One on One with Jorge Aguayo
 
March 3rd, 2011

by Jeffrey Steele

Artisan tile is such a one-of-akind, hand-crafted product that it can very effectively differentiate a tile wholesaler. And one of the best in the business at providing unique artisan tile is Medley, Fla.-based Wholesale Tile by Aguayo. Showcasing artisan tile from across Mexico, Guatemala, Columbia, the Dominican Republic and numerous other countries, Wholesale Tile by Aguayo sells to approximately 200 tile dealers across the United States, and represents artists who are exceptionally skilled at making artisan tile. Heading the company is a man who is exceptionally good at marketing artisan tile, Jorge Aguayo. One might say artisan tile is in Aguayo’s blood. His grandfather founded Industrias Aguayo, a cement tile company in the Dominican Republic, in 1948. Despite the fact the company has always been a manufacturing enterprise, all its tile was and is hand made. Jorge Aguayo, 36, was born and raised in the Dominican Republic, where he was the oldest of four children of the son of Industrias Aguayo’s founder. He majored in industrial engineering in college in the Dominican Republic and after graduation went to work in logistics for a Dominican Republic brewery. He then joined the family business for a year, before relocating to the U.S. to earn an MBA at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School in Evanston, Ill.

After 18 months in sales and marketing for ZS Associates in Evanston, he returned to the Dominican Republic and the family business. Earlier this year, he and his brother Raul assumed the helm of Industrias Aguayo, a company with about 115 employees and a 700,000-square foot facility, upon the retirement of their father. Industrias Aguayo had long sold its art tile to Nina Long, whose Tampa-based company was acquired by the Aguayos when Long retired, and was rechristened Wholesale Tile by Aguayo. The company’s headquarters are now located in Medley, Fla. In this One-on-One, Mr. Aguayo discusses artisan tile, how it is used and the distinctive creativity of art tile makers. He also voices his thoughts on how tile dealers can best showcase art tile to reap the greatest sales potential from this unique art form.

TileDealer: What is artisan tile?
Art tile is any tile that’s handmade and not mass produced. It is handmade, hand-crafted, handpressed and hand-glazed.

TD: What is its position in the marketplace?
Art tile has always been a niche product, a very specialized product, favored by people who are looking for unique or unusual design elements. There are people who use tile because it’s a necessity to cover a wall. But those who understand the use of tile as part of the design element of a space are those who use art tile.

TD: Is it growing?
In general, art tile has been following the overall market trends in terms of growth. The past two years, the general market for tile has been on a downward slope. We see it now bouncing back in the last three or four. It is tied to the new home market and to the renovation market. Because people cannot move, many have now decided to remodel. So you see the use of tile and art tile in renovation as opposed to new construction, which should be coming back this year. That is what we’re expecting.

TD: How has artisan tile fared in the recession?
It was hit as hard as every other aspect of tile.

TD: Who uses artisan tile and where do they use it?
Again, it’s people who are looking for unique and unusual elements in their designs. It’s generally used as a focal point of designs, because it is not an inexpensive tile. It usually will not be used, for instance, to cover an entire wall. You do see people go all the way out and create spectacular spaces with art tile. It will tend to be used, however, as a focal point. In a fireplace, because it’s a small space, the fireplace surround will be covered in art tile. A backsplash in a kitchen might use art tile. Or it could be used as accents in a larger installation like a bathroom.

TD: How can dealers include artisan tiles in showrooms?
The first thing a tile dealer needs to understand is this is not a volume product. You will not sell tens of thousands of square feet of art tile. So if you want to include art tile in your showroom offering, you’ll find so many options in terms of art tile, and you should look for one or more that complement your existing line. And you should look for one you feel will appeal to your existing customer base, because not all tile dealers are catering to every kind of taste.

TD: How should dealers merchandise artisan tile?
The thing about art tile is usually when you decide to carry a specific line of art tile, the artisan will sell you a full sample and board program. The artisan will have you buy a full package that includes samples and concept boards. As a dealer, you can’t simply display the boards you get from the artisan and art tile company, because that will not be as appealing to your customers as a board that you create from both the art tile and the materials you know are selling in your market. You want to complement the artisan tile boards with tile material you know will appeal to your customers. You should create your own boards or vignettes in which you mix and match your existing materials with the art tile. Or you should mix and match your hottest selling lines with the art tile. In addition, I always think you should put art tile on your windows when you do have windows. That’s because even though it’s not the tile that you will sell in tens of thousands of square feet, it’s so special and so spectacular that it will definitely capture customers’ attention and drive people into your showroom.

TD: Tell us why the artisan tile designer can “go out on a design limb” to differentiate him or herself from the competition.
They go out on a design limb because they can. Art tile is a form of self expression for not only the artist, but the interior designer and the homeowner. There are no rights or wrongs here. It’s what the creator wants to do. We all want to have higher sales. But the art tile creator is following his or her own inspiration. There will be customers who are as inspired as the artist, and will want to purchase the artisan tile for their fireplaces or backsplashes or bathrooms.

TD: Please discuss how artisan tile catapulted independent tile makers/artists into prominence in the industry.
Here in the Dominican Republic, baseball is really big. Kids follow not only the local baseball leagues made up of amateur players, but they’re also following Major League Baseball. They all want to be Albert Pujols or Pedro Martinez. But very few make it. The same thing is true of art tile. Many want to make it big in art tile. But very few do, and even the ones who do become design trend setters rather than becoming big players. Oceanside Glass Tile comes to mind. What they did with glass tile was to completely change the way of working with glass tile, and the way glass tile is used as a design element. But now all their stuff has been copied by the Chinese, and all the local producers in the world. So even though they don’t have this huge market, they are doing very well, and are looked to as the trend setters in this particular niche. As a tile artisan, you’re not going to be Bill Gates, but you can do very well for yourself. Sometimes you see people who become very successful, and their tile is selling in such substantial volume that they farm the production out to Mexico, and they return to simply working on the creative side of their business.

