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NTCA Five-Star Contractor report

For those not familiar with the NTCA Five-Star designation, this is a group of NTCA member contractors who have demonstrated integrity, professionalism, and craftsmanship, and have a proven track record of success in tile and stone installation and business management. This report is an overview of developments in store for the NTCA Five-Star Contractor membership this year.

One key factor that you find in NTCA members overall is a culture of dedication to the tile industry. NTCA members are companies that love the tile trade, invest in training, and stay connected with current standards and methods. Many NTCA Five-Star 2020 objectives will work to cultivate this dedication. These objectives include the process of reverifying NTCA Five-Star Members, reaching out to artisan tile manufacturers, updating the format of our annual meeting, continuing to promote qualified labor language, and changing our application requirements and process.

The importance of reverifying members

This year the NTCA Five-Star program has started to reverify current members. As qualified labor grows, interest in this group has steadily grown with it. Because the NTCA Five-Star members are a unique blend of contractors of all sizes, labor pools, and specialties, it is important for NTCA to re-verify that they are continuing the practices that are required by the program such as licensing, insurance, safety program, ongoing education, certified labor, etc.

Outreach to artisan tile manufacturers

Artisan tile, while often offering rare beauty to a space, can sometimes be a challenge to install. Because of the unique nature of these specialized tiles, it is especially important that the right contractor be involved in the installation process. With that in mind, a contingent of high-end NTCA Five-Star contractors will take part in an outreach effort to artisan tile manufacturers. By reaching out to the manufacturers, the NTCA Five-Star contractors hope to learn more about their specialized products, be better prepared to install their products, and be a resource for each other.

NTCA Five-Star Partnership Summit

Much of the value of the NTCA Five-Star group is the education and peer interaction it offers. This is especially true at the annual meeting which has traditionally been a NTCA Five-Star trip during the summer. This year, to ease schedules for members and sponsors, the NTCA Five-Star Partnership Summit will take place in conjunction with the Total Solutions Plus (TSP) conference in Palm Desert, Calif., at the end of October. This year’s format and curriculum really elevate it above a mere meeting, and this new name for the gathering represents that. The curriculum for the meeting will expand to cover both the field and business components of members’ businesses and will bracket the TSP conference. 

Sunday, October 25th before TSP starts, the first part of the Summit kicks off with a Foreman/Superintendent Bootcamp. Project foremen and superintendents have some of the most difficult jobs, and represent a key component to a successful project, so this program gives them an opportunity to learn and grow. The more they know and understand about leadership, communication, planning, organization and cooperation, the more value they bring to the project team.

Part two of the Summit takes place on Wednesday, October 28th, after TSP. A full day of business education is planned with a speaker, and time for program sponsors and NTCA Five-Star Contractors to come together to talk about how we can best help each other and the industry.

Specifications and NTCA Five-Star Contractors

From day one, specifications have been a focus for the NTCA Five- Star group since they are key to the qualified labor cycle. The introduction of qualified labor language into Masterspec/ARCOM was the first major hurdle. Then in 2019, the NTCA was able to get the language into BSD SpecLink as well. This new platform has seen steady organic growth – a step in the right direction to help give projects a resource to finding qualified labor in its many forms. When architects/designers and owners’ representatives include qualified labor language, they are signaling that they value the craftmanship that trained labor brings. It shows they do not see our trade simply as a commodity.

That craftsmanship recognition is why as a community we need to embrace the certification process on all levels: at the Certified Tile Installer (CTI) level and the Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT) level. The ability to demonstrate and quantify basic and advanced skills elevates the trade for all involved.

Changes to the NTCA Five-Star Contractor Program

This year, you will see significant changes to the NTCA Five-Star Contractor Program. The most notable change is in membership requirements. We have begun accepting applications from non-NTCA members into the program. I am excited to say that the NTCA Five-Star Contractor Program has become a recognized asset to the industry. Because of this, I, along with NTCA leadership, feel the program will have an even bigger impact if it is open to both NTCA members and non-members. Non-members will be subject to the same terms and conditions as members, but there is a separate fee structure. 

A final change we are making is we are working to have the application process reviewed by a third party for group inclusion recommendations. We feel these changes will enhance the group and our focus as an association to improve our industry. 

The NTCA Five-Star Contractor group has one clear intention: Do what is best for the tile industry. NTCA is committed to keeping this focus when working on programs for members, with the goal of continuing to bring value to them in many forms.

To learn more about the NTCA Five-Star contractor program, please visit the website at http://bit.ly/FiveStarMembers. If you are interested in becoming a Certified Tile Installer, visit CTEF website at: http://bit.ly/BecomeaCTI.

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