Qualified Labor – December 2017

Cersaie’s “Tiling Town” showcases qualified labor

By Chris Woelfel, Contributor

Qualified labor was prominent at Cersaie 2017, the Italian ceramic tile industry’s 35th annual show in Bologna, Italy, held at the end of September. Even before attendees could enter the vast corridors of new tile products, they were lured into “Tiling Town,” a conference hall dedicated solely to the installers who bring the industry’s products to life.

Here, the Italian labor association Assoposa exhibited the knowledge and skill required in successful installations as they demonstrated work with new products, tools and methods.

“This is where our craftsmen get to really show their talents,” explained Paolo Colombo, Assoposa’s President. “We have several levels of certification and specialization. It’s always impressive to see these fixers (setters) in action.”

Tiling Town at Cersaie is dedicated solely to installation.

Symbolizing the industry’s vast offerings, technological advancements and improved installation methods – as well as the origins of tile – a massive globe structure featuring quadrant impressions of earth, water, air and fire coalesced in the center of Tiling Town. Here, jagged surfaces of thin tile, flexible strips of oly-tile (a resin-based mosaic tile, custom-made for each project), and row upon row of shimmering mosaics made it clear that this was the work of artisans. Onlookers were captivated as they watched the installations.

Presentation booths in Tiling Town featured expert talks on installation methods, illustrations of good versus poor installations, and clever demonstrations that showed the effectiveness of new products.

Assoposa tile “fixers” (setters) demonstrate large panel mortar application.

The Italian tile industry is supporting qualified labor more than ever, explaining that all sectors of the industry must understand the important role of proper installation.

“While we focus heavily on educating installers, we also work to inform architects, dealers, construction firms and the public on installation’s critical role,” explained Francesco Bergomi, Assoposa’s Director. “Qualified installers are foundational to the overall success of our industry because their work often determines if the end user is happy with the product,” he said.

Assoposa, the Federation of European Tile Fixers and the NTCA are partnering to strengthen education and awareness about the need for certified installer artisans.

 

1. Origins of Tile installation at Tiling Town. 2. Glass mosaics wrap around cloudlike
formations to emulate wind. 3. Thin porcelain applied to backer board creates a dramatic “rock” formation. 4. Flexible strips of “poly-tile,” a resin-based mosaic tile, custom-made for each project – is trimmed to illustrate water’s role in tile production. 5. Tile fixer (setter) installing the glass mosaic wrap for the massive globe structure.

 

Several workshops focused on large panel tool use.

Tiling Town displays proper installation

NTCA President Martin Howard examines thick tiles on display. 

NTCA Board Chairman James Woelfel tests for lippage at Tiling Town.  

A designer visiting Tiling Town examines the installation process.

Tech Talk – December 2017

Have you added tile edge protection to your installation project?

How often are you including tile edge protection in your tile assembly specifications? Although not required for all installations, edge protection absolutely provides better results.

By Scott Carothers,
CTEF Director of Certification
and Training

Ultimately, if you’re serious about delivering only high-quality installations of ceramic, porcelain and stone tile, you must have the hand-skills to put the entire tile assembly into place along with the knowledge of what products are available to finish the project successfully.

Thinking about protecting tile edges is a perfect example.

What is tile edge protection?

You wouldn’t be in this business if you didn’t have an appreciation for how perfectly ceramic and porcelain tile function as floor and wall finishes. Tile is beautiful, durable, and easily maintained.

It has an amazing performance record and inspires intense product innovation.

Critical to your well-earned reputation is ensuring that your tile installation will perform despite heavy traffic. Edge profiles do the following:

  • Protect tile edges from chipping,
  • Provide easy transitions between adjacent floor and wall surfaces.
  • Deliver a design element that is often ignored.
Specify each component of the tile assembly

On most commercial tile jobs, the specifications clearly call out each component of the tile assembly, but not always.

However, on many residential jobs, the various items necessary for a good job may be overlooked.

Whether the project is commercial or residential, the tile installer is the last person on the job who should provide his or her input and expertise so that the ceramic tile installation is pleasing to the eye and will stand the test of time.

Don’t skip the little details!

