Leadership Letter: Get Out!
 
July 1st, 2011

Ryan Calkins

As a CTDA board member and officer, I’ve had the chance to speak with many of our industry leaders about business and life. In those conversations, I’ve noticed a few traits that all successful leaders share. One characteristic is that the most successful business leaders in our industry make time to get away from their businesses. They take vacations. They attend conferences. And they go out and find new opportunity, rather than waiting for it to knock on their door.

Time away serves a number of purposes. First, it allows you to look at the whole business—the high-altitude perspective, so to speak. When you are immersed in the day-to-day operations of your business, it is simply not possible to take in the whole picture. The demands of AR or customer needs or next month’s marketing plan overwhelm the less urgent but much more important long term planning. Second, time away requires that your employees step up and take care of the shop while you are gone. Third, time away provides new perspectives on how to run your business. If all you ever see is how things are done in your neck of the woods, how are you ever going to get the inspiration to innovate your business in a way that makes you more competitive, more profi table, and more valuable to your customers? Finally, time away includes the conferences, exhibitions, and trade missions that create and strengthen relationships, reveal new opportunities, and educate you on the latest trends.

One essential event is the revamped Total Solutions Plus conference, which takes place each year in late fall. This year, TSP will be held on November 7-11 in Chandler, Arizona, at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort. TSP 2011 builds on last year’s highly lauded gathering of the CTDA, the Tile Council of North America, and the National Tile Contractors Association. As always, there will be ample time to network with other industry leaders in formal and informal settings, as well as educational sessions on pressing topics for the tile business (e.g. Donato Grosser’s report on changes in ceramic tile distribution, a session on navigating new customs regulations, and the latest on green building standards from Bill Griese). And this year’s keynote speaker is one we will all be talking about for years to come. Marcus Luttrell, a former Navy SEAL and the sole survivor of Operation Redwing, will share his inspiring story of extreme courage and overcoming impossible odds.

If you haven’t already, please visit CTDAhome.org to sign up for Total Solutions Plus 2011.

Ryan Calkins
CTDA President

One final note. The CTDA community is mourning the loss of a dear friend and colleague. Ronald Gilmartin of Design Materials, Inc. in San Antonio, Texas passed away in June.


Stone Tile Trends
 
July 1st, 2011

by Kathleen Furore

The Stone Age has returned. And that’s good news for tile dealers looking to get a leg up on competitors and boost profits in the process. “We are in the Stone Age again,” says Donato Pompo, owner of Ceramic Tile and Stone Consultants (www.CTaSC.com), founder of the University of Ceramic Tile and Stone, chairman of the CTDA’s Education Committee and a Floor Covering Institute consultant. “Most everyone either wants stone or something that looks like stone. To be competitive, dealers have to offer both natural stone and stone-like ceramic tile to supply the demand and be successful.”

Products featured at the Surfaces 2011 and Coverings 2011 shows underscore stone’s resurgence. Vinyls that mimic the look of stone, and paint that creates stone’s texture and appearance are two examples Pompo cites. “At Coverings, almost every manufacturer was using the latest digital ink jet technology to produce ceramic tile that looks like an authentic stone,” he says. “They emulate stone so well that even I have trouble telling that it isn’t a stone without having to get on my hands and knees to look!”

Profit Potential
So why should dealers offer a variety of stone in their showrooms? The answer is simple for George Feldman, president of Petra Direct (www. petradirect.com), a trade partner with D&B Tile Distributors (www.dbtile.com) headquartered in Sunrise, Fla. “Money—there’s no other reason,” Feldman says. “It sells easily and installs easily. And since it accounts for 25 percent of the market, if you don’t carry it you’re losing all the customers who want stone.” The bottom line benefits are a plus. “Stone is generally much more profitable for the dealer. In general, stone sells for about $6 or more per square foot compared to average ceramic tile that sells for about $3 per square foot,” Pompo reports. “If your margin was 25 percent on your products, would you rather make 25 percent of $3 ($0.75) or 25 percent of $6 ($1.50) for the same amount of effort?”

What’s Hot
With so many stone products available, dealers can build an inventory that appeals to customers’ diverse design preferences and budgets. Granite remains a hit, especially for countertops, thanks to its durability and resistance to damage from acids and chemicals. It also comes in a wide array of color options, making it a versatile choice for dealers to carry. Betty Sullivan, president of Architectural Ceramics, Inc. (www.architecturalceramics.net) —a company with stores in Baltimore, Bethesda and Rockville, Md., and Alexandria and Falls Church, Va.—agrees granite is still popular. But she sees customers “going more exotic and using all different stone with their countertops.

