Industry Insights
May 1st, 2005


May-June 2005

Crossville names Smith

Crossville, Inc. has selected John E. Smith as its new president and general manager. Smith succeeds Svend Hovmand, Crossville’s current president and CEO, who has been a board member since Crossville’s founding as Crossville Ceramics in 1986 and who has served as Crossville’s president since 1989. “We couldn’t be more pleased that John will be leading the Crossville® team,” says Tim Curran, speaking for Crossville’s owners, the Curran Group of Crystal Lake, IL. Smith began his career in the hard-surface flooring industry 35 years ago on a tile production line while he was a student majoring in mathematics and physics at Florida Southern College. Over the years, he worked in positions of increasing responsibility in manufacturing, quality assurance and operations. In 1994, he joined Crossville as vice president of manufacturing to oversee the company’s manufacturing and logistics operations. In that position, Smith worked closely with Hovmand to increase production of the company’s large-unit Porcelain Stone® tile and to build new manufacturing facilities—including a 300,000-sq.-ft. plant and distribution center with state-of-the-art production technology in 2001. More recently, he was part of the Crossville team that expanded the company’s product offering to include Accent Innovations™ metal and glass tile, and Design Solutions™ wall tile. Hovmand will become chairman of Crossville, Inc. while he continues to build the industry education programs at Crossville’s Porcelain Stone® Institute and serve as Crossville liaison with industry organizations. He is currently president of the Tile Council of North America, Inc.

Florim converts to 100% porcelain production

Domestic tile manufacturer Florim USA converted to 100% porcelain production in February 2005. “The conversion to 100% porcelain production reflects our leadership in the industry,” says Mike Rohnert, Executive V.P. of Florim USA. “The future of tile is porcelain. We’ve been at the forefront of U.S.-based porcelain production for several years. This total conversion signifies to our customers that we are the right manufacturing partner for future growth and opportunity.” Florim USA began porcelain production more than 4 years ago. At that time, the company was only the 2nd manufacturer to produce porcelain tile on U.S. soil. Since then, porcelain’s popularity has risen strongly. “When Florim USA began offering porcelain lines, many of our direct customers were just starting to take note of the porcelain advantage. Today, the demand for porcelain has extended to end users…and consumers are now specifically asking their retailers for porcelain tile,” explains Rohnert. Florim USA brought industry experts on board to ensure the plant’s advanced technological capabilities and equipment were implemented and used to their full potential. Plant Manager Giancarlo Adani was charged with guiding the porcelain conversion.

IMPO becomes AvanTile

Avanti means “forward” in Italian, which made AvanTile an appropriate new name for a growing and changing tile company. Formerly known as IMPO, AvanTile is the new identity of a network of 12 warehouses and distribution centers and the instant-access customer service network that supports them. “We thought AvanTile was more indicative of the direction we were going,” says Davide Giovagnoni, president, AvanTile. “We are looking at new ways to improve the company, including streamlining our existing product line while working closely with our factories on developing new and quality products. AvanTile reflects that forward progression.” AvanTile is wholly owned by the Florim Group of Italy, making the Italian origins of the name even more fitting. The Florim Group owns several tile manufacturing facilities worldwide. These relationships allow AvanTile to continue to develop quality ceramic tile solutions for homeowners, designers, commercial developers, architects, and retail outlets. In addition to the new name, AvanTile will have a new home, as a 100,000 sq. ft. building on an eight-acre sight in Tinley Park, which is set to open spring/summer 2005. The new site will host the corporate offices and Tinley Park, IL branch operations, as well as a distribution facility that will serve as the flagship 4,000 sq. ft. showroom for the new company.

ISI offers discounted stone testing

The International Stone Institute (ISI) is offering its members a 15-percent discount on the Basic Five Testing package of ASTM C 97, C 99, C 170, C 1353/C 241, and C 880. The package, which normally costs $800, has been reduced to $680. The announcement was made by Fred Hueston, executive director of ISI, the new organization that was formed to provide education and technical assistance for individuals who install and fabricate stone products. “This discounted price is an exceptional value and is representative of many other discounts and benefits that are being made available to our members,” he said. “Quarries, producers and sellers are ideal candidates for testing their limestone, marble and granite every five years,” Hueston said. “That’s necessary because of the changes that occur in stone due to its mineral makeup.” Testing is performed by Testing Engineers International, Inc. (TEI), Stone and Tile Laboratory.

Nick Di Tempora named Man of the Year

Boys’ Towns of Italy, Inc.—the oldest American charity in service abroad—recently announced that the Florida Chapter of the organization has named Nick Di Tempora, President of MAPEI Americas, as their “2005 Man of the Year.” Mr. Di Tempora’s personal interest in the welfare of children prompted the honor. Mr. Di Tempora commented: “I was born in Campobasso, Italy, in 1939, and I faced many of the same difficulties as the children who became the first inhabitants of the Boys’ Towns of Italy. Happily for me, my parents immigrated to Canada in 1951, and I was able to take advantage of the great opportunities offered to me in the Americas. Today, I am fortunate to be able to assist this worthy charity, and I am deeply honored by their wonderful tribute to me.” The Boys’ Towns of Italy began in 1945, when Monsignor John Patrick Caroll-Abbing, an Irish priest in the Vatican Diplomatic Services, began a mission to help homeless, hungry children. Today, the Boys’ and Girls’ Towns of Rome respond to the needs of children in Italy, focusing on the international population of children who pass through Rome, and is deeply concerned with the rights of children and the quality of child care worldwide. The charity is strongly supported by the Boys’ Towns of Italy, Inc., an American organization headquartered in New York, New York. Any individual or group interested in supporting the efforts of Boys’ Towns of Italy, Inc., can visit the Website at for more information.

