Miami Marlins Get Grand Slam Performance with LATICRETE Products
 
October 26th, 2012

by Ron Treister

When the Florida Marlins implemented their name change and became the Miami Marlins at the start of the 2012 Major League Baseball season, the overall goal was clear: a new corporate image, a new stadium, and a new and successful year.

Plans were drawn for a new stadium that would encompass 966,929 square feet with a seating capacity of 37,000. The Miami Marlins Stadium, named Marlins Park, is located on the site previously occupied by the Orange Bowl Stadium in downtown Miami. With a three panel retractable roof (one of only six Major League Baseball stadiums to have such) which protects both the playing field and seating areas, the Marlins Park is right at the top of its class when compared to the other major league baseball fields. The ballpark is more than just a baseball palace; it also has its own entertainment district consisting of 53,000 square feet of retail space, any stadium experience far more than watching the team play. General contractors Moss Construction and architecture firm, Populous, successfully teamed up to build a ballpark that reflected the new, fresh attitude of the professional sports organization that would inhabit and compete within it. To construct a Stadium that was as ambitious as its team’s upcoming aspirations, the finest construction products, including those from LATICRETE® International, Inc., were specified.

As beautiful and contemporary as is the new Marlins Park, the walkway leading up to it is what anybody and everybody first notices. The tiles and installation systems used to construct this walkway had to be the absolute cream of the crop. The importance of a good first impression is crucial when speaking about a project of such grand scale. The exterior walkways leading into Marlins Park have been designed with vibrant tiles that were produced using Miami Marlins’ brilliant colors, arranged in a striped pattern. This design catches the eye immediately, as separate walkways with different destinations have their own unique scheme.

To achieve the flashy, eye-catching finished tile design, there were some obvious difficulties to address. “There were many challenges for us,” stated Ramone Silvestre, President of R & F Flooring, of Lake Worth, Florida, the company that installed tile for all exterior walkways of the stadium. “There was so much going on. In particular, there was a great deal of underground drilling and other water work being done around us. When landscape workers were installing the sod, sprinkler systems and royal palms, it was just too wet for us to be installing tile.” Despite those tough conditions, R&F was able to get the job done on time.

The use of specific LATICRETE® products was instrumental in making the project not only look good and perform at optimal levels, they helped the contractor meet the project’s very important deadline. Ramone Silvestre was emphatic about using LATICRETE Hydro Ban™, a thin, load bearing waterproofing/crack isolation membrane that doesn’t require the use of fabric in the field, coves or corners. It is a single component self-curing liquid rubber polymer that forms a flexible, seamless waterproofing/crack isolation membrane. “LATICRETE Hydro Ban was of great use as the conditions were so wet, a waterproofing product had to really live up to its reputation not only after the project was complete, but during installation!” exclaimed Silvestre.

LATICRETE 254 Platinum, which is the ultimate one-step, polymer fortified, thin-set mortar for interior and exterior installation of ceramic tile, was also used at the park. “The one-step feature of LATICRETE 254 Platinum lived up to its name, because we were backed up due to conditions, so it allowed up to keep on schedule and save time,” Silvestre added.

“The LATICRETE System really helped us. Battling restraints because of the site conditions and having a good, solid, reliable products to use made it much easier to work within the time we had,” concluded Silvestre. “The final production and ‘look’ ended up being flat and smooth, and the design was just very cool.”

Despite the delays, however, there were no problems with the installation thanks to quality materials the focused determination of R&F.

“R&F Flooring deserves a huge amount of credit for the job they did at the stadium,” Blackburn said. “They dealt with a lot of setbacks that were completely out of their control, but still managed to do a world-class job.”

The Miami Marlins opened their season in Marlins Park against the St. Louis Cardinals, on April 4th 2012. All involved felt the excitement of a new stadium and a new season, and this clearly made their participation in the final tile installation like hitting a game-winning grand slam home run.


Quick Drain Spacer
 
October 25th, 2012

Quick Drain USA has announced the release of a new ¾” spacer. The product was introduced as an alternative option to address the variety of tile thicknesses available on the market and how they measure up to the adjacent drain for installation purposes. Quick Drain has added the ¾” spacer, making it the seventh different sized spacer the firm offers, all of which are used to easily raise the drain cover to the height of the floor. Other systems use “feet” or “legs” that are difficult to adjust should the customer change the floor material, especially since the feet are embedded in a mud bed that Quick Drain eliminates. Unlike others, the Quick Drain channel drain system is designed to make it easy for the contractor to work with a number of floor materials and thicknesses. ”We love talking to contractors who have installed other systems,” said Jim Van Landingham, Vice-President of Residential Sales for Quick Drain USA. “Once they see ours and how easy it is to work with, they never go back to the others.”
www.quickdrainusa.com.