TD: What’s ahead for artisan tile?
Artisan tile is going to follow the general trend of the market. We’re all very hopeful for the next few years, and art tile is going to follow the general trend and things will get better for everyone. It’s never going to become a mainstream product. There are very few exceptions. One of the exceptions is cement tile, which is an individual class within art tile. It’s one of the few lines that we sell that has grown considerably over the last year. This was a product that designers didn’t know about and didn’t understand. And as people grow more comfortable with the product they’re inclined to use it more frequently. And they see the design possibilities in this very customizable product.


Taking a Shine to Reflective Tile
 
March 3rd, 2011

The glass and metallic elements once reserved for accents are now taking center stage

One of the fastest growing segments of the business at Ashland, Ore.-based Hakatai Enterprises Inc. is the company’s glass mosaic mural business. Customers provide Hakatai with favorite photographs, whether of a canal scene in Venice, a tranquil beach along the ocean, perhaps even themselves. The company then renders that photograph as a unique glass mosaic mural. “It’s a good business to be in,” says Hakatai marketing associate Adam Shigemoto. “People want something different from ceramic tile. They want the space they’re putting the mural in to be more refl ective, more open. Glass really opens up an area, and it’s very eye-catching as well. You can do a lot of custom work like murals with glass, which makes that space your own.”

Another day, another application for reflective tile, which is turning out to be a tile industry success story in a less than- robust era. More and more, glass tile and metallic tile — and often some combination of the two — are being introduced in new and head-turning colors, sizes, shapes and designs. The interest in reflective tile likely has its roots in a larger trend toward cleaner lines, says Ryan Calkins, president of Seattle’s Statements Tile & Stone, a 14-year-old, family-owned wholesale importer and distributor.

The Tuscan look that dominated new home construction during the last “up cycle” has given way to more contemporary looks in everything from tile to fixtures and furnishing. “Instead of tumbled travertine for entryways and halls, people are selecting honed limestones or large-format, rectified porcelains. Reflective tile like glass, metal and glossy ceramics complement those clean lines,” he says. Bold colors characterized the first wave of glass tile 15 or 20 years ago, representing hues popular in that era, Calkins says. Regrettably, he adds, those timely colors became dated very quickly.

Today’s consumer seems to be more drawn to timeless colors that won’t soon fade from style. “Over the past several years, our best-selling glass lines have included more muted colors: light browns, subtle greens, offwhite colors and even some charcoal,” he reports. As for applications, Calkins says because reflective tile surfaces tend to be more susceptible to marring and scratching than porcelain tiles, his company is finding that glass and metallic tile is used more in settings like backsplashes and shower surrounds, where they aren’t as vulnerable to damage.

Increasing options

The ascendency of reflective tile has caught the eye of Mid-America Tile, an Elk Grove Village, Ill.-based tile distributor that sells glass and metal tile, as well as ceramic, porcelain and natural stone tile and other covering materials. “We’re finding a lot more offerings of glass tile,” says Mid-America’s marketing coordinator Dan Skowron, who says glass-and-stone mosaics are big. “It seems like all the glass tile manufacturers have really come out with a lot of new styles, possibly because of the availability of new products from China, along with improved quality compared with what China formerly produced.”

Mid-America Tile is the exclusive Midwest distributor of the Modono Glass Tile Collection manufactured in  Rochester, NY. Introduced in 2008, the Modono Glass Tile Collection is known for textile patterns and shifting, vibrant colors. The result can be bold and extreme, soft and comforting or rich and elegant. Metal, too, is on the upswing, in part because of its variety. “They can do almost any kind of finish, from pewter to bronze,” Skowron says.

Barbara Vasquez is another industry figure who has witnessed the surge in interest in metal and particularly glass tile, which she says appeals to today‘s more value-oriented consumer and homeowner. “Customers walk in here and say, ‘I need value for my money,’” Vasquez relates, adding she urges them to “choose glass for the wide range of colors, textures and styles.” There are endless patterns and color combinations possible in glass and/or glass-and-stone mosaics, she added. “You can cut glass into various sizes and lengths, to achieve any look you‘re after,” she says. “They’re laying glass tile on the horizontal, vertical or all-wall applications. I feel glass or glass-and-stone mosaics can complement just about any tile or stone selection.”

Another factor in the uptick of glass is its increasing use in floors, where it accents or complements other materials and enhances designs, she says. As for metallic tile, Vasquez says “they have any kind of metal right now that you would want to see,” including stainless steel, bronze, pewter and hand-brushed nickel. Part of the appeal is that metal can be used in clean, contemporary applications or in rustic surroundings. The latter is particularly possible with brushed nickel and pewter, she reports. Reflective metal tiles are adding appeal and uniqueness to kitchen and bathroom backsplashes, barbecues and outdoor entertainment centers, where their purpose is generally as accents around counters, Vasquez says.

Across the country, Catherine O’Connor has been creating intriguing glass pieces for more than a dozen years at her Lockport, NY-based company called Art Effects Glass. Glass continues to be popular for her, but in evolving sizes and styles. She is now creating larger glass tiles, some 14 by 14 inches, with “large patterns and a very graphic in nature,” she says. She is also producing increasing numbers of glass pieces with metallic leaf infused into the glass, she says. “Even with the increased price, [customers] still like the precious metals as part of the glass tile design.” And with growing regularity, glass is moving into other design elements that complement the tile.

For instance, she says, her business has expanded from accent tile to cabinet door inserts, lighting shades, coordinating glass knobs for door handles, and dinnerware and silverware that coordinates as well. “I’ll get a request from a customer saying, ‘I’m doing a backsplash that involves glass accent tile or full glass tile, and can I get a glass cabinet door insert to coordinate, as well as knobs that coordinate?’” she says. “People know I do glass plates and bowls, and will ask for a piece to complement that.” Another recent project was even more unusual and artsy, involving a solid surface composite of Corian used as a wall, into which inserts of oddlyshaped glass tile were cut. “That’s the art ability,” O’Connor says. “With a small studio like the one I have, I can bring the avantgarde art to different applications.” More common applications call for the use of full glass or glass accents, the latter for glass block installations. “A lot of people have existing glass block, and want it to look artier,” she says.

