ON THE COVER: LATICRETE International – August 2017 GREEN Feature

Waiea Tower represents a new level of architectural sophistication

 

HYDRO BAN was used to support the heaviest materials, including Jade Green Onyx, seen here in the 36th floor penthouse shower. Photo credit – BMK Construction.

From the top of the mountains, all the way out into the ocean, every aspect of life in the Kingdom of Hawaii aims to be synergistic and sustainable, including its residential communities. With the goal of becoming the largest LEED for Neighborhood Development Platinum (LEED-NP) certified community in the country, building owner Howard Hughes Corporation hired James K.M. Cheng in collaboration with Rob Iopa and WCIT Architecture to design Waiea Tower, the flagship building of what is to be Honolulu’s most distinguished neighborhood, Ward Village.

The 60-acre coastal master planned community allows for up to 9.3 million square feet (approximately 863,998 m2) of mixed-use development and offers numerous outdoor gathering spaces that embrace Hawaiian culture, the perfect mix of urban and eco-friendly living. At completion, the community will include more than 4,000 residences and over one million square feet (92,903 m2) of retail shopping. To complete the construction of the 36-story tower, BMK Construction was enlisted to handle the tile and flooring installations for all of Waiea’s units and public spaces including the pool deck, level one lobby, porte cochere and four levels of penthouses.

“The Waiea Tower represents a level of architectural sophistication never before available in Hawaii, so it was exciting to be a part of history,” said BMK Construction project manager Kent Amshoff. “With the design team utilizing only the highest luxury elements, BMK Construction chose to use a range of LATICRETE® products to ensure long-lasting, quality installations that were also good for the environment.”

For centuries, water has been one of the most treasured resources of the Hawaiian people. As is typical of the entire community’s tie to Hawaiian culture and history, Waiea’s design pays homage to the Hawaiian term for “water of life” that links the structure to the importance of water in Hawaii’s coastal landscape.

BMK Construction used 255 MULTIMAX as a large-and-heavy-tile adhesive mortar to install the Kenyan Black Onyx backsplash. Photo credit – BMK Construction

Challenges: 

For waterproofing bathrooms, HYDRO BAN  was used as a thin, load-bearing waterproofing/crack-isolation membrane. Photo credit – BMK Construction

Logistical Procurement: High-end design materials from around the world were brought in from countries such as Italy, Portugal, China, Kenya, Turkey and the U.S. mainland. This proved challenging to assure proper quantities and specifications of each product would be delivered in time for installation.

Quality Control: Maintaining stringent levels of quality was a major concern during construction as multiple delays occurred due to massive rain storms in the summer of 2016. This mostly affected the installation of the pool deck, as contractors were not able to perform duties outside. Additionally, due to the high-end design elements, such as custom marble walls in the penthouse bathrooms, all plumbing work and leveling work needed to be performed with precision, as there would not be a second chance to get the installation right.

A LATICRETE solution: 

PERMACOLOR Grout was used for its high-performance properties, which provide a grout joint that is dense, hard and will resist cracking. Photo credit – BMK Construction

To meet the goal of acquiring LEED certification, all LATICRETE products chosen for the construction of Waiea Tower were those that have received multiple certifications and declarations including Health Product Declarations (HPD), Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) and UL GREENGUARD Gold Certifications for low chemical emissions.

“LATICRETE is currently the only company with a full product-specific EPD for its cement self-leveling underlayments, cement grouts and cement mortars that includes both 255 MULTIMAX and PERMACOLOR® Grout,” said Amshoff. “These certifications gave Howard Hughes Corporation the peace of mind that LATICRETE is on the leading edge of sustainable innovation by providing transparency about the life-cycle impacts of their products.”

3701 Fortified Mortar thick-bed mortar was used to slope the pool deck to the area drains. Photo credit – BMK Construction

LATICRETE HYDRO BAN was carefully applied to make sure the shower updates are long-lasting. Photo credit – BMK Construction

To set all tile, BMK Construction used 255 MULTIMAX as a large-and-heavy-tile adhesive mortar. The patented, versatile polymer-modified thin-set was chosen due to its exceptional non-sag performance on walls, build up of 3/4” (18 mm) without shrinkage for floors, and maximum coverage due to its lightweight, creamy and smooth consistency. In addition, 255 MULTIMAX is reinforced with Kevlar® to provide maximum strength and durability, and now contains less than 10% post-consumer recycled content.