Unfortunately the ultimate success of the completed project sometimes gets lost in the rush to get it done yesterday or in the little details that sometimes fall through the cracks.

Whatever the reason, the edge profile moldings are sometimes not included in the job. And yet, as mentioned above, these profiles play two key roles:

To provide a pleasing transition to the adjacent floor finish

To protect the edge of the tile, which may be a factory edge or a cut

Lack of edge protection means chipped tile

As seen in the photo below, which was taken from a hotel breakfast area, the edge of the wood-look ceramic tile is significantly chipped after only a few years of service.

Without the metal profile to protect the edge of the tile, unsightly chipping can (and does) occur.

In this case, the combination of the housekeeper’s sweeper and the metal legged chairs has taken its toll on the tile.

Consider exacerbating conditions

As you may have noticed in the photo above, the low-pile commercial carpet is 1/8” of an inch below the edge of the tile. This factor would definitely exacerbate the problem.

This may be particularly challenging, because you may not know the carpet pile height when discussing and developing a mockup for the project. Unless you consider the various possibilities, you may overlook the right product needed to finish the project successfully.

The tile otherwise has served the area well and looks great, but the chipped tile along the edge makes the entire job look unsatisfactory and unacceptable.

The real problem here is that when consumers see problems of this type, they often decide not to use tile in their next project. Their rationale is simple. If tile looks and performs like this (as seen in the photo), they don’t want it and will pick something else, which means everyone in the tile industry loses the job.

Proactive input eliminates problems

A small amount of proactive input prior to the job beginning would have eliminated this problem.

Many times the installer is not consulted on the design end of the project. But in this case, the installer gets blamed for the ugly result when in reality, he or she had no part in the process. The really odd thing about this hotel upgrade project is that all of the other installed tile surfaces included edge profiles.

The point here is that, as an installer, you should speak up and make recommendations that will enhance the project outcome and be a long-lasting testimonial to the durability and beauty of properly installed ceramic tile.

Certification signals your commitment to details like tile edge protection

If you haven’t already, consider becoming a Certified Tile Installer (CTI). As a CTI, you set yourself apart from the crowd and know how to anticipate tile installation problems before they occur.

Do it right the first time and get paid accordingly. Visit https://www.ceramictilefoundation.org/tile-certification-overview-ctef for details.

Business Tip – December 2017

Using magic words: understand Pay-If-Paid vs. Pay-When-Paid clauses in construction agreements

By Daniel A. Dorfman,
HARRIS • WINICK • HARRIS LLP

There are countless ways for a construction project to go awry. The first claims that come to mind are those based on delays or defective workmanship, but perhaps even more common are the potential claims that arise when a general contractor does not receive payment from the owner, but remains potentially liable to its subcontractors for work performed. Like most construction disputes, the answer to the question of whether or when a general contractor is liable for payment to its subcontractors starts (and often ends) with the language of the contract.

Case study

Beal Bank Nevada v. Northshore Center THC, 64 N.E.3d. 201, 407 Ill. Dec. 823 (1st Dist. 2016) is a recent case from the Appellate Court of Illinois (First District) discussing this issue, and providing guidance to understanding payment risks in a construction agreement in the context of pay-when-paid vs. pay-if-paid clauses.

The facts of the Northshore Center are simple. Northshore Center THC, LLC (“Owner”) borrowed funds from BankFirst to develop real estate in Northbrook, Illinois. The Owner entered into an agreement with a General Contractor, FCL Investors, Inc. (“General Contractor”), to perform certain construction work at the Northbrook site. The General Contractor then entered into a subcontract with Lake County Grading Company, LLC (“Subcontractor”) to provide excavation work, sewer line installation, and other construction services. The Subcontractor performed its work and issued several invoices to the General Contractor, which the General Contractor submitted to the Owner. The Owner failed to pay the General Contractor, who in turn didn’t pay the Subcontractor.