Advice for dealers

O’Connor’s advice to dealers is to recognize the potential in custom work. “Dealers have not embraced the idea of custom,” she says. “They basically want ‘what you see is what you get.’ They’re eliminating an entire revenue stream by avoiding custom. The designers know this, and they are coming directly to us. But there are some forward-thinking dealers who get it.” Custom design is not expensive, O’Connor adds. “Custom design is affordable. The thing about custom is every piece is new and different, and that’s what drives the market — new and different,” she concludes.

One of the nation’s foremost glass tile producers is GlasTile Inc., a 21-year-old producer of glass tile in Greensboro, NC. President and CEO Barbara Cashman says her business is growing because patrons seek the unusual and distinctive, and not necessarily only in refl ective tile. “They’re looking at wood, leather and bamboo tiles, which provide a different feel and look,” she says. “I do believe people are looking at something that’s a little different, and expresses their own individuality in an environmental manner.” GlasTile’s line is geared to high-end residential and glitzier commercial  applications, she says. One of the more popular offerings is its very reflective and opaque copper-encased tile, which when used in kitchen and bathroom backsplash applications maintains its brightness and refl ectivity. “The reflective material attracts a lot more attention, interest and vitality in the installation,” she says. “Glass and metal, either in combination or alone, make a statement about the ambience of a room. That’s a reason we just had that tile go into a bathroom installation at Pensacola’s Hotel Indigo.”

Another of GlasTile’s product lines is called Marquisa Satins, which features a fired-on metallic finish on glass and is offered in three colors. Brienne is a bronze, Avallon a stainless steel, and Giselle resembles a 24-carat satin gold. Launched five years ago, Marquisa Satins’ popularity has never been higher, and it is now being used in custom confi gurations like random mosaics. “We just did an HGTV show, and used it in kitchen backsplashes, in a custom configuration of all three colors in mounted 2-by-2s,” Cashman says.

Even more popular than the Marquisa Satins is GlasTile’s trademark mirrorbacked tile, which is offered in two versions. Crystal Visions is a smooth tile, while Tifini is a crushed glass tile that provides a look like diamonds. A top-selling item at GlasTile for nearly the entire history of the company, this tile features a true mirror chemically bonded to the back of transparent colored glass, so the light goes through the tile’s coloring and bounces back. Used in a fireplace, the tile won the 2008 Crystal Achievement Award from Glass magazine, leading to its application in a high-profile Puerto Rico hospital lobby. “The Crystal Visions and Tifini are GlasTile’s signature lines, and what we are best known for,” Cashman says. “No one else does that.”

Hakatai Enterprises, which was founded in 1997, has held a focus on glass tile throughout its history. After moving to Oregon in the first years of the last decade, the company launched its successful website and in 2006 unveiled custom blends and custom gradients that gave customers more opportunities to tailor a look, and more reason to choose Hakatai. Hakatai also distributes a number of metallic tiles, as well as combination glass-and-metal and glass-and-stone tiles. Among its popular metal tiles are special order brushed steel, antique copper, polished copper, brushed titanium, polished titanium and a black metal. All in all, it offers nine metal finishes and 10 sizes. But it’s the glass tile for which the company is best known. Hakatai glass tile finds its way into kitchen and bath backsplashes and showers.

Glass tile also works very effectively in entryways and fireplaces, Hakatai has found. In entryways, for instance, where tight space behind a closed door often translates to a darker area, glass tile can bring a welcome brightness, he says. That’s particularly true if reds and yellows are represented in the tile. In addition, fireplaces benefit strongly from glass tile that features some form of iridescence, he adds. “If there’s iridescence in the tile, it can draw attention to the fireplace by refl ecting the light of the fire, and brightening the room,” he reports. “In a home bar area, glass tile is a popular means of making the setting brighter and more attractive. And many times [customers] will want a custom mural that makes the area distinctively their own.”

SOURCES:

Ryan Calkins, president Statements Tile & Stone, Seattle 206-762-8181

Barbara Cashman, president and CEO GlasTile Inc., Greensboro 336-292-3756

Catherine O’Connor, artist Art Effects Glass, Lockport, NY 716-433-4247 or (cell) 716-510-4247

Adam Shigemoto, marketing associate Hakatai Enterprises, Inc., Ashland, OR 888-667-2429

Barbara Vasquez, owner Vasquez Tile, Tempe, AZ 480-893-9293

Dan Skowron, marketing coordinator Mid-America Tile, Elk Grove Village 224-366-2859


Leadership Letter: Business is a Gamble
 
March 1st, 2011

Ryan Calkins

As we converge on Vegas for a week of hurried conversations, sore feet, and maybe a few moments to play the tables, it’s worthwhile to remember what it takes to win.

First, pick the right game. There’s a reason mathematicians don’t play the slots: the house always wins. Poker, on the other hand, is a game of skill. In your business, are you trying to be the lowest price in town? Because if you are, you are sitting at the slots, watching your stack slowly melt away. Or do you offer a range of added value so that your customer is willing to pay a higher price? That puts you at the poker table where your skill, intuition and strategy mean you’ll win more often than not.

Second, gather information. Count cards and learn your opponents’ tells. Where are the aces and who’s holding a pocketful of nothing? In business this means knowing what sectors of your market are growing and which competitors represent a real threat and which are just bluffing. Are you reading the regional and national economic news to anticipate shifts in consumer spending? Do you have a regular source of good information about the housing market? How are you educating yourself on the latest innovations in our industry, from high-definition porcelains to new installation techniques to inventory and logistics management systems?

