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Sunday, May 19, 2024

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The Tile Studio

Doylestown contractor touts skills, longevity and training young workforce

Mike and Dave Mastrangelo, at the reception desk of The Tile Studio’s current showroom.

Back in May, when I was in Doylestown, Pa., for TileFest ’22 at the TileWorks of Bucks County (formerly known as Moravian Pottery & Tile Works), I stopped in to visit NTCA member The Tile Studio, just down the street.

There I met with Mike Mastrangelo and son Dave, who toured me through their current showroom – which will soon undergo a redesign to better serve the high-end, luxury custom new home and renovation clientele they now serve. 

The Tile Studio proudly display a trio of certificates and awards at the entrance to its showroom: The State of Pennsylvania’s DOL Certificate of Registration for the Tile Setter & Tile Finisher apprenticeship training program; the 2019 Coverings Rock Stars Award bestowed upon Dave Mastrangelo; and The Tile Studio’s NTCA Membership certificate.

The company started 47 years ago doing commercial and residential installation. The pandemic helped it sharpen its focus and shift its gears into 100% residential, offering top area builders three Certified Tile Installers on staff and specialty in wet-bed installations. Dave Mastrangelo’s wife Morgan is also instrumental in growing the company’s retail presence, tripling its business and connecting the company to premier designers in the area. With a location that’s an hour away from New York City and from Center City Philadelphia, the New Hope/Doylestown area is a perfect location for those wanting to leave the cities for greener pastures and more spacious digs. 

The Tile Studio is geared for longevity with its 17 full-time employees, like designer Kim Helm, who has been with the company for 35 years, and other employees who have been with the company for between 15 and 30 years. “We are focused on quality and developing younger people in the trade,” Dave said. “We specialize in wet-bed applications as well as the newer technologies, allowing us to be able to adapt to the various projects we are asked to be a part of.” 

The Tile Studio warehouse is orderly, with materials for upcoming jobs neatly packaged on pallets, and identified, ready to go.

The Tile Studio currently has a Department of Labor approved apprenticeship program with three people working toward their Tile Setter accreditation. 

Dave was emphatic about the caliber of people the company hires. “Do you want to OWN a career?” he asked. Owning a career, like current apprentice Matt Moran, means being accountable, responsible and stepping up, and being rewarded with pay and responsibility. 

Mike added that The Tile Studio goes head-to-head with the Union in terms of benefits offered to its employees – 100% covered health and dental and matching IRA contributions. “We take care of our guys,” he said. 

Just a few of the many decorative, custom tiles lining the walls of the current showroom.

The Tile Studio has been an NTCA member for six years. “It’s important to be a part of industry associations in any business, but particularly the tile trade,” Dave said. “With the abundance of unqualified contractors doing sub-par work, we use the NTCA involvement as not only a marketing tool but a way for us to continue to learn and grow, giving our customers and builders the peace of mind that they hired the best at OUR price.” 

He also said that “being a part of the NTCA has been paramount to our growth over the last several years. From the network connections, the ability to bounce ideas off of other industry professionals and even hire a few people for special projects, it has been extremely beneficial to our business. We couldn’t be happier and look forward to becoming an NTCA Five-Star Contractor in the near future.”

The Tile Studio set this master bath with wet-bed floors; cement backer board and LATICRETE HydroBan were used on shower walls and ceilings. Mosaique Surface Carrara Venato and White Thassos waterjet-cut mosaic was installed on back and side walls (with inside corners folded beautifully). 18″ x 18″ Italian Calacatta marble was installed on a diagonal on the bathroom floor and cut down to 4″ x 4″ on shower floor and ceiling.

One of the connections the company made through NTCA was with FloFX – a “revolutionary” shower system, Dave said. The system offers a patent pending universal bond flange, 11 drain bodies and selection of eight grates. Mike added that they are now distributors of the product and look to grow that in the future.

Wet-bed floors were also used in this “his” master bathroom; steam shower was prepped using LATICRETE Hydro Ban Board. 12″ x 24″ porcelain marble-look tile was installed on shower walls and ceiling, with a linear drain and marble mosaic shower floor. The bathroom floor features 24″ x 24″ porcelain marble-look tile with Calacatta Gold Basketweave inlay, framed with a 5″ border of Nero Marquina polished marble.

And NTCA members – who are also members of Facebook Groups like Tile Geeks and Global Tile Posse – have helped The Tile Studio on some jobs. For instance, New Jersey tile contractors Carl “The Flash” Leonard of Cutting Edge Tile in Florence, and Metin Gungor of DEKOR CONSTRUCTION, LLC in Bordentown helped The Tile Studio install a lightweight self-leveling system for a massive penthouse project on the 57th floor where dead load was a concern, choosing ARDEX LW™ that combines ARDEX K520 technology with advanced lightweight bead technology. 

Another wet-bed floor created a perfectly flat and level surface for 18″ x 18″ Thassos Select polished marble and 18″ x 18″ Nero Marquina polished marble installed diagonally for a luxurious, clean, classic look. Since the Nero Marquina was a thicker tile, The Tile Studio had to build up each piece of Thassos marble with DITRA from Schluter.

Overall, the company is poised to expand and approaches the future – and its new full-service showroom, with eager anticipation. 

“We’re fortunate we get to see a project through from the selection and design process through the final installation,” Dave concluded. “So, to go from initial selections in our showroom and paper to the ‘wow’ moment when its 100% installed is really special.  And there’s nothing like hearing the feedback from a homeowner that we were able to bring their dreams to reality!”  

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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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