From the Editor’s Desk
 
January 1st, 2005

 

by Janet Arden, Editor
January-February 2005

Where would we be without email?

My 83-year-old mother retired sixteen years ago after managing the dietary department of a major hospital for 27 years. Since she left the business world before the advent of desktop PCs and email, Mom is regularly amazed when my husband and I talk of emails we get from co-workers at the office.

“Why don’t you just walk over—or at least pick up the phone—and ask or tell someone what you need?” she asks.

Well, we say, email is faster, less intrusive, provides electronic documentation of the communication, etc. You can communicate without coordinating time zones or even dialing the phone. You can send materials to another desk whether it’s down the hall or halfway around the world. You can ask the question you need to ask without engaging in additional social chitchat or even getting up from your desk.

What we don’t say, of course, is how much time we spend on email. But those of you who responded to our reader survey last year had a lot to day about email. You were especially vocal about how much time you spend on it.

In fact, when asked what you would most like to change about your day, more than half of TileDealer readers said they would like to spend less time on email.

I feel your pain. I have noted with increasing frequency the days I spend hours on email—sending, reading, and replying to. This does not include time spent deleting junk email, looking for long-lost email, and so on. Like many of you, reading and following up on email is usually the first thing I do every day. And, like many of you, that can literally take hours. Then, you get involved in another task and the first wave of email responses start coming. And so it goes.

I have decided, however, I’m not willing to give up email.

A few weeks ago my computer lost all my email, along with my electronic address book. Once I had finished cursing the invisible “computer gnomes” that I believe are responsible for these incidents, I was stuck.

Everything I wanted to work on was somehow related to email—information I knew was in an email, email requests I wanted to send, data I planned to email elsewhere, even phone and fax numbers were in the electronic address book attached to my email!

I could not receive email either. I had to ask a co-worker to send out the word that I could not get email. Everyone in the office was appropriately sympathetic, printing out copies of emails they thought I might need, offering names and numbers that I had lost.

I should have savored the email quiet, but instead I felt isolated. What was I missing?

Fortunately, a talented and resourceful IT professional was able to restore my email. Unfortunately, some messages and contact information simply disappeared. I suspect I will continue to find things that are “missing” for some time to come. (And so I can say—at least for awhile—sorry I missed that; it must have been in the mail I lost.)

The lesson for me was that communication is too important—anyway we get it—to lose it. And while I agree with so many of you who say email is too time consuming, I know it has more pros than cons.


Tile Industry Partners Tile 24 Homes in Blitz Build
 
January 1st, 2005

First-time participants and seasoned volunteers get the job done in Indianapolis

January-February 2005

Members of the tile industry, working through Tile Partners for Humanity, donated tile, setting materials, tile tools, cleaners, sealers and installation labor and training for 24 Habitat for Humanity homes in Indianapolis in conjunction with the Habitat for Humanity of Greater Indianapolis affiliate’s Fall Blitz Build.

“This is really going that extra step, showing the caring and commitment of the community to these homes and the new homeowners,” said Jeff Carter, executive director of the Habitat affiliate. “The addition of tile flooring with its durability and attractiveness will add significant value to our Partner Families’ homes. We are proud to have the tile industry partners on board with us in this project.” This marked the first TPFH project with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Indianapolis.

Crossville and Louisville Tile each contributed about 4,300 square feet of ceramic and porcelain floor tile to the project.

“Crossville is a big believer in the work of Habitat for Humanity and we’re particularly appreciative of the work of TPFH, which has given our company the opportunity to contribute tile to worthwhile projects throughout the country,” said Jim Dougherty, Crossville’s vice president of marketing and business development. “Our involvement with TPFH last year produced truly excellent results.”

This marks the first TPFH project for Louisville Tile. “Part of Louisville Tile’s mission as a company is to be a friend to our community and a leader in our industry,” Randy Parker, president of Louisville Tile said. “We were ready and honored to join Tile Partners for Humanity in this effort because it’s a natural extension of our company’s 50-year history of giving back.”

SCB, the manufacturer of TEC brands and also a first-time TPFH partner, donated all of the setting materials, cleaners and sealers for the project. “We are delighted to contribute products and expertise to Tile Partners for Humanity, which is a great cause and one that we’re proud to be associated with,” said Jim Griffin, president and general manager of SCB. “It’s very gratifying to know that our technologically advanced solutions will go to very good use in two dozen homes for Indianapolis families in need.”

Longtime TPFH partner North American Tile Tool Company (NATTCO) donated 12 sets of new tile tools to the affiliate for use in this and future projects. The tools included wet saws, tile cutters, notched trowels, spacers, grout floats, tile nippers, mixing blades, knee pads, and buckets. NATTCO representatives, including CEO and President Brian Turner and his wife, Gillian, NATTCO’s vice president, also donated time to work with homeowners and volunteers to install tile in the homes.

“North American Tile Tool Company is gratified in the knowledge that the little we give is received with such appreciation,” said Brian Turner. “Why would you not support the efforts of so many to make another person’s life better?”

The BAC Local 4 IN/KY Zone II Tile, Marble, and Terrazzo Apprenticeship Program and Journeyman of Local 4 donated the use of a 20-man crew to tile several homes and work with homeowners interested in learning to tile. Greg Waltz, Zone II apprenticeship coordinator, said he considered it an honor to participate in the project.

“My International Union encourages locals and apprenticeship programs to get involved in partnerships with these organizations,” he said. “I am glad that our Union Apprenticeship program, which consists of 19 tile apprentices, can help out along with some Journeyman tile setters. It builds good relationships and it lets the community know that the Union cares about these homeowners.”

Jeff McCammack of McCammack Tile donated the use of a two-man crew of tile setters for one week to help install tile in the homes. Tremain tiled four homes on Luett Street, working with a local homeowner who arrived as the contractors were finishing her new home. Yager Tile & Marble donated one day to set tile in a home on LaSalle Street. And Kurtz Services donated one day of labor to grout a home on LaSalle.

Schluter®-Systems, which manufactures installation systems specifically designed for tile and stone, donated transition and edge protection profiles for 23 homes. “Projects like this are a true expression of a caring and generous society, and our company is grateful to be a part of this worthwhile undertaking,” said Lisa Schwartz, Schluter®-Systems’ Public Relations Coordinator.

Tile Partners for Humanity (TPFH) is a partnership between the tile industry and Habitat for Humanity International, a nonprofit organization working to eliminate substandard housing around the world. Industry partners provide tile, setting materials, tools, floor preparation materials, cleaners and sealers, labor and installation training to Habitat affiliates interested in building with tile. 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, TheTileDoctor.com, Tile Council of North America, and Tile Heritage Foundation.

TPFH is based in Norcross, Ga., and accepts donations of tile, installation materials, tile tools, floor preparation materials, cleaners and sealers, labor, and installation training for Habitat projects. TPFH is supported exclusively by industry donations and accepts donations of financial support for its operations andcommunication efforts.

For more information on TPFH or to make a pledge, please visit www.tpfh.com.


The Marketing Outlook for 2005
 
January 1st, 2005

January-February 2005

Can strong housing and remodeling expectations and exciting designs continue to fuel the ceramic tile marketplace?