Craftsman, by Florida Tile

This line designed by Florida Tile, embodies these same qualities of contemporary design, extraordinary craftsmanship and the American spirit those people and of that time period. Designed in a classic Marble style, the Craftsman DP line features a smooth flat surface that is ideal for residential and light commercial applications. The graphic development is done using Florida Tile’s proprietary DP-Digital Porcelain technology. With up to 20 different graphics per color in the 12×12 alone, this line features the realistic shade variation of the most modern decorating lines available. 12 vby 12, 18 x 18, mosaics and listellos in biscuit, rye and wheat.
www.floridatile.com

Next-Generation Sound-Reduction Membrane

Researchers at MAPEI have delivered a new, patent-pending sound-reduction membrane for use in both residential (homes, apartments, condominiums) and light commercial (office buildings) environments. Mapesonic™ 2 provides reduced transmission of both impact sound (footsteps, dropped objects, etc.) and airborne sound (voice, TV, etc.) through floors. The membrane also helps prevent movement up to 3/8″ (10 mm) wide from transmitting through flooring assemblies. Mapesonic 2’s next-generation technology combines sound reduction and crack isolation in a thin, flexible, lightweight, load-bearing, fabric-reinforced “peel-and-stick” membrane approved for use under ceramic tile, stone and wood flooring. The challenge for MAPEI’s R&D group was to meet or exceed a rating of 50 for both STC (airborne sound) and IIC (impact sound) standards on a 6″ (15 cm) concrete slab with no ceiling. Mapesonic 2 met both of those challenges head-on, bringing to the marketplace an easier-to-use membrane that compares favorably with thicker membranes currently on the market. Brian Pistulka, Business Manager for MAPEI America’s Tile & Stone Installation Systems product line, commented enthusiastically on Mapesonic 2: “This patent-pending membrane is the most significant development in the industry that I have seen in my career. The MAPEI Group did in-depth research into understanding sound, how it travels, and how various materials and the dynamics of components work together to reduce that sound. Mapesonic 2 is truly a product innovation – delivering better sound-performance results with a thinner membrane than existing contenders, because of its material composition and design format. The result is technology you can build on.”
www.mapei.com


Blogging Basics – Blogs can boost your business’ profile
 
October 23rd, 2012

By Kathleen Furore

Everywhere you turn, the business world is buzzing about social media. Companies not communicating via Facebook, Twitter and a website risk looking dusty in this digital age; and even those that do are being upstaged by competitors whose blogs tout the latest news about products, promotions and industry trends.

“Business that don’t have a blog lose out on a great new channel for bringing in business. A blog offers the opportunity for a potential customer to get to know the business by reading what they have to say,” says Daniel Decker, internet marketing strategist and owner of One Marketing (www.onemarketingagency.com), a company that specializes in web design and internet marketing, direct marketing, graphic design, and strategic consulting for small and mid-sized businesses. “It’s a much more personal introduction than a standard website. Businesses without a blog will also generally be out-performed in the search engines by businesses that do blog.”

Since tile dealers and distributors are no exception, understanding how to create and manage a blog is key to your social marketing success.

What is a Blog?

“Blog” is an abbreviation for “weblog”—a term used to describe web sites that maintain an ongoing chronicle of information. “A blog features diary-type commentary and links to articles on other web sites, usually presented as a list of entries in reverse chronological order,” information from WordPress, a self-hosted blogging tool and full content management system, explains.

While blogs’ style and content vary, most include a main content area with articles listed chronologically (usually the newest on top, and often organized into categories); an archive of older articles; a list of links to other related sites (sometimes called a “blogroll”); and “feeds” like RSS, Atom or RDF files.

High-quality blogs also let visitors comment about posted articles and even message each other—an important feature that distinguishes blogs from static websites, industry information says.

The Benefits of Blogging

Blogging is valuable for tile dealers and distributors for several reasons. It demonstrates industry expertise, increases exposure on Google and other popular search engines, and keeps tile businesses connected to potential clients and the industry as a whole.

