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HomeContentMember SpotlightMinneapolis/St. Paul? Austin? No problem, new NTCA member Caleb Donaldson has customers...

Minneapolis/St. Paul? Austin? No problem, new NTCA member Caleb Donaldson has customers covered!

Caleb Donaldson Solidsurface Tile

One of the newest additions to the NTCA family is Caleb Donaldson of Solidsurface Tile. Straddling two parts of the country, he currently resides in both Austin, Texas, and Minneapolis, Minn. 

Minnesota has been his home for about 21 years. But after visiting Austin in 2016, he decided he really liked it and would love to live there. When the pandemic occurred, it made him contemplate his personal and business future. “[I] just started to think about what I really wanted in the coming years for work and pleasure,” he said. “I had heard that Austin was booming, and talked to some other local installers about the market outlook.” 

Donaldson made the initial move to Austin in 2021 and his whole family followed suit in “anticipation that he would find more work there.” Currently, he is in the process of working with clientele in both Minneapolis and St. Paul, and growing new customer relationships in Texas, from Austin to San Antonio and the Hill Country. 

In the future, he predicts his Minnesota work life to be more seasonal, but right now he goes where the work is for him. “I joke that I have the longest commute out of any tile installer since I’m working two markets nearly 1,200 miles apart,” he said.

Solidsurface Tile mostly focuses on residential and new remodels. Being a second generation tile installer, Donaldson focuses on quality installs and materials. He prides himself on his communication skills and openness to learning new things about the trade. 

Hungry for information

Joining NTCA earlier this year, Donaldson is always looking to better himself as an installer and improve his expertise. He is also looking forward to meeting local and international builders, installers and designers. He is interested in becoming a Certified Tile Installer this year as well.

He has already taken advantage of the new resources in his life, as he attended three NTCA training sessions in the span of two weeks, surprising and impressing NTCA Technical Trainers. NTCA Trainer Matt Welner said, “I met Caleb when he came to my workshop in Austin on February 28. Caleb then went to a Gauged Porcelain Tile Panel/Slab training in San Antonio with Chad on February 29 where he became a member. He then attended our Art Glass Panel training on March 6 in San Antonio! I thought it was pretty awesome that someone attended three events in two weeks!

“Caleb is currently trying to transition from Minnesota to Austin, and these were great events for him to network with other local Texas tile contractors,” Welner added.

One example of a skill he learned at the NTCA training programs relates to installing thin panels. “I’ve only been able to install a handful of jobs with panels up to 5’,” he said. “Having proper training and learning correct procedures has been amazing. It’s very useful to interact with other tile setters, and I believe I learn something from everyone.” 

2024 has been a struggle so far, with Donaldson experiencing his slowest start in the last five years as he wrestles with finding clientele in his new city and state. He said, “[I’m] having some challenges meeting and getting contacts in my newer Texas market.” 

Other than his very long commute, another challenge he deals with is the supply chain. He chooses to use premium products and materials, so sometimes he has issues obtaining the preferred materials when he needs them. 

Despite his current struggles, there is a silver lining: the reaction from customers is a huge motivator. He said, “Without a doubt my biggest joy is seeing how happy my completed jobs make my customers.” He said he also enjoys being able to share images online of the “beautiful spaces I’ve had the privilege of working on.” Check out SolidSurface Tile project work below or visit http://solidsurfacetile.com/ to see more.   

Amanda Mourelatos
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Amanda Mourelatos, daughter of John Mourelatos, Owner of Mourelatos Tile Pro, is a 19-year-old student in her second year at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Ariz., where she is majoring in journalism with a communications minor. 

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