Rising interest rates. A falling dollar. Uncertainty about the continued growth of new housing and remodeling expenditures. With such issues on the horizon, there’s reason for pessimism among ceramic tile industry insiders as they look toward 2005.

But listen to a few of the leading figures in the industry, and discouraging words are few and far between. Most observers have high hopes for the coming year, speaking with enthusiasm about their belief housing and remodeling expenditures will continue strong, and their excitement about opportunities to entice customers with bold new looks and technologies in ceramic tile.

The optimism is well founded, because the past year has seen growth across the ceramic tile industry, says Donato V. Pompo, founder of San Diego-based Ceramic Tile and Stone Consultants.

A consultant to the industry, Pompo operates an online university called the University of Ceramic Tile and Stone, with online and live training services, and also represents Catalina Research in the promotion of its studies of the United States’ ceramic tile industry.

Citing an October 2004 Catalina Research report, Pompo reports sales of ceramic tile were estimated to reach $2.8 billion in 2004, an 11.2-percent increase from the $2.54 billion recorded in 2003. That number reflects domestic production, minus exports and plus imports.

The country producing the largest amount of tile used in the U.S. was Italy, accounting for 24-percent of all sales in the U.S. The U.S. came in at 23.9, Spain at 11.6 and Brazil 10.3.

In terms of square feet purchased, ceramic tile sales are projected to have increased 6.7-percent from 2003, to about 3 billion square feet, Pompo says. Ceramic tile accounted for 12.6-percent of overall floor covering dollars, up from 11.8-percent in 2002. “Part of the driving growth is not only the continued strength of new home construction and residential remodeling, but the increasing size of the bathrooms and kitchens in new homes, as overall average square footage in homes grows,” Pompo says. “And those are areas where people invest more.”

Overall, new residential construction and residential remodeling account for 72.4-percent of the consumption of ceramic tile, Pompo adds. Those areas are expected to continue strong, despite higher interest rates. In fact, Pompo says, Harvard University economists are projecting 19 million new housing units built in the next decade, an excellent harbinger for tile sales.

The best omen of all is that the consumption of ceramic tile in the U.S. is a mere fraction of what it is elsewhere in the world, and has nowhere to go but up.

In 2003, U.S. per capita use of ceramic tile was about 9.2 square feet, up from about 3 square feet a decade earlier. But in China in 2003, per capita use was 14.7 square feet, Italy recorded 35.2 square feet and Spain 85.2 square feet.

The point, Pompo says, is that the potential of the ceramic tile market in the U.S. is tremendous. As Americans more enthusiastically embrace the use of ceramic tile in bathrooms, kitchens and other even higher-visibility areas within their homes, this country demonstrates the potential to increase its consumption by a factor of four to eight times, he says.

Reasons for Optimism

Expert observers of the ceramic tile scene tend to agree with Pompo’s assessment of new home construction and remodeling and their impact on ceramic tile sales. Among them is Matthew Kahny, senior vice-president of marketing with Dallas-based Daltile Corporation, the largest manufacturer/distributor of ceramic tile in North America. Kahny reports his company, which markets Daltile, American Olean and Mohawk Ceramic and may be the nation’s largest importer distributor of natural stone, is predicting home construction will decline slightly, but remain at historically high levels. “And we think remodeling will improve,” he adds.

Acknowledging “housing is very, very important for the ceramic tile business,” Donato Grosser, president of New York City’s D. Grosser & Associates, a consulting company, and consultant for the Sassuolo, Italy-based Italian Ceramic Tile Manufacturers Association, says most of the market for ceramic tile, especially imported ceramic tile, is in remodeling.

“The low-price producers may benefit when the new home construction market goes up. But the better quality producer keeps benefiting whether the new home construction market is up or not, because remodeling is a constant motor for the market.”

Some observers are also predicting a recovery in the commercial market. Jim Dougherty, vice-president of marketing and business development with Crossville Inc. in Crossville, Tenn., one of the country’s leading manufacturers and importers of porcelain stone, notes that the commercial market has hovered between shrinkage and flatlining for the last five years, and was very negatively impacted by the events of September 11, 2001.

“We’re still in many respects recovering from 9-11, at least commercially,” says Dougherty, whose company sells to a wide variety of commercial and institutional customers, including hotels, office buildings, schools, restaurants, hospitals and the government.

“The reason for hope is we’ve started to see some growth this year for the first time in a while. And the other thing is with the expansion in the consumer market, it’s likely that will translate to the expansion of the commercial market.”

Another good sign for 2005 and beyond is that hard surfaces in general, and tile and stone in particular, are growing faster than other wall, floor and countertop covering materials, Kahny reports. For instance, looking at floor coverings, carpet might be expanding at a three or four percent annual rate, Kahny says. But ceramic tile, stone, hardwood and laminate are growing faster, and taking a larger chunk of the total pie. “We think that will continue in 2005,” he says.

The Falling Dollar

The declining value of the dollar versus the Euro promises to strongly impact the ceramic tile industry in the coming year. And it could mean good news for American manufacturers, as well as non-European exporting countries, says Svend Hovmand, president of Crossville, Inc. With the dollar continuing to decline versus the Euro, prices of ceramic tile imported from Italy, Spain and other European countries are expected to rise significantly.

“And we’re in the high end of the market, so our primary competition is Italy and Spain,” he declares. “If imported European tile is more expensive, that helps us in selling.”

Adding to the cost of imported European tile is the increasing complexity of shipping, Hovmand adds. Because many large container ships have been moved from Atlantic waters to the Pacific Ocean, it’s more difficult to place containers aboard ship, and the resultant time it takes to import from Italy to the U.S. has greatly increased. Cost to carry a container from Italy to an American harbor has increased as well, from about $1,600 to $2,500, Hovmand says.

“That’s a problem for importers, but in turn it helps a company like Crossville, and U.S. manufactured products in general,” he concludes. “That’s probably the biggie for next year.”

Hovmand’s colleague Dougherty agrees that while it’s not more difficult to buy ceramic tile from Italy or Spain, it is becoming more difficult to ship. “Lack of containers, lack of ships and lead times are becoming as important as getting the product,” he says. “The amount of imported tile won’t change all that much, [but] you’re going to have to become more sophisticated to get the tile here. And that will probably require larger inventories.”

For his part, Kahny doesn’t see high-end Italian tile manufacturers suffering too much from the higher costs of importation. Those whose quality is mid-range, however, will be squeezed as the weaker dollar results in higher costs of imported tile, he predicts. “So I think it will be challenging for the Europeans, and some of those imports will shift to other parts of the world, to countries like Brazil and Turkey, and somewhat the U.S.,” he says.

That is likely one reason why ceramic tile manufacturing is expanding within the U.S., according to Pompo. He reports existing plants are growing larger, and new plants are being constructed. “So even though imports continue to rise, it’s projected that they may [eventually] decline as more plants are built in the USA,” he reports.

Grosser confirms growth of Italian imports has slowed. He reports while imports of ceramic tile from Italy are still up vis-à-vis year-earlier levels, the falling dollar has helped ensure that increase is not as great as in previous years. Other countries, notably those in the Orient and South America, have gained, but have a long way to go to match Italy’s attributes, Grosser says.