When the parties were unable to resolve their differences, a lawsuit ensued. The main issue between the General Contractor and the Subcontractor concerned whether the subcontract required the General Contractor to pay the Subcontractor’s invoices even though it was undisputed that the Owner had not yet paid the General Contractor. The relevant portions of payment clause in the subcontract provided that:

The Contractor will make partial payments to the Subcontractor in an amount equal to 90 percent of the estimated value of work and materials incorporated in the construction and an amount equal to 90 percent of the materials delivered to and suitably and properly stored by the Subcontractor at the Project site, to the extent of Subcontractor’s interest in the amounts allowed thereon and paid to Contractor by the Owner, less the aggregate of previous payments, within five (5) days of receipt thereof from the Owner.

The trial court reviewed this payment clause and ruled that payment by the Owner was a condition precedent to the General Contractor’s obligation to pay its Subcontractor:

[T]he provisions outlined in the subcontract at issue clearly make the receipt of payment from the Owner to [the General Contractor] the condition precedent to the [Subcontractor’s] payment. The condition precedent has not been satisfied as [the General Contractor] has not received payment from Owner.

Therefore, because the Owner had not paid the General Contractor, the trial court determined that the General Contractor could not have breached the subcontract by failing to pay the Subcontractor.

The Subcontractor appealed. The Appellate Court reversed the trial court and found that the payment clause in the subcontract did not contain a condition precedent requiring the General Contractor to be first paid by Owner. Instead, the Appellate Court ruled that the payment clause in the subcontract governed only the amount and timing of payments, not the threshold obligation of the General Contractor to compensate the Subcontractor (even if the General Contractor had not been paid by the Owner).

In so holding, The Appellate Court applied the following “useful framework” for distinguishing between pay-if-paid clauses and pay-when-paid clauses in construction agreements:

A pay-when-paid clause governs the timing of a contractor’s payment obligation to the subcontractor, usually by indicating that the subcontractor will be paid within some fixed time period after the contractor itself is paid by the property owner…. In contrast, a pay-if-paid clause provides that the subcontractor will be paid only if the contractor is paid and thus ensures that each contracting party bears the risk of loss only for its own work.

Applying that framework, the Appellate Court determined that the contractual provision in the subcontract was a pay-when-paid clause, which governed only the timing of payment, and not a pay-if-paid clause, which would have governed the General Contractor’s obligation to pay. In other words, in this case, the Court concluded that there was no condition precedent to payment; the General Contractor had to pay the Subcontractor whether or not the Owner had paid.

Lessons learned 

Northshore Center is an illustrative case study on the importance of payment provisions in construction agreements being drafted so that they are particularly clear and unambiguous with respect to their pay-if-paid intentions. In our experience, many subcontract agreements in Illinois have payment provisions that do not sufficiently identify that payment by the owner is a condition precedent. As demonstrated by Northshore Center, even language as clear as “to the extent” is inadequate. Without the “magic word,” i.e. “if,” that makes it clear that the general contractor’s payment obligation to its subcontractor exists only “if” payment is made by the owner to the general contractor, the general contractor will likely bear the risk of payment even where the owner doesn’t pay the general contractor. The first and best protection against such unnecessary payment risk is a well-written contract. Pay-if-paid clauses offer greater protection to general contractors and should be a consideration on all sides during the drafting process.

A copy of Beal Bank Nevada v. Northshore Center THC, 64 N.E.3d 201, 407 Ill. Dec. 823 (1st Dist. 2016) is available here at http://bit.ly/2pDSg8w.

Contact 

If you have any questions about this HWH Legal Alert, please feel free to directly contact Daniel Dorfman at (312) 662-4609 (ddorfman@hwhlegal.com). This legal alert is provided by Harris Winick Harris LLP for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended, and should not be construed, as legal advice.

Daniel Dorfman is a construction lawyer in Chicago, Illinois, with the law firm of Harris Winick Harris LLP. Daniel has a national construction practice, representing owners, developers, engineers, architects, designers, general contractors, subcontractors, specialty trades, and construction suppliers in all types of commercial construction disputes. Daniel is licensed to practice in the State of Illinois, United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Daniel received his J.D., cum laude, from Northwestern University School of Law.

Ask the Experts – December 2017

This month’s Ask the Experts focuses on two recent questions concerning installing resin-backed stone.

QUESTION

Can you give me some guidance on working with resin-backed stone?

