NTCA has selected the Tile Setter Craftsperson of the Year in both residential and commercial categories, lauding tile setter craftpeople who reflect the best training and resulting skill, and qualities of leadership, positivity and continued striving for excellence.
The commercial winner is Ferid Hasic of Grazzini Brothers & Company, Eagan, Minn., nominated by Greg Grazzini, CEO and President. Leonardo “Leo” Reynaga of Visalia Ceramic Tile, Inc., nominated by Teresa Inglehart, Residential Operations Assistant, walks away with the residential honors. Both winners hailed from NTCA Five-Star contractor member companies.
Rod Owen, C.C. Owen Co., Mike Micalizzi of Custom Building Products, and James Woelfel, consultant, scored the commercial entries. Jan Hohn of Hohn & Hohn, Inc., William White, ARDEX, and consultant Nyle Wadford judged the residential entries.
Those submitting a nominee for consideration were required to supply a letter of nomination stating why they were nomimated, a resume that specified noteworthy achievements, examples of leadership and efforts to stay educated on products and methods important to the trade. In addition, each application had to include three to five projects, complete with photos and description of the candidate’s role in the projects.
Judging criteria included the following factors:
- 15 years or more setting tile, and continuing to set tile as part of job today (Yes/No)
- Technical correctness of tile installations – 25%
- Craftsmanship/Artistry – 30%
- Ability to resolve tile installation problems – 20%
- Self-improvement/continuing education – 15%
- Mentoring/leading others – 10%
The winners receive round-trip airfare for two to Coverings 2021, hotel accommodations for a three-night stay and will be recognized during NTCA Awards Night during the show.
Nyle Wadford, a residential category judge, noted, “I am honored to be chosen to judge these entries. Viewing their work and their dedication to their craft was an uplifting experience. When this fast-paced world in which we live demands that it be done more rapidly with ‘get by’ quality, these entrants eschew that notion and proved their dedication to quality on each of the installations reviewed. It is both pleasing and humbling to know that there are still tile installers today that adhere to these practices. Congratulations to all the entrants. They’re all winners in my book!”
Let’s meet our winners!
Ferid Hasic, Grazzini Brothers & Company
Hasic grew up in Bosnia and learned the tile trade from a third generation tile setter in Germany. He and his family moved to the U.S. in January, 1998 and he became a naturalized U.S. citizen. His excellent training in Germany allowed him 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 crew and overseeing projects. He makes it a point to set tile every day, becoming a role model for crew members.
“If I show the people by my working hard, they will work hard,” Hasic said. “I take pride in my work and want to set a good example. I strive for no punch list on every job. It is important for the people to see that I put myself in their shoes – both my crew and the company. I want to do a good job, so the company gets more jobs. If the company prospers, I will prosper.”
He keeps up with products and installation methods by using the NTCA University website, the TCNA Handbook and obtaining Union upgrades when offered. In his 21 years with Grazzini Brothers & Company, he has installed over 300 projects.
“For the past 21 years, Ferid has worked for Grazzini Brothers & Company,” wrote Greg Grazzini in his nomination letter. “I have always been impressed by the exceptional quality of craftsmanship and service he provides to every job and to every client. Ferid displays the ability to adapt fast and efficiently to changing circumstances. He handles manpower with firmness, fairness, sets a good example and has a quiet demeanor that is respected by all his co-workers. His exceptional craftsmanship is continually requested by past clients.”
Hasic isn’t new to awards and accolades – Grazzini Brothers awarded him its own Tile Setter of the Year award in 2000, Foreman of the Year in 2007 and again in 2013.
“Ferid is one of those people whose skill and dedication motivate those around him,” Grazzini added. “We are proud to have him as part of the Grazzini team and very proud to recognize his contribution to the tile industry with his nomination for the 2020 NTCA Tile Setter Craftsperson of the Year Award.”
Hasic said, “I have worked my whole life in this industry, and I feel it has paid off by winning this award.”
Leo Reynaga, Visalia Ceramic Tile, Inc.
As a young father who started working before even finishing high school, Reynaga came to Visalia Ceramic Tile with no experience, and learned his craft through training with owner Robert Martinho, discovering quickly that this career could provide a good living for his growing family. Inglehart said his go-getter attitude propelled him to success.
“Today, with over 24 years in the trade, Leo has become a top setter for commercial and residential applications,” Inglehart said, in her nomination letter. “It is rare to have one guy the best at projects requiring vast differences from small to large areas, simple to custom details – and he’s got it.” His positive attitude, product knowledge, continuing quest for education and experience and willingness to motivate and encourage others have distinguished him as a leader. Inglehart said he’s brought family members and friends into the trade, trained them and pushed them to excel – not only in installation skills but with chops to plan, set goals and develop a true love for the craft. He continues his own education and holds certifications that include safety citations, Certified Tile Installer and has attended classes and workshops by National Tile Contractors Association, Custom Building Products, and Crossville.
“Leo’s knowledge and application have been an immeasurable asset and he continues to be at top of his trade at every project regardless of residential, commercial or complexity,” Inglehart said. “He is a problem solver, a mentor, and a role model for the entire company.”
Reynaga said that receiving this award demonstrates that “no matter what age or time in your career you could always achieve. This award shows my family and coworkers that if you have dedication, hard work, and love for your craft you will succeed.”
He is proud of how far he has come in the industry. “Working for Visalia Ceramic Tile has taught me the key principles of having a hard working ethic and taking pride in what you do, which is something that I have passed down onto my coworkers and kids as well,” he said.
Challenges from the work – or working with the homeowner – energize Reynaga. “I like the challenge of finding a solution that I can bring to the table that will benefit the outcome and finished product,” he said.
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. Other interests include the soft, purring marvels known as cats, labyrinth walking, drumming and percussion, and a range of spiritual, musical and artistic pursuits.