“They have to have the product, the price, the look, the capability, the reliability and the styling,” he says. “This is why Italian tiles are still the best products in the market. Ceramic tile is becoming a fashion business. Every six months, importers are asking, ‘What is the new look? What new colors and new looks can I provide my customers?’… For that reason, it is very difficult for a new manufacturer to enter the market. You can have the technology, but not the look, the texture, all the things together that make the tile fashionable and attractive to the consumer. Then you have to have the reliability as well.”

Design and Technology Trends

For the last several years, stone and stone looks have been the preferred choice among tile customers. The popularity of stone is likely to continue in 2005, but the market will increasingly seek new and innovative products, Dougherty predicts. He believes customers will begin to embrace more sophisticated, less rustic products, citing the wood looks showcased at the Cersaie exhibition in Bologna, Italy in September, as well as glass and accent products in general.

Hovmand agrees. “Now we’re seeing new trends, where it’s not just a copy of stone,” he observes. “It could be a minimalistic look. We also see very natural wood looks, in mahogany, oak—you can get them all. It’s basically a printing technology used on the tile.”

Like Dougherty, Hovmand believes glass will loom large in customer preferences in the years ahead. Crossville Inc. has enjoyed an excellent customer reception to its glass tile, which Hovmand characterizes as one of its most innovative products. “People like glass,” he adds. “With glass, you get very nice colors, there’s transparency and it livens up a room.”

Recent consumer willingness to experiment with color is also likely to continue in 2005, according to Kahny. Five years ago, he says, the industry was dominated by off beiges and off whites. Today, customers are displaying greater interest in exploring earth tones. Their preferences have extended to dark browns, golds and even such “water colors” as green and blue.

In addition, look for technological developments to continue to shape the industry in the coming year. While Kahny and others expect technological improvements to be evolutionary rather than revolutionary, their impact will still be felt.

As they have in recent years, many breakthroughs will center on how glazes are applied to tile to provide the products with an increasingly realistic look, replicating natural stone, he says.

Adds Hovmand: “There’s a lot of new technologies in how to press tile coming out of Italy. There are a number of new technologies being introduced. That means we can make even better-looking tile, can make it bigger and make it a more natural-looking, better-quality surface.”

Yet another design trend is a greater willingness to mix materials, such as stone, ceramic tile, metal, and glass in floors and walls, Kahny points out. “Someone might do a ceramic tile floor, with a border or accent made of metal and glass,” he says.

“Or they may have a ceramic tile floor, with a border, accent or medallion of natural stone. [The result is] some interesting mixing and matching of materials, to give people a sense that they’re customizing their home or interior environment.”

Many of the most forward-thinking innovations in color, format, technology and style coming out of Italy were on display at the 22nd edition of Cersaie, the world’s largest exhibition of ceramic tile and bathroom furnishings, reports Christine Abbate, president of Brooklyn-based Novita Communications, which represents the Italian Ceramic Tile Manufacturers Association.

Some of the material mixing to which Kahny refers was showcased at Cersaie in collections that blended rich colors with glass and metallic effects, including one line combining liquid glass cut into thin strips and mixed with ceramic. Another line boasted the appearance of “a rich weave of fine wool and copper yarns” according to a Novita publicity release.

Notable were new collections that spotlighted “mod shapes” of the 1970s, including circular rings, waves, sunbursts and flowers. Also on display were oversized yet exceptionally thin porcelain tiles measuring just three millimeters thick, a format made possible by a new, state-of-the-art technology. One manufacturer partnered with faucet and lighting creators to unveil ceramic tile incorporating fixtures and lights that can be used in wall, floor or countertop settings.

Another series of prototypes, developed by student-designer teams from Milan’s Domus Academy, featured such innovations as leaf-shaped tiles for garden walkways that incorporated LED lights, and modular, pyramid-shaped tile systems that can be used on a home’s exterior to support plants, creating a “green-wall” appearance.

“The Italian tile industry is always at the head of the technology curve,” says Abbate. “So it’s always looking at the future of technology and design. In the spirit of that, it worked with design-architecture students and top-name manufacturers and designers to examine ceramics and the future of the industry, determining new ideas in usage and format.

“For instance, tiles that could be readjusted like moving panels to be used almost like shades. Tiles with extruded pieces that could be used for shelving. There were a lot of new ideas. The new ideas inspire everyone in the industry to think about new ways of using the product.

And these are products that will find their way to the market in the near future.”

SOURCES:

Christine Abbate, President
Novita Communications, Brooklyn

Jim Dougherty, Vice-President of Marketing and Business Development
Crossville, Inc., Crossville, TN

Donato Grosser, Consultant
Italian Ceramic Tile Manufacturers Association, NYC

Svend Hovmand, President
Crossville, Inc., Crossville, TN

Matthew Kahny, Senior Vice-President of Marketing
Daltile Corporation, Dallas

Donato V. Pompo, Founder
Ceramic Tile and Stone Consultants, San Diego


One-on-One with Ken Charbonneau: What colors will you be selling in 2005?
 
January 1st, 2005

 

By Janet Arden January-February 2005

Ken Charbonneau is a well-known color-marketing consultant. He is past president of the Color Marketing Group, and serves on the Interior Forecast committee of the Color Association of the United States. This is the group that defines our colors—from the Old Glory Red and the Old Glory Blue in the U.S. flag to West Point Gray and Marine Corps blue. Charbonneau received the prestigious Dimmick Award from the Color Marketing Group for his outstanding achievements in the field of color marketing. After a thirty-year career with Benjamin Moore & Co., Charbonneau says he tried retirement, but flunked. His subsequent consulting assignments run the gamut from laminate countertops to tissue paper. Recently one of his most interesting projects has been a complete line of candles (the number one accessory in the marketplace). Who decides what color is in and what’s out? How do colors morph from ’60s orange to ’90s peach? Most importantly, who identifies the colors your customers are going to be seeing in stores and print and how do they do it?

TileDealer: How did you get started in the color business?

Charbonneau: After earning a degree in fine arts, I realized that earning a living would require some vocational adjustment, so I moved into graphic design which lead to an early career in advertising. But even advertising was insecure, so I took a job with Benjamin Moore Paints. I guess you could say I was the right guy in the right church in the right pew. I stayed with Benjamin Moore for thirty years.

TileDealer: What did you do for Benjamin Moore?

Charbonneau: My title when I left was Director of Color Marketing. In addition to my artistic background, I had an innate sense of business. I understood my contribution to the bottom line of the company. Color was very important to the return on investment.

TileDealer: In addition to your artistic background, how did you zero in on colors?

Charbonneau: I joined two associations that became really important in the world of color. The first was the Color Marketing Group. This is an international group of color stylists that meet twice a year, in the spring to determine consumer colors and in the fall to select contract and commercial colors. I also joined the Color Association of the United States, the group that defines the colors—referred to as color cards—used by all manufacturers not only in clothing but in all textiles, furniture, accessories—everything. I was invited to sit on the Interiors Forecast Card Committee.

TileDealer: What were your resources outside of these groups?

Charbonneau: I attend all the big shows—Surfaces, NEO CON, the High Point [furniture] shows. I’ve spent my whole life looking…I would just call myself a looker. I just go out and see things others don’t see.

TileDealer: What’s influencing color in 2005?

