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NTCA Commercial Tile Setter Craftsperson of the Year 2020

Ferid Hasic,
Grazzini Brothers & Company

With this issue of TileLetter ARTISAN, we continue to celebrate the NTCA Tile Setter Craftspersons of the Year for 2020. In our Spring issue, we honored the NTCA Tile Setter Craftsperson of the Year for residential installation, Leo Reynaga of Visalia Tile. In this issue, we talk with Ferid Hasic of Grazzini Brothers and Company, the 2020 NTCA Tile Setter Craftsperson of the Year for commercial installation. 

Hasic grew up in Bosnia and learned the tile trade from a third generation tile setter in Germany. There he obtained excellent training, so excellent in fact that when he and his family moved to the U.S. in 1988 and he became a naturalized U.S. citizen, he was able to skip additional training with the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC) Local Union 1 Minnesota, demonstrate his skill and obtain his Tile Setter Journeyman card with the local. He also holds a Stone Mason Journeyman card. 

With levels of increasing responsibility from tile setter to foreman with Grazzini Brothers, he supervises up to 45 workers, while mentoring crews and overseeing projects. He makes it a point to set tile every day, becoming a role model for crew members. 

We asked Hasic about the importance of being an artisan tile setter and being a craftsperson. 

Why is artisan tile setting and craftsmanship important to you?

To me there is a huge difference being a tile setter and being an artisan tile craftsman. Artisan tile setting shows the beauty of our work, and makes our work the focal point of any building. Artisan tile setting with good craftsmanship represents the highest level of all finishes that can be used on a project. My winning the 2020 NTCA Tile Setter Craftsperson of the Year Award is proof of that. It took a true artisan to reinstall the Great Seal of the City of Minneapolis. This seal was carved out of limestone in 1967 and was in 96 blocks. All blocks had to be reinstalled with precision. I was the craftsperson that was selected to reinstall it in the new Public
Service Building in Minneapolis. The Great Seal is the first thing every person who enters the new Public Service Building sees. It gives me a great sense of pride that I was responsible for
reinstalling it. 

What does it mean to you to be a craftsperson?

I love the satisfaction of creating something beautiful with my hands. I feel a sense of pride and accomplishment when a project is done. There is a satisfaction in the skill I have mastered.

How do you mentor and support other aspiring craftspeople around you?

I feel that being a mentor is about suggesting how to do things. I like to offer supportive advice and lead by example, so that the craftspeople I am working with have the information to make his or her own decisions, which will give him or her greater confidence. I want the people that I am mentoring to know that I am available to support them and offer advice when they need it, that I will listen and offer support in a way that makes sense to them, and that they can trust that I have their best interests in mind. I believe in hands-on training of apprentices, making sure that they are satisfied with only the highest-quality installations they are providing, and making sure they are working in a safe manner for them and people working around them.

What advantage is it for a young person who wants a career in tile setting to pursue becoming a craftsperson?

I like to tell young people that if you are a tile craftsperson, you will always have a job. During the pandemic, craftspeople kept working. I also tell young people that the pay is good, you’ll make a nice living, and you don’t have to work weekends if you don’t want to. That’s always a plus. I tell young women that it is hard work, but it is satisfying work. You’ll make the same money as a man and as a woman, you will be in higher demand as many projects want women on their crew. 

There are a lot of advantages to being a tile craftsperson. When the day is done, you go home to enjoy your life. You don’t ever take the job home with you. Tile setting is an extremely satisfying career as you look back on projects completed.

What kind of joy and satisfaction does being a craftsperson bring? 

I started my career in the tile industry in 1991. Over the years it has been extremely satisfying to look back at the projects I have completed and the solutions I came up with to overcome difficult obstacles on complex installations. I think joy and satisfaction come from liking what you do for a living.

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