“Blogging establishes the expertise of the dealer or distributor. It helps them build the perception of being an industry expert, which in turn makes customers more likely to do business with them,” Decker explains. “Studies have shown consumers are more likely to buy products and services from people they know. You might not be able to personally meet potential customers, but a well-written blog can leave them feeling like they know you. It’s an ideal place to demonstrate your expertise and let your personality shine through.”

The Search Engine Optimization (SEO) benefit is a very important plus, Decker adds. “Greater visibility means more website traffic, and more website traffic means more sales. That’s something we all want!” he says. “Search engines love content, and your blog is the easiest place to deliver fresh content that is relevant to your business. Your blog will dramatically increase your visibility on Google, which will lead directly to more traffic and more sales on your website.”

Blogging also helps tile professionals stay up to date on industry trends and remain “in the loop” as a participant in online conversations.

“Your blog gives you the opportunity to deliver branded content to customers, potential customers and, perhaps most importantly, to search engines,” Decker says. “Your blog gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your expertise and your personality while simultaneously increasing the online visibility of your company.”

Statements Tile and Stone (www.statements.com) is one company delivering content and reaping rewards with Ciao! (ciaotile.com), the blog that Statements’ president, Ryan Calkins, launched five years ago.

“We started the blog in September of 2007 to provide a more informal source of information for our clients. Our website, much like a product catalog, needs to be clear, detailed and somewhat technical. It’s not conducive to the conversational tone that a blog can have,” Calkins explains. “For events, interviews, less conventional information and client-generated content, the blog is a much better format. And of course, our goal with the blog was to engage new and existing customers to encourage them to use us as their tile source.”

Calkins says the blog—which includes such categories as Sustainability, Style + Design, Vendors and Trends, plus links to Facebook, Twitter and “Ideabooks by Statements”—has met those goals.

“Ciao! has helped us to build a brand as a personal, local, and engaging business. It deepens the client’s sense of who we are, and creates additional spaces for people seeking tile options to find us,” he says.

Another upside: Blogging can help build a brand at no cost. “It’s possible to blog without spending a penny. It’s a no brainer,” Decker stresses. “If you’re not blogging already, it’s time to get started!”

Ready, Set, Blog!

So it’s time to get started. But what does it take to embark on the road to successful blogging?

While Decker advises tile dealers and distributors to seek professional help to create a blog, he says anyone can tackle the task.

“It is certainly something that can be done by an individual. Sites like WordPress.com and Blogger.com allow anyone to create and maintain a blog completely free of charge,” Decker says. “Anyone with basic computer skills should be able to set up a functioning blog that looks and works just fine.”

Calkins, in fact, turned to WordPress when Statements debuted the Ciao! blog.

“I personally had some experience with blogging for a non-profit, so I was able to set up a rudimentary blog using WordPress,” he recalls. “Aside from a few adjustments to the template, we have not changed the format all that much.”

The story is similar at East Coast Tile (www.eastcoasttile.com), which now boasts two blogs, according to Director Stacey Mednick.

The company’s website blog debuted three and a half years ago, while Everything Tile and Stone is two years old.

“The website blog was part of the design of our then-new website. I believe we announced its launch in eblasts,” Mednick says. “Everything Tile and Stone was created through a company called HiveFire using their Curata (www.curata.com) technology. Neither were difficult to set up, but we spent time designing the look of the blogs and deciding on the types of content.”

The blogs, Mednick explains, have separate missions.

“The goal of our website blog is to inform customers about our products, unique customer service and store locations. Everything Tile and Stone is set to help inform everyone on the Internet searching for topics about ceramic, porcelain, glass and metal tile, stone and flooring,” she says. “We felt the blog on our website was limited to our own customers’ reviews, product mix and store events. Everything Tile and Stone let us branch out into the whole tile and stone industry.”

Posts on Everything Tile and Stone, for example, cover topics ranging from design ideas and shopping tips to “green” tile options and Do-It-Yourself (DIY) projects.

Maintaining your Blog

Once a blog exists, the only real upkeep is site maintenance—a time-consuming but necessary task.

“We recommend adding content once per week. At a minimum, the blog should be updated twice per month,” Decker recommends.

Calking says his company adds at least one post a month—usually product-related—to the Ciao! blog, and over the past two years has shifted some posts to Facebook and Twitter, as well.

