(Ed note: The CTEF Blog Team originally published this story in 2017, but it has been updated with current information; to order an NTCA Reference Manual, visit tile-assn.com).
This month the industry comes together in Jacksonville, Fla., for networking and education at the industry conference known as Total Solutions Plus (TSP). In addition, different industry groups, committees and associations take the opportunity to hold meetings with those gathered there before the conference gets into full swing.
One of those meetings will be the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) Technical Committee Meeting, which is being held on Saturday, October 23 from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. In this meeting, expert tile installers and contractors play a critical role in determining tile installation best practices and standards. Qualified tile contractors actively participate in crafting the future for the industry – and the meeting is open for all to attend. In fact, James Woelfel, Chairman of the NTCA Technical Committee, enthusiastically invites any industry member invested in the future of the industry to join the meeting and contribute ideas and perspectives.
In addition to his role as NTCA Technical Committee Chairman, Woelfel is Vice President of Artcraft Granite, Marble & Tile Co., of Mesa, Ariz. We caught up with Woelfel to learn more about the Committee and how it integrates so seamlessly with other critical tile industry installation resources, two of which include the TCNA Handbook and the ANSI Standards.
Woelfel is very active in the industry, not just with the NTCA Technical Committee, but also as Past President of the NTCA, as NTCA representative on the TCNA Handbook Committee, and a member of the ANSI ASC 108 Committee. Woelfel is passionate about strengthening industry standards and methods.
In addition, Artcraft Granite, Marble & Tile Co. is a model for tile installation best practices. It has earned the NTCA Five-Star Contractor designation for meeting criteria for the highest standards in installation performance, ethics, education, and peer review. And, the company proudly employs Certified Tile Installers (CTIs) who successfully completed the testing provided by the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF).
Woelfel, together with father “Butch” and wife Chris, run J.G. Woelfel & Associates, LLC, as an NTCA Recognized Tile Consultant.
Qualified tile contractors and the NTCA Technical Committee
CTEF: James, what is the NTCA Technical Committee?
JW: The NTCA Technical Committee was established in 1985. I have been involved for 18 years and 15 years as Chairman.
The committee is charged with editing, updating, and fine-tuning the NTCA Reference Manual (www.tile-assn.com/page/refmanual) since new technologies, methods, and products all impact the experience, practice, and outcome of tile and stone installations.
The NTCA Reference Manual is a well-respected companion document to the TCNA Handbook and ANSI standards.
The committee primarily focuses on and concerns itself with developing documents that assist tile contractors in problem, prevention and resolution and supports improved communication and professionalism with their customers.
We identify recurring job site problems in the field and address them through regularly-scheduled meetings. And this year, one of the issues we will introduce at TSP will be adding a new chapter to the NTCA Reference Manual concerning artisan tile installation and practices.
CTEF: Who participates in the NTCA Technical Committee?
JW: The Technical Committee is made up of NTCA tile contractors, along with manufacturer representatives, tile consultants, trade associations including the TCNA, TCAA, CTDA, and TTMCA. All are leading representatives from the entire tile industry.
For example, some of the people on the Technical Committee include the Chairman of the ANSI 108 committee (Chris Walker), the Executive Director of the TCNA (Eric Astrachan), the President of the NTCA (Martin Brookes), and Past Presidents of the NTCA (Martin Howard, Dan Welch, Nyle Wadford, and John Cox), and Director of Certification and Training at CTEF (Scott Carothers).
A point I’d like to make about the NTCA Technical Committee is this – this is no longer the Southern Tile Contractors Association – this is the National Tile Contractors Association. We want to invite a diversity of ideas into the committee from across the country and from different sectors of the industry. What is the future for NTCA and the Technical Committee? We need that diversity and more detail-oriented thinking. To my mind, that is a strong suit for women, and we welcome more women to attend meetings and become members of the committee and its subcommittees.
CTEF: How does the NTCA Technical Committee interact with other tile industry committees and associations?
JW: The Technical Committee used to be a conduit from NTCA tile contractors to the TCNA Handbook Committee. The NTCA then developed the Standards and Methods Committee, which is now the conduit to the TCNA Handbook, and the de facto subcommittee editing ANSI A108.01, 108.02 and 108.5.
The NTCA Technical Committee works with the Standards and Methods Committee to provide them with some ideas on which tile standards need to be looked at or developed. We have had closed-door meetings dealing with new technology and the development of new particular standards but this is now a rare occurrence.
CTEF: What makes this work so valuable?
JW: The majority of this committee is made up of tile contractors, so the ideas usually come from tile contractors to either bring attention to an issue, solve an issue or provide information for a tile contractor to keep themselves out of job-specific issues.
Literally, to me, the NTCA Reference Manual saves you money or puts it in your back pocket.
CTEF: How integral is the NTCA Technical Committee for best practices and specifications?
JW: Without standards and best practices, we, as professional tile contractors, cannot separate ourselves from our competition. Best practices also keep us out of installation and job site issues.
Again, this comes down to keeping more money in your pocket, continuing your education, and, frankly, being at the top of your profession.
CTEF: How does this work fit into the TCNA Handbook?
JW: The NTCA Reference Manual follows all applicable TCNA and ANSI methods; it also goes into written detail in a cause, cure, and prevention framework in order to explain some of the nuances involved in a properly installed tile application. The document also explains what the symptoms of a poor tile application are.
If you haven’t already, you should order your own NTCA Reference Manual!