Industry Insights
 
September 1st, 2006

September-October 2006

NRI Industries and Mer-Krete Systems Form Alliance

With 114 years of experience between them, it’s safe to say NRI Industries and Mer-Krete Systems have their fingers on the pulse of their respective industries. It only makes sense that they join forces to market and distribute “QuietDown,” a new acoustic control system. The system includes an engineered acoustic membrane that delivers high levels of acoustic performance with the highest bond strengths in the industry. “This relationship represents the new efforts we’re making to build brand awareness in the United States,” stated Andy Pattenden of NRI Industries. “Mer-Krete Systems’ worldwide recognition will certainly help us to market and distribute the acoustic control system. We share a comparable customer base so it makes good business sense to partner.” “We believe that the research and development which has gone into “Quiet Down” assures that it is one of the most effective acoustic control systems available to the tile industry today. As a leading manufacturer and supplier of high quality professional waterproofing and crack isolation membranes, the “Quiet Down” acoustic membrane is a natural addition and enhancement to Mer-Krete’s comprehensive line of underlayment products,” said Tim McDonald, President of Mer-Krete Systems.

GranitiFiandre Partners with Genesee Ceramic Tile

Italian stone and tile manufacturer GranitiFiandre has partnered with Genesee Ceramic Tile Distributors, Inc., based in Burton, Mich., to exclusively market and distribute GranitiFiandre and TCL brand products in the state of Michigan. “We are very proud to have the opportunity to partner with GranitiFiandre,” said Genesee President Jim Cokley. “With GranitiFiandre’s extensive product line and our 33 years of experience and established industry relationships, we are strengthening our operations in the commercial arena, as well as providing increased product options for our current clientele.” GranitiFiandre’s ten innovative collections will provide the comprehensive flooring solutions Genesee’s clientele seek. “GranitiFiandre’s broad array of products, colors, and sizes, and their innovative, made-in-the-USA collection allow us to successfully address all of our customers’ flooring needs,” said Lisa Haas, vice president of marketing for Genesee. GranitiFiandre recently presented a three-day training workshop to the Genesee operations and sales staff highlighting the company’s history, product offerings, and technical specifications. The staff has since implemented an aggressive team approach to bring GranitiFiandre products to their architecture, tile contractor, builder, and dealer markets. “Both GranitiFiandre and Genesee are committed to achieving an increased presence for GranitiFiandre products in the Michigan market,” said Marcello Sassi, vice president of Trans Ceramica, GranitiFiandre’s U.S. sales and marketing company. “We are confident that our broad product offering will be greeted with enthusiasm by customers seeking an exquisite, durable flooring solution.”

Tile of Spain call for entries

The Spanish Ceramic Tile Manufacturers’ Association (ASCER) is pleased to announce the call for entries in the 5th Tile of Spain Awards of Architecture and Interior Design. The awards recognize outstanding architectural and interior design projects using ceramic tiles from Spain. Prizes totaling 45,000 Euros are being offered; 18,000 Euros each for the architecture and interior design categories as well as 9,000 Euros for the Degree Projects (Student) category. “Each year the Tile of Spain Awards entries are inspired. It is awesome to see how architects and designers use tiles from Spain. It is our (ASCER) honor to offer such a platform as the awards for them to showcase their creativity and talent,” said Javier Soriano, Director of Foreign Trade and Export Promotion for ASCER.

The competition is open to professional architects, interior designers, architectural engineers, landscapers and decorators of all nationalities. Entries may represent new construction, renovation and restoration projects, urban development projects or exterior landscaping. Judging will be based upon entries focusing on the decoration of interior spaces in new buildings, renovation and restoration projects and on settings created for short-term use. Projects for both categories must have substantial use of floor and/or wall tiles made in Spain displayed in the formal part of the building. All entries must be for projects completed between January 2005 and October 2006. Entries and supporting information must be received by October 31, 2006. More information regarding rules and regulations can be found by visiting www.spaintiles.info/awards.

Q.E.P. Co., Inc. Appoints Daubs

Q.E.P. Co., Inc. announced the appointment of Jim Daubs as Vice President Business Development. In this role, Daubs will focus on the company’s strategic marketing initiatives and strengthening of key customer relations. Commenting on the move, Lewis Gould, Q.E.P.’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, stated: “Jim’s extensive experience in the floor covering industry will allow Q.E.P. and its subsidiaries the opportunity to grow the business with new and innovative approaches to its markets far into the future”.

Questech® Wins New England Innovation Award

Questech Corporation recently was awarded the Smaller Business Association of New England’s (SBANE) prestigious 2006 New England Innovation Award, joining past Vermont-based winners Ben & Jerry’s, Green Mountain Coffee and The Vermont Teddy Bear Company. “It is truly an honor to be among this select group of innovative and successful companies,” said Barry Culkin, president and chief executive officer of Questech Corporation. “This award reflects our commitment to artistry and imagination, honoring our pledge to find original ways to make people’s homes more beautiful and welcoming.” For two decades, SBANE has been granting New England-based companies this exclusive award in recognition of their demonstrated ability to turn innovative ideas into successful enterprises. A panel of 42 judges evaluated this year’s 172 nominees, and Questech was among the six winners chosen. According to Mr. Culkin, the company’s legacy of innovation comes from noted sculptor and founder Roger Questel. “Roger invented a revolutionary technology—a process for casting beautiful metal objects at a fraction of the weight and cost of solid metals,” Culkin said. “His discovery allowed us to launch the industry’s first mass-produced cast metal tiles, creating an important category in the tile and home improvement markets.” Mr. Questel is chairman of the board and creative director, leading the design and development of new and innovative additions to the company’s product lines.

