Industry Insights
July 1st, 2005


July-August 2005

SCB expands research & development facility

Specialty Construction Brands (SCB), manufacturer of TEC® brands, recently completed a yearlong expansion and renovation of the SCB Research and New Product Development Laboratory, continuing the company’s long-standing commitment to innovation, according to Jim Griffin, SCB President and General Manager. He said the project also signifies SCB’s dedication to supporting the industry through a variety of R&D-led programs, including product training seminars and ongoing workshops. The ISO 9001 certified laboratory is the company’s focal point for researching new technologies and making improvements to existing brands as dictated by the evolving marketplace. It is one of the few laboratories in the industry that meets both global (ISO) and American National Standards Institute specifications for formulating and testing of grout and tile setting material. The project involved a complete remodeling of the existing facility, doubled the bench testing space and developed an area used to apply tile-setting products under simulated on-site project conditions. In addition to existing capabilities to run the current industry standard specifications and tests (ANSI and American Society for Testing and Materials), the facility has the capability to run the recently developed ISO Performance Standard for Ceramic Tile Installation materials. This includes the addition of the following state-of-the-art equipment: an ISO-certified abrasimeter, which tests the ability of grout to withstand abrasion; a water impermeability tester, an ISO-mandated device that measures the waterproofing capability of various materials; an environment chamber to replicate nearly any temperature and humidity combination; and new ovens for product stability testing. SCB has doubled its technical support staff during the past three years.

CTDA presents award to Dougherty

At the Ceramic Tile Distributors Association (CTDA) opening reception at Coverings 2005, hosted jointly with Ceramic Tiles of Italy, CTDA honored Jim Dougherty of Crossville, Inc. with the Jerry Fisher Memorial-Service to the Industry Award. The award is presented annually to “An industry professional who has shown outstanding service through invention or dedication of time and effort to the ceramic tile industry.” Dougherty has spent over 20 years making great contributions to the ceramic tile industry and is an active member of CTDA and supports all of the association’s educational efforts. He serves as Chair of the CTDA Education Committee is also the current Vice President of Marketing and Business Development for Crossville, Inc. Dougherty was honored for his continued support of the ceramic tile industry and work with many industry organizations, including Tile Partners for Humanity, NTCA, CTDA, and TCNA. Ceramic Tiles of Italy presented their American Distributor award to Emser Tiles, Los Angeles, CA.

Coverings 2005 reports highest attendance on record

Coverings announced that the number of registered attendees at the 2005 show, May 3–May 6 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, was 32,228. This figure reflects a 10 percent increase in registered attendees from Coverings 2004, making this the second consecutive year of double-digit growth and the highest attendance on record.

“These numbers prove that once again, Coverings is the place where tile and stone professionals from around the world come to do business. We’ve certainly raised the bar and our team is already looking ahead to make Coverings 2006 another year to remember,” says Tamara Christian, Coverings’ show director and president, National Trade Productions. Registration data showed significant growth in five key industry categories as the reason behind the record attendance at Coverings 2005, including a 25-percent increase among installers; a 17-percent increase among tile and stone specifiers; and a 15-percent jump in dealers and retailers in attendance. Fabricator and contractor representation increased by 10-percent and 7-percent respectively. Data from Coverings 2005 showed attendance from all 50 U.S. states and 90 other countries.

TPFH gets 190 pallets of tile from Coverings

Coverings announced that this year’s exhibitors donated more than 190 pallets of tile and tile materials to Tile Partners for Humanity (TPFH) at the close of the show. Freeman, the service contractor for Coverings 2005, donated labor to collect materials from the show floor and transport them to Habitat for Humanity of Greater Orlando. TPFH is a non-profit partnership between the tile industry and Habitat for Humanity International, a non-profit organization working to eliminate substandard housing around the world. Through TPFH, industry partners provide tile, installation services and maintenance materials to Habitat affiliates interested in building with tile. “There was a significant overflow of quality materials simply because our exhibitors did not utilize all of it during booth construction and set up. Fortunately, they generously offered to donate the remaining materials to this worthy cause,” says Tamara Christian, Coverings’ show director and president, National Trade Productions. A portion of the tile collected from the show will be used in kitchens, entryways and bathrooms of Habitat for Humanity homes currently under construction in the Orlando area. The remaining tile will be sold through Habitat Home Store, part of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Orlando, which sells building materials to fund new construction in the community. One hundred percent of the proceeds will be used to support new construction in the Orlando area and operations for both Habitat for Humanity and Tile Partners for Humanity. “We are overwhelmed by the generosity of the Coverings exhibitors! Not only will materials from this donation be used to tile new Habitat homes, but they will also help generate funding for both new construction in Orlando and operations for TPFH and Habitat for Humanity,” says Ally Fertitta executive director, TPFH.

