Industry Insights
July 2nd, 2008

July-August 2008

Conestoga wins North American Distributor Award
Conestoga Ceramic Tile Distributors has been named the 2008 recipient of the Confindustria Ceramica North American Distributor Award. The award recognizes a US or Canadian distributor for their dedication to the promotion and use of Italian ceramic tiles in the marketplace. Selection criteria included competence and skill over the years as an importer and distributor of Italian ceramic tiles; preference for Ceramic Tiles of Italy for their unique aesthetic and technical qualities; fair-trade practices in the commercial relationship undertaken with the Italian manufacturers; and best showroom and corporate image. Conestoga Tile exemplified each of the rigorous standards set forth by the Italian ceramic tile industry. Conestoga is a major wholesale distributor and importer of ceramic tile and allied products representing approximately 50 domestic and foreign manufacturers. They carry an extensive collection of Italian ceramic tile including: Edilgres Sirio, EmilCeramica, Ceramiche Ricchetti, Mediterranea, Cerim, Rex, Rondine, Tagina, Impronta Ceramiche, Dolce Vita, and Pastorelli. The company was established in 1958 by Jack Vogel and his brother-in-law Bob Banta. In the 1980s, Jack’s wife Susan Vogel joined the business as the Executive Vice President and head of the Sales and Marketing department. Under her leadership the architectural services program was developed, introducing Conestoga into a whole new market. Conestoga also began representing its first Italian manufacturer, Marazzi. The Vogels’ sons Jim and Steve took over in 1998. Conestoga Tile values their special distributor-manufacturer relationship with the Italian ceramic tile industry. The fruitful partnership has led to many successes. According to company president Jim Vogel, “The leading quality that we associate with Italian tile is design. The Italian manufacturers are the leaders in new innovative ceramic tile designs. We also recognize Italian manufacturers’ excellence in the development of high quality porcelain tile. Once the Italians began to switch over to a porcelain body, we began to see an emergence of porcelain tile; both glazed and unglazed, as a demanded product type. Conestoga Tile is honored to receive this award. We have had many great years working with the Italian manufacturers and are looking forward to many more.”

TCNA Awards
The Tile Council of North America (TCNA) awarded Harold Turk, President of Dal-Tile Corp., its 2008 Tile Person of the Year award during Coverings 2008. Turk has spent most of his life and career in the tile industry. He grew up learning about the tile industry from his father, a 40-year employee of Dal-Tile who helped launch and later managed the company’s Monterrey, Mexico factory. One of Turk’s most aggressive initiatives while leading the Dal-Tile SBU was to spearhead a significant strategy shift from a primarily commercially-focused brand to one that is a total market leader in residential and commercial segments. He was instrumental in developing the Gallery Showroom concept, which is an upscale selection center tailored to assist customers with making product selections. Currently, there are eight gallery locations, and the company will soon open showrooms in Chicago and Manhattan. “Mr. Turk’s initiatives have inspired our industry to rethink accepted business practices,” remarked Eric Astrachan, TCNA’s Executive Director. “His innovative strategies have been instrumental in the success of Dal Tile and the resurgence of American tile manufacturing.” In another Coverings presentation, TCNA presented Pat and Jim Evanko the inaugural Art Tile Person(s) of the Year Award. Twenty years ago, an engineer and artist were asked by a friend to match out-of-date tile for a customer. This talented team matched the tile, and, after investigating the tile market, began manufacturing a relief tile line, in their garage, matching American field tile colors, thus creating M.E. Tile (McGarry & Evanko). From 1990 through 2006, M.E. Tile grew from 6 to 142 showrooms due to strong marketing exposure in national magazines, movies, and television shows. As a result, relief tile became a prominent design in a market where it did not previously exist. Demand for this product opened the door for the growth and development of not only M.E. Tile, but many others. “Pat and Jim Evanko’s passion, and their willingness to share their expertise, played a pivotal role in establishing the renaissance of American art tile,” commented Eric Astrachan, TCNA Executive Director. “Their tireless devotion to this industry placed American artistry on the international map and will inspire future artisans.”

NAC names Petit
National Applied Construction (NAC) Products recently promoted Brian Petit to vice president of sales. In his new role, Petit will oversee all sales activity for the maker of anti-fracture membrane and related products. Petit has been an active part of the sales and new business development efforts at NAC for the past three years as architectural and tech manager. Before joining NAC, he was the manager of marketing and sales for The Shelly Company. “Brian has already made great contributions to this company over the past several years through new product development and strengthening of key customer relationships,” says Tom Duvé, president and CEO of NAC Products. “His can-do attitude and handle on the needs of our customer make him an ideal choice to lead the growth of this company.”

TAU awarded green certificate
TAU Cerámica has taken a definite step forward in its strategy of consolidating sales of its range of ceramic tiles on the American market by obtaining the ‘green’ certificate awarded by the US Green Building Council. This label provides official accreditation that the company’s products are made using manufacturing methods based on sustainable criteria, which means that they are environmentally-friendly. To be more precise, this award shows that the company makes a real effort to develop its products with a constant focus on reducing the use of energy or water, as well as using processes with a low environmental impact in the extraction of primary materials, to mention but a few aspects.

Laticrete Plant in China
LATICRETE International, Inc. celebrated the Grand Opening of its manufacturing plant in China on April 2nd at Songjiang, Shanghai. LATICRETE (Shanghai) Building Material Co. Ltd is a wholly-owned subsidiary of US-based LATICRETE International. The opening of the China facility represented another milestone in the firm’s fifty plus years of presence worldwide. David Rothberg, Chairman/CEO, Erno de Bruijn, President, International Division and a great number of LATICRETE partners and employee representatives from over 16 countries and regions attended this gala grand opening ceremony. The building of the new production and research center in Songjiang, Shanghai started in September 2007. The new plant is the first fully owned LATICRETE plant outside of US and has been designed and tailored to meet the stringent quality requirements of LATICRETE plants worldwide. Its production line manufactures dry mortars, latex and epoxy products which include tile and stone adhesives, grouts, latex additives, waterproofing, floor underlayments and EIFS systems serving Greater China. David Rothberg stated, “The increasing trend for thinner and lighter-weight buildings requires even more new and innovative ways to install tile and stone.” According to Bill Qiu, General Manager of LATICRETE (Shanghai) Building Material Co. Ltd, “The establishment of the LATICRETE plant clearly indicates our company’s long term commitment to China.” It is expected that within the next decade, LATICRETE China will exceed the firm’s US market in overall sales volume. “The secret of success for LATICRETE has been and always will be in providing localized cutting-edge solutions for tile and stone installations,” added Erno de Bruijn. “Additionally, LATICRETE is committed to training professional tile installers, contractors and Industry personnel on the latest methods and materials for trouble free and secure installation of ceramic tile and stone in China. For this reason we have built a large state of the art training facility at our new Shanghai plant location.”

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