“People are using stones like Zebrano [glazed porcelain tile reminiscent of zebrawood, produced by Cerim Ceramiche],” she says. “The most popular stone in residential applications right now is Carrera in the lightest [color] available, while Calcutta Gold [Marble] is the most popular for people with deeper pockets.” Pompo says limestone is favored in higher-end homes, with travertine the choice for price-conscious homeowners. “Slate, sandstone and quartzite seem more popular for exterior applications where slipresistance is needed,” he adds.

Although rustic, earthy-looking tumbled stones continue selling well, their popularity is waning as products with clean, straight edges gain ground, according to Steve Vogel, executive vice-president of Conestoga Tile (www.conestogatile.com), a wholesale ceramic tile and stone distributor operating in central Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and Washington, D.C. “Also, lineal looks are gaining more and more favor whether they are in the form of mosaics or rectangle-shaped tile.”

Color-wise, Sullivan reports that gray, taupe and white stone dominate. Vermont Danby, a white stone with taupe and black veining, and Alabama stone, which is white with small, cloudy grey touches, are two favorite domestic stones, she says. The “latest big thing” Pompo sees are composite tiles made of a porcelain base laminated with a 1/8-inch thin layer of real natural stone. These hybrids, also known as compound tiles, are priced at approximately $7 per square foot at retail, Pompo says. Engineered stone—a type of composite made of approximately 90 percent quartz mixed with resin—is one of the most promising items to hit the stone tile market, Feldman notes. “Mixed with polymers, this new stone can be used in residential and commercial applications and installs easily,” he says.

Education is Key
Offering stone will help attract new customers. But closing a sale can be challenging, which makes some tile dealers hesitant to stock stone. “Some dealers are afraid to sell stone because they don’t understand it,” says Pompo. “The key is to educate customers and employees alike about the tradeoffs so they know the features and benefits, and don’t get false expectations.” Stone’s high-maintenance reputation, for example, can turn some customers off right away. It must be sealed initially, and resealed regularly, to prevent staining. And since acids can damage most natural stone, special ph-neutral stone cleaners are recommended. “Stone requires maintenance, some stones more than others, depending on its application and what type of traffic and climactic conditions it is subjected to,” Pompo explains. “But many stones are very durable and perform well in many applications. Unlike ceramic tile, if it chips it is the same material so it won’t be a distraction and it can be repaired.” And as Feldman points out, technology has made stone easier than ever to maintain. “There are products on the market to help seal and maintain stone floors. Customers just need to be educated first—then it is easy,” he says. One of those products is Q-Seal™ (www.q-seal.com), a permanent, factory-applied sealer baked into tiles before installation. It is guaranteed for life to prevent the effects of water and stains, and to never need resealing, Feldman says.

Stone’s physical properties and performance also vary greatly. Granite, for example, is not uniform in pattern or color—something customers should know before they buy. “A particular geological “Most everyone either wants stone or something that looks like stone.” Feature 24 TileDealer July/August 2011 classification of one type of stone from the same quarry can vary significantly from one part of the quarry compared to another, so it is important the buyers purchase stone from reliable suppliers who have verified each stone meets the minimum/ maximum ASTM requirements for its category,” Pompo explains. “Customers who want a uniform look should not use stone unless they are willing to purchase more than they need,” Sullivan cautions. Explaining all of stone’s nuances is important—otherwise consumers develop false expectations about the product they’re purchasing and ultimately become unhappy, Pompo says. “Make sure the stone they select is suitable for the intended application. The dealer has to make sure their supplier is testing their stone and providing them with data sheets explaining the recommendations and limitations,” he adds. “They [suppliers] should provide installation guidelines for various applications,” as well.

Tile dealers also should merchandise stone in creative ways. Pompo suggests displaying the full range of options available in current inventory, and offering pictures of stone in different applications to stimulate sales. “Pictures of projects that combine different types and sizes of stone and those that mix stone with glass and ceramic tile can show how to create a custom look, Pompo explains.

Ultimately, says Vogel, it is all about telling stone’s story. “The only way a dealer can tell that story about natural stone is if they understand the product themselves. Know where it is from, how nature made it, its limitations, how it’s quarried and prepared for the market,” he concludes.