Charbonneau: I don’t want to sound corny, but I think the first and foremost thing in color right now is spirituality. It has to do with 9/11, the economy, with the elections, with the wars. We’re looking for an escape from the pressures and stresses of every day life. [For consumers] there are two rooms that are important for this, the bathroom and the kitchen. People want the spa feeling and not just in the bath. It has to do with candles being the #1 accessory, with Feng Shui. Meditation offers a sense of retreat and control in a world out of control. These are the major influences. You want to provide a product that meets these needs.

TileDealer: Can products meet these needs with color?

Charbonneau: Yes, but as I explain at the seminars I do and the classes I teach, I like to discuss the background of why colors are what they are. First, color is affected by light. There is transparency, translucency and luminosity. There is also pearlescence. I don’t know how this finish is created technically, but it also adds to the spirituality I’m talking about. Textures—I call it rough stuff. Technology today is so amazing. The feeling is of ancient, timeworn surfaces, a sense of history. There is almost a yearning for things handmade or less than perfect. We want the textures and age from a French chateau or a Byzantine church. The ancient look brings a palette of ancient, faded colors. This is restful, even spiritual.

TileDealer: What particular colors do you like?

Charbonneau: I have to talk about the importance of white. I think it remains important because of its light-reflecting qualities and its sense of purity. White is more important than ever. But, white can be harsh, glaring and especially hard on a surface like a countertop. You want white with warm undertones.

TileDealer: What’s beyond white?

Charbonneau: All the naturals. Anything earthy. If I had to pick two spiritual colors, they would be yellow-green and violet. Yellow-green is really avocado, but it’s more beautiful now because the materials are so much better. I’m talking about a softer, almost Asian fusion of greens teamed with violet—not PURPLE. I think all greens are doing well—moss, sage. If you clean up sage, it’s yellow.

TileDealer: How do you distinguish violet from purple?

Charbonneau: Violet is a fabulous, fabulous accent color. It should always be the accent, the punch. It was never meant to be #1.

TileDealer: Is there a color that is #1?

Charbonneau: Blue—and by blue I mean all the aqueous shades—is everyone’s most popular color. It has great associations and everyone looks good in it. What guy won’t wear a blue oxford-cloth shirt? The blue that surprises me right now is Chinese export blue, but guess what? It’s an ancient color. Celedon [green] is a 1000 years old! Everything old, everything ancient, is new again.

TileDealer: Are there any other surprises?

Charbonneau: The return of turquoise. The turquoise we’re forecasting is jewel-like. Think of Persian tiles, American Indian jewelry. This is not the turquoise of a ’57 Chevy. It has to have a rich, jewel-like feel to it. Now, combine the blues and the turquoise in a translucent light and we’re in the Aegean Sea. The color can be deep and rich but never garish. If they scream at you, turn it down.

TileDealer: So far we’ve only talked about cool colors. What about the warmer colors?

Charbonneau: Now we’re talking about reds based on organic materials. Where does terra cotta end and red begin? The pendulum is swinging to blue-based reds, berry shades with blue and purple undertones. The fascination to me is the mix of it. If I had to pick one red, it would be cranberry. Beyond red? I have to be honest, yellow is one of my favorites. But—it never sells. But gold is a volume seller. Amber golds are still good [for 2005]. Yellow/green golds are good and look really good with blue-based reds. This is another trend.

Combinations are very important. Let’s presume all colors exist already. How do you make them new? It’s how they’re combined. Materials and technology can make old colors look new. Mixing tile colors with less than perfect glazes (which we once would have thrown away) results in a more random, accidental, even serendipitous feel.

TileDealer: Is there a color you don’t like?

Charbonneau: Fashion-victim pink. I give it another year. The only way it works is in small doses, with something else. I just don’t see it as a major trend. Fashion is disposable. Your bath and kitchen are not.

TileDealer: Any other predictions?

Charbonneau: Brights are back. It’s time to lighten up. Time for fun and fantasy. We’re talking about combinations of brights for a fun, festive, happy feeling. A border, a trim or an accent color that makes an old tile story extraordinary.

TileDealer: What’s your favorite color?

Charbonneau: I’m a seasonal guy. The first thing that comes to mind is yellow. It’s happy.


Trend Watch: The East Coast
 
January 1st, 2005

 

January-February 2005

TileDealer continues its look at regional trends, taking a look this issue at what’s selling on the East Coast from New England to Maryland. When we asked dealers in these areas to tell us briefly what’s selling best, the answers were surprisingly diverse.

Mary Weber at Country Floors in New York City, said they are seeing a lot of interest in larger format glass tiles—squares up to 12- by 12-inches and rectangles up to 8- by 12-inches. Weber points out that this is a real design change from the popular mosaic sizes of glass tile. Designers are using them on walls, said Weber, although some of the glass tiles with sanded finishes are also installed on low-traffic floors such as residential master baths. Weber also says the translucent colors on new Fiddlehead porcelains are remarkable, and the tile is selling very well.

Mary Adams, manager of the Boston Tile Company in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, says stone and high-end specialty tiles like metals and glass are very popular. She says the larger (12- by 12-inch) stone-look ceramics are also popular, as are tumbled marble.

“All things porcelain, especially glazed,” are popular at the Boston Tile Company of Rhode Island says John Boynton. Larger formats continue to be good sellers—including 12- by 16-inches for walls, and 18- by 18-inch and 20- by 20-inch squares for floors. Tumbled marbles, especially in small mosaics are also doing well.

In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Marcie Deltondo at Accent on Tile, reports that porcelain, anything that mimics a stone and through body porcelains for outdoor installations are selling well. The glass and metal tiles that were hot seem to be cooling.

Edward Condolon of Morris Tile Dist., Inc., in Tuxedo, Maryland, said imports from China, especially glazed porcelain floor tile, are good quality, priced right and therefore very popular now. Condolon also said he believes the larger formats on floors and walls are “here to stay.” After disappearing from color pallettes for some time, he says gold is also making a comeback.


Product Review: Grout & Finishing Materials: Professional-grade materials for professional installations
 
January 1st, 2005

 

January-February 2005

By Drew Crumbaugh

This year is shaping up to be an exciting one in the grouting and finishing materials world. Expect to see materials targeted exclusively to professional segments (rather than the do-it-yourself crowd), focusing on ease of use and directed toward specific product lines. This emerging trend is important from the dealer’s standpoint because products targeted to specific product lines tend to be more higher-end and are intended for professional use only.

Sealer’s Choice 15 Gold

Aqua Mix is introducing a newly improved Sealer’s Choice 15 Gold. The re-formulated sealer still offers maximum stain protection and is now improved with even more oil and water repellency and greater durability.

The improved stain resistance power of Sealer’s Choice 15 Gold is made possible through a breakthrough in Aqua Mix’s unique, fluoropolymer technology. With its advanced, water-based formula, Sealer’s Choice 15 Gold is a premium, no-sheen, natural-look impregnating sealer that is equally effective for interior and exterior applications.

Rick Baldini, Aqua Mix president, says “the new Sealer’s Choice 15 Gold was developed as part of our ongoing commitment to producing high-quality, high-performance products. The technology is sophisticated and the end result is a more effective product.” (800/366-6877, www.aquamix.com)

B-7000 Epoxy Mortar & Grout

Bonsal has expanded the packaging options for Bonsal B-7000 Epoxy Mortar & Grout, which turns Bonsal’s sanded tile grout into 100-percent solid epoxy. The product is now available in one- and three-gallon pails. The new one-gallon container is more convenient for installers working on smaller jobs such as counter tops, while the three-gallon pail is more suitable for larger areas such as kitchen floors.