ANSWER

The issue that we have with resin-backed stone is there is no standardization. The backing could be composed of epoxy, polyester, urethane or a variety of other types of resin.  If there was some consistency to the resin backing, setting materials manufacturers could probably produce thinset that would work. Epoxy adhesives are the safest bet, and should always be used on moisture-sensitive stone.

When installing resin-backed stone, you should contact the stone provider for installation instructions. Many of them are not suitable for installations in wet areas.

The 2017 TCNA Handbook addresses some of this in the Natural Stone selection guide on page 10. The NTCA Reference Manual has a tremendous amount of information about this situation in its mesh-backed stone white paper on page 179. Both will point you toward the use of epoxy adhesives.

Somemanufacturersoftheseresin-backedstoneshaveincorporatedsandandotheraggregatestotheirbackingstohelpwithamechanicalbond,andmakeclaimsthatalatex-modifiedthinsetcanbeused.Iknowpeoplehavescarifiedandorprimedthebackofthesetilesinordertousemodifiedthinset.Withouttheendorsementofthethinsetmanufacturerandthestoneprovider,theseinstallationsarerisky.Iwouldproceedwithcaution.

Robb Roderick, NTCA trainer/presenter

QUESTION

I installed a large resin-backed marble tile on a fireplace wall with a glass-covered fireplace insert that produces a lot of heat, and measured tiled surface temp was about 250+ degrees in direct vicinity of the firebox. I have several issues.

Issue one – We used a polymer-modified thinset to install the tile.  I didn’t realize till after the job was done that it does not stick to resin-backed tile.

Issue two – Upon further research I should have used an epoxy thinset, but from what I was told it is only okay for temps up to 180 degrees.

Issue three – Is the resin on the back of the tile okay to be in contact with that kind of heat?

I am receiving very little help from my tile supplier, I have a very unhappy client, and I am eager to make the fix but I need to know the correct approach so I don’t have a problem again.

Thanks in advance for your help.

ANSWER

There are no industry standards for the resin/resin-mesh backing on stones. The best way to learn what the resin is composed of and what its temperature rating is, is to get the information on it from the manufacturer or stone quarry that put it on the stone, or a lab can examine it. I personally do not have information on the temperature ratings of various resins used on stone backing.

You can reference the NTCA’s Mesh Backed Stone and Tile White Paper (see the Stone section in this issue, page 78 for the paper), which discusses the other issues you described. This information should help give you a better understanding of the application of resin-backed stones in various installations.

It sounds like you will be considering a tear-out and rebuild to ensure that you achieve the proper bond and meet the temperature range of this particular fireplace. I suggest contacting the stone manufacturer/quarry to determine the type of resin, or if that isn’t possible, replace it with a stone that is not resin/resin-mesh backed. I also suggest contacting the manufacturer of the setting materials (i.e. thinset mortar or epoxy and grout) that you will plan to use to set the stone. Many product Technical Data Sheets include this information and can be found on their manufacturer’s websites, or a call to their technical service department will help you determine the correct setting materials to withstand the temperature ranges for this product.

Mark Heinlein – CTI #1112, NTCA Training Director and Technical Trainer / Presenter

Marazzi USA – Feature Story – December 2017

The Kingston Bay Senior Living Center is designed to promote independence for its residents, ensuring they have safe and comfortable surroundings.

Kingston Bay Senior Living Center uses Marazzi porcelains to create a comfortable, stimulating environment for residents

Located in Fresno, Calif., the Kingston Bay Senior Living Community provides residents with all of the comforts of home, while redefining retirement in a resort-like environment. The community, which opened its doors in July 2016, is designed to promote independence for its residents, while ensuring they have safe and comfortable surroundings.

While the adjacent area houses a large population of young families, the region was lacking a community designated for the older generations. In order to fit into the established neighborhood, it was vital that the center be captivating, while also accommodating the unique needs of its residents.

The Kingston Bay Senior Living Community provides residents with all of the comforts of home.

When construction first kicked off in spring 2015, it was important to find an architectural and design firm that could create a comfortable setting while still meeting the stringent requirements for senior living environments. Jeffrey DeMure + Associates Architects Planners, Inc. was selected for the project, taking the lead on the design, inspired by the relaxing atmosphere found on a cruise.

