“Our future success is directly proportional to our ability to understand, adopt and integrate new technology into our work.”
– Sukant Ratnakar, author
For my letter for this TECH issue, I want to lean heavily on some thoughts penned about the tile industry by Gianna Vallefuoco of NTCA Five-Star Contractor Vallefuoco Contractors, LLC of Rockville, Md.
Vallefuoco notes, “As one of few fields still heavily reliant on a human skill set, the tile industry is renowned for its indelible hands-on craftsmanship. This has proven to be a huge asset for us as a tile contractor during the pandemic. Being among the scarce industries deemed ‘essential,’ we’ve managed to work throughout the darkest days of this year’s struggling economy. Much of our capacity to stay employed has hinged on the incredible effort and innovation of our supply chain. Our manufacturers and vendors have not only kept us stocked with staple setting materials, but they’ve pivoted to create new and adaptive products to address our changing needs.”
She adds, “Social distancing requirements have prohibited us from working side by side with other trades as we did before. This has greatly prolonged overall project length for the client. Any means of reducing our installation time has become essential. Another priority has been to help clients choose tile accessories without having to leave their homes. Tile industry technology – as well as targeted marketing campaigns – have readily accommodated our need for two categories of products in 2020; those that reduce installation time and those that satisfy our clients’ needs.”
These thoughts set the stage for the TECH 2020 issue, that explores emerging and popular technologies in use in the industry, provides an overview of those advances, and presents thoughts by contractors in select categories about the need and positive contribution these technologies offer to the trade of tile setting. Some of these technologies in this issue also do double duty, which saves time and money as you plan your timeline and budget.
Also in this issue, we present a number of feature stories, including insights on installing encaustic, cement or hydraulic tile, authored by John Cox, with support from some industry experts, an overview of what the virtual Total Solutions Plus (TSP) will offer you later this month, and an announcement of the NTCA Five-Star Project of the Year winners. On the latter, check TileLetter.com for expanded information and supporting videos of these outstanding projects by expert contractors.
It’s our hope that this issue helps you to get on top of the technological trends and harness the advantages they offer to make your projects more efficient, well-performing, and beautiful. We hope you find a nugget of information that helps your encaustic installs, become inspired by the award winners, or find a session to support your business on the virtual TSP agenda. If you walk away with one insight that benefits your work flow, or one new product that makes your life easier, our job is done!
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.