One-on-One with Steve Taylor
 
July 1st, 2011

Custom Building Products, the 50-year-old Los Angeles based maker of ceramic tile installation products, continually seeks ways to reduce its environmental impact. Director of Technical Marketing Steve Taylor reports that with the introduction of the company’s Emerald System, Custom Building Products has taken action to not only make green compliance simpler, but to move forward on CO2 emission reduction. The Emerald System takes Custom Building Products’ longstanding Build Green program to the next level, Taylor says. All Emerald System products comply with green building agency standards, and all boast recycled material content and low Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) content. Because they are engineered to minimize their energy footprint, they also comply with major green building initiatives: American National Standards Institute (ANSI), California Green Building Standards Code (CALGreen) and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). Environmental consciousness is nothing new for Custom. Being a SoCal-based company has been an advantage, Taylor says. In the 1960s, California took note of pollution and began regulating VOC compounds. Custom grew up at the same time that these and other regulations were being implemented, helping make it an early adopter of an environmentallyaware philosophy, he adds. For almost a decade, Custom has used pre- and post-consumer recycled materials in its tile and stone installation product manufacturing processes. No fewer than 100 of the company’s building products help contribute to LEED Certification in at least one of several categories. Recently, Taylor talked with TileDealer about the company’s green building philosophy and how Custom Building Products develops new products. Taylor also addresses how the company undertook its intriguing new initiative involving carbon offset credits, and the ways in which it intends to extend and Director of Technical Marketing Steve Taylor reports that with the introduction of the company’s Emerald System, Custom Building Products has taken action to not only make green compliance simpler, but to move forward on CO2 emission reduction. refine its lines of surface preparation, bonding and grouting products.

TileDealer: Please discuss your green building products.
Nearly all of Custom’s products are considered green and qualify for LEED in one of four categories: regional materials, recycled content, low VOC adhesive, low VOC coatings. Some of the better known products include PolyBlend Grout, VersaBond Thinset mortar and LevelQuick self-leveling underlayment, extensively utilized by tile installers.

TD: What is Custom’s green building philosophy.
Being a California-based company, we have always been concerned with the environment. Southern California has always had one of the strictest VOC and emission standards. Custom is concerned with the environment and strives to supply the industry with safe, non-polluting products. We established 11 manufacturing sites across North America to reduce transportation and natural resources consumption. All our facilities are conscious of waste, and employees there do everything they can to reduce energy consumption and the generation of waste to landfills. Dust and water from our processes are recycled back into the process. For the most part, all of this is done on our own. For instance, there are no regulations requiring us to be close to our customers and suppliers. These are things we decided to do on our own to eliminate waste and cost.

TD: How is Custom Building Products developing new products for that market?
At Custom, we all work together to develop new products. Teams with personnel from marketing, R&D and sales evaluate the needs of our customers and formulate plans to fill these needs with new products. Our R&D staff of 40 people works on developing and thoroughly testing these new products to assure successful launch.

TD: What new products are in the pipeline?
Our most recent introductions are our CEG-Lite epoxy grout, an easy to use product that contains recycled content and is part of the Emerald System. We also introduced SpiderWeb uncoupling mat. The Tile Council of North America recognizes that there are some instances that require the use of an uncoupling membrane. We recognized there was a hole in our product offering. The result is SpiderWeb. There are situations in which floors can’t be installed without using an uncoupling mat, which basically uncouples the tile installation from the sub-floor, so if there’s movement in the sub-floor, it doesn’t crack the tile. For a tile installation, concrete normally requires 28 days to cure before tile can be laid. SpiderWeb allows the tile to be set in as little as three days.

TD: How do you anticipate this category will evolve over the future?
Tile and stone are very desirable decorative covering materials. We believe the demand will continue to grow and we will see new products. Many of the newest tile products have also incorporated a green focus and sustainability. Ultra thin tile is an example. This tile is only three mm thick and requires less energy to produce and transport. New tiles like this require new installation products and methods. We plan to make sure that as new tile products are developed, there will be an installation method for them.

TD: You just took on an interesting initiative with carbon offset credits. Can you explain the Emerald System products?
There is so much confusion around green standards — LEED, IgCC (pending), CalGreen, GreenSquared (pending) — that we decided to take the confusion out. We’re watching these standards being developed and want to make sure we have products in place once the standards are approved. We identified products that will qualify for any of these standards and guaranteed that using Emerald System Products will meet the standard and qualify as green. We also wanted to take this one step further and offer carbon offset credits for installations that use a full line of green products. Right now, the Emerald System covers all phases: preparing the surface, setting or bonding tile to the floor, and grouting products.

