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HomeNewsNTCA leaps into 2024 with TISE presence

NTCA leaps into 2024 with TISE presence

New NTCA Marketing and Communications Director (r) Elena Grant, with Dragonfly Tile & Stone Works’ Jane Callewaert at the NTCA Ambassador Reception.

The National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) made a strong leap into 2024 with its presence at The International Surfaces Event (TISE) last week, held at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, NV. 

With a healthy attendance of staff and members at TISE — including NTCA’s newest staff member Elena Grant, Assistant Executive Director, Marketing Communications and Public Relations — the association took the opportunity to conduct Membership and Training & Education meetings prior to the start of the expo.

Networking at the NTCA 2024 Ambassador of the Year Reception. Photo: Floor Academy

On Monday night – the eve of the show —  it hosted its annual NTCA Ambassador Reception to honor those volunteers who work so diligently to support NTCA training and education events throughout the year, to provide a relaxed time to network,  and to highlight a few exceptional industry members. This year, NTCA presented a special award to industry pioneer  and author John Bridge. In 1998, before social media really hit its stride, he launched the online John Bridge Forum, which has been a helpful professional virtual community for so many tile installers and contractors.  

Also honored at the reception was Brian Runkle of Tectonic, as Ambassador of the Year. Unfortunately, a bout of COVID prevented Runkle from attending, so NTCA Assistant Executive Director Jim Olson took the opportunity to honor ARDEX’s Terry Hall – the 2023 recipient — who was present this year, but had missed the 2023 ceremony due to flight delays. 

The two NTCA Tile Setter Craftspersons of the Year were also honored at the event. Tommy Vu, of Westway Construction Services Flooring Division in Houston Texas was recognized as the Commercial winner. Joshua Nordstrom of Tierra Tile in Homer Alaska — the first recipient to be nominated by numerous individuals — received the Residential award. 


NTCA Technical Trainers Matt Welner, Randy Fleming, Chad Jones together with NTCA Training Director Mark Heinlein presented a technical session Wednesday and Thursday of the show, focusing on materials and prep needed for constructing ceramic tile showers and wet areas. The team also presented a series of demos the two days of the show, addressing tiled showers and wet areas, and design trends and installation techniques using tile and grout. 

At the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF), eight tile setters tested their mettle with the Certified Tile Installer (CTI) exam, sponsored by TEC Specialty Products, and evaluated by William Pino of local Summit Valley Tile & Stone. On January 24, CTI hands-on tests were offered to two English speakers and in Spanish for four Spanish speakers.  In addition, the CTEF played the new Spanish version of the CTI hands-on test orientation in its booth. Then on January 26, a  father and son installer duo tested. Visitors to the booth could view a CTI module from the previous day. 

CTEF also offered the  “Successfully Prepared for Testing and My Next Project” twice during the show to address how to prepare for and succeed in not only the hands-on certification test but also in a tile installation career. It explored the test module – specifically the new versions being used in 2024 — and how the test relates to the skills tile professionals use every day. CTEF also had information  available on its new week-long 100 Level Foundations Series program for apprentices and finishers, and its 200 Level Practical Series that prepares pros for the CTI test and goes into depth on skills needed in years 1-3 as a full-time installer. 

Emerging Leaders Forum

Round two of the Emerging Leaders Forum commenced Thursday during TISE, with a five-hour session of 11 young leaders (plus one who will join the virtual sessions) who have committed to a path of vulnerable self exploration to assess their strengths and weaknesses on the way to becoming more responsive and effective leaders.

This year’s class of Emerging Leaders met for the first time in person during TISE.

The group, sponsored by NTCA and facilitated by Wally Adamchik of FireStarter Speaking and Consulting,  includes three women: Janice Daigle, DW Sanders Tile & Stone Contracting, Kali Pharand, Schluter Systems, and Maria Meyer, Dragonfly Tile & Stone Works.

Meyer was also one of six artisan tile setters who participated in the Artisans Revolution in Tile training in Milwaukee last June and who aim to step up their game: Chris Osterritter, Art by Tile; Chris Resti, Crest Tile and Mosaic; Aryk Snowberger, Snowbee Custom Tile; Matt Blood, Paragon Tile Installation, and Josh Vassallo, Vassallo Tile & Stone. Other participants include Austin Andrews of Brekhus Tile & Stone, Austin Cox of Memphis Tile & Marble, Hunter Marshall of Fox Ceramic Tile, Inc., and Gus Tolleson of J&R Tile.

Also present at the initial meeting were Cody Cox, Cox Tile, Megan Garvey, Welch Tile and Megan Giberti from Floor & Decor, who took the inaugural program in 2023. They are developing a council to provide community and support to the incoming class of leaders as they move through the program. That evening, NTCA hosted a special dinner at Ri Ra Irish Pub for the Emerging Leaders group. 

Speaking of Emerging Leaders, Floor Focus magazine recognized some rising leaders of its own with an exhibit outside the main hall to celebrate its Emerging Leader Award Winners. Two of those leaders, 25-year old Noak Boek, project manager for Christian Brothers Flooring & Interiors in Lakeside, Calif., and 35-year old Dustin Degreef, project manager for H.J. Martin and Son in Green Bay, Wis., are NTCA Five-Star Contractors!

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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