Industry Insights
May 1st, 2004


May-June 2004

Baldini presented CTDA Service to the Industry Award

CTDA President Gail M. Schovan presented the Jerry Fisher Memorial – Service to the Industry Award to Rick Baldini, president and CEO of Aqua Mix. The award is presented to “an industry professional who has shown outstanding service through invention or dedication of time and effort to the ceramic tile industry.” In making the presentation, Schovan recognized Baldini’s more than 20 years in the industry, serving on the boards of CTDA, CTIOA, Western States Ceramic Tile Association. He serves on various industry committees and has been a lecturer for the CTC course. Beyond the tile industry, Baldini has a scholarship named after him at the University of Utah. “For him there is no other place than number 1,” said Schovan, recounting how in the fall of 2003, Baldini and his family formed the “Life is Good” team and participated in a 3-day, 50 mile MS walk. Their goal as a team was raising $25,000; in fact, they raised $42,000! “He truly embodies a drive to be successful while all along respecting others and recognizing that he cannot do it alone,” said Schovan.

Roca Group Wins Award at Coverings 2004

Coverings honored the Roca Group with an award for Best in Show over 500 square feet. Each year, the Board of Directors for Coverings walks the show floor and reviews all of the exhibit displays. Based on their observations, they select what they consider to be the best booths of the show. The criteria for the Best in Show award includes: creativity of the design; creative use of tile and/or stone in the booth’s design and architecture; how well tile and/or stone are displayed within the context of the design elements; and overall look of the booth and visual aesthetic The Roca Group shared the award with two other exhibitors. There were a total of 176 booths in the over 500 square feet category. The Roca Group exhibit featured Roca, Laufen, Incepa and United States Ceramic Tile Company products.

“Our concept in terms of showing ceramic tile this year has been to take the more sophisticated products in our company and showcase them in the form of an art gallery,” said Laufen and United States Ceramic Tile Company CEO Don Olsen.

TPFH and Industry Partners Celebrate Coverings Donation, Successful First Year

Tile Partners for Humanity (TPFH) coordinated the donation of 150 palettes and 16 crates of tile and setting materials from individual exhibitors at Coverings to Habitat for Humanity of Orlando. The Coverings donation filled six trailers with unused materials that will go to both new homes in the Orlando area and the Habitat Home Store, which sells building materials to fund new construction in the community.

Freeman Decorating Company donated labor and trucks to transport the materials from the Orange County Convention Center to the Orlando Habitat affiliate.

TPFH is a partnership between the tile industry and Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit organization working to eliminate substandard housing around the world. TPFH works within the industry to raise awareness of Habitat and to solicit donations of tile, installation materials, tile tools, cleaners and sealers, installation labor, and installation training for volunteers and homeowners.

“We are overwhelmed and overjoyed by the generosity of these exhibitors!” exclaimed Shirley Jones, manager of the Habitat Home Store. “This is a real win-win for us because we can put tile in the homes we build and we can sell tile to pay for new construction. We even got a donation of 29 palettes from one exhibitor – Roca/Laufen/United States Ceramic Tile Company – and I knew our ship had come in! This will benefit our community more than these wonderful exhibitors know.”

TPFH hosted a seminar at Coverings on Wednesday, March 24, to demonstrate the need for the entire industry to get involved with TPFH and Habitat projects. Larry Prible, a member of Habitat for Humanity International’s Board of Directors, was the featured speaker along with remarks from representatives of the National Tile Contractors Association, Houston Habitat for Humanity in Houston, Texas, and Habitat in Jacksonville, Fla.

Through installation training and interaction with industry professionals, TPFH partners hope to increase the number of volunteers who can donate labor as well as interest volunteers and new homeowners in a career in the industry.

TPFH is guided by seven industry organizations whose representatives sit on its board of directors, including the Ceramic Tile Distributors Association, Ceramic Tile Education Foundation, Ceramic Tile Institute of America, National Tile Contractors Association, The Tile Doctor, Tile Council of North America, and Tile Heritage Foundation. For more information on TPFH or to make a pledge, please visit

Assopiastrelle launches sustainability program

Ceramic Tiles of Italy launched “S_tiles – Italian Tiles Towards Sustainability,” a new integrated environmental and social communication strategy created by Assopiastrelle and coordinated by EOS-Environmental Consulting Group at Coverings 2004. It will include a new website developed in cooperation with Pomilio Blumm, a book (in Italian and English), seminars and meetings with diverse stakeholders around the world. The project is being developed in cooperation with the Italian Ministry of Productive Activities – Foreign Trade Department and the Italian Institute for Foreign Trade.