TD: What made you pursue this tactic?
We wanted to offer more than the traditional recycled content and low VOC in the Emerald System. We have local manufacturing and use regional raw materials. So what else can we do? Many of our products contain Portland cement. Portland cement is the largest producer of greenhouse gases, outside of electrical energy production and transportation. We cannot eliminate use of Portland cement, but we could offset the greenhouse gases emitted during its manufacture. This is one more step to reducing worldwide pollution. In the rest of the world it’s not a choice, it’s a mandate to reduce greenhouse gases. What an offset credit says is if there’s nothing we can do to reduce the greenhouse gases in the manufacturing of our product or the raw materials we use, we can help reduce emissions of greenhouses gases elsewhere, i.e., building a windmill that’s producing electricity, which shuts down a coal-fired energy producer.

TD: How has it been received?
Many of our customers like the idea of reducing greenhouse gases. They see this as a positive attribute for the products. Since this is targeted to large commercial projects, time will tell the value. We’re sort of monitoring the whole thing. We’ve reached out to our field representatives who call on the architects. The trouble is that when an architect designs a building, there’s a year delay between that and the time it gets built, so they wouldn’t recommend any materials until a year later. So we would not see any transactions until then.

TD: Do you anticipate doing this in the manufacture of other setting materials?
There have been discussions concerning the addition of other tile installation products to the Emerald System. As we see the need, we will offer carbon offset credits with more products.

TD: If developers are using these carbon credits, what is their gain?
Developers using the full Emerald System of products, including grouts and mortars, for their tile installation will not only receive up to a lifetime warranty on the installation, they will receive a certifi cate showing the tons of CO2 greenhouse gas they removed from our atmosphere. This can be applied to LEED for credit under the innovation contribution. As more communities adopt Cap-and-Trade limitations for greenhouse gases, obtaining carbon offset credits will be an important step toward attaining the greenhouse gas reductions required.

TD: Your products comply with all major green building initiatives. How long has it taken the company to comply with all these?
We are involved with many of the committees developing the green standards. By constantly reviewing the drafts during the standards development, we can see that our formulas are modified as needed to meet proposed standards. It’s one of those evolving situations. We see things developing we need to address and respond quickly.

TD: Were you yourself always environmentally conscious, or did that develop over time?
I’ve been with Custom for 21 years, and in building materials for 35. I hate to admit it, but I’m a product of the 1960s. There were a lot of tree huggers back then, and I’ve always had an interest in the environment. Being so long in California, where Los Angeles had the worst pollution in the world in the 1960s, it was always, “How can we develop products with no VOCs and solvents?” We were always concerned with making solvent-based products water-based. I just kind of hit the ground running.

TD: What’s ahead for Custom Building Products?
We envision that we will be the green leaders for tile installation products. We will continue to refine and extend our lines of surface preparation, bonding and grouting products that meet the requirements of the green community. We will also position our cleaners and sealers as environmentally sustainable.

SOURCE: Steve Taylor, director of technical marketing Custom Building Products, Los Angeles stevet@cbpmail.net 562-296-9569


Who Needs Training and Why?
 
July 1st, 2011

Industry Education Gives Your Company a Competitive Advantage

Continuing education to keep up-to-date with the way things are, rather than the way things were, is a fact of modern life. This could not be truer in today’s tile and stone industry. Everyone who wants to stay ahead of the competition and take advantage of new marketplace opportunities needs to leverage the latest industry information, a.k.a., industry education. The tile and stone industry has a number of excellent education and training resources. Because some of the biggest challenges are fitting training into our budgets and schedules, there are a number of cost-and time-effective training options available.

Instructor led or traditional classroom training is most familiar. It allows interaction between teacher and student, as well as discussion among students. This is also the most effective way to deliver hands-on training, where the student is required to complete tasks in simulated real world environments. It’s also a costly delivery method due to travel and lodging expenses in combination with the loss of productivity due to time away from work. (According to Bersin & Associations, in 2009 as much as 40 cents of every dollar spent on training was spent on travel and lodging.) That’s why many professionals leverage classroom offerings that are part of a larger industry event, like Coverings or Total Solutions Plus.

E-learning uses web-based programs on the Internet. Online training can be either synchronous, where the learners and instructor meet at the same time in a virtual setting, or asynchronous, at one’s own pace. Synchronous training is typically done through webinars, which allow for live two-way communication between instructor and student. It is also used as web conferencing, where teacher and students can meet, or student groups can collaborate. CTDA maximizes this format in monthly webinars that allow companies to sign up as many individuals as they would like from one location making it even more cost effi cient.