For waterproofing bathrooms throughout the entire building, including the 500 square feet (46 m2) of penthouse master bathrooms’ showers and toiletry areas, BMK Construction used HYDRO BAN® as a thin, load-bearing waterproofing/crack-isolation membrane. Thanks to its “Extra Heavy Service” rating per TCNA performance levels (RE: ASTM C627 Robinson Floor Test), HYDRO BAN was able to support even the heaviest materials, including Jade Green Onyx, which is seen in the 36th floor penthouse shower.

3701 Fortified Mortar thick-bed mortar was used to slope the showers, baths and pool deck to the area drains. Additionally, 3701 Fortified Mortar was used on the drive line where granite paver stones were present and applied on top of HYDRO BAN for the installation of structural concrete slabs. Chosen for its ease of use, 3701 Fortified Mortar is a polymer-fortified blend of carefully selected polymers, Portland cement and graded aggregates that does not require the use of latex admix. Water is the only element needed to produce thick-bed mortar with exceptional strength.

To grout, PERMACOLOR Grout was used for its high-performance properties, which provide a grout joint that is dense, hard and will resist cracking. Additional benefits include consistent color, fast setting and improved stain resistance for a cement-based grout.

255 MULTIMAX, the patented, versatile polymer-modified thinset, was chosen due to its exceptional non-sag performance. Photo credit – BMK Construction

Outcome

“With the help of LATICRETE, Ward Village is now the largest LEED-ND Platinum certified development in the country,” said Amshoff. “This building is at the forefront of sustainable development and solidifies the LATICRETE commitment to environmental responsibility.”  Waiea, the first completed residential tower, welcomed its first residents and anchor tenant Nobu in late 2016. Three high-rise residential buildings are currently under construction – Anaha, Ae‘o and Ke Kilhoana – and will be home to internationally acclaimed brands such as Merriman’s Restaurant and a flagship Whole Foods Market®.

Ask the Experts – August 2017

QUESTION

An architect has requested my input relative to developing a labor and material specification for installing new porcelain floor tile over existing granite floor tiles in a high-traffic lobby in a commercial office building. Can you direct me to any relevant literature or information that addresses such applications? Thanks.

ANSWER

I suggest referring your architect to the 2016 TCNA Handbook methods TR611, TR711 and particularly TR712. Please note that if the installation is not, or cannot be made acceptable for tiling over with a thin bed system, Method F111, or another method, may be required.

As described in TR712, it is critical that the existing installation be sound, well bonded and without structural cracks. It must be determined if the existing installation will properly support the new installation. The existing tile and its bond to the substrate and the condition of the substrate will all reflect on the performance of the new installation. If there are existing structural cracks, their cause will have to be explored before using the existing surface as a substrate. It is advisable to consider the need for a partial or full crack isolation membrane. Those methods are F125-Partial and F125-Full in the TCNA Handbook.

Any existing expansion in the substrate beneath the existing installation must be honored in the new installation. TCNA Handbook Method EJ171 will be the reference to all expansion and other types of joints that must be honored and designed and installed into the new system. Note that EJ171 states the architect shall specify the location of any expansion joints and other soft joints throughout the field and other locations such as the perimeter and any change in plane. Have the architect specify in writing (via drawings) where these are to go and which materials and EJ171 details should be used to construct them.

Checking for the ability to bond to the existing tile is imperative. If there are sealers or oils or waxes, etc., on the existing sur- face, they must be removed. If the tile is highly polished, it will likely require mechanical abrasion to allow the bond coat to adhere. I suggest doing a simple bond test by mixing and placing (including keying in) the mortar that will be used for the project onto the surface of the existing tile. Do this in several representative locations. Allow the mortar to cure for several days then remove it to determine how well it was able to bond to the substrate. You can select the trowel you will use for the job, comb the mortar and place a tile on top of the bond coat as a means of checking your coverage and inspecting the overall performance of the bond coat at the same time. Document everything about this test in writing and with photographs. Repeat the test with other materials and

tools if needed.
Depending on the results of the

bond test, it may be advisable to apply a primer that will facilitate bonding. Some setting-material manufacturers have specific primers designed for this purpose. They can recommend their best products (including mortar) for this application. I suggest using a system approach from one manufacturer that includes any primers, membranes, mortars, grouts, sealants, sealers, etc. I advise you to contact the technical representative of your preferred manufacturer about this job. They will be happy to assist you in writing a system warranty specific to this job.