The product enables contractors and installers to work with familiar grout products while offering the consumer the advantages of epoxy. There is no need to buy separate epoxies for each grout color since Bonsal B-7000 mixes with all 34 colors of Bonsal Polymer Modified Sanded Tile Grout. The product is colorless, so an exact match is obtained every time.

The 100-percent solid, chemical resistant, and water cleanable tile setting and grouting epoxy cures by chemical reaction. There is no shrinkage and the product is stain resistant.

When used as a mortar, B-7000 will set ceramic tile, quarry tile, pavers, mosaic tile, and natural stone. It is recommended for use where chemical resistance is needed, including food preparation areas, breweries, and dairies. The product can be used as a setting material in interior or exterior areas.

When used as a grout, B-7000 is suitable with virtually any ceramic tile or stone, but it is not recommended for grouting absorptive marble or tile, since staining may occur. It is suitable for use where grout is exposed to staining, acids or alkalies, and where steam cleaning will take place. It is also ideal for use in residential as well as commercial kitchens and bathrooms.

Epoxy Haze Remover

Bonsal Epoxy Haze Remover is an effective aid for use in the final cleanup of an epoxy grouted ceramic installation. It is ideal for removal of epoxy grout haze as well as urethane and latex films. The remover has no time limitations and it is effective even after the epoxy has cured for months.

A primary benefit of the product is that it will not affect grout joints when used to remove a haze, or even a substantial buildup of epoxy grout left on an installation.

In addition to removing film left by epoxy grouts, it cleans ceramic, porcelain, slate, and quarry tile. The product contains no abrasives or harsh chemicals and is suitable for interior or exterior use. (800/334-0784, www.bonsal.com)

MAPEI

MAPEI is introducing Ultracolor Plus to offer additional advantages to Ultracolor, the company’s ultra premium sanded grout for tile and stone installations. Recent innovations and formula improvements to Ultracolor Plus include Drop Effect™ technology that prevents water, dirt and grime from penetrating grout joints, an easier-to-apply formulation and cleanup properties that are a cut above other products, making the installer’s job easier than ever.

MAPEI’s original Ultracolor grout already offered outstanding characteristics such as: Proprietary High-Hydrated Cement Technology (HCT™) that provides fast setting times, excellent color consistency, non-shrinking curing properties, and efflorescence-free grout lines. Ultracolor also offered polymer-modified strength and flexibility and MAPEI’s BioBlock™ mold-inhibiting technology. BioBlock provides an additional line of product defense by inhibiting the growth of various types of odor- and stain-causing mold, mildew and bacteria.

Brian Pistulka, Product Manager for MAPEI’s Tile & Stone Installation Systems, says, “The HCT advantages of ultra fast curing characteristics and the elimination of the common problems related to Portland cement grout, such as color consistency and efflorescence, made Ultracolor a great all-around product. The combined impact of the technological innovations and formula improvements found in Ultracolor® Plus means ‘The Grout You’ve Always Dreamed Of’ is now a reality.”

(800/426-2734, www.mapei.com)


Installer Briefing: About Grout Using quality materials and paying attention to installation details will deliver pleasing, durable results January-February 2005
 
January 1st, 2005

 

By Rachel Gibbons

Grout’s role in a tile or stone installation is both aesthetic and utilitarian. It complements the look of tile or stone while maintaining strong, smooth joints.

Installers count on grouts that are easy to use and help them deliver accurate, consistent color. They don’t want costly customer complaints and callbacks caused by problems with grout or grout installation.

To consumers, who have a financial and emotional investment in their tile and stone flooring choice, there’s an expectation that the completed job will have the same beauty as exhibited in showrooms, magazines and sales brochures. They will quickly notice if the grout color is wrong or inconsistent.

A key to preventing potential problems is to understand why grout color can change and how to prevent it from happening and to review successful grout installation techniques.

Understanding color accuracy

When it comes to grout color, it’s important to understand the concept of grout color accuracy. By definition, it means the grout installed matches the color sample used to select the grout color. Grout color accuracy depends heavily on the grout manufacturer’s level of quality control. Color variations can occur when:

• An improperly formulated blend of materials will not cure to the correct color.

• The manufacturer does not allow for differences in raw materials and processes at different locations.

• The manufacturing process itself is not consistent.

• Color is not closely scrutinized, or the tolerances that define “acceptable” are too wide.

Leading grout manufacturers ensure accuracy by applying color science and computerized technologies to their quality-control processes. The most sophisticated color measurement process uses a digital spectrophotometer, which measures relative intensities of light in different parts of the color spectrum. The human eye may judge color inaccurately, but spectrophotometers don’t lie. The same spectrophotometer reading from one manufacturing plant to another is an excellent assurance of accurate color.

The quality of grout materials also affects color consistency. While site conditions and installation practices always matter, high-

performance grouts are formulated to help neutralize some causes of inconsistent color.

Technically advanced grouts contain additives that reduce sensitivity to variables such as temperature and humidity, joint size, tile types and glazing, and amounts of water used for mixing. These same grouts also contain color additives that neutralize color variation caused by cement, and premium pigments that enhance color development.

Premium grouts are also formulated for ease of use. They are easy to mix, have extended pot life and working time, spread easily and are easy to clean from the tile or stone surfaces. This is important for helping the installer deliver results that meet customers’ high expectations.

Color consistency of equal importance

Assuming that the color of the grout materials is accurate, color consistency problems can develop on the work site—as every contractor knows all too well. That’s why an understanding of color consistency is equally important as color accuracy.

Color consistency means the customer’s installed grout remains the same, uniform color from one side of the room to the other. Common color problems include spots of less or more intense color (mottling), and differences in intensity from one tile joint to the next.

Common factors that affect color consistency are over watering during mixing or cleanup, grout joint size and depth, tile type (absorptive stones or clays versus porcelain), tile overglazing, and grout installation and curing conditions (warm or cool, dry or humid).

Over watering. Cement in grout reacts with water to form the hydrated crystals that deliver strength. Cement needs water in order to set, but too much water during mixing and clean-up can lead to shrinkage cracks or color that is too light. Over watering can also cause efflorescence, in which salts from the grout cement go into solution, then deposit on the grout surface when the water evaporates. The salt deposits make the grout appear lighter or, in extreme cases, appear as crystals on the surface.

Grout joint size. Ideally, the grout joint is twice as deep as it is wide, but conditions are seldom ideal. The biggest contributor to variations in joint depth is mortar that squeezes up into the joint, creating shallow areas. Thinner sections of grout will appear darker—this is a common cause of grout mottling.

Tile types. Tiles differ in their capacity to absorb water from wet grout. Vitreous and porcelain tiles are non-porous and so draw little or no water from the grout as it cures. This tends to result in lighter-colored grout. Conversely, clay-bodied tiles and porous stone materials can absorb large amounts of water and will tend to yield darker-colored grout. A common problem area is a cut edge of a glazed clay tile—a highly absorptive surface that will likely darken the neighboring grout.