Cruise ship-inspired design

Marazzi Harmony™ created a vibrant cruise line feel throughout the entry area, café and first floor corridors.

“The inspiration for the design was a cruise ship on land,” said Steven Balliet, director of project development. “It’s all in the fun details of the exterior, from the Bermuda shutters to the coastal-inspired siding. It was designed with the residents in mind and the experience that they could have when they reached this destination.”

While creating a lively area was an important aspect of the design, the building also needed to function effectively as a safe area where tenants could engage and interact. The goal was to establish a campus-style environment that broke the stereotypes associated with senior living. “Safety, durability, comfort and fun were all requirements kept in mind when choosing products for the construction,” added Balliet. “We wanted products to tie into the overall theme and encourage visits from friends and family.”

The bold colors and textures of Marazzi tile enabled the design team to achieve their desired aesthetic.

Once the project kicked off, Balliet and his team were faced with a new set of challenges, especially in selection of materials. The project began with an assessment of regulations, mandates and rooms included. Choosing tile that could integrate style with functionality for residents was fundamental to the project. Marazzi readily fulfilled safety needs without sacrificing the intended design. The material-selection process was key for the architecture and design team, who firmly believe in designing charismatic communities as opposed to institutions.

“For our team, it was vital that the environment be one that provided a hospitality-inspired ambiance for residents, with everything at their fingertips,” said Balliet. “When it came to interior design and decorating, Studio Six5 chose materials that complemented the exterior and addressed the different uses of rooms.”

The design incorporated a variety of spaces, including a theatre, fitness room, salon, restaurants, common areas and sunrooms. Each space presented an opportunity to incorporate contemporary products that would still be practical given the requirements of the residents.

Featured in the main lobby, Marazzi Harmony™ was selected for its durability and bold first impression.

Marazzi materials provide style and safety

Known for its commitment to quality, Marazzi Harmony™ Colorbody Porcelain was selected for the main lobby. Since this area would receive a large amount of foot traffic from visitors and residents, it was crucial that the flooring met regulations, possessed durable performance qualities and made a bold first impression.

“We have been working with Marazzi for years,” said Justin Hickey, foreman and tile setter for Visalia Ceramic Tile, in Visalia, Calif., a NTCA Five Star Contractor. “Marazzi tile has always been highly durable, with a unique look. Our shop especially enjoyed working with the chevron pattern for this project.”

Marazzi Harmony, specifically in Chord, was also incorporated into the larger spaces. Fitting into the resort theme, the wood-look tile, in its linear plank design, created a vibrant cruise line feel throughout the lobby, café, and first floor corridors, without sacrificing the hospitality-driven mentality.

Both residents and visitors alike have been captivated by the fashion-forward details of the luxury destination.

“We wanted to get the job done efficiently, but still deliver a superior, quality finish,” added Visalia’s Hickey. “The installation was tricky due to the concrete flooring, and it took quite a bit of grinding and backfilling to get our surface perfectly flat. Once we were finished with our prep, all of the planks were set perfectly, and with ease.”

“The tile was a huge aspect of the design,” said Anna Manahan, Studio Six5 designer. “The subtle pattern sets the tone for large spaces and makes the area more lively. The only area with no tile was in the memory care unit to ensure the residents’ safety.”

Since opening in July 2016, the community has received positive feedback. Both residents and visitors alike have been captivated by the fashion-forward details and how every aspect transports them to a luxury destination. The textures and colors of the Marazzi tile enabled the design team to achieve their desired aesthetic.

The Kingston Bay Senior Living Community raises the bar for senior living. Kingston Bay proves that the feeling of home can be achieved through thoughtful design choices and the drive to provide the best quality of life for all residents.

President’s Letter – December 2017

Is it time to refresh the culture of your company?

Rebuilding a company culture can lead to new levels of engagement and satisfaction for all

Martin Howard, NTCA president

Have you ever thought about the culture (a.k.a.personality) of your company? If you haven’t, I’d like to invite you to give it a try.