Third, know thyself. A good poker player knows how to read his opponents, but the best poker player knows how to read himself. A few years ago we were at a critical juncture in our business, when cash flow demands and growth presented us with some difficult choices. We came to the painful realization that we lacked good financial management. It was humbling to acknowledge that we needed help, but doing so meant that we could act to improve our business. In hindsight, the decision may have saved us from ourselves. The hiring of a gifted financial manager was essential for us to navigate the stormy waters of the recession. Conversely, knowing your strengths is the only way you can put them to use. Is your star salesperson toiling away at paperwork hours at a time when they should be out in front of your customers?

Finally, play long. The easiest guy to beat at the poker table is the one who tries to win with every hand. If you’re like me, you are constantly bombarded with offers of new products or services, a chance to get in on a sweetheart deal, or some other get-rich-quick scheme. Learning to discern when you are holding a full house and when you’re looking at a pair of deuces is key to being successful in poker and in business. It takes patience to wait for the right hand. After all, there are fewer winning hands than losing hands. The good news is it only takes one.

I’d be remiss to conclude without mentioning the role lady luck can play. Sure, we can all think of stories of some undeserving person somehow pulling off a big win, no thanks to their own skill. That’s the exception. Thomas Jefferson had a great perspective on chance: “I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”

Ryan Calkins,
CTDA president


Editor’s Desk: A Few Trends Worth Following
 
March 1st, 2011

by Janet Arden

This is a crazy time for our industry – Surfaces, Cevisama and Coverings, not to mention the Builder’s Show and the Kitchen & Bath Show. What’s new, what do our customers want and, by the way, how is it that we’re still mired in this economy?

It’s still about the economy

The numbers may not be great, but there is a lot of optimism out there. For starters, the big-name prognosticators like the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University are predicting “a sustainable recovery for the remodeling industry” in 2011. They made this prediction based on the numbers in their Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA) released in mid-January. Specifically, LIRA projects annual growth in home improvement spending of 6.5% in the third quarter of 2011. “Favorable interest rates, a pickup in home sales, and the strengthening economy should lead to healthy gains in remodeling spending this year,” says Eric S. Belsky, managing director of the Joint Center.

The National Association of Home Builders is in agreement. NAHB’s Remodeling Market Index (RMI) edged up from 40.8 to 41.5 in the fourth quarter of last year. In an economy such as the current one, NAHB looks for the RMI to get back up to its “break-even” point of 50 as evidence the market is ready for an upturn. Although 41.5 seems a reach, a couple of key RMI components are much closer: major ($25,000 plus) additions and alterations was up to 48.6, and calls for bids were also close to break-even, at 47.2.

Style and substance

If you’re feeling conservative about trends, you aren’t alone. Most dealers and distributors are playing it cautious, sticking to the tried and true: neutral tones, the best sellers in the most popular sizes. The danger in this course of action is that it makes your showroom look like all the others. How do potential customers know you are the dealer they should be doing business with? How do they know they are investing in something both stylish and classic?

There are a number of answers to that, but the bottom line is that you must add a few twists to that familiar formula. You must set yourself apart and you need to do that in design, with your industry knowledge, and in customer service. Look at the numbers. What are your best sellers? How can you expand on them? Read what Jorge Aguayo says in this issue about using art tile to supplement your best sellers – and putting it in the window as a bit of eye candy to draw in shoppers. (Whether they buy it or not, you now have them in the door!)

Once in your showroom, are you prepared to meet customer needs with a display of industry knowledge? CTDA is experiencing a significant uptick in the number of online education registrations. Pair this with the growing interest in CTDA webinars and you can assume that your competition is studying the materials and the marketplace.

It takes a lot of effort to compete successfully in today’s economy, but with TileDealer and CTDA you have some of the best tools. See you on the show floor at Coverings!

Janet Arden
Editor


Sales & Marketing: Seven Hallmarks of a Great Workplace
 
March 1st, 2011

By Norm Spitzig

What exactly makes a workplace “great?” What are the specifi c characteristics common to those very special workplaces that are universally recognized as the indisputable signs of a superior operation? If there is a more basic (or fascinating) question for a workplace and the people who inhabit it, it hasn’t been found. A workplace that successfully attains the following characteristics— whatever size it might be or industry it may be in—can proudly and accurately call itself “great.”

1. A clear mission and purpose for being
The very best workplaces in the world know—really know—who they are and what their core purpose is. They have a straightforward, concise mission statement (i.e., “who they are”) that is readily understandable and enthusiastically embraced by each and every employee. Such great workplaces have carefully identifi ed those factors critical to their long-term success (i.e., “those services and/or facilities they must do, and continue to do, exceptionally well”) as well as their specifi c vision for the future (“what our workplace will likely be in fi ve to ten years”). Great workplaces develop detailed action plans and accompanying areas of responsibility to insure that their vision for the future is more than some pie-in-thesky dream; it is concrete, actionable, measurable and (with perseverance on everyone’s part) achievable.

2. Forward thinking, creative senior management and a caring, well-trained staff
No workplace can remain superior over any meaningful period of time without quality leadership at the top as well as a caring, well-trained support staff. At great workplaces, everyone from the President/Chief Executive Offi cer to yesterday’s hire are fully committed to doing whatever it takes to insure the company’s ongoing success year-in and year-out. Equally as important, great workplaces attract people from myriad backgrounds and with varying arsenals of professional and personal skills—talents that complement and enhance each other to the benefi t of all employees as well as the customer base. At a great workplace, individuality is valued and cherished, but teamwork remains first and foremost.

