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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

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Delivering training and education to every corner of the country

Meet the NTCA Trainers

NTCA enters 2023 with an expanded roster of trainers to deliver training and education to every corner of the country this year – approximately 177 NTCA Workshops and 61 NTCA Regional training events in all! 

You’ll have a chance to meet these trainers at events near you, but here’s an opportunity to get to know them, their backgrounds, experience and passion about bringing training and education to you! You can also meet them virtually in the NTCA Roundtable Live! that took place January 5, 2023, titled, “Meet the 2023 NTCA Training Team.” That video is available for viewing on NTCA’s YouTube Channel at https://bit.ly/3ZFHDU1

What stood out to me, in compiling this article, is each individual’s passion for excellence and their drive to share what they know with others to help them excel in the tile trade. Being your instructor at workshops, regional events and trade shows is a real labor of love for these men and women. 

Without further ado, here are your NTCA instructors for 2023: 

Mark Heinlein

Mark Heinlein is a former licensed tile contractor and residential installer (CTEF CTI #1112). He is NTCA’s Training Director and is in his 8th year on the NTCA Staff. Mark works with the NTCA Training Team to instruct fellow tile professionals across the industry using standards-based and cutting-edge training of all types. To learn how you and your business can experience professional development by participating in, supporting or hosting NTCA training opportunities, email [email protected].

Robb Roderick

NTCA Technical Trainer Robb Roderick has been in the tile industry for over 30 years. In that time he has worked with homeowners, builders, architects, and interior design professional, on projects in both residential and commercial settings. He has been a member of the NTCA for several years and holds Certified Tile Installer (CTI) credentials from the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Missouri State University in 2000. Robb also served in the United States Army as a medic. Robb lives in Springfield, Mo., and travels throughout the United States giving educational programs and workshops. 

Randy Fleming

I’m starting my fifth year as a contract trainer for the NTCA. I have worked for NTCA member J.D. Ballard and Sons in Fresno California, since 1979, starting as a helper and after four years, becoming a tile setter apprentice. Halfway through my apprenticeship I was promoted to foreman, and have since had the responsibility running a wide variety of large commercial projects. 

My career by the numbers: 

  • Starting age – 17
  • Largest job, by square footage – 156,000
  • Longest duration  tile project – 2 years 
  • Largest piece of stone installed, by weight – 12,000 lbs.
  • Most expensive tile installed – $1,500 per 7″ x 13″ piece; total project was over 1,000 sq. ft. of that tile!!

Greatest accomplishment in the tile industry so far: I helped train over 15 apprentices who went on to become contractors, foremen and have made tile their profession. I have also helped train two apprentices who went on to become NTCA Five-Star Contractors. In addition, I trained a kid – starting from summer vacation during high school – all the way to becoming a union journeyman, then foreman. And he’s now an NTCA setup guru, Chad Jones – one of my best friends.

The reason I joined the NTCA Training Team and what I most look forward to in my training, are the same, helping others avoid my mistakes, finding the next NTCA Five-Star Contractor and another Chad Jones! 

Chad Jones

I started in the tile trade in 1990 at 15 years old, working on the weekends and holidays off school. The day after I graduated high school in 1993, I started full-time work with a union shop in central/northern California. Fast forward 30 years in the tile trade to 2020, I started working with the NTCA. I now set up most of the regional training programs throughout the United States. The best part of my job is traveling to new places and meeting tile professionals who are passionate enough about their profession to continue educating themselves in the new developing technologies and standards in the tile industry. I look forward to meeting you at an event in your area.

Matt Welner 

My first year as a trainer for the NTCA has come to an end, but I am excited to be starting this new year as a full-time employee working alongside some of the best coworkers I’ve ever had. This position has given me a ton of opportunities and new challenges that I’ve enjoyed tremendously. It’s hard to pick my favorite part about being an NTCA trainer but if I had to create a short list it would be as follows: 

Traveling the country and meeting some of the most talented individuals in the tile industry. 

The opportunity to learn from some of the most educated and brightest minds working in this industry and then being able to pass that knowledge along at workshops and regional trainings.