There are many cultures that companies seem to gravitate to, and we’ll look at a few for comparison.

  • The Traditional or Hierarchy Culture is common and tends to be found in “Top Down” structured companies. This culture can be demanding with little employee empowerment, expecting employees to just follow directions.
  • The Market Culture is most often characterized as having “market share and profitability” as their top priority. One issue with this culture is that the top goals of market share and profitability can often compete with each other.
  • The Family Business Culture is very common in the construction industry, especially among trade contractors. Multi-generational owners usually hold the leadership or management positions. This can be good if a high level of training and career development exist to ensure competent and smooth transitions of leadership. Employees can feel that if they hold different ideas or opinions than the family, they will not be heard. They can also see that they will never grow to attain a high-level position and this makes it difficult to retain good talent. Additionally, this can cause good people to leave or do enough to get by rather than give their best effort.

At our company – David Allen Company – we had a mixture of cultures that had developed over a 90-year period. In 2010, we hit the restart button to rebuild our culture, led by our Chairman, Robert Roberson. This process required a 100% commitment from the ownership/leadership to establish trust and transparency. Our goal was simple: we wanted to become a great company with high value to our customers and team members while creating a great place to work and build a career.

We utilized several tools to assist us in this process, including 360 Evaluations, Skip Level meetings, and One to One listening sessions. These tools created dialog between departments and group discussions around a set of topics designed to foster honest dialog.

Early on in this process, we utilized a little book with a big impact: FISH! by Stephen C. Lundin, Harry Paul and John Christensen. Here we learned that, “There is always a choice about the way you do your work, even if there is not a choice about the work itself.” Said another way, we can choose to have a positive attitude while doing work we may not enjoy. To help encourage a positive attitude our leadership began to work harder to regularly communicate clear expectations, create transparency and demonstrate respect on a corporate level.

In our next step, we gleaned lessons from the book Good to Great by Jim Collins. One of the major take-aways was the concept of getting the right people on the bus, and then making sure those people were in the right seats. This brought a renewed commitment to hire only the “best fit” candidates and be willing to wait to hire if necessary. Everyone in the company took the “DISC” personality profile (a measure of Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness), which helped us better understand which seats were the best fit for our employees. DISC also helped us learn how to understand and communicate with personalities very different from our own.

On a structural level, we began dismantling some of the vertical silos that created division and started to build team levels of responsibility and accountability. This only works if all levels believe their voices are heard and can bring about meaningful change. To demonstrate this commitment, we assembled a cross-section of team members to review and modify the company policy manual.

Next, we developed clear career paths and the training and education necessary for success to improve team member fulfillment and job satisfaction. A key principle I learned many years ago is, “There is no success without a successor.” So, as we seek to develop ourselves, we must seek to develop those we mentor. The goal is that as one person takes the next step in their career development, they will have trained and mentored their replacement.

We then took on the task of developing a Standard Operating Procedure so that we could begin to work as a team. This offered the opportunity to scale our productivity by being able to support divisions that needed additional resources without having to hire and train for the short term. Through this process, duplications of effort have been eliminated and efficiency has lifted the level of work satisfaction. Encouraging team members to take ownership of their responsibilities requires empowerment and respect. Compensation and incentives have been reshaped and made available at more levels than ever before.

We then started a two-year company-wide process of studying Stephen M.R. Covey’s book, The Speed of Trust. This took us through the “4 Cores of Credibility:” Integrity, Intent, Capability and Results. Woven through these core concepts are 13 behaviors that build trust. Each month we created intentional opportunities to apply what we were learning by creating SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) goals and team goals.

The study walked us through a progression of building trust within ourselves, in relationships, and within the company. Up until this point our focus had been building trust internally, but now we began to build and extend trust in our markets and with our customers.

We also began to build and extend trust in our community by addressing different areas of need there. Our team was excited to participate in various charity events where the company would provide matching funds, including Stop Hunger Now, Red Cross blood drives, holiday food drives, and Walk for Autism. At our traditional July cook-out and game day we reached new levels of fun as we teamed up with our co-workers to crown one team winner for the year. This spread to our annual Chili Cook-Off, which now attracts 30-40 entries. Our team-building event winners are recognized with trophies, plaques, and gift cards. We have offered Financial Peace University to the team and their families twice at no cost to them and have seen amazing results of personal debt reduction and wealth building.

