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HomeContentMember SpotlightSmall town location expands quality of life, studio space for Malachi Hilkey

Small town location expands quality of life, studio space for Malachi Hilkey

Malachi Hilkey Resonate Custom Tile Red Oak, Iowa

Malachi Hilkey of Resonate Custom Tile (Facebook.com/ResonateCustomTile) is the first CTI in his small town, Red Oak, Iowa; CTI #1849. He started out in the trades in 2014, in Denver, Colo., then made his way over to Omaha, Neb., to be a general remodeler. 

The more tile projects he did, the more he began to educate himself on proper tile installation techniques and methods. He now does commercial and residential work in Red Oak, which has a population of about 5,500.

Making the move from the big city to small, rural town life was both a family and business decision. Hilkey operates the business with his wife Marissa, and he and his family love all that comes with homestead living. On the business side, he wanted to have the space for business vehicles and studio space for specific projects. “We moved into a very unique building,” he said; and the town of Red Oak was established in 1849. “Same as my CTI number, so the place just felt right!” he said. 

This gold shower was for a long-term client. Hilkey remodeled the entire home, and it had “one of the largest single tile jobs of my career,” he said. “The highlight for me was this gorgeous master bathroom with marble hexagonal tile. I planed the walls out using shims, foam board throughout and rendered the back wall with a mud screed for a flat substrate. I loved doing the mosaic work, wrapping the window and doorway with gold metal accents.”

No matter the project, Hilkey likes to make it one of a kind. “I developed a few signature finishes into my showers or tile projects…What I’ve been trying to offer my clients is a personalized build,” he said. He has participated in various art contests over the years and has always enjoyed building projects. 

Hilkey has been a NTCA member for four years and joined seeking education and training. Little did he know how involved NTCA is in the tile industry. He didn’t realize at first how beneficial it is to the tile community. He said, “But thanks to my local group and internet social groups I now attend every opportunity that comes my way and have benefitted in many ways.” 

He said he has yet to see the full potential of NTCA but “breathes easy” knowing that he has support if he needs it. 

Hilkey obtained his CTI in 2022. Having his certification “drives him to hit the established standards at all times,” and it opens up more jobs opportunities for him. He said, “Companies do appreciate the time I spend to attain the certification.” 

This amazing project was done for The Nowear Compound Non-Profit Skate Park in Unadilla, Neb. Hilkey designed and installed a bathroom for boys and girls with the Nowear logo out front, which serves as a backdrop for the bike shop owner to display BMX bikes. Hilkey wanted to give back to the community and help realize the shop owner’s dream, providing a safe place for kids of all ages to learn a skill and socially thrive.

Fortunately for Hilkey, the post-COVID supply issues have not affected him given the area he lives in. Inflation, however, has hit hard. He has had to increase his prices by 40% due to the prices of materials skyrocketing recently. He said the beginning of 2023 was rough for him, as he had just moved to the country. People are settled in their homes and the economy has made budgets tight for the average household. 

One of the hardest things for him is finding and growing the clientele, especially having just moved to the area. “I have had a lot of referral work throughout the years, and as some years have it, I will have only four or five jobs, two being extremely long,” he said. “So I don’t get my name out enough.” 

But despite the challenges, Hilkey is in love with tile. “Tile is amazing, It’s a tough trade, but the payout for a great tile installation is amazing, and I love every install I do. I very much enjoy creating art pieces,” Hilkey said.   

Amanda Mourelatos

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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