Asynchronous training allows the student to login 24/7 to take a course at their own pace. In addition to cost benefi ts, online training respects today’s busy work schedules, as it can often be completed at any time or place (with exception to synchronous webinar training) as long as there is a computer with an internet connection. Online training also means employees don’t miss work or any opportunities to sell their products. According to ASTD, in 2009, 36.5% of learning was technology based.

Mobile learning (mLearning) that takes place through a device such as a phone or iPad is increasingly common although many of us are not even aware that we are doing it. Every time we Google from a phone, text 411 to get a phone number, text someone a question, or use a social media platform from our phone, we are taking part in the mobile learning phenomenon. The fact that much online training can also be completed on a mobile device makes it the most convenient way for people to learn on the go. Currently, technology is trying to “catch up” so that the traditional eLearning courses are accessible on all mobile device platforms, but for now there are still some limitations.

All of these training mediums have their benefi ts and drawbacks, which is why a blended learning approach is considered to be the most effective way for someone to learn. Blended learning is a combination of online and instructor-led training, which harnesses the benefits of both types of training in order to maximize knowledge transfer to the student.

Options in the tile industry
The University of Ceramic Tile and Stone (UofCTS) has been providing industry training since 2002, with flagship courses on ceramic tile and stone training, as well as an upcoming course for tile installers on thin-set application. Tile and stone courses are designed to teach sales reps, installers, designers, and architects all of the many facets of tile and stone. With an emphasis in consultative sales techniques, these courses are popular among distributors and dealers who not only utilize them to train their sales organizations how to maximize every sales opportunity, but to train their customers so they can sell more of their products.

The upcoming thin-set installation course will teach industry standards and proper techniques for thin-set applications for all types of tiles. This course is for all industry installers whose goal is to limit liability and reduce the likelihood of failures.

The UofCTS also develops private labeled eLearning content for companies who need training on specific products. UofCTS offers a fully functional LMS online campus for providing self-paced or live courses. The Ceramic Tile Distributors Association (CTDA) offers UofCTS online training courses to their members at a significant discount through their CTDA Online Education program.

These courses help CTDA members to increase revenue by making their employees more effective at their jobs, and at a reduced price, further increasing the benefit to CTDA members. CTDA members can log onto the CTDA website for more information and to purchase these courses. CTDA also offers the Certified Ceramic Tile Salesperson (CCTS) program, the only certification designed specifically for salespeople.

CTDA’s monthly webinar series features industry experts who present information on various industry specific topics as well as general subjects such as economics, business, and how to increase sales. Webinars are archived so CTDA members can watch them at their convenience at a reduced price. NTCA offers hands-on symposiums, training seminars, customized training programs, and a library of training manuals, books and videos. The symposiums are fast-paced technical presentations hosted by NTCA’s director of training and education as well as by industry experts. The training manuals, books, and videos cover a wide variety of construction and installation topics and are available for purchase on the NTCA website.

In addition, NTCA plans to provide their members with privately branded UofCTS training courses. The Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) specializes in standards-based installation training and certification that covers installation techniques and best practices. They provide hands-on and lecture-based training to many industry segments with an overall goal of raising the quality of ceramic tile installation.

MIA offers a blend of educational offerings, from instructor-led to online webinars. MIA, in conjunction with Stone World Magazine, offers stone industry education events on topics from fabrication to installation and marketing. They also offer free webinars to MIA members on topics such as website optimization, employment practice liability, and making money in a tough economy. MIA also offers a wide variety of DVD training available in their online store.

International Industry E-Learning Academy (IIEA), sponsored by Italian Association for Machines for Ceramic Tile (ACIMAC), is an Italian company that develops and sells technical and business e-learning courses on an LMS platform for the global industry. UofCTS is representing IIEA in North America and will soon be offering online training for ceramic tile manufacturers and others within the industry.

There are other options for training and education in our industry such as Fred Jackson with Estudio Group, who provides instructor-led training on various subjects such as ceramic tile and stone basics, care and maintenance, and green issues. In addition, there are other online and instructor-led training providers in our industry as well as a plethora of “how to” videos on YouTube and even forums like John Bridge’s Ceramic Tile Advice Forum, where you can post questions and give advice to others.