3. Meaningful work
A great workplace allows—better yet, encourages—its employees to do what they deem meaningful. Of course, the term “meaningful” denotes different things to different people. What is meaningful work for a Chief Executive Officer of a multibillion dollar company may, but not necessarily, differ significantly from that of a solo entrepreneur working at home. Both can—or cannot—be genuinely viewed as meaningful work, depending on the perspectives of the individuals involved. Having said that, Malcolm Gladwell is correct when he notes in Outliers that, for most people, work is meaningful when it is sufficiently autonomous, appropriately complex, and has a perceived direct relationship between the effort invested (i.e., “time on the job”) and the accompanying return (i.e., “compensation”). Great workplaces offer their team members the opportunity for each and every employee, irrespective of their education, talents, and experiences, to consistently do what they themselves perceive as genuinely meaningful.

4. Reasonable, understandable, and uniformly enforced work rules
Great workplaces have rules and policies that are reasonable, understandable, and, perhaps most importantly, fairly and uniformly enforced. (If, for example, smoking is prohibited in the work environment, that means, plainly and simply, no one smokes: not the President, not the Chief Operating Officer, not the new dishwasher.) The rules and policies at great workplaces are neither capricious nor arbitrary. They are not written in language so arcane that anyone but a senior tax attorney can comprehend. Ideally, they are not written to prevent employees from doing something, but rather to set appropriate standards whereby all employees are assured the opportunity to maximize their potential. In short, great workplaces embrace rules and policies that reflect the core values of the workplace as well as the expectations of the employees and customers in a fair and logical manner.

5. An appropriate blending of tradition and innovation.
While great workplaces are environments where employees devote a significant amount of time to improving current products and services as well as creating new ones, they are also places where tradition and continuity are highly valued. Longstanding products and services are not whimsically eliminated to the detriment of loyal customers; rather, they are continually improved as circumstances dictate to the benefit of all concerned. At great workplaces, all are aware and proud of their company’s origins and heritage, its growth and evolution, its positive reputation in the community, its quality products and services, its mission for the present, and its vision for the future.

6. Open communication among all vested parties
Great workplaces have regular, honest communication between everyone involved with, and interested in, the long-term success of the company. Staff and customers are always kept informed of, and are encouraged to appropriately participate in, the company mission, vision, policies, and procedures as well as any significant changes under consideration. In other words, they are given adequate opportunity to convey their ideas and suggestions to company leadership. Managers at great workplaces are unwavering in their commitment to “management by walking around,” because they know that this time-tested practice promotes open communication and minimizes potential problems. Great workplaces typically have company newsletters, both electronic and print, that regularly and effectively communicate the various opportunities available to staff and customers in an accurate and timely manner.

7. Fiscal responsibility
Last, but certainly not least, great workplaces are fiscally prudent in the manner they operate. They have detailed, multi-year business plans that feature accurate income and expense projections, conservative cash flow estimates, sufficient funding for research, development, infrastructure maintenance, renovation and expansion, and realistic cash flow projections. In addition, great businesses rigorously monitor and adjust their financial plans on a regular basis and as circumstances dictate. They know exactly how much money will be required to provide the quality products and services their customers want and expect as well the specific costs associated with them. The long-term financial well-being of the workplace remains a high priority in the minds of all concerned. A great workplace, in summary, employs happy, productive and talented people who perform meaningful work compatible with the mission, vision, and financial goals of the company. It takes constant effort and vigilance to be a truly great workplace, but the end result is well worth it.

NORM SPITZIG, PRINCIPAL at Master Club Advisors, is internationally recognized as an eloquent, visionary speaker and club industry expert. His talks have been well received on six continents by numerous professional associations, individual businesses, club leaders, and civic groups. His groundbreaking book, “Perspectives on Club Management,” continues to inspire and challenge business leaders worldwide, and his newer books, “Private Clubs in America and around the World” and “Murder and Mayhem at Old Bunbury,” offer insightful and humorous looks into the private club world. Both available at www.CliveEndiveOgiveIV. com.

For more information, please contact Norm at normspitzig@hotmail.com, 1-352-735-5693, or visit www.Master- ClubAdvisors.com.


Timely and Timeless: Color Trends for 2011-2012
 
March 1st, 2011

COLOR IS AN INDEX OF CHANGE AND REPRESENTS THE MOVEMENT BETWEEN YESTERDAY AND TODAY.

The Color Association of the United States (CAUS) has been identifying these color trends since 1915. The CAUS 2011-2012 forecast for environmental and interior products refl ects constantly changing socio-economic factors, projecting a variable rather than a static palette. Manufacturers and consumers (both well aware of ongoing, rapid cultural changes) are seeking these new color perspectives. There are many intangible factors that contribute to the direction of color trends. These indicators are taken into account in determining not only which colors are trending, but also those that are established or declining.

Intangibles that influenced the 2011-2012 color forecast:

• The Economy. As always, the economy has a profound influence on the palette. Change and transition of hues is generally slower in a struggling economy, as temperance sets in. Color plays an important role during such times, as it allows us affordable pleasures.

• Sustainability. There is an emphasis on green products and a “back to basics” attitude is pervasive. The harvesting of nature’s bounty, as well as the interest surrounding raw materials, exhibit a heightened respect for nature.

• Simplicity. Streamlining has become the order of the day as we strive to simplify our lives. Techno-frustration contributes to this trend. There is increased interest in primitive design elements. Minimalism, although somewhat softened, continues.

• Cultural Hybrids. As the internet expands our worldly contact, there is a growing interest in multicultural crafts and customs. The quest for “one of a kind” has boosted cottage industries and popularized individual artisans. We see an intertwining of design inspirations and a nostalgic reinterpretation of past eras.

• The “New Luxury.” Luxury has taken on new meaning. The “new luxury” stresses the usefulness and purpose of design, honesty, refinement and natural elegance. Opulence is replaced by craft and understatement is preferred over ostentation. Straightforward design has increased appeal. Materialism is frowned upon. Status is no longer defined by the quantity of possessions, but rather by the quality of them. A “fewer but better” mentality prevails. Consumers looking for long-lasting value confirm this as they “invest in the best.”