Q.E.P. Co., Inc. Announces Appointment of Clingan to Vice President of Sales

Lewis Gould, Chairman of Q.E.P. Co., Inc. announced the promotion of Jamie Clingan to Vice President of the Q.E.P./Roberts Commercial Sales Division. In this capacity, Jamie will be responsible for North American sales. Mr. Gould, commenting on this promotion said, “Jamie’s wonderful familiarity with our customer base, knowledge of the products and service offered by Q.E.P. and her professional approach to the marketplace, make her the ideal candidate for this position. Jamie will be in complete charge of our sales and sales force to this segment of our business.”

MIA accepting entries for Pinnacle Awards

The Marble Institute of America (MIA) is accepting entries for the 2005 Pinnacle Awards Competition, the natural stone industry’s premier design and installation competition. The highly coveted awards are given to projects whose beauty, creativity, ingenuity and craftsmanship exemplify professional mastery in the use of natural stone in commercial and residential environments. The four categories covered in the 2005 competition include commercial exterior, commercial interior, residential interior/exterior and renovation/restoration. Winners will be announced during the association’s annual meeting at StonExpo in Las Vegas, October 19–22, 2005. The winning entries will be displayed in the MIA booth at StonExpo and at other trade shows. A special brochure will be distributed around the world featuring the winning entries. The Pinnacle Awards, to be judged by a panel of independent experts, are open to all MIA member companies. Entries will be evaluated on the basis of excellence in design and implementation, quality workmanship and suitability of materials. Eligible projects must have been completed within the past three years (January 2002–July 2005) and project teams must include at least one MIA member company. Projects must comply with MIA standards as defined in MIA’s Dimension Stone Design Manual and MIA Technical Modules. Entries must be received by MIA headquarters in Cleveland by 5:00 p.m., July 29, 2005. For further information, visit the MIA website at or call MIA at 440-250-9222.

Questech expands sales team

Questech Corporation is expanding its support staff to better serve its clients’ customers in the southeast and west. Rhonda Hill has joined Questech as the new Southern Regional Sales Representative. She brings to Questech 12 years of experience in the tile and building industries, most recently as Project Manager for a custom homebuilder in Central Florida. Prior to that, she spent 10 years with Intercoastal Distributors in Florida as the Showroom Manager and later as a Regional Sales Representative. Mary White is Questech’s new Western Regional Sales Representative.

Master Tile acquisitions

Master Tile announced it has bought the assets of Colours of the Rainbow Granite Partners and Citiglory Partners. Colours of the Rainbow is one of Houston’s leading providers of marble and granite countertops and natural stone. Citiglory is a national supplier of custom-cut natural stone countertops for commercial installations. Y.J. Liu, President of Colours of the Rainbow said, “This transaction makes great strategic sense for both companies. We have been looking for the best way to expand our distribution and marketing reach for both the Colours and Citiglory businesses. With Master Tile we can expand countertop sales throughout the central region by taking advantage of the existing branch network and sales force. Additionally, with Master Tile’s national commercial sales capability we will be able to expand distribution of custom stone from our China factory.” Master Tile’s CEO Hazem Farra concurred, saying, “We’ve known Y.J. Liu for a long time and value his expertise in natural stone. Adding 300 colors of slab, and an equally-broad range of cut stone, in another central location, gives us a tremendous benefit. Y.J. Liu will take responsibility for expanding these businesses throughout Master Tile’s operations, working in partnership with existing staff in our California and Florida operations, not just in Texas and Oklahoma. We look forward to welcoming him as a part of our senior management team.”