Education should be proactive, not reactive. With the current state of the economy and no significant shortterm improvement in sight, it is up to us to improve ourselves and give our businesses a competitive advantage to increase our opportunities and our income. We are fortunate to have so many training options that are tailored to what we do, designed by people who are in this industry and who are passionate about training in order to better our industry. Those who take advantage of these resources are the ones who will truly thrive.

JOSEPH L. RUSS is Director of E-Learning and Training Director for the UofCTS, responsible for new course development and the creation of customized courses. Russ is chief administrator of the Learning Management System (LMS), the educational technology behind the University, and manages business development and client relations.

 

Learning opportunities at Total Solutions Plus
When Total Solutions Plus convenes late this fall, attendees will have a wide selection of seminars and presentations to help keep them “in the know” about the latest tile and business trends. Here’s just a sampling of what to expect:

  •  Robin Grove: Challenges Dealing with Customs on Import Issues
  •  Bill Griese: Understanding Tile’s Role in Green Building
  •  NTCA: Glass Tile Installations and Demonstrations
  •  NTCA Training Director Gerald Sloan, along with highly acclaimed glass tile installation experts Greg Andrews and David Palmer.
  •  Josh Levinson and Greg Mowat: Exploring The Science of Natural Stone Tile Installations
  •  Shauna Causey: Designing a Website That Will Market Your Business and Increase Sales
  •  Josh Levinson, Nyle Wadford and James Woelfel: Using Installation Standards in Sales and Installation of Ceramic Tile and Natural Stone

For details, please follow the link at www.ctdahome.org


Editor’s Desk: Learning as a survival skill
 
July 1st, 2011

by Janet Arden

Janet Arden

If there are lessons to be learned from the current economy, one is that change is a constant and we need to adapt – to new business models, new customers, new materials. Another is that some basics – like customer service – never go out of vogue. Make sure your customer cannot get the same attention from a website as she can from your showroom. This issue of TileDealer is all about giving you the tools you need to succeed.

Lesson 1: The devil is in the showroom details
When we first talked about this issue’s feature on showrooms we anticipated a look at the latest display ideas, some tips on new lighting techniques, etc. But, when Zoe Voigt started talking to dealers and distributors with successful showrooms to see what/how they had done in the recent lean years, we learned a lot more.

Know your business, your products and your customers. This means staying on top of trends, understanding where you fit in your marketplace and identifying what your end users are interested in. Are they trendy? Budget conscious? Green? More than one distributor talked about the importance of customer service. Lila Tully of Rubble Tile in Minnetonka, Minnesota, points out, “We aren’t salespeople, we’re design consultants: we sell emotion, beauty, art, and creativity.”

As Barbara Gilmartin of Design Materials Inc., San Antonio, Texas, puts it: “People can buy from the internet, from China, the competition, from factories that sell direct. But what we offer is a different animal, and the market is not the same as it used to be. There has to be that personal level.” Keep it fresh. As Michael Dowd of Paramount Tile in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, points out, “I think it is important to continue to change the look of my showroom — to stay on top of what’s hot and to show it.” Organization is important, but not necessarily by manufacturer.

Lesson 2: Industry education never stops.
Whether you are training new employees on tile basics or experienced professionals on the latest trends, industry education never stops. And thanks to the latest trends in learning – like webinars and online education – there are no longer any excuses for not staying on top of the latest in materials, installations, green building, sales, and more. Industry education has never been more accessible or more important. It gives you the edge to distinguish you and your team from the competition.

Take a look at the latest available training options in “Who needs training & why.”

Janet Arden
Editor


Innovations & Insights
 
July 1st, 2011

New Products and Insights From the Tiling Industry

TSP IS BLAZING NEW TRAILS IN 2011!

Navy Seal Marcus Luttrell

“Total Solutions Plus was the best business investment I made in 2010. I made several great contacts at the Table Top event, learned some valuable lessons from the seminar program and came away totally energized for the New Year. I am taking additional staff this year so they get the same educational advantage and we can cover more seminars!” – Harold Yarborough Total Solutions Plus offers you education, new markets, and nonstop networking with industry leaders. Don’t miss this opportunity to join the members of CTDA, TCNA and NTCA when they convene November 7-11, at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa in Chandler, Arizona, for a tile industry event unlike any other. Participate in a fi rst-class seminar program that includes Donato Grosser on “The U.S. Economy and Changes in Ceramic Tile Distribution” and David Parker on “It’s Not Up-Selling, It’s Selling Right.” Learn how to deal with the current challenges in Customs and other import issues. Share your story and learn from other attendees at Distributors and Contractor forums. See the latest products at the Table Top Showcase. In a very special closing keynote on Veterans Day, November 11, hear retired Navy Seal Marcus Luttrell, author of the New York Times bestselling book, Lone Survivor, tell the harrowing story of four Navy SEALs who journeyed into the mountainous border of Afghanistan and Pakistan on Operation Redwing.