• Optimism. While today’s values reflect a mix of optimism and skepticism, optimism is on the rebound, following a long period of sobriety

 


New From Cevisama
 
March 1st, 2011

Many of the newest offerings from Cevisama reiterate the trends the industry has been tracking for some time: large formats, glass, metallics, and the increasingly important green products. Here we take just a quick tour around the Cevisama show floor to see what’s new from just a few of the Tile of Spain branded manufacturers. Look for these manufacturers and others on the show fl oor at Coverings. Argenta offers solutions for interior and exteriors applications with the look of classic building materials. With collections such as Mandalay (shown here ) and Country, Argenta offers the design solutions of natural stone, marble and other versatile looks. Ezarri is a new exhibitor at Coverings 2011 and offering a range of recycled glass mosaic in Iris (Iridescent), Metal (Metallic), Degradado (Fading-Out) and Antideslizante (Antiskid) collections.

These collections feature a wide variety of color with possibilities of producing mixes and composition to the client´s specifications. Ezarri also has the capacity to  embed photographs into the mosaics through a screenprinting process, allowing for ever more customization.  Manufactured from 100% recycled glass, the product provides all the benefits of glass: zero water absorption, nonporous, high resistance to chemical cleaning products, frost-resistance and easy maintenance. Ezarri’s exclusive dot-mounting panelling system ´Joint-Point´ provides easy installation for the mosaic and guarantees correct adhesion to the wall. Products are ISO 14021 certified by Bureau Veritas for recycled content. Available in 1” x 1”, 1.4” x 1.4” and 2” x 2”.

Keros Ceramica will launch two new products at Coverings 2011. Personality offers the look of distressed wood (another popular trend that shows no sign of stopping), while Style emulates striated stone. These models are presented in a new, larger wall format 10” x 28” and are also available in combinations of 13” x 13” fl oor tile, 13” x 13” red body porcelain and a NanoEclectic takes the technical benefits of slim tile and applies it in fashionable flair.  larger format 20” x 20” cm. This new wall format creates benefits of modularity in design, especially in large spaces and has possibilities for use in landscaping.

With NeoCountry Apavisa takes the traditional look of stone and adds contemporary flair in a new hexagonal size. Available in grey, beige and white colors in hexagonal size and 60×60 (natural fi nish) and 30×60 in natural and bocciardato finishes, this full body porcelain features high bending resistance (61 N/mm2), frost resistance, low water absorption, stain and chemical resistance, making it a tile of choice for a number of challenging installations. With this new collection Apavisa enlarges its range of products for outdoor use. The bocciardato finish has a high anti-slip capacity with an R11 (DIN 51130) and a Class 3 (UNE-ENV 12 633) ratings. This product is also suitable for use in wet interior spaces such as indoors pools and public baths. NanoEclectic is another new offering from Apavisa’s NanoTech Collection. It is a product with the technical and static advantages of porcelain tiles, but with just 4.8 mm. nominal thickness. NanoEclectic takes the technical benefi ts of slim tile and applies it in fashionable flair. The collection includes four color groups: Copper, Black, White and Mojave and a variety of textures, finishes and formats.


Innovations & Insight
 
March 1st, 2011

New products and insight from the tiling industry

CUSTOM BUILDING PRODUCTS: PERFORMANCE IN A LIGHTWEIGHT EPOXY GROUT
Custom Building Products announces its CEG-Lite™ Commercial Epoxy Grout, a lightweight 100 percent solids epoxy grout. Formulated with CustomLite® Technology, CEG-Lite represents a major breakthrough in epoxy technology, delivering the high stain and chemical resistance professionals expect, combined with handling characteristics and versatility that far surpass other epoxy grouts. CEG-Lite Commercial Epoxy Grout is formulated with the same recycled content found in Custom’s other lightweight setting and grout materials, making it the fi rst 100 percent solids epoxy grout that contributes to LEED certifi cation based on recycled content. CustomLite’s lightweight recycled aggregate gives CEG-Lite a smoother, creamier consistency that fl ows easily into grout joints and works effectively on vertical applications without additives. “CEG-Lite works on vertical joints without additives that can typically create a stiff, tar-like consistency that is fatiguing and frustrating to work with. CEG-Lite is so easy to use, many tile professionals are considering it for countertops, bathrooms and other non-traditional applications,” said Tom Carroll, product manager, Custom Building Products. It is colorfast, delivers uniform color, and can be used for horizontal or vertical grout joints ranging in size from 1/2-inch down to 1/16-inch, without sagging or slumping. Because of its high strength and extreme resistance to acids, alkalies, solvents and other chemicals, CEG-Lite is ideal for heavy-duty applications such as chemical or food processing plants, or locations such as restaurants and hospitals that maintain clinical sanitation with harsh cleaning methods that can erode mortar and grout joints. CEG-Lite exceeds ANSI 118.3, and can be used with virtually any type of tile including ceramic, porcelain, glass, mosaic, Saltillo, brick, pavers, natural stone and even green marble. www.custombuildingproducts.com

ILVA S.A. RESTRUCTURES U.S. SALES
Ilva S.A., Argentina’s leading manufacturer and exporter of worldclass ceramic and porcelain tile, has announced major changes at several key sales positions throughout the Eastern and Southern United States. Drew Giungo a seasoned factory representative and tile industry veteran, is the top sales contact for Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and Washington, DC. Giungo comes to Ilva S.A. from Stonepeak Ceramics. Over the years, he has held similar posts at American Olean (Dal- Tile), Richetti, Conestoga Tile Company and Marble & Granite Concepts. Giungo is a graduate of the University of New Haven in New Haven, CT. Giungo takes over the sales agent position from Gary Thorp, who has handled Northeast sales for over a decade. Thorp’s distributorship, Heartland Tile located in Moorestown, New Jersey, will continue to function as a major Ilva distributor.