StonExpo Federation now the Natural Stone Alliance

The StonExpo Federation, which formerly operated StonExpo, the major trade show for the domestic natural stone industry, has changed its name to the Natural Stone Alliance. Changing the name was in compliance with the buy/sell agreement with Hanley Wood Expositions, which purchased the show from the StonExpo Federation in late 2004. The Natural Stone Alliance will be one of the lead annual sponsors of StonExpo, along with the Marble Institute of America, and will receive a share of the profits. Income derived from the show by the Natural Stone Alliance will be used to fund important industry initiatives, such as helping the Natural Stone Council, a stone promotion organization made up of several trade associations in the industry. This year’s StonExpo will be held October 19–22, 2005 in Las Vegas. In its first action as the board of the Natural Stone Alliance, a grant of $100,000 a year for three years was made to the Natural Stone Council to help it develop a natural stone brand and to continue promoting natural stone to architects and other design professionals. The board also named Duke Pointer, long-time industry veteran and former President of Fletcher Granite, as its administrative officer.

Warmup Undertile Heating

Expansion & Move

In line with their ongoing expansion program to develop their retail customer base in electric heating products in North America, Warmup Undertile Heating is pleased to announce their move to a larger facility in Danbury, Connecticut. This new facility will centralize Corporate Headquarters and warehousing for all Warmup products to ensure fast and efficient customer service. In order to address an increase in demand from the retail market and homeowners on the west coast for Warmup Undertile Heating products, Warmup has recently appointed a California Sales Executive. This appointment will enable Warmup to increase brand awareness and provide existing customers additional service in product training and sales development.

TCNA presents 2005 Handbook for Ceramic Tile Installation

The Tile Council of North America, Inc. (TCNA) introduced the CD-ROM version of the 2005 Handbook for Ceramic Tile Installation, offering hyperlinks between ANSI standards and the Handbook. This newest edition features 15 new installation methods, three new sections and more than 300 updates. The CD-ROM offers quick-reference CAD details and installation methods for exterior and interior floors, exterior and interior walls, bathtubs and showers, ceilings, countertops, steam rooms, swimming pools, stairs, and movement joints. Some of the changes introduced in the 2005 Handbook include sections on glass, porcelain sound rated floors, cementitious self-levelers, poured gypsum, radiant heat, new underlayments and crack-isolation systems.

StonePeak opens manufacturing facility

StonePeak Ceramics, Inc., a new porcelain ceramic tile company exclusively dedicated to the American market, officially opened its new multi-million dollar facility in Crossville, Tennessee. StonePeak Ceramics is the first American subsidiary of its Italian parent company, Graniti Fiandre. The company introduced four of its initial product lines in early May, and the other initial product lines will be introduced later this summer. The 628,000-square-foot facility houses one of the most complex production lines in the world. StonePeak Ceramics is in the process of hiring approximately 150 employees to run the state-of-the-art production line. Dozens of local residents have already been hired and trained at the Tennessee Technology Center and at the Graniti Fiandre headquarters in Castellarano, Italy. “We are committed to the American market for the long-term and, in so doing, are dedicated to being a good employer and citizen of Crossville,” said Cristina Minozzi, president of StonePeak Ceramics. Company headquarters and showroom are based in downtown Chicago. In other news, the company welcomed Drew Giungo and Doug Snell as regional sales managers in the Northeast and Southeast regions, respectively. They join Tom Baker, sales manager for the Midwest region, and Gene Dingham, sales manager for the Northwest region.

Geologica opens Boston Showroom

Italian tile & stone manufacturer GranitiFiandre in partnership with United Distributors opened an exclusive Geologica Showroom located in the Boston Design Center. “The opening of this showroom achieves our goal of providing the Boston design community and its clients access to the complete array of extraordinary Geologica products in an atmosphere conducive to creative design and selection,” says Jeanne Nichols, VP of Marketing for GranitiFiandre USA operations. And she adds, “We believe the Boston Design Center is the perfect location for this important venture and are looking forward to being a part of the Center’s dynamic environment.” Among the advantages of the Geologica showroom are hands-on access to the vast product line, an inspirational on-site workspace created specifically for designers, and luxurious surroundings accented with beautiful installation solutions. The design professional can look forward to working amongst a full resource library with a professional sales staff to assist them.

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