Tile overglazing. In the manufacturing process, tiles are glazed as they travel on a conveyor beneath a nozzle that sprays the glazing compound. In the process, glaze may be applied to the leading and trailing edges of the tile. The overglazed edges are less absorptive and will tend to lighten the neighboring grout.

Curing conditions. Grout curing involves chemical reactions, which of course are affected by temperature and humidity. Low temperatures can delay or even stop cement hydration. High temperatures and low humidity can cause dehydrated and “soft” grout. In either case, color can be affected.

Getting it right

While high-performance grouts make color consistency easier to achieve, installers still need to be vigilant on the job.

Proper mixing is essential. Dry mixing of the contents before mixing with water ensures that cement and pigments are evenly distributed. It is advisable to mix an entire bag of grout at one time. If the grout is mixed in small batches, the amount of water used may vary, and the color of each batch may be slightly different.

The manufacturer’s mixing recommendations should be observed. While it may be tempting to use more than the recommended amount of water to make the grout easier to work with, the price may be dilution of the color and an unhappy customer. Of course, clean water for mixing is a must.

Slaking is an important step. During the 10 to 15 minutes required for the ingredients to “wet out,” the grout properties improve and the color pigments develop. After slaking, the grout should be remixed to achieve the optimum installation properties and color.

Temperature and humidity affect how quickly the grout cures and dries. Manufacturers’ recommendations can vary, but typically grouts should not be applied below 50o F or above 90o F. Steps should be taken when applying in adverse conditions, for example damp curing in dry conditions.

After installation, the grout clean-up procedure should be performed at the right time—neither too soon nor too late. If done too early, there’s a risk of disturbing the surface and watering down the grout, potentially altering its color. Performing the cleaning procedure too late, of course, makes cleanup difficult and might require the use of more water, which can also affect the color. A general rule of thumb is to clean up grout haze as soon as possible after the grout has set up in the joint, which is typically 30-60 minutes. In addition, it’s important to keep the clean-up materials (e.g., sponge, towel, etc.) as dry as possible.

Manufacturers recommend shelf lives for their products, and they should be observed. This is because, over time, moisture from the atmosphere can enter the container and start the chemical reactions involved in curing. As a result, grout used beyond its shelf life sets up structurally weak.

Keeping customers happy

Quality flooring jobs result from skilled installers using premium-grade materials according to directions and sound work practices. When these factors come together on a project, the results are fewer callbacks and complaints and better-satisfied customers with potential to provide repeat business and referrals.

Rachel Gibbons manages the TEC brand of grouts, caulks and care and maintenance solutions. One of the most respected and trusted names in the industry, TEC is a leading brand of installation and care and maintenance systems for tile and natural stone flooring.

 


Innovations
 
January 1st, 2005

 

January-February 2005

Savoy recalls an earlier era

Savoy, by Crossville®, is a clean-lined, architectural wall tile that recalls an elegant era when tiles were handmade and subtle variations in size and glaze increased their beauty. Available in a variety of sizes, patterns and well-designed trim pieces to provide unlimited design flexibility, Savoy comes in five rich colors: White, Linen, Blush, Sea Mist and Café. The lighter shades have an opaque glaze, while the darker ones have a transparent glaze that adds depth and luminosity. Slight shade variations (V1 and V2) in both the field tile and trim only add to their handmade quality.

“ Savoy’s rich look, combined with its competitive price point and consistent availability should make it attractive to both the residential and commercial design oriented markets,” says Jim Dougherty, vice president of marketing and business development for Crossville. “Residential applications include bathrooms and showers, kitchen backsplashes, accent walls and light-duty countertops. Commercial applications include vertical surfaces in hotels, restaurants, specialty shops and luxury retail establishments. Available in 3″ x 6″ and 6″ x 6″ field tiles, and a 6″ x 6″ beadboard that may be used as a field tile or accent tile and installed horizontally or vertically, the Savoy program includes the 1″ x 2″ Pinwheel Pattern and the 1″ x 2″ Running Bond or Brick Pattern, both sheet-mounted for easy installation. There is also a solid dot, sold separately in the five Savoy colors, which can be used to replace the central dot in the Pinwheel (to provide a different color), or as a single accent piece. Crossville offers 11 trim pieces, including a bullnose, quarter round, chair rail, base molding, crown molding and several liner bars.

(www.crossvilleinc.com)

Venetian marries new technology & Old World craftsmanship

Crossville®’s Venetian Glass adds new light to walls of porcelain, stone and metal tile. Formed by fusing hand-blown Murano glass between layers of plate glass, Venetian Glass both reflects and refracts light like shimmering water. Venetian Glass is available in four color groups: Bronze, Topaz and Citrine Series; Silver Leaf, Mica, Blue Foil Series; Silver Leaf, Gold Leaf, Amber Series; and Silver Leaf, Crystal Green, Mica Series. The inspiration for each color group is the swirl 3″ x 3″, available in either a smooth or textured surface. These coordinate with two solid textured 3″ x 3″ tiles, one 2″ x 8″ mosaic border and three ½” x 8″ liner bars. “Venetian Glass has an exquisite, jewel-like quality that is only attainable through this advanced technique,” states Barbara Schirmeister, color and design consultant for Crossville. “The subtle color mixes of silver, gold and bronze—all with an aged patina—result in sophisticated, shimmering effects and extraordinary color movement. The four color groups will work equally well in both traditional and contemporary décors for residential or commercial environments.”

(www.crossvilleinc.com)

Laufen introduces Equinox porcelain tile

Equinox wall, floor and countertop tiles by Laufen offer moderate shade variation in Sage, Sienna and Nocce in a variety of sizes and shapes. A full array of trim including border, quarter round, listel and v-cap lend even more design possibilities. Equinox offers the beauty of porcelain along with exceptional durability, stain resistance, low-maintenance and a co-efficient of friction higher than 0.60 making it ideal for medium to high traffic installations. It is also frost resistant and therefore suitable for outdoor applications.

(www.laufenusa.com)

Prefabricated, pre-sloped shower drain

Schluter®’s KERDI-SHOWER-ST (prefabricated, pre-sloped shower tray) can be used when job conditions require the setting of the Schluter® KERDI-DRAIN by the plumber before installing the Schluter® KERDI-SHOWER-ST. The tray’s new detachable center section can be removed and installed below the bonding flange to dry fit the KERDI-DRAIN to the right height. This method offers the installer greater control over the final position of the drain and makes it easier to obtain full support of the bonding flange. The KERDI-SHOWER-KIT contains the integrated family of components necessary to create a seamless, maintenance-free, watertight shower assembly without a mortar bed.

(www.schluter.com)

GranitiFiandre

Inspired by the majesty of European quarried materials, GranitiFiandre artisans have recreated Pietra Serena and Sea Green as NewStone products for their Geologica line of rare, exotic and technically limited Stones using 100% all natural ingredients in an atmosphere of strong environmental standards. Capturing the aesthetic value of its Italian quarried counterpart, the NewStone version of Pietra Serena manifests a grey, fine-to-medium grain mass with a rocky, granular, yet substantially uniform, appearance. Suitable for outdoor use due to enhanced production technologies that create a stone product resistant to environmental agents, it is ideal as an exterior vertical cladding material and as an interior floor or wall finish. Available in polished and honed finishes, Pietra Serena sizes include 24 x 24 and 24 x 12.