NTCA hosts Total Solutions 2006

The Las Vegas Hilton is the home to the National Tile Contractors Association’s (NTCA) annual meeting, Total Solutions from September 14-16. This free event started in St. Louis in 2004, offering contractors the opportunity to learn about new products, methods, processes, while networking in a relaxed, conducive environment with fellow contractors and other industry personnel. This year, Total Solutions will feature business and technical sessions as well as tabletop displays that present a range of products and services for contractors. A Contractor’s Forum on best practices in commercial and residential installations and an association update will complete the event. On Friday night, the NTCA Awards Dinner will recognize the 2006 NTCA Tile Person of the Year and two NTCA Ring of Honor inductees. In addition, several outstanding contractors will receive the 2nd Annual Best Practices Awards. For complete details and schedule as well as registration for Total Solutions and the Awards Dinner, visit the NTCA website at www.tile-assn.com or contact executive director Bart Bettiga at (601) 939-2071, email bart@tile-assn.com.

Vitromex Opens New Distribution Center

Vitromex USA opened its new distribution center in Laredo, Texas, built in response to increased customer demand for Vitromex products throughout the United States. The new 145,000-square-foot facility will warehouse all Vitromex products, including the newly launched Artemis Impervious Glazed Porcelain tiles, as well as the outsourced products. Additionally, the new distribution center boasts a side yard of 50,000 square feet, and 20 loading docks. “Vitromex has experienced tremendous growth over the last couple of years and we needed to take steps to keep up with this demand,” said Sergio Cardenas, president of Vitromex USA. With all flooring products available in one central location, Vitromex USA is now able to offer a 48-hour turnaround on full truckload orders. “Trucks will be ready to ship product within 48 hours of receiving an order, which allows for faster delivery to distributors”, said Ricardo de la Cabada, operation manager of Vitromex USA.

StonePeak Ceramics Opens Chicago Showroom

StonePeak Ceramics opened its tile showroom in downtown Chicago at 314 W. Superior Street. Amidst other prominent vendors in Chicago’s Design District, StonePeak’s nine tile lines are on display for guests and customers to browse, feel and even use to layout their own sample floor patterns. “As a company, our next strategic goal is targeting the architecture and design community that can use our products in a range of residential and commercial projects,” said Graziano Verdi, CEO of StonePeak Ceramics. “Our new showroom is located in an area of high traffic for these

customers whose designs will benefit greatly from our variety of tiles and trims.” Complete with a full working kitchen and meeting areas, the showroom is a “home away from home” for StonePeak’s distributors. The versatile work space allows them to use the showroom to hold meetings, perform training sessions or simply entertain customers. Equipped to hold hundreds of guests, the showroom will be available for rent to outside companies holding events or parties. The company’s corporate headquarters and offices are located on the second floor above the showroom.

Eliane Appoints Gaidzinski and Muller

Marcio Muller has been appointed General Manager of Eliane North America, the U.S. subsidiary of Eliane Revestimentos S/A, Brazil’s largest tile manufacturer and exporter. For the past 14 years, he has worked in various positions for the firm, including marketing director and national sales manager. During that time, Muller received his MBA degree from The University of Dallas. He takes over the GM position from Edson Gaidzinski, Jr., who was recently appointed CEO of Eliane Revestimentos. Edson Gaidzinski, Jr. has been appointed CEO of Eliane Ceramic Tiles, Brazil’s largest tile manufacturer and exporter. For the past 12 years, he has directed the operations of Eliane North America, the firm’s U.S. subsidiary. Gaidzinski studied economics and received a master’s degree in International Management from Thunderbird University.

new MAPEI CEO for the Americas

MAPEI has named Rainer M. Blair to succeed Nick Di Tempora as President and CEO of MAPEI Americas. Di Tempora has chosen to retire at this time, but he will remain on board as an advisor to Blair to ensure a smooth transition of leadership within the company. During this period, Blair will function as Deputy CEO. Dr. Giorgio Squinzi, CEO of the MAPEI Group, said, “We want to thank Nick Di Tempora for his many, many years of successful leadership in guiding MAPEI Americas to its current strong position in the market. We are happy that he will ensure continuity for the company by staying on as an advisor, while Rainer Blair assumes the reins of management.” Blair comes to MAPEI from 16 years with BASF Corporation, where he most recently served as Group Vice President for BASF’s coatings businesses in North America. Blair majored in Business Administration for both his B.B.A. at the University of Massachusetts and his M.S. at Boston University.

Interceramic Opens New Distribution Center in Ontario, CA

Interceramic has opened up a new distribution center in Ontario, California. The new facility is a 200,000 square foot distribution warehouse located at 2521 East Francis. The Ontario Distribution Center will be part of the expanding chain of Interceramic Tile & Stone Gallery Stores. Interceramic’s first California location opened in Anaheim four years ago, followed by store fronts in San Diego and Sacramento and another distribution center in Manteca. The Ontario facility will better serve current California Interceramic Tile & Stone Gallery locations, as well as future plans to add twelve new branches in the market area.

Portelli Named by Imagine Tile

Imagine Tile announced that Lynda Portelli has joined the company as manager of marketing and public relations. In this newly created position, Portelli will oversee all marketing and public relations campaigns for the Imagine Tile brand, reporting directly to Imagine Tile President Christian McAuley. Portelli is a marketing business veteran, bringing over 13 years of home furnishing industry marketing, public relations, sales and product development experience. “We are excited to welcome aboard such a seasoned furnishings industry professional,” said McAuley. “Lynda’s experience will be a great asset to growing the Imagine Tile brand.”

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