Jim Caron has been contracted as Ilva’s sales agent Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Kansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina and Florida. Prior to joining Ilva S.A., Caron worked within the industry as a technical and architectural representative writing specifi cations and creating and facilitating continued education programs for architects, designers and engineers. Caron is a certified member of the AIA, CSI and the United States Green Building Council (USGBC).

HEART PINE WOOD-LOOK IN HD GLAZED PORCELAIN
Mediterranea tile design artisans have used advanced digital inkjet graphic design technology to fl awlessly recreate a series of glazed porcelain tile that precisely mirrors the classic look of the fi rst-generation heart pine timber used to build America. The Heart Pine collection of fully-rectifi ed glazed porcelain tile has been made possible with the elevated design capabilities now offered through Mediterranea’s exclusive Dynamic HD Imaging™ program. With advanced software and superior inkjet transfer capabilities, Mediterranea has produced Heart Pine with stunning accuracy, showcasing the true-to-life details and characteristics of this iconic hardwood now in limited supply. This new design program allows Mediterranea to quite literally select the most beautiful planks and surface textures, transfer these to porcelain tile with precision, and do it in a way that ensures Heart Pine’s unique integrity with an almost limitless ability to prevent repetitive tile designs. Mediterranea’s glazed porcelain tile in the perfect likeness of this prized heartwood helps to preserve the species and protect the long leaf pine forests once found in uncommon abundance from Virginia to Texas. With the Heart Pine collection, Mediterranea has not only made a contribution to tile design, but also taken real action in their efforts to preserve the environment. In addition, Mediterranea has helped promote the future balance of our world ecology by allowing the Heart Pine specie more time to heal and grow by providing homeowners, as well as architects and designers, with an exact replica in an easy to maintain series of glazed porcelain tile. Produced in the U.S. with recycled content for contributions to LEED and LEED for Homes building, Heart Pine is offered in one standard, 6” x 24” plank-sized format reminiscent of its storied past in American history.
www.mediterranea-usa.com

BALLAVITA’S BOTSWANA SERIES
The shimmering light refl ecting off the slate and glass in Bellavita Tile’s Botswana series evokes the feelings of sunrise over the Okavango Savannah. Sandy earth, gray stone, green grasses, white clouds in the sky – Botswana’s magic is created for residential and commercial walls through the art of mosaic tile. The Botswana series comes in six colorways: Makgadi White (shown right), Chobe Earth, Okavango Savannah, Mashatu Gold, Nxai Sand and Savute Night. The mosaic pattern is fashioned by combining 1” x 1”, 1” x 2” and 2” x 2” tiles on a 12” x 12” sheet. Bellavita Tile is the brand name for ceramic and glass tiles manufactured by DM Tile Connection, Inc. The U.S.-based supplier offers an amazing array of glass, metal and ceramic mosaic tiles. The company provides a full range of residential and commercial glazed and unglazed porcelain tiles. All of the products are produced in China using the most state-of-the-art technologies and innovative designs developed in Europe. www.bellavitatile.com.

UPDATES TO “UNDERSTANDING THE BASICS OF CERAMIC TILE”
The University of Ceramic Tile and Stone (UofCTS) has released a new updated version of its popular online course, “Understanding the Basics of Ceramic Tile.” The course offers an up-to-date comprehensive look at the ceramic tile industry covering everything from Industry Standards, Usage and Applications, Installation Methods, Products and Design, Care and Maintenance, and Sales Techniques. “Understanding the Basics of Ceramic Tile” has been created with salespeople, installers and design professionals in mind as well as business owners. The course is available online which makes it very cost effective for companies to train employees and customers. There are no travel expenses or lost productivity and it is accessible wherever there is an internet connection. Students can logon 24/7 and can set their own pace. One of the main themes throughout the course is that knowledge equals sales. For example, the more a salesperson knows about the product, the easier it will be to communicate the benefi ts or drawbacks to the customer. The more information a customer has, the more he or she is likely to make an intelligent decision, thereby avoiding false expectations and potential problems. Ultimately, training your sales force leads to more sales and more profi t for the company. To see a video preview of the “Understanding the Basics of Ceramic Tile” online training course and others visit the www. CTaSC.com website found on the online training courses page. In addition, UofCTS has updated the Ceramic Tile Distributors Association (CTDA) online course, “CTDA Online: Understanding the Basics of Ceramic Tile.” CTDA offers a special price for its members. Visit www.CTDAhome.org for details.

GLASS TILE DIAMOND CUTTING BLADE
Concord Diamond Tools has announced their smaller grit, cutting edge “Super Sharp Professional Glass Tile Blade” model CWG, now available to the professional user. Leslie Derrig of Concord comments, “Tile cutters who have been cutting glass and glass tiles have been requesting a blade that will produce a smoother and faster cut. The 120/150 grit blades were generating a slightly rough edge, and the users required a more fl awless edge. We are using a diamond that has a 100/120 grit, which has exceeded the new requirements of the cutter. This blade allows a considerably faster cut and a much smoother and cleaner outcome. ” The CWG blade comes in 3 sizes, 7”, 8” and 10” with a segment height from .06” to .065”, segment width of 8 mm and an arbor of 7/8” to 5/8” and can be used for tiles, porcelain and glass. Concord manufactures the CRS Continuous Rim Blade and the CRJ Continuous Rim “J-Slot” Tile Blade for use in cutting Porcelain, Quarry Tiles, Ceramic Tiles, Hard Stone, Marble & Granite. Both of these blades can be used wet or dry. www.concorddiamondtools.com

FLORIM OBTAINS ISO 14001 AND BS OHSAS 18001 CERTIFICATIONS
Florim Ceramiche has obtained the prestigious UNI EN ISO 14001 and BS OHSAS 18001 certifications from the TÜV, certifying the company’s constant commitment to environmental conservation and to the health and safety of its workers. Voluntary ISO 14001 certification testifies that the company complies with a set of procedures encoded at an International level, aimed at improving the internal environmental management system. OHSAS 18001 (Occupational Health & Safety Assessment Series) is an international benchmark for certifying a management system oriented towards health and safety in the workplace. Florim is the fi rst Italian ceramics company to obtain this important award, which confirms its constant commitment to its workers. These certifications have been achieved because the firm strives to reconcile quality with efficiency and productivity, while respecting the environment, the social fabric in which the company operates and the health and safety of the workers. www.florim.it