FREESTYLE LINEAR DRAIN™ BIM MODELS
Noble Company announced the official release of BIM (Building Information Modeling) objects covering the company’s most popular new product line, the FreeStyle Linear Drain. Working in conjunction with SMARTBIM, a leader in development of BIM objects, Noble Company provides these models for the growing number of architects using BIM’s drag-and-drop capability as their design tools of choice. The FreeStyle Linear Drain’s library of BIM objects is fully compatible with Autodesk® Revit®. These objects are located on the Noble Company website. The FreeStyle Linear Drain is ideal for curbless, barrier-free and handicapped showers in new construction or renovation. It is constructed of one-piece, seamless PVC or ABS with no manufacturing seams or weldments. The drain is engineered with an exclusive membrane clamping mechanism to ensure a completely watertight connection with the waterproofi ng membrane of the shower base. FreeStyle Linear Drains are available in six lengths and four brushed stainless strainer styles. Custom sizes are available for quantity orders. www.noblecompany.com

DUAL-VOLTAGE THERMOSTAT FROM NUHEAT
Nuheat logoThe Harmony, exclusively manufactured for Nuheat by Honeywell, is a single thermostat compatible with both 120V& 240V floor heating systems. The 7-day programmable thermostat continues to boast its designer inspired aesthetics, mounting flush into a standard doublegang electrical receptacle (behind any decora-style faceplate). Nuheat’s Harmony thermostat remains the only one of its kind in the floor heating industry. Offering a fusion between form and function, it has become a popular item with many designers and renovators. The enhanced dualvoltage feature now streamlines the purchasing process. Dual-Voltage Harmony: Increases energy effi ciency of any electric floor heating system; Has built-in G.F.C.I protection; and Boasts a 3-year manufacturer’s warranty. www.nuheat.com

GFCI EQUIPPED THERMOSTATS FROM EASYHEAT
GFCI EQUIPPED THERMOSTATS FROM EASYHEATTo give an added level of personal protection, EasyHeat has upgraded its entire line of floorwarming thermostats to include built-in Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter safety (GFCI). Dubbed the G Series, the new thermostats are identical in size, functionality, use of the floor temperature sensor, and mounting configuration to existing EasyHeat thermostats, making installation in new and retrofit applications simple. GFCI protection minimizes the risk of electrical shock and short outs. In fact, it is required by the NEC (US National Electric Code) for floorwarming systems installed in bathrooms. Incorporating a GFCI into the thermostat also saves the expense of purchasing separate Ground Fault Interrupter. EasyHeat G Series thermostats are available in 120V and 240V, in programmable or nonprogrammable designs. www.easyheat.com

GRANDEUR FROM FLORIDA TILE
The Grandeur series is the latest High Definition Porcelain introduction from Florida Tile. Created with the newest digital printing technology, this Breccia Marble has been the staple floor and wall covering for centuries. From the civic buildings that lined Palatine Hill and the palatial villas of roman emperors to the modern steel and glass high-rises of our global cityscapes, Marble is a timeless, classic look. A natural color palette offers 5 traditional colors, all inclusive of the strong, multichromatic veining that makes this look a style icon. This glazed porcelain is available in a natural and polished finished, a first for Florida Tile. The company is the first domestic manufacturer to offer a digitally printed product with a polished finish. Made possible through painstaking R&D, the finish will not harbor dirt and other debris. Sizes include 12×12, 18×18 and 9×18 in natural as well as 17×17 and 8.5×17 in polished and rectified. Floor and wall bullnose, chair rails, stops, listellos, decorative accents and mosaics are included. www.floridatile.com