With our centennial celebration a couple of years away and our desire to build a strong, stable, and enduring company for our team, we became an employee-owned company three years ago. Today the employees are the largest stockholders and we’re enjoying a high level of engagement to maximize the steps taken to improve our company. Throughout this process, the underlying theme has been to think about building others up and treating people like we want to be treated. The people that make up our team are – without doubt – our most important and valuable asset.

We still have much to accomplish, but the goal is closer than before and we are working toward hitting the mark. This journey has been enlightening, challenging and very rewarding. Ways of thinking about each other and work have changed and opened positive new channels of collaboration. I hope you are encouraged to think about your company and how you can make a positive difference for the future.

––––

Martin Howard, president NTCA
Committee member, ANSI A108
mhoward@davidallen.com

Editor’s Letter – December 2017

“You don’t choose a life…you live one.”
– Emilio Estevez, as Daniel, in The Way

It’s November 3, and I sit poised between trips. On Sunday, I leave for Total Solutions Plus, where I hope to see many of you! Only two and a half weeks ago, I returned from the aforementioned pilgrimage (October 2017 Tileletter Editor Letter) in Northern Spain, 200 miles of what’s known as the Camino de Santiago de Compostela.

I haven’t totally returned to my day-to-day life after my trip – and that’s probably a good thing. I’m still incorporating insights, inspirations and lessons from the Camino into my life. Much of my regular day is spent sitting in my home office, interacting with my computer and phone screens, with the occasional phone call. That’s a distinct difference to the 20 days spent walking an average of 10 miles a day on the Camino, from village to village (and the occasional large city, like Leon, Astorga, Ponferrada, Santiago itself) through cornfields, rocky mountains, vineyards and green forests, surrounded by sunshine, morning mist, fresh air, the sound of birdsong and cow bells…..and pilgrims.

Jumping for joy upon arrival at the Cathedral de Santiago.

Lots of fellow travelers on the Way, forming temporary communities and families that coalesce, dissolve, and re-form, perhaps with new members along the trail or at a village where we stopped for a break, or a snack, or for the night’s lodging. Besides the glorious spaciousness of my surroundings and ability to ponder, this wonderful network of connections with people from various places in the U.S. as well as Australia, Germany, Canada, UK, Spain, Denmark, Holland, Italy, and around the world was the most nourishing part of the trip.

And this is what brings to mind the upcoming opportunity for temporary communities to again form, this time in a business setting. Total Solutions Plus has grown to be a well-respected and well-attended conference as people from all sectors of the industry – both domestic and abroad – travel to learn, share, establish new relationships and form and strengthen new connections. More programming is added each year, but it still is a relatively relaxed setting with ample time to sit and talk and make beneficial new contacts and visit with old friends.

Certainly, by the time you receive this magazine, the event will have passed, but never fear, there’s another one next fall! And don’t rule out TISE West in January in Las Vegas, and Coverings, held in May 2018 in Atlanta. These gatherings also give you the opportunity for connection, insight, inspiration that will benefit your business and give you a new perspective on not only your operations, but your life.

Just one group of pilgrims met along the Way (and my walking partner, Jane Knap, center – blue shirt)

And since this month is the month of major holidays, remember to take some time to celebrate with the communities of family, friends, neighbors and other loved ones who form the foundation of your life. Looking for uplifting activities to share with your loved ones over the holidays? Consider these Camino movies: The Way (with Martin Sheen) – which prompted me to do the walk – and I’ll Push You, a documentary just released last night (find out more at www.illpushyou.com). This film chronicles two childhood friends, Justin and Patrick, and their 500-mile journey on the Camino – a heightened challenge since Justin is confined to a wheelchair due to a progressive neuromuscular disease, and Patrick vows to push him the entire distance – and the lessons they both learn along the Way.

Happy Holidays, God bless, and stay tuned for pictures of Spanish tile in a future issue!

Lesley
lesley@tile-assn.com