ACOUSTICAL SOLUTIONS TO DISTRIBUTE COLLECTION OF FLOOR SOUNDPROOFING MATERIALS
Acoustical Solutions, Inc. will distribute a collection of floor underlayment soundproofing products designed to work with almost any type of flooring material. The collection includes QuietTile, a sound-damping adhesive for use on tile floors and walls in bathrooms, kitchens, foyers, living rooms and bedrooms; QuietFoam, a foam underlayment designed to reduce footfall and other impact noise on hardwood and tile floors; and QuietPad, a fl oor underlayment specially designed to reduce impact noise in high-rise concrete construction. “Soundproofing the fl oor is essential in almost any structure because so much vibration exists there, and vibration is sound,” said Dave Ingersoll, national sales manager at Acoustical Solutions. “That’s why this collection is so exciting, because it allows us to tackle any acoustical flooring issue.” www.AcousticalSolutions.com

TWO INTRODUCTIONS FROM LATICRETE LATICRETE
has announced the launch of new LATICRETE® SpectraLOCK ® PRO Premium Grout with enhanced StainProof protection and non-sag performance for durable, easier to maintain tile grout joints that offer lasting beauty. With all of the same great features of LATICRETE SpectraLOCK PRO Grout including the unmatched consistency in color, strength and extraordinary ease of use, LATICRETE SpectraLOCK PRO Premium Grout never requires sealing for interior and exterior tile grout applications on both floors and walls. Advanced StainProof protection makes grout joints easier to maintain than ever before. With the improved nonsag performance and superior workability, LATICRETE SpectraLOCK PRO Premium Grout offers fast, problemfree installations and beautiful flush tile grout joints. Available in 40 Lifestyle Colors and 220 Dazzle options, LATICRETE SpectraLOCK PRO Premium Grout provides design fl exibility with vibrant, consistent color that can be cleaned back to its original shade. Equipped with Microban® antimicrobial protection to inhibit the growth of staincausing mold and mildew, LATICRETE SpectraLOCK PRO Premium Grout can be used for commercial and residential tile designs including swimming pools, fountains and other permanent wet areas. It is also ideal for regrouting projects. SpectraLOCK PRO Premium Grout is GREENGUARD® certified low VOC and can contribute points toward LEED and LEED for Homes certification. LATICRETE SpectraLOCK PRO Premium Grout exceeds ANSI A118.3 strength requirements and is backed for peace of mind by the LATICRETE Lifetime System Warranty. In other company news, LATICRETE ® has also launched Glass Tile Adhesive, a one-step polymer-fortified adhesive mortar that’s been specifi cally formulated for glass tile applications. LATICRETE Glass Tile Adhesive features a consistent, ultra-white color that can be mixed on-site by adding water to produce a smooth, creamy thin-set with superior non-sag characteristics. LATICRETE Glass Tile Adhesive is approved for any type of glass tile on fl oors or walls in interior or exterior applications, including continuous submersion and other water features. LATICRETE Glass Tile Adhesive offers superior color consistency and nonsag performance when designing with glass or glass mosaic tiles. LATICRETE Glass Tile Adhesive has been equipped with Microban® antimicrobial product protection to inhibit the growth of staincausing mold and bacteria, and has been certified low VOC by the GREENGUARD ® Environmental Institute for contributions to LEED or LEED for Homes building projects. LATICRETE Glass Tile Adhesive does not require additives or admix for any type of glass tile application AND exceeds applicable ANSI A118.4 and ANSI A118.11 bond strength requirements without the need for special additives. www.laticrete.com.

NTCA PICKS WADFORD
The National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), the largest tile contractors association in the world, has elected Nyle Wadford of Neuse Tile as its new President for the 2010- 2012 term. He was elected to serve as the Association’s New President during the very successful Total Solutions Plus Conference which took place this past November in Naples, Florida. Wadford will replace John Cox, who served as president from 2008-2010. Wadford has been in the tile industry since he “helped out” on installations when he was in grade school. After hauling many mud buckets and being on job-site meetings since then, he now is the primary commercial estimator and technical expert for Neuse Tile Service in Youngsville, NC. He has always valued learning from others in the industry and has been instrumental in the company’s active participation in trade associations. A member of NTCA for over 25 years, Neuse Tile Service has received both local and national recognition for its tile work and unselfi sh industry contributions. Nyle became the company’s president in 1987 and was joined by his sister, Paige, in 1995, who became vice president. Today, the two run the company with the same level of high integrity as their father did, before they took over the reins. As Vice Chairman of the NTCA’s Technical Committee; a Handbook Committee Member of the Tile Council of North America; and Vice Chairman of the ANSI ASC A108 Committee, Wadford has played an active role in shaping the direction of the NTCA for several years. He will now oversee the Executive Committee and Board of Directors, while working directly with the staff to ensure the goals of the NTCA are implemented during his two-year term. www.tileassn.com.

WARMSTONES
Tagina Ceramiche D’arte customizes any kind of living space with the warmth of the stone Warmstones has actually the same matter character of stone, with its hardness and its consistency, but it is warmed by the nine chromatic variations in which are available, shades that space from a fi ery red, to the dense chocolate to arrive to a golden sand or a black that seems velvet. Warmstones is made both for the residential and business sector, able to adapt itself to many different situations, from classic furnishings, or to modern This collection by Tagina Ceramiche D’arte enables unprecedented compositional freedom, thanks to the numerous sizes available. Warmstones counts 11 different sizes, including various listels, to create play of shades and sizes. The excellent price suits buyers who are looking to the economic side of the project. www.ghenos.net

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