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Friday, June 14, 2024

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HomeContentMember Spotlight: Columbia River Tile & Stone, Inc.

Member Spotlight: Columbia River Tile & Stone, Inc.

When I was younger, I thought I had it all figured out, and it surely didn’t involve installing tile. It’s interesting to think about the paths we take and where a couple simple twists of fate can take us. 

In my early years, I was at a crossroads. I found myself in a new city during a time when there were not many opportunities for work. After returning home from a summer in Alaska, my brother-in-law offered me temporary work with his tile company in Georgia. Soon, I was on the road again – not knowing what to expect – but working with my brother-in-law had opened my eyes to a new trade that I enjoyed and could envision a future in. 

Returning home, I was hired as a helper on mostly flagstone projects with a residential tile and stone contractor. Though moving the enormous pieces of flagstone was physically demanding, it was very rewarding seeing a project come together. Finding the perfect piece for each area was a creative and satisfying process. 

Early on, the installer on a major project walked off the job. I told my boss I was ready and he gave me an opportunity to show my skills. And as the saying goes, the rest is history. In the short time I spent as an employee, I was fortunate to work with talented installers who showed me the trade and formed many lifelong friendships. 

A new opportunity to go out on the road to build hotels soon came my way. I spent four years on the road, but occasionally would have a couple months off between projects that I spent creating mosaic tables and mosaic art. I got a ring saw and had time to be creative. 

After starting my own business in 2007, I mostly kept my head down, grinding away. Although I was figuring out the trade by myself in the beginning stages of my company, I was able to lay a successful framework for the type of business I wanted to create. Focusing on customer service and highly-detailed installation have always been my primary goals.

In 2017, shortly after joining the NTCA, I decided to take the CTI (Certified Tile Installer) test. I talked my buddy into taking the test too, and we got to take the hands-on portion across from one another. I think that brought out the best of our competitive nature, as we both finished a couple of hours early. My next goal is to take the ACT (Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers). 

Overall, I cannot say enough about how valuable I think the NTCA is. As a member, you have access to a network of likeminded individuals committed to improving their skills and knowledge to better our trade. The education and resources are invaluable in learning the methods and standards of correct installation. 

Becoming more involved with the NTCA definitely helped my company get to the next level. I think back to when I was just learning the trade; there weren’t a lot of resources that I knew about. Occasionally I would check in on the John Bridge forum, or I’d seek advice from the handful of tile guys I knew. It was nothing like the wealth of resources that are available today. It’s really exciting to hear our employees talking about the latest Sal DiBlasi video they just watched, or the new trick they just learned on the Global Tile Posse Facebook group. 

Our team of employees is mostly younger individuals who came to us with little to no construction experience. Training the next generation is a big part of our goal to help shape the future of our trade through education. We are active members of the Oregon-Columbia Tile Trades JATC Apprenticeship Program, and are privileged to work with dedicated companies that have the same goals as us.

In 2020, we were honored to receive our second Coverings Installation & Design (CID) award in the category of Best Residential Stone Installation for our work on the historic Portland White House. We’ve earned our reputation one client at a time with dedication to excellence, as we strive to exceed expectations. Especially in these uncertain times, the original goals I set are as critical now as they were then. 

Portland’s White House grabs 2020 CID Award

3″ x 6″ Snow White Polished Bianco Alanor Marble was installed on all bathroom walls and as a border to bathroom floors.

Situated in Portland’s North East Historic Irvington District, Portland’s White House was built in 1911 by a wealthy lumber baron. The house was billed as the most expensive home built in the district for the period. This Greek Revival Mansion is one of the Rose City’s most luxurious and elegant historic homes. We were brought in to renovate the 11 bathrooms, kitchen floor, and main fireplace. The tile in these areas was primarily original, although some renovations were done in the 80s and 90s. There were some failures with cracked tiles and grout that was observed at the initial visit. The most recent renovations tried following the original plan of construction but fell short on execution. 

After demolition was completed by us, we quickly realized the complexity of the project ahead of us. By utilizing resources like the NTCA and following industry standards, we delivered a finished product that was a beautiful enhancement to a unique historic property.  

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