The “S_tiles” initiative fulfills the need of Assopiastrelle for an effective environmental and social communication strategy that goes beyond a purely technical or promotional project. The aim of the initiative is to raise awareness of the Italian tile sector’s strategic approach to concrete application of the principles of sustainable development, taking account of all components of this development, whether environmental, social or economic. Through environment protection policies, especially measures for increasing energy efficiency, the Italian ceramic industry improved the quality of its products and enhanced their prestige among the parties most sensitive to sustainable development, namely policy-makers, legislators, bioarchitects, ecodesigners, as well as a number of distributors and an increasingly large segment of consumers. The “S_tiles” website is an active forum open to the contributions of members and other stakeholders, and will post case-studies, news and reports. As one of the main objectives of the initiative, Assopiastrelle intends to make “S_tiles” an important international reference point for everyone working in the field of sustainable building. For more information on S_tiles visit or

Dinkel named TCNA Tile Person of the Year

Paul E. Dinkel was awarded the Tile Council of North America’s (TCNA) 2003 Tile Person of the Year award during Coverings 2004. The annual award recognizes a person who has been instrumental in increasing the consumption of ceramic tile. Dinkel started his tile career working summers for his uncles while he was still in high school. As a tile contractor and salesperson, Dinkel noticed tile contractors were experiencing failures when tile was installed in wet areas. Using his basement as a laboratory, he began an intensive research and development program with glass mesh mortar units. This quest produced a backerboard and underlayment comprised of lightweight concrete and glass mesh for ceramic tile applications that would not degrade when wet. In 1967, a new corporation emerged manufacturing the patented and trademarked new product called WonderBoard. WonderBoard, was the first cementitious backerboard and as such, revolutionized the ceramic tile industry. Previously, tile over wood floors was set in a mud bed, a time-consuming and expensive method. WonderBoard allowed tile installations to be completed faster and at less cost. On walls, WonderBoard eliminated failures that were previously occurring in wet areas. Dinkel’s innovative achievements and generous support for installer education continues to enhance the contractor trade as well as our entire industry.

TCNA leadership

Eric Astrachan accepted the executive director position for the Tile Council of North America, Inc. (TCNA) on March 1, 2004 succeeding Robert E. Daniels who has held the position for the past 10 years. Daniels will continue as TCNA’s Executive Director Emeritus. As the Corporate Secretary of International Trade Expositions, Mr. Daniels is working with National Trade Productions through the management transition of the 2004 Coverings show. He also manages the TCA Team, the tile and stone consulting subsidiary of the Tile Council, while volunteering his time as the Chairman of the Board for the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation. Daniels will continue as the chairman of the ISO committees dealing with tile and Dr. John Sanders of Clemson University accepted the role of Secretariat.

TCA now The Tile Council of North America

The Tile Council of America now represents American, Canadian, and Mexican tile manufacturers with the addition of four large Mexican tile manufacturers to its membership. Reflecting the expanded membership, the TCA Board of Directors approved changing the organization’s name to the Tile Council of North America. An estimated 80% of the tiles made in North America (Canada, Mexico and the United States) are represented by the Tile Council’s membership. With combined tile production in 2003 for North America estimated at 2.2 billion square feet, the Tile Council’s membership represents approximately 1.8 billion square feet of ceramic tile production. “The addition of Mexican manufacturers allows the Tile Council to represent a powerful North American ceramic tile manufacturing industry,” remarked Robert E. Daniels, Executive Director of TCA. “Similar interests such as developing standards, publishing installation guidelines, and educating installers, sales staff and everyone in the ceramic tile chain on installation practices bonds our membership.” Four of the largest Mexican manufacturers have since joined the association: Grupo Porcelanite, Internacional De Ceramica (Interceramic), Lamosa Revestimientos and Manufacturas Vitromex.

