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Caring about tomorrow by taking action today

  1. “The future belongs to those who prepare for it today.” – Malcolm X
  2. “I will prepare and someday my chance will come.” – Abraham Lincoln
  3. “By failing to prepare, you’re preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin
  4. “The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
  5. “He who is best prepared can best serve his moment of inspiration.” – Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  6. “If we are prepared, we shall not fear.” – Quentin L. Cook
  7. “Planning is bringing the future into the present.” – Mike Vance
  8. “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” – Seneca the Younger
  9. “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.” – Chris Bradford
  10. “Effective performance is preceded by painstaking preparation.” – Brian Tracy

The motivational quotes above are taken from Indeed’s Career Guide > Career Development Articles. They represent what we, as tile professionals, should use to fuel and guide our efforts. We can take the same logic and apply it to many things in life: work, school, family, investing, sports, war, gardening, public performances. Although positive outcomes might emerge without preparation, the odds are better if there has been work put into developing for the task at hand. How you prepare can indicate how much you care. If you care, you will make time and commit resources to put forth your very best on the front end to generate the very best outcome.

Hands-on CTEF training class.

Tomorrow’s ceramic tile industry installation outlook is, at best, murky. When CTEF holds classes and evaluates the student’s skills, the themes we hear echoed from contractor employers are confirmed. The tile industry is fragmented. Emerging potential tile installers often lack the following skills:

  • Using basic math skills, taking measurements, and working with fractions
  • Creating a layout using math and following workmanship standards
  • Understanding floor and wall preparation processes and industry requirements
  • Understanding methods and standards
  • Understanding a manufactured system of products for a tile assembly
  • Effective time management

You may ask, why the fragmentation?

Citing traits of younger generations and arguing a lack of work ethic is a worn-out argument. Yes, people entering the trades today are different than those 50 years ago, but the trade itself and society have changed. How has the tile industry changed over time, and what are we doing to create programming that people need to be successful?

 In the void of a clear training and education pathway, inquisitive people will seek out their own answers. In the past, television was blamed for being a pacifier for children, but one could make a strong argument that we are ALL pacified by the internet today. User-created content on social media platforms has become the way people learn. With so many people learning different things from numerous sources with no one looking closely at the gaps in “education,” our trade’s knowledge and skills branch off in a myriad of directions without a focused point of reference. If you accept that rationale…what is being done to fix it? How do we indicate we care about these things?

Preparing for tomorrow

Woody prepares the module for an ACT Mud Floor test.

People who care about tomorrow are preparing for tomorrow. Woody Sanders, the owner of DW Sanders Tile & Stone Contracting in Marietta, Ga., is a great example of someone who cares. Sanders grew up in the tile industry, becoming a journeyman tile and stone setter at a young age. In college, his focus of study was in the school of Environmental Design. After college, he worked as technical service manager for a mortar and grout manufacturer before starting his own tile contracting firm. His strong technical underpinning shows up in his company motto: “Craftsmanship by the Standards.” Woody, a Certified Tile Installer, serves on NTCA Technical and Educational Committees, as well as an Evaluator for the Certified Tile Installer (CTI) program, operated by the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF). Woody is committed and passionate about nurturing and educating the young workforce. He was the featured speaker at the Coverings show about recruiting and retaining the future industry workforce. DW Sanders Tile & Stone has sponsored a program for the last three years in the Atlanta, Ga. area, working with area high schools that support tile education in vocational tech programs.

Woody conducting CTI orientation at TISE.

Aside from what Woody does in house to prepare his team for tomorrow, he also externally supports CTEF in many ways. His company supported CTEF for the last four years at the Signature level showing true sacrifice in relation to annual revenue. When CTEF recently instituted changes to the CTI hands-on testing program requiring new documentation, Woody did not hesitate to offer to pay for the drafting services to produce a more comprehensive version of the installer instruction sheet. DW Sanders is an annual host of CTI and Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT) testing, and generously opts to build and house the testing modules for CTEF to use. 

The entrance at DW Sanders indicates the company’s passion for training and education – and that doesn’t include the wall filled with all the ACT certifications!

Lastly, and incredibly notable, DW Sander’s long-standing accountant, Mary Scannavino, and her husband Bud have witnessed Woody’s commitment to CTEF, and it has moved them to make a private annual contribution equal to the upper tiers of corporate sponsorship. This is a family, asking for no advertising or personal acknowledgement in return, only for Woody to be recognized for his tireless efforts and sacrifices to make a better way for tomorrow’s tile industry professionals. It is evident Woody’s impact is quite profound. 

I ask you, as the reader: 

  • What are you doing to show you care about tomorrow’s tile industry? 
  • Are you training and educating yourself or your installers in house based on proven industry methods and standards? 
  • Are you participating in the development of methods and standards by participating on committees in discussions that better the industry? 

If you are looking for an organization worthy of your support, CTEF would like to show you its vision for the future and ask for your help. Examine if you care, and if you do, jump in and help! 

Brad Denny
Executive Director at Ceramic Tile Education Foundation | + posts

Brad Denny CTI #1190 has been intensely active in the tile industry for many years. He has served as Region 6 Director for the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), received the NTCA Dedication to Membership award – a recognition specially created just to honor his passion for methods, standards, and the internet – and chaired the NTCA’s Social Media Subcommittee as well as moderated the Tile Geeks Facebook group.

Brad also served as the Co-Chairman of the NTCA Training and Education Committee with Sam Bruce of Visalia Tile for 2020 and 2021.

In 2021, Brad received the prestigious NTCA Tile Person of the Year Award. This award is given to someone who has positively impacted NTCA through participation in the Association's programs.

Before becoming Executive Director for CTEF, Brad was vice president and COO of  Nichols Tile & Terrazzo Co, Inc.,  a family-owned tile contractor business located outside of Nashville, Tenn., and NTCA Five-Star Contractor Member of the NTCA.

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