Like its quarried inspiration, which originates from the United Kingdom, the NewStone version of Sea Green has a dark, emerald green body embellished with even darker veining. Recreated to improve upon the resistance and hardness characteristics of its quarried counterpart, the NewStone version, although appearing fragile and delicate, can actually be used in the most demanding environments without concern for staining and scratching. Sea Green availability includes 16 x 16 in polished and honed finishes.

(865-637-6659)

Pietre Travertine series

Ilva SA, the leading Argentine manufacturer of high-end porcelain tile, is presenting the Pietre Travertine series, a rectified glazed porcelain tile with the look of cross-cut travertine marble. This tile’s smooth surface gives the impression of natural stone. The resilient Pietre Travertine tile is being offered in shades of bianco, beige, noce and rosso. Pietre Travertine is ideal for interior residential use and light traffic applications. This sophisticated tile is perfectly complemented with matching borders, listellos, bullnose and inserts. Pietre Travertine is available in sizes of 14″ x 14″ and 18″ x 18″ floor tiles, 3.2″ x 3.2″ mesh-mounted mosaics (14″x14″), 3.2″ x 7″ brick, and also in 7″ x 7″ wall tiles that can be used for shower floors, countertops and walls. The series includes a full range of trim pieces including torellos, matitas, sink rails, quarter rounds and corners. Ilva’s Export Manager Vanesa McIntosh explained that Pietre Travertine is an example of porcelain tile at its finest. “Porcelain tile is produced using the finest natural ingredients combined with a rigidly controlled manufacturing process that utilizes the most advanced processes and technology. Because of this, Pietre Travertine—as a porcelain tile—outperforms ceramic, slate, marble, even granite for years of low-maintenance looks that last,” said McIntosh.

(305-6670-7090)

SenecaSelect and SenecaSatins

Seneca Tile introduced SenecaSelect, a group of 9 new, warm, soft-shaded Handmold colors and 3 new decorative collections (Vineyard, Bistro and Chateau). New SenecaSelect colors are available in Handmold Series 3-D, Cut Mosaics, Molded Mosaics, trim and numerous tile sizes and shapes, including the new rhomboid. SenecaSatins are a completely new look in Seneca Quarry Pavers, with more uniform square corners, satin-like variegated glazes, and new, smaller shapes (as small as 1″ by 1″) available in sheet-mounted mosaics borders and sheets. New, high-relief

wall border and deco collections include Gingko/Macaw, Locust/Turtle, and Cacao/Tree Frog.

www.SenecaTiles.com

 


Industry Insights
 
January 1st, 2005

 

January – Februay 2005

Dave Barry to kick off Coverings

Coverings announced that syndicated columnist and humorist Dave Barry will be the keynote speaker for Coverings 2005 show, to be held from May 3–May 6 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida.

Mr. Barry’s speech will take place on May 3 at 8:30 a.m. during the General Session. “We’re very excited to have Dave Barry opening Coverings 2005,” says Tamara Christian, president, National Trade Productions and Coverings’ show director. “Dave’s well-known brand of humor, coupled with his high energy and enthusiasm, will be a great jump start to the Coverings experience. His witty, engaging and thought provoking commentary will be a great complement to the Coverings show, which is well known for being an experience that is both an informative and enjoyable environment in which to do business,” Christian adds. Mr. Barry’s presentation is part of the Coverings 2005 conference program, which features sessions on all aspects of the flooring, ceramic tile and natural stone industries. Coverings conferences also offer American Institute of Architects (AIA) and American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) crediting, as well as Florida state continuing education credits, for architects and designers in attendance. Barry is a humor columnist for the Miami Herald. His column appears in more than 500 newspapers in the United States and abroad. In 1988 he won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary.

Eliane appoints Gomes as Marketing Manager

Eliane Ceramic Tiles, one of the world’s largest producers of quality ceramic tile materials and Brazil’s leading manufacturer and exporter, has announced the appointment of Celso Gomes as Marketing Manager. An 18-year veteran of the ceramic tile industry, Gomes has been with Eliane the past four years, most recently as Product Manager. He was involved in the firm’s very successful launch of the Villas Collection, which debuted earlier this year. He has also been a speaker a major ceramic tile conferences in both Spain and Italy. Gomes will continue to be based in Eliane’s Criciuma, Brazil headquarters.

In other company news Eliane USA is announcing its recent move to a 60,000-sq. ft. facility in Carrollton, Texas. This new distribution center provides Eliane with the space to facilitate growing operations, maintain a larger and broader inventory and increase Eliane’s newly improved sample department. The new docks, larger inventory management, and easier access to main highways will help Eliane support its growing distribution channels nationwide. “We’ve basically moved into a facility that’s twice the size of our previous location,” said Edson Gaidzinski, Jr., General Manager of Eliane North America. “This never would have been possible without the continued business from our valued customers.”

2004 Pinnacle Awards

The Marble Institute of America, Inc. (MIA) singled out 10 projects from nearly 50 entries for demonstrating superior beauty, creativity, ingenuity, and craftsmanship by MIA-member stone suppliers, fabricators, and installers. The 2004 Pinnacle Award winners range from a magnificent residential fireplace to a world-class cathedral complex. Awards of Excellence and Awards of Merit were given in four categories: Residential Interior/Exterior, Commercial Interior, Commercial Exterior, and Restoration. New this year was a Special Award of Merit for Use of Stone, for stone work installed aboard a luxury yacht.

The 2004 Pinnacle Award winners include The Denver Marble Company of Englewood, Colorado; Radtke Tile & Marble, Inc. of Carson City, Nevada; Stockett Tile & Granite Company of Scottsdale, Arizona; Carnevale & Lohr, Inc. of Bell Gardens, California, Vetter Stone Company of Kasota, Minnesota; Kepco+ DBI, LLC of Salt Lake City, Utah, and Campolonghi Italia SRL, of Montignoso, Italy; Granite Importers, Inc. of Barre, Vermont; Petrillo Stone Corporation of Mount Vernon, New York; and Stone Interiors, LLC of Loxley, Alabama.

MAPEI launches Spanish-language web site

MAPEI, a world leader in the production of flooring installation and concrete restoration systems, is pleased to announce that it has launched a Spanish-language version of its MAPEI Americas web site. MAPEI recognizes the importance of communicating in the language of its Spanish-speaking customers. The MAPEI Spanish-language web site allows Spanish-speaking customers to review technical data sheets in the language they are most familiar with. They can also calculate the amount of grout they will need for a tile installation, look up a project reference, or see the latest news releases. “We believe our Spanish-speaking customers will more easily see the advantages MAPEI has to offer when they visit our Spanish-language web site,” said Nicholas Di Tempora, President of MAPEI Americas. “MAPEI is a worldwide organization, with headquarters in Milan, Italy. With more than 40 associated companies serving over 30,000 clients in 21 countries every day, MAPEI is strongly focused on helping each customer fully understand its products.” Visit the new Spanish-language web site, as well as English- and French-speaking versions, at www.mapei.com/mapeiamericas/sp/index.htm.