2023 is going to be a great year spent traveling the country. I look forward to teaching people who might be new to tile, but also helping those who have been around the trade for a number of years hone their skill and make them better craftspeople.

Melissa Swan

I currently hold a number of positions. I’m a technical trainer for the NTCA. I’m a tile contractor/owner of Tilevita out of Indian Harbour Beach, Fla. I’m also a volunteer firefighter for Indian Harbour Beach, Station 56. By day, you can find me working or fishing in the Atlantic Ocean. By night, I’m typically training with the fire department or answering fire calls for my city.  

For most people, setting tiles does not sound very interesting. For me, tile is a passion I’ve been chasing for 20 years. Most recently, my work landed me a position with the NTCA where I’m focused on spreading tile knowledge to the general public and seeing how long I can drive without stopping. I guess you could say I’m living the dream.

I’m a CTI (#1670). I’m an Army Veteran (92F). But most importantly, I’m a tile setter. The best part of what I do?? Meeting like-minded individuals all over the country, which creates an instant connection that feels like I have family everywhere I go. 

T.J. Estes

I’m from a small town in west Texas and got into the tile industry after 13 years of ups and downs in the oil field industry. I quickly developed a strong passion for tile showers. My investigative mindset allowed me to find the failures in the showers I was demoing. I set out to learn the best ways to prep showers to ensure lifelong installations for my customers. I drove all over Texas to receive continuing education, network at events, and purchase the best professional materials that weren’t available in my small town. During my travels I was very fortunate to meet some wonderful people who have become amazing friends and mentors. After getting my CTI, my dear friends Erin Albrecht and Triniti Vigil invited me to work at J&R Tile in San Antonio installing GPTP. They were so amazing with helping me learn the industry standard installing GPTP in a real-world setting. I now enjoy passing the knowledge that I have learned over the years to other installers who are out there seeking continuing education of the ever-evolving industry that I have fallen in love with. This is what’s led me to become a Technical Trainer for the NTCA. 

Hank Boyle

I started installing tile full-time at 17 with my dad. Over the last 24 years, I have been doing residential and commercial tile installation with a focus on high-end residential. Unique installations requiring problem solving with creative solutions have always been a passion. When I heard that NTCA was looking for another trainer, I jumped on the opportunity. I’m very excited to work with and train tile contractors and setters throughout the country. I love teaching and sharing what I know with others, and being able to do that through the NTCA is very exciting!

Keith Barnett

I’m 42 years old, a General Contractor and C54 Tile and Stone Contractor in Northern California. I also run a concrete resurfacing business. I’ve been in the trades since I was 14 years old when I started packing floor joists as a laborer. In my off time from construction since I was 18 years old – until recently – I have been a woodlands and structure firefighter and first responder/emergency recovery personnel.

I’ve spent my entire life learning and searching for education to further my career over the years. I’m very passionate about our industry and methods and standard testing. I’m a CTI-certified tile installer and was hired on to the NTCA training Team for the 2023 season.

I look forward to sharing my education, knowledge and leadership with everyone as much as I want to learn from everyone else also!

When I’m not running crazy for business or the industry, you will find my family – including my beautiful wife Julie and our 12-year-old son Jameson – either training jiu jitsu or enjoying the outdoors and the family boat at many lakes in the Northern California region.

I look forward to meeting everyone, working with everyone, and giving the installers a voice as a local state ambassador and NTCA training team member!

Interested in meeting these trainers at an educational event near you? Click on the Training & Education tab at the NTCA website  – www.tile-assn.com – to view details on upcoming events and education resources. You can also access the Event Calendar that shows the upcoming events by month. For a shortcut to the Event Calendar, enter this URL in your browser: https://bit.ly/3ITBXjm.  

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Editorial Director and Senior Writer for TileLetter and TileLetter ARTISAN

Lesley Goddin has been writing and journaling since her first diary at age 11. Her journey has taken her through a career in publishing and publicity, landing her the editor position of TileLetter and its special publications in 2006. Her goal is to educate, inspire, recognize and encourage those in the tile industry -- especially the tile and stone contractor.

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