MOTAWI TILEWORKS BUYS ROVIN CERAMICS OF TAYLOR, MI
Rovin Ceramics, a supplier of moist clay, raw materials, and other pottery supplies, will be moving to Ann Arbor and coming under the wing of Motawi Tileworks. After owning Rovin Ceramics for 27 years, and managing the company with Stephanie Keene, Ron, and Barbara Ruth, and Stephanie decided it was time to move on and pursue other venues. Rovin has been making the Tileworks’ special blend clay for more than a decade, since their orders got too big for legendary Ann Arbor potter J.T. Abernathy, to handle. Rovin Ceramics supplies schools, colleges and professional artists all over Michigan and Northern Ohio, as well as throughout the country. Nawal Motawi says “A lot of clay people rely on Rovin. And it has definitely served the Tileworks well. I think it’s a good business and I believe that my staff and I can carry it forward, continuing to provide Rovin’s customers with the kind of great service they are used to.” Motawi will continue the business without drastic changes except to move it to 253 Dino Drive, off Jackson Road, just west of Baker Road. Signature products Rovin Moist Clays, Bright Ice glaze and Soft Touch underglaze can all be produced on-site, as before. Heather Kitson will run Rovin Ceramics in it’s Ann Arbor incarnation. She has most recently been the manager of Motawi’s Wholesale Gift Tile department. According to Nawal Motawi: “Ms. Kitson is an inveterate planner, quite exacting and personable, a great person to run the new Rovin Ceramics.“ Ryanne Arecheja, Andy Bell, and Dave Beyer, all from Motawi Tileworks, will round out the Rovin staff. Former Rovin manager, Stephanie Keene has agreed to help with the transition. nmotawi@motawi.com

ACTIVANT PROMOTES GETTY

David Getty

Activant Solutions Inc. announces that David Getty has been named vice president of product development for its Wholesale Distribution Division. Since 2007, Getty has been Activant’s senior director of product engineering and development. He joined Activant in 1992 following graduation from college, and was an original member of the development team for Activant’s industry-leading Prophet 21® ERP platform. According to Kevin Roach, executive vice president and general manager of Activant’s Wholesale Distribution Division, “Over the last several years, Dave has led the division’s product development team through several major strategic initiatives, including a transformation to Scrum agile development, the integration of our Prophet 21 software with our B2B Seller™ and Trading Partner Connect™ products, the creation of important extensibility tools like DynaChange™ Portals and Rules, and the introduction of a suite of tools to track project development and quality metrics. We look forward to his continued direction in the development of our planned next generation products.” www.activant.com

H LINE BY BELLAVITA TILE
From celebrities to soccer moms, every woman wants that perfect Hollywood smoky eye effect. Bellavita Tile has translated that makeup trend to tile with the H Line of mosaic tiles that offer an ever-so-slight smoky look for designing with tile. Offering a softly blended mix to upscale interiors, the H Line series subtly accents the features of the home in several different sizes and color styles. Choose from 4” x 16” and 3” x 6” formats or 1” x 1” mosaics. The collection has a glossy finish and comes in seven colors. The mosaics are available in seven solid colors plus three blends. A full collection of trims is also available. www.bellavitatile.com.

PAREX USA ANNOUNCES MERKRETE BURST
Parex USA, Inc. announced the launch of Burst, an add-a-pack accelerator additive for portland cement mortars. Burst is a powerful additive accelerant used to give portland cement products a “burst” of energy for faster setting times. It can be used to help speed up work times in most any portland cement mortar such as mud beds, masonry mortars, underlayments, thin sets and grouts. Burst: Accelerates set times for cement based products; Is handy and easy to use; Does not impede mortar attributes; Has a minimal effect to color of grouts; Eliminates the need for Rapid-set SKU’s; and Is excellent for repair work. “We are very excited by the introduction of Burst into the market,” said Luciano Tavares, Brand Manager for Merkrete. “Burst is the first product of its kind in our industry. We have received an overwhelming response in the field and we are confident that Burst will be a welcome tool in the tile setting industry.” www.merkrete.com.

EXOTICA GLAZED PORCELAIN
Mediterranea has announced the launch of the Exotica collection of plank-sized, exotic hardwoodlook glazed porcelain tiles in colors and surface textures that reflect the uniqueness of the prized exotic rainforests species. Exotica from Mediterranea allows flooring dealers and distributors the luxury of offering a vibrant, true-to-life exotic woodlook glazed porcelain collection with consistent, timely delivery for increased inventory turns and profits. The Exotica series from Mediterranea has been made available for architects, interior designers and private homeowners in one standard, 6” x 24” plank-style format and five rich exotic hardwood color styles. Mediterranea has designed the Exotica series to feature the true hand-scraped or hand-brushed, aged-worn surface texture and shade variations that only exotic specietypes can provide. Exotica is now available in Oak, Chestnut, Cherry, Walnut and Espresso. Exotica is ideal for fast-paced, high-traffic commercial applications, mainstreet retail projects or upscale private residential settings. info@mediterreanea-usa.com

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