Hakatai’s Rasa Yurchis appointed marketing services associate

Hakatai Enterprises, Inc., the exclusive importer of Carter Glass Mosaics, recently appointed Rasa Yurchis as Marketing Services Associate. Previously Hakatai’s Project Manager, Yurchis’ past experience includes extensive marketing work for both profit and non-profit organizations. From General Motors and independent publishing companies to community centers, Yurchis’ marketing background introduced her to a wide range of creative projects and campaigns. “I intend to introduce marketing campaigns that are not only original and innovative, but that are also backed with thorough research and a growing sense of customer needs,” said Yurchis. “Hakatai is already successful because of the firm’s amazing customer service, unbeatable prices and quality product. I know we can continue that excellence.”

TCAA Awards

The Tile Contractors’ Association of America (TCAA) honored outstanding residential and commercial projects during its 96th annual convention in Lake Tahoe, California. First place (commercial category) went to Williams Tile & Marble for its Renaissance Grand Hotel project and 2nd place went to Boston Tile & Terrazzo for its New Anchor Bay High School project. Winners in the residential category were Selectile of California, first place, for the Ledges at turtle Ridge model homes, and Williams Tile & Marble, second place, for the Lefkowitz residence. An award for Technical Merit went to Trostrud Mosaic & Tile Company for its ceramic tile installation at the March Supermarket in Noblesville, Indiana. (Editor’s note: For more on this installation, see www.tiledealer.org, “Install 45,000 square feet of ceramic tile in two days!”)

Razin assumes national position

Euro-Tile, the exclusive North American importer of Villi®glas tile, has appointed David Razin as a National Marketing and Sales Representative. As Euro-Tile National Marketing and Sales Representative, Razin will establish new national accounts while also promoting and marketing the latest lines of glass tile to existing customers. “With his years of sales and marketing experience, David will be a valuable asset to the Euro-Tile team,” said Peter Tschertnitz, President and CEO of Euro-Tile. “We’re confident that David will successfully establish long term business relationships with Euro-Tile accounts using his professional, personal approach.”

Jeff Simeone as Territory Manager

The Bostik Flooring Group is pleased to announce the appointment of seasoned veteran Jeff Simeone as Territory Manager for Georgia , North Carolina , South Carolina , and Eastern Tennessee . Add your Industry and Insights to TileDealer. Please send your industry announcements, news and high-resolution photos (300 dpi) to editor@tiledealer.org.


Sales & Management: The New Overtime Regulations
 
January 1st, 2005

 

By Naomi R. Angel, Esq. January-February 2005

On August 23, 2004, the Department of Labor issued new regulations for overtime pay. The rule changes (the first since 1949) are intended to explain who is entitled to overtime pay and who is not—the “nonexempt” versus “exempt” categories. Some of these changes are likely to apply to distribution and installation businesses.

An employee is considered nonexempt, therefore entitled to overtime pay, unless three tests are met—salary basis, salary level and job duties:

The employee must be paid on a “salary basis” which means a fixed amount paid on a regular basis without regard for the quality or quantity of work.

The employee’s “salary level” must exceed the revised minimum salary ($455 per week or $23,660 annually. Employees paid below the minimum salary level are not exempt regardless of their job titles, duties and responsibilities.

The employee’s “job duties” must primarily involve executive, administrative or professional duties as defined below (and in the regulations).

To be exempt, the executive employee’s primary duty must be managing the business, or managing a customarily recognized department. The executive employee must regularly direct or supervise the work of two or more other full-time employees. The above minimum salary basis and salary level tests apply here. A new requirement is that the executive must have the power to hire, or fire other employees or at least have considerable say in such employment decisions. Budget authority is another indication of an executive.

In many small businesses a staff of 5-10 employees includes persons designated as department heads such as accounting, sales, or human resources managers who are essentially one–person departments or who may have one assistant. Under the revised regulations, these persons probably are not exempt under the executive classification despite their titles because they do not supervise two full-time employees or their equivalent (but they may be exempt under California, Illinois and other states’ laws, or another category). Titles alone will not alter a person’s classification from nonexempt to exempt if the requirements for the classification are not met.

The exempt administrative employee’s primary duty must be the performance of office or non-manual work directly related to the management of general operations of the business, its clients or customers, and whose primary duty also includes the exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance. As with the other exempt categories, the minimum salary basis and salary level tests apply here.

This is the category that presents the most difficulty in determining whether an employee is exempt or nonexempt. Examples in the new regulations include areas such as budgeting, marketing, advertising, and personnel management. This is the category where one or two-person business department managers and other such personnel would be most likely to qualify for exempt status. Clerical staff including secretaries and administrative assistants are specifically determined to not qualify for exempt status.

The professional employee’s work must require advanced knowledge in a field of learning customarily acquired by a prolonged course of specialized academic instruction. The professional’s duties are predominately intellectual in character and require the consistent exercise of discretion and judgment. As with the other exempt categories, the minimum salary basis and salary level tests described above apply here. This category might include accountants serving as CFO or the equivalent, and not qualifying under the executive classification. Some persons would qualify under both.

A work week is defined as 168 hours (24 hours times any seven, consecutive days). It begins and ends at a specified time, most commonly at 12 midnight. However, it could be some other hour chosen by the employer so long as it is followed consistently.

“Work time” includes time at work during rest periods, training, work site preparation and clean-up, most travel time (other than commuting to and from work), and meal periods if doing the employer’s work (e.g., eating at one’s desk and answering the phone—so on duty). Time spent working at local and out-of-town meetings and trade shows out of the office is work time. Attendance at employer-required meetings and courses is work time. When work time exceeds 40 hours in a work week, the employer is obligated to pay nonexempt employees overtime at the rate of time-and-a half of the employee’s pay rate.

“Bank time” or paid time off to compensate the employee for time worked out of the office including travel, or days away from home, or on weekends, and is a common, popular and mostly illegal practice if used in lieu of paying overtime. If bank time used to offset overtime hours, then that bank time must be used in the same week in which the overtime was accrued, and must be provided at the rate of time-and-a-half for each overtime hour. The practice of “banking time” derived from overtime hours for use at some future date is contrary to federal law.

Companies may, as a matter of policy, decide to permit exempt and nonexempt employees who travel away from home or work weekends to take extra days off. That is a matter of policy, but it is not mandated by federal or state law, and may not be used in lieu of overtime pay to nonexempt employees.

NOTE: the federal regulations establish the minimum requirements and may not be waived or reduced. However, states may impose more stringent requirements and higher minimums which employers in that state must meet. Currently, 18 states including Illinois and California have overtime rules that are different from the federal regulations. Familiarize yourself with the overtime laws in your state.

The deadline for compliance has already passed. If your company has not taken the necessary steps to comply with the new regulations, it must act immediately to review its employees’ duties and its pay policies and make changes if necessary. And as always, check with your attorney if you have any questions.

There are other specialized exempt categories outside the scope of this article, including computer employees and outside salespersons. Special rules apply for them. For more detailed information, see the Department of Labor website at www.dol.gov.

This article is provided solely for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice. If you have specific questions or concerns about a legal issue, consult your company’s legal counsel for guidance.

Naomi Angel serves as legal counsel to industry trade associations and practices with the law firm of Howe & Hutton, Ltd. in its Chicago office. She can be reached at 312-263-3001 or nra@howehutton.com.

 

Foster and Clark Real Estate
CTDA - Membership
CTDA - Online Education