kevin has nearly tripled the number of evaluators across the country and is seeking more qualified individuals. Our goal is to see the current number of 1,300 CTIs grow well into the thousands by the end of 2018.

Next up, the subcommittee reports

The Training and Education committee, chaired by Dave Rogers, of Welch Tile & Marble, Kent City, Michigan, now has five subcommittees as follows:

Safety – Chaired by Robert Showers. This committee is working on documents to be made available to all NTCA members as a resource for safety training, OSHA-approved safety programs and up-to-date changes in regulations and how they might impact our trade.

Promotion – Chaired by Paige Smith. This committee is working on initiatives to promote CTI and specific hot topics in distributor showrooms, along with talking points for workshops.

Certification – Chaired by Sam Bruce. This group is working hard to write scripts and study aids for those preparing to take the CTI exam. Its goal is to see those who possess the skills and knowledge increase their success rate by being properly prepared for the exam.

CEU Programs for Management – Chaired by Dirk Sullivan. This group is working to provide pro- grams and educational study guides for advancement in all areas of management.

CEU Technical – Chaired by Rod Owen. This group is developing scripts for educational videos to be used in training field foremen and superintendents.

These committees have now held two in-person meetings – at Total Solutions Plus (TSP) and TISE West – along with many conference calls and video conferences showing their commitment to grow the value of membership in the NTCA. There were nearly 100 industry professionals in attendance at the Board of Directors meeting, and it is very exciting to see so many new faces taking leadership roles within the association.

The Technical Committee, Membership Committee, Methods and Standards Committee and Convention Planning Committee also gave reports along with an update on the NTCA Five Star program from new Five Star Program director, Amber Fox.

As always, I invite your involvement and feedback and I look forward to seeing you at Coverings in April.

Keep on tiling!

Martin Howard, NTCA President Committee member, ANSI A108 [email protected]

President’s Letter – April 2017

It’s April and Spring is upon us. With Spring comes the Easter celebration and all of nature reminding us that there are opportunities for new beginnings, personally and professionally. Regardless where you have been or how you have been running your life or business, today can be a new beginning.

The ideas of professionalism, craftsmanship, integrity, and customer service are values that we esteem and hold in high regard. Yet they don’t just happen — we must choose to invest our time, energy and resources to develop these values and see them integrated into the fiber of how we are personally and professionally.

Once a month our company gathers during the lunch hour to discuss and learn from each other. We call these gatherings “Forums” and they have been a transformational event in the success of our team. We spent all of 2016 discussing  the aforementioned ideas as the core values of our company.

Professionalism – This means being knowledgeable, informed and competent, and well trained to complete one’s job or trade. There are some who say it takes 5,000 hours of practice to be considered a professional. That’s about 2.5 years of full time work required at a specific task to master it. How are we pursuing the knowledge and training to be professional in our jobs? Did you learn your job from a mentor or were you hired and “thrown into the deep end of the pool” and forced to learn it on your own? Regardless how you started out, you have the opportunity to gain the knowledge needed to be a professional tile setter, finisher or business owner —  and you owe it to your customers.

Craftsmanship – While the traditional meaning is directed towards the product of skilled hands, we took a broader view of the term to include the skilled performance of any task by any of our team members — whether the skilled estimator, warehouse delivery person, accounts receivable or payable person, admin assistant, project manager or superintendent. Ultimately though, the skilled craftspeople installing tile and stone on projects are what keeps the rest of us employed. Therefore, we must make training and education of our craftspeople a very high priority. If we don’t, we won’t be in business very much longer.

Integrity – This is the quality of being honest and fair. To quote the proverb, “Keep your word and do what is right, even when it hurts.” We found through our discussions that this carries over to what we think and believe of ourselves and others, which determines how we treat them. If we don’t respect others, we will not treat them with integrity. If we want to be professional and successful, we must treat our customers, vendors, suppliers and team members with integrity.

Customer Service is meeting the customer’s expectations. We are only able to do this when we are properly educated, trained, skilled and treat others with integrity. Here’s what I mean: when you possess these qualities, you will help your customer set the appropriate expectations for the service you are contracted to perform. Without these qualities, you will leave your customer to create their own expectations and you may never be able to meet them.

I encourage us all to take the reminder of Spring, that each day is a new beginning. Let’s focus our energy on growing and improving personally, professionally and as an industry. If we do, the future will be bright and full of opportunity.

Thank you to all the DAC team for helping me learn and see these values more clearly. Keep on tiling!

Martin Howard, NTCA President

Committee member, ANSI A108

[email protected]

President’s Letter – March 2017

I’ve just returned from TISE West/Surfaces West in Las Vegas where the NTCA experienced its most productive and successful attendance at this conference to date.

What made it so special, you ask?

This is the fourth year NTCA has been responsible for the tile contactor education track and with the help of the NTCA State Ambassadors, we created quite a buzz around the conference hall. The NTCA booth was much larger, and featured lounge areas for networking and impromptu contractor roundtable discussions. The State Ambassadors worked the booth for the most part and signed up several new members. The Ambassador Reception and Dinner was very well attended by contractors who were excited to be there and exchange ideas and information.

The Board of Directors meeting started out with an update of the NTCA Strategic Plan by executive director Bart Bettiga. The great news here is that the two-year Finisher program will be completed and available on-line at the NTCA University website by Coverings this year. The two-year Installer program is on track to be complete by the end of 2018. If you haven’t seen this tremendous learning tool, I encourage you to contact Becky Serbin, Training and Education Coordinator for a preview (see NTCA University Update on page XX of this issue).

Another major initiative that started at the end of 2016 is the hiring of Kevin Insalato, of California Flooring in Manteno, Ill., to work with Scott Carothers and CTEF. His major responsibility is to train and certify Regional Evaluators who will administer the Certified Tile Installer (CTI) examination. Kevin has nearly tripled the number of evaluators across the country and is seeking more qualified individuals. Our goal is to see the current number of 1,300 CTIs grow well into the thousands by the end of 2018.

Next up, the Subcommittee reports

The Training and Education committee, chaired by Dave Rogers, of Welch Tile & Marble, Kent City Michigan,  now has five subcommittees as follows:

  • Safety – Chaired by Robert Showers. This committee is working on documents to be made available to all NTCA members as a resource for safety training, OSHA-approved safety programs and up-to-date changes in regulations and how they might impact our trade.
  • Promotion – Chaired by Paige Smith. This committee is working on initiatives to promote CTI and specific hot topics in distributor showrooms, along with talking points for workshops.
  • Certification – Chaired by Sam Bruce. This group is working hard to write scripts and study aids for those preparing to take the CTI exam. Its goal is to see those who possess the skills and knowledge increase their success rate by being properly prepared for the exam.
  • CEU Programs for Management – Chaired by Dirk Sullivan. This group is working to provide programs and educational study guides for advancement in all areas of management.
  • CEU Technical – Chaired by Rod Owen. This group is developing scripts for educational videos to be used in training field foremen and superintendents.

These committees have now held two in-person meetings  — at Total Solutions Plus (TSP) and TISE West — along with many conference calls and video conferences showing their commitment to grow the value of membership in the NTCA. There were nearly 100 industry professionals in attendance at the Board of Directors meeting, and it is very exciting to see so many new faces taking leadership roles within the association.

The Technical Committee, Membership Committee, Methods and Standards Committee and Convention and Planning Committee also gave reports along with an update on the NTCA Five Star program from new Five Star Program director, Amber Fox.

As always, I invite your involvement and feedback and I look forward to seeing you at Coverings in April.

Keep on tiling!

 

Martin Howard, NTCA President

Committee member, ANSI A108

[email protected]

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