Hart joins World Sales

World Sales Group of Dallas, TX has named Rick Hart as its representative for the Central region of the U.S. Mr. Hart will assist the company in promoting all of its brands—Ceramics, Inc., New World Tile, Optimus and Terra Green Ceramics—in this territory.

Alpha expands sales department

Alpha Professional Tools® announces the expansion of its sales department. As of February 14, 2005, Mike Salinger and Al Benoliel have joined Alpha® as our new Regional Sales Managers. Both Salinger and Benoliel come to Alpha® with extensive sales and sales management experience within our industry. In other news, Alpha announced the following additions to their sales team: Al Ellis, responsible for Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi; Dick Hargett, responsible for Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama; and Mike O’Coin, responsible for Quebec, Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Eastern NY state.

MIA proposes accreditation program

The Marble Institute of America (MIA) has proposed the creation of a major accreditation program for residential and commercial natural stone companies. An eight-member group of industry leaders has already met to lay the groundwork for accreditation, which they hope to launch in 2006. The concept for accreditation received support in an MIA survey a year ago, with a majority of respondents saying they favored industry standards for competency and certification.

Ceramic Tile Plays a Big Part in Extreme Home Makeover

When ABC’s “Extreme Home Makeover” constructed a new home for the Dolan’s of Tampa Bay, Florida, Gulf Tile’s Port Richey showroom manager Rich Orloski pulled all the tile for the project together in a week. When the same show traveled to Birmingham, Alabama, to build a new home for the Harris family, Jenkins Brick and Tile of Montgomery supplied tile, granite, slate and brick.

The Extreme Team

Makeovers typically start with host Ty Pennington arriving at the doorstep of the unsuspecting family and shouting “Good morning!” through a megaphone. Then the whirlwind projects take on a life of their own with hundreds of workers and volunteers.

Overnight the foundation for the Dolan house was laid and the walls and roof were up. The next day, more than 200 contractors worked feverishly to install the air conditioning and heating systems, plumbing and electric. Later came the stucco on the exterior, drywall and finished goods in the interior.

“We get a phone call and had a two hour window to get everything to the jobsite,” Orloski said.

It was 42 degrees and pouring rain that day but Rich and sales representative Val Waldron loaded up and took the tile to the site. After waiting in the cold for over six hours they were finally allowed to unload.

The same show’s cast and crew approached the Harris home in much the same way, demolishing their hurricane-damaged home and rebuilding an “extreme” home in its place complete with a heated and cooled tree house and a water park in the back yard.

“It was really neat to be involved in a project of this caliber,” said John Faught, general manager of the Jenkins Brick & Tile Birmingham location, who seemed to speak for everyone involved in both projects. “There were so many people working from so many trades. Everyone joined together to really do something good. We were pleased to be part of it.”

TPFH Tiles Five Homes in Baton Rouge

Members of the tile industry, working through Tile Partners for Humanity, donated tile, setting and floor preparation materials, tile tools, tile cleaner/ grout sealer, and installation labor/training to tile five homes in Baton Rouge, La., in October and November 2004.

Industry partners included Accardo Tile, Aqua Mix, Aztec Tile Company, Bolick Distributors, BPI, Jenkins Tile Company, Laticrete International, North American Tile Tool Company, Orchid Ceramics, Rickert Tile, TileArts and Viking Distributors. This marked the first TPFH project in Baton Rouge, which amounted to nearly 4,200 square feet of floor space.

“What a wonderful experience it was for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Baton Rouge to work with Tile Partners for Humanity this past fall! From the national tile and tile-product manufacturers to the local store owners and professional installers, everyone was so incredibly generous and supportive,” said Lynn Clark, HFHGBR development director. “It was one of the best partnerships our affiliate has been involved in. The benefits were many—our homeowners received gorgeous, long-lasting tile floors and our volunteers were able to learn a great new skill under the patient tutelage of the skilled installers. We definitely hope to have the good fortune to work with Tile Partners in the near future!”

Laticrete International donated setting and floor preparation materials for the full project. Senior Technical Representative Jack LeBlanc, who lives and works in Baton Rouge, spent several days working with homeowners and volunteers to install tile in the homes. Technical Sales Representative Victoria Wright of Houston also donated time to work with volunteers.

“I’m glad TPFH asked us to be a part of this project. It’s always a blessing for me to be able to give back, especially here in Louisiana,” LeBlanc said. “It’s such an awesome feeling to be able to use my talents and our products to help people reach their goals. On a project like this, we can be the oars that people use to get through the water.”

“I think it’s a terrific program and I know it helps a lot of people,” said Aztec Tile owner Gary Kennan. “I [participated] mainly because I know Habitat and I’m a firm believer helping people by not just giving something to them. I like that homeowners work on their homes through sweat equity and I hope to donate to many more TPFH projects!”

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