Please also refer to ANSI A108.01 2.6.2.2 as an important reference for this installation.

It is necessary to ensure the substrate meets industry standard flatness requirements found in the ANSI Standards and TCNA Handbook. Please refer specifically to ANSI A108.01 2.6.2.2.

Generally speaking the standard is:

  • 1/4” in 10’ for tile with any side 
less than 15”
  • 1/8” in 10’ for tile with any side 
15’ or longer
  • Flatness can be checked with a 
10’ straight edge.

Financial allowances must be included in the specification, and proposal for labor and materials to flatten and otherwise prepare the substrate must be included in the specification and proposal. 
Tiling over sound existing tile as a substrate is an excellent way to proceed. As with any tile installation, careful research, proper planning, using the recommendations of industry standards, following manufacturer instructions, using a system approach, good communication and documentation before you proceed will mean a great and long-lasting installation and will make all parties happy with the end result. You are already on the right path. I hope this helps!

Mark Heinlein, NTCA Trainer/Presenter

NTCA University

Knowledge is power, the saying goes. And NTCA is doing its best to be sure you are knowledgeable about your industry and your trade, and a powerful force among customers, clients and competitors.

One of the ways NTCA is doing this is through NTCA University. If you haven’t heard about this veritable online college, visit www.tile-assn.com for details.

To recap, the first six months of the Finisher Apprentice Program in NTCA University are complete, packed with course content from contractors and manufacturers. There are over 40 courses in the 0 – 6 month Finisher Apprentice Orientation section of the program. Each course ranges from 10-20 minutes in length and has a quiz following to test the learner’s knowledge. These courses are, obviously, useful for apprentices, but also for those in the industry for many years since they contain safety and product information that benefits anyone in the trade. For example, if you haven’t worked with epoxy grout for a while, you can take a course on it as a refresher.

One of the benefits of NTCA membership is that NTCA contractor members receive special pricing.

  • NTCA Contractor Members: $99 per company
  • Associate/Affiliate Members: $199 per company
  • Non-NTCA Members: $499 per company

If you purchase this subscription, you will have access to all of the online learning content, including anything new that is created, through December 31, 2017. As long as you have internet access, you can view courses from a computer, tablet, or phone.

Visit the NTCA Store at www.tile-assn.com to purchase your NTCA University subscription. And get started pumping up your knowledge or welcoming new apprentices, armed with know-how and information to make your company a leader in the field.

Want to know more? Visit NTCA University Update on page 98 of this issue.

Editor’s Letter – July 2017

“Without labor, nothing prospers.” – Sophocles
“All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance, and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”  – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Yesterday, June 8, I happened to see a clip of Ivanka Trump on Fox & Friends in which she discussed the upcoming trip she, her father and labor Secretary Alexander Acosta will make today to Wisconsin to address the skills gap and workforce training. The plan is to tour Waukesha County Technical College with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to discuss these issues, and the value of apprenticeship programs.

Although the White House has proposed cuts in overall job training programs, and no actual proposals for work-force training have been announced at this writing, clearly shining a light on the importance of skills training to bridge the gap between available jobs and people qualified to fill them – and to provide a viable career path alternative other than a four-year college – is a good thing.

Reserving the right to not be political in this column but to simply draw attention to efforts being made that may benefit our trade, let me just say that I hope this attention will stimulate a groundswell of enthusiasm towards establishing apprenticeship and skills training programs again in this country. I’m proud of the apprenticeship program NTCA is offering through the hard work of Becky Serbin, Dan Welch, Dave Rogers and others and others, and promise of additional training opportunities that will roll out later this year.

By the time you receive this issue of TileLetter, this may be old news on the national front or proposals may have already been made. But in our industry it’s front and center news every day.

On May 28, on the Tile Geeks Facebook page, Phil Green posed a question about people who are concerned that trades are not attracting new blood. He said a friend recently asked, “Why don’t you look into being a partner with [this] organization and mentor a couple of kids that MIGHT have an interest in the trades?”

Green got varying responses to his post. There were the true but predictable responses that shop and trade training has been eliminated from high schools over the years. Some posters indicated upcoming high school programs being formed that earn students credits for working in the field with local contractors, or programs that have attempted this with either high-school students, veterans and ex-convicts that have been tabled due to budget cuts. Some posters shared that they have spoken at classes at their vo-tech schools or churches. David Rothberg of LATICRETE noted that the company holds a masonry/tile trade day at its Connecticut facility for local state trade school students with hands-on demos and information on available opportunities, and offered its help to support such an effort.