Crossville brand initiative and repositioning

Jim Dougherty, vice president of marketing and business development for Crossville, announced a major brand initiative – Crossville® – for the company, accompanied by a new tag line: “Elevate Your Space.” Extensive market research conducted in 2003 confirmed that Crossville is a brand that needs no further clarification or description. In addition, while Crossville has been the preeminent U.S. company that designs, manufactures and markets Porcelain Stone® tile for almost 20 years, the company’s message has expanded to include the industry’s largest collection of glass, metal and stone accents and trims, plus coordinated floor and wall tile ensembles for commercial and residential applications of the highest order. “Crossville’s position in the marketplace has changed,” states Dougherty, “and it was time that our message and identity change as well.” The name Crossville® is now the master brand of Crossville, Inc. Crossville will encompass three sub brands: Porcelain Stone® by Crossville, which includes Cross-Colors®, Cross-Colors Mosaics and the full range of stone-look Porcelain Stone tile to Milestone Mosaics to the newly introduced WeatherStone, an indoor/outdoor tile, and Tuscania, with the look of cross-cut travertine; Accent Innovations™ by Crossville, including glass, stone and metal accents; and Design Solutions™ by Crossville, coordinated wall and floor tile ensembles, such as the Le Ville collection. Dougherty concludes that “no other brand of home surface décor is as uniquely positioned as Crossville to make and deliver this promise: Crossville will ‘Elevate Your Space’ and keep elevating it by continual product, style and service innovation – now and in the future.” For more information, contact Crossville at 800-221-9093 or visit

Ceramic Tiles of Italy Distributor and Design Awards 2004

Assopiastrelle, the Association of Italian Ceramic Tile and Refractory Manufacturers announced that Virginia Tile Company, of Farmington Hills, Michigan, received the 2004 Assopiastrelle American Distributor Award. For the past 14 years, this award has been granted to premiere American distributors for their dedication to the promotion and use of Italian ceramic tiles in the North American marketplace. According to William Stephenson, the company’s president, Virginia Tile Company was founded in 1928 by his grandfather. The company has seven showroom locations spread across Michigan, Ohio and Illinois and distributes to nearly a thousand dealers throughout their region from warehouses that occupy more than 200,000 square feet. The company represents more that 20 Italian ceramic tile manufacturers.

Assopiastrelle also announced the following winners of the Ceramic Tiles of Italy Design Competition 2004: the New York City firm of Bernard Tschumi for the design of the Paul L. Cejas School of Architecture, on the Florida International University Campus, Miami, Florida; Gillies Stransky Brems Smith PC of Salt Lake City, Utah, for the Clearwater Center, Bountiful, Utah; and the Jones Studio, Inc. of Phoenix, Arizona, for the Walner residence, Scottsdale, Arizona. The Design Competition was started 11 years ago, to recognize outstanding achievement by North American architects or interior designers using Italian ceramic tile in commercial, institutional or residential installations. The criteria used by the jury include: overall design of the project, innovative use of tile, tile design, quality of installation and degree that tile enhanced the setting.

Carlos Socias new VP at Laufen

Carlos Socias has been promoted to the newly created position of Vice President of Sales and Marketing of Laufen and United States Ceramic Tile Company. Socias has been directing the efforts of the company’s Regional Sales Managers and Marketing Department. In his new capacity he will be responsible for the company’s comprehensive sales and marketing implementation. Socias has been with the Roca Group for 19 years, the last 12 years with the Ceramic Tile Division. His global knowledge and his US market expertise make him ideal for this critical role.

Johnson receives Tile of Spain 2004 Industry Award

Richard Johnson, vice president of Florida Flooring Products, was presented with the 2004 Tile of Spain Industry Award. The award recognizes an industry professional who has contributed significantly to the marketing and distribution of ceramic tile from Spain in the US. Established twenty years ago as a full-line floor covering distributors, Florida Flooring started carrying ceramic tile in 1999. In five short years, under Johnson’s guidance, they have developed their own ceramic tile line which today represents one third of the company’s total sales. “The people in Spain are very gracious to work with and we have developed very strong relationships,” said Johnson, noting that ceramic tile from Spain is of the highest quality. “That is something we have to be very careful about because we guarantee our tile and, on this front, Spain’s manufacturers have been very responsive.” In terms of pricing, he added, “We appreciate the fact that the factories are taking the hit regarding current Euro/dollar exchange rates.”

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