“We have multiple people who can update the blog, each with a different emphasis. Our audience loves to hear about our ‘extracurriculars.’” Calkins says, noting that topics about Statements’ community involvement are popular. “A couple of months back, unbeknownst to me, someone took a picture of me relaxing with my feet up on my desk and posted it under the caption, ‘working hard or hardly working?’ That was one of our most popular posts all year!”

A similar blogging strategy is at work at East Coast Tile. New posts are added to the website blog a few times a month, while updates are added to Everything Tile and Stone every weekday. Mednick shares responsibilities with other employees for the website blog, and is responsible for the daily additions to Everything Tile and Stone.

“For the website blog, I typically ask a few key managers and salespeople to periodically come up with content. For Everything Tile and Stone, the popular tiling topics on the Internet guide my posts. The most popular ones are typically design-oriented,” Mednick explains.

While each tile dealer and distributor will have different ideas about what content to include, current bloggers share basic advice about how to best manage blogging.

Mednick recommends finding a few quick writers who are knowledgeable about specific topics. “For example, find one person who can write for contractors, another for design and another for DIY. Have them each be responsible for a certain number of blogs a month,” she suggests.

“Find somebody in your business who is passionate about social media and let them run with it. If it’s just a chore for someone, that sense will come across on the blog,” Calkins adds, noting that maintenance and security are key. “A blog is another window into your company, and therefore needs to be monitored,” he stresses.

Clearly, blogging has become a marketing “must” for most small businesses. But creating and maintaining a blog can be challenging, especially from a time-management perspective, the experts acknowledge.

“Blogging takes time, and business owners are always short on time. The key is to develop a system and stick to it,” Decker says. “One of our most successful clients dedicates an hour to blog writing every Tuesday, usually from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Choose a time that works for you and schedule it into your week. Treat this time as importantly as you would a meeting with a potential client. It’s not optional!”

Next up: Marketing your blog for maximum exposure and profit
Getting a blog up and running is just the first step toward a successful blogging future. Learn how to maximize your marketing efforts to increase traffic to your blog in Part 2 of the blogging series, coming in the next issue of TileDealer.

A Dictionary of Blogging Terms

Archive: A way to keep track of articles on a site. Many blogs feature an archive based on dates. The front page may feature a calendar of dates linked to daily archives. Archives can also be based on categories featuring all the articles related to a specific category. You can also archive posts by author or alphabetically.

Blogroll: A list, sometimes categorized, of links to web pages the blog’s author finds worthwhile or interesting. The links in a blogroll are usually to other blogs with similar interests. The blogroll is often in a “sidebar” on the page or featured as a dedicated separate web page.

Feed: A feed is a function of special software that allows “Feedreaders” to access a site automatically looking for new content and then post updates about that new content to another site. This is a way users can keep up with the latest information posted on different blogging sites. Some Feeds include RSS (alternately defined as “Rich Site Summary” or “Really Simple Syndication”), Atom or RDF files.

—Source: WordPress.org


How about a cradle-to-cradle installation?
 
October 22nd, 2012

Crossville Tile & Cannon Design team up to recycle old bathrooms into new!

When Cannon Design in Chicago was renovating 78 bathrooms over 39 floors of the the John C. Kluczynski Federal Building, the company tapped Crossville Tile to create the tile – more than 57,000 square feet.

Once Cannon learned that Crossville had invented the solution for recycling fired porcelain tile, they asked if any porcelain body could be recycled, i.e. – toilets, sinks and urinals. After testing was completed, Crossville determined that, indeed, any porcelain could be recycled to make new tile.

So, Crossville set about to harvest all existing porcelain from the building so that all new tile could be manufactured from those materials.

The design challenges were substantial. First, create all new tile by recycling all tile and porcelain fixtures from the building’s bathrooms, a true cradle-to-cradle installation. A second, equally important challenge, addressed logistics: time the demolition/installation so that tenants always had bathroom access within one floor of their work locations. Happily, Cannon & Crossville were able to meet these expectations.

The tile that Crossville created for this unique project went on to inspire Shades by Crossville, the new line of porcelain tile launched into the full market a few months ago.

Importantly, the project turned out to be a great success well beyond the beautiful and truly sustainable renovations of the building. Because of this project, Crossville developed a partnership with TOTO USA to recycle their fired yet unused toilets, saving thousands upon thousands of product from entering landfills each year. As a result, Crossville is now a net consumer of waste!

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