And Ken Ballin, of Skyro Floors in Tuckerton, N.J., got fired up and suggested, “I’ve already sent a message to a teacher friend of mine about putting a ‘tradesman (and women) night’ together and it will go to administration this week. I encourage all to do the same. Let’s brainstorm and get some ideas together. Let’s stop complaining about what’s happened in the schools and do something. There’s no time like the present and there’s no better reason to do something for our kids.”

Let’s think about it. And do something about it. Is there an opportunity at a technical school, high school, community center, church, synagogue, mosque or spiritual center to organize or participate in a career night for trades people and technical workers to come together to expose kids making decisions about their future to the possibility that a trade might be the ticket to a lucrative, fulfilling future for them; something that would never be in danger of being outsourced or automated?

Everyone is busy; everyone is tired at the end of the day. But hopefully, you have some enjoyment and pride in the work you do, and would like to see our trade continue. I’d love to hear the ideas you come up with and actions you are taking to promote our trade and ensure there is a new generation of skilled craftspeople to carry it forward into the future. Write to me at the email below!

God bless,

Lesley

lesley@tile-assn.com

President’s Letter – July 2017

Developing an attractive career path in the tile trade

This month, we follow up on last month’s President Letter discussing how we become “Best in Class” contractors, and how one of the centerpieces is being skilled and trained craftspeople. Let’s talk about the elephant in the room; there is a serious shortage of young, talented workers entering the construction field as a career choice.

In last month’s Editor’s Letter, we learned that in the 2016 U.S. market, the public consumed approximately 2.8 billion sq. ft. of ceramic tile. Based on some quick number crunching and lots of assumptions, between 70,000 and 80,000 full-time tile mechanics would be required to install that volume of tile. This does not include installing any stone finishes. Even though the NTCA has approximately 1,400 members and CTEF has certified approximately 1,300 Certified Tile Installers nationwide, added together, it’s all a proverbial “drop in the bucket!”

This doesn’t mean that most – or many – installers not belonging to one of these groups are unqualified; it does mean that we need to work hard to draw them in to a program of continuing education and training along with potential certification. Based on the number and scope of failures that exist in our trade, it’s safe to say that a sizable number of those installing tile have neither been properly trained nor are seeking further professional development.

I was talking with a general contractor recently about this issue, and we began to think about all the impediments that keep non-college aspiring young people from taking a serious look at the construction field as a career choice. We came up with several that might be worth our attention. On average, there are few organized training programs regionally or nationally on the high school/vocational school level that allow students to learn and earn a diploma or work at the same time. The only exceptions we could identify quickly were the electrical and mechanical trades, which also require certifications – and in some cases, licensing – to climb the career ladder. Add to that, the often-poor working conditions on project sites such as limited elevators or buck hoists, non-air-conditioned work areas, and disorganized work spaces with numerous other trades often working in the same rooms. I’m sure there are many more you can think of, but probably one of the most important is the low earning potential of many workers during the training process and potentially even beyond.

We need to start the dialog about how we as an industry can develop an attractive career path, including training that will show entrants what they must achieve to earn their desired income. At the same time, we need to attempt to minimize some of the other negatives of the modern construction environment. As a finish trade with highly artistic components, I believe we have an advantage over some other trades because our work is always on display.

Dan Welch and Becky Serbin – along with the Education and Training Committee – are working hard to put together the complete apprenticeship program, which will include a career path and earning scale. If you haven’t checked it out yet, I invite you to do so. This is only one piece of a comprehensive plan we must develop or eventually we will all suffer the consequences.

I welcome your comments and ideas about how to move forward and I ask for your involvement and participation in the solution.

Keep on tiling!

Martin Howard, NTCA president

Committee member, ANSI A108

mhoward@davidallen.com

ON THE COVER – Merkrete Systems – July 2017 Feature

Merkrete System ensures style and longevity in the lap of luxury

Photos courtesy of Bill Caldwell of Caldwell Images. www.caldwellimages.com

In a project where luxurious sophistication is the name of the game, each and every detail, no matter how large or small, makes all the difference in the final presentation. The Sagamore Pendry Baltimore – of premier hospitality brand Pendry Hotels – is the newest hot spot for luxury travel and indulgence in Baltimore’s historic yet newly renovated Fell’s Point neighborhood. Developed in collaboration between Montage International and Sagamore Development Company, the hotel boasts 128 luxury guestrooms and suites and several glamorous restaurants, lounges and bars. From the American Industrial Age-themed murals and décor, to the Grand Ballroom with sky-high ceilings, to the visionary choice and placement of stone tiles throughout the building, each unique detail of the Pendry Baltimore denotes and delivers a story and vision.

Flair and functionality come together

The impressive interior style combines sophisticated, inspired design reminiscent of the city’s rich industrial heritage with a modern, edgy perspective; juxtaposing rich, warm wood with eye-catching, cool stone furnishings throughout and complemented by unique American accent pieces. Designed by architect and Baltimore’s own Patrick Sutton, the Pendry Baltimore sets the standard for the melding of both new and vintage styles. The stone installations throughout the building perfectly match this high-class, world traveler aesthetic, as each piece was masterfully chosen and strategically placed for an extra touch of glamour and ensured functionality.

When NTCA Five Star Contractor Profast Commercial Flooring was approached by Whiting-Turner General Contractors to supply the cost-efficient, high-performing materials they wanted from around the world, Profast president Kevin Killian knew they’d need a trusted and top-quality waterproofing system to ensure a job well done. Upon reviewing the scope of the project, all answers pointed definitively to Merkrete, the leader in waterproofing, crack-isolation and underlayment technology. The expertly chosen stone tiles grace the hotel’s grand lobby floors, every guest bathroom on the shower walls, shower floors, shower curbs, stone base, stone flooring and stone backsplash, along with the restaurant and bar floors, interior and exterior fireplaces and public bathrooms. To prevent any potential moisture issues in such highly utilized areas, Merkrete’s trusted system won them the contract. 

A versatile solution seals the deal

When it comes to the critical waterproofing under tile in the stone-clad bathrooms, guest and public, Merkrete’s BFP waterproofing membrane system was the only solution. Durable and long lasting, this membrane system is designed for heavy-duty applications, promising zero leaks or cracks, even with severe exposure and high amounts of traffic.

Because of the size of the showers in the guest bathrooms, Killian needed a versatile product that could address several specific needs at the same time: a pre-mixed product that could be used to form the shower pans while also repairing imperfections in the floors. Merkrete’s sales representative on the job, Chris Zampella, said, “I immediately knew that Merkrete’s Underlay C was the perfect product for these requirements. Its versatility allows you to build up to 3” and spread to almost a feather edge (1/8”). You don’t usually get that in a single product.”

Merkrete proved the perfect match for a specific challenge, again considering the strength of the mortar it called for. “We used very large stone panels, which require a mortar with a super high bondability that can handle the weight of the panels,” said Killian. Merkrete 855 XXL is a one-step, polymer-modified setting adhesive for installing extra-large-format porcelain, ceramic tile and natural stone for both floors and walls, and can be used as thin- or medium-bed setting adhesive for stone. Merkrete proved it could hold its weight.

In addition to the waterproofing membrane system the hotel required, Merkrete was the trusted source yet again in providing high-performance, sustainable grout in the lobby and bar floors. “Merkrete’s ProGrout is a fast-setting, polymer-modified, color-consistent and efflorescence-free high performance grout that exceeds ANSI A118.7 for all types of ceramic and dimensional stone tiles on walls and floors,” said Zampella. “It works for grout joint widths of 1/16” up to 1/2” wide, eliminating the need for different grout products and allowing Kevin the versatility he required.”

Part of the challenge in this project involved the fast-track timeline. Installation began in June 2016 and was completed by November 2016. It was critical that Killian chose a company that would be able to get the products delivered and the job completed on time. Merkrete is a member of ParexGroup, one of the largest companies and a worldwide leader in tile setting materials, façade finishes and technical mortars, established in 22 countries with 68 manufacturing plants and over 4,100 employees. “Merkrete was perfect for this project’s requirements, because we have plants and distribution centers all over the country, so our turnaround time and ability to get our products there quickly were no problem,” says Zampella.

With the Pendry Baltimore having just recently celebrated its grand opening, the guests have flooded in to experience the fine culinary offerings while embracing the idyllic harbor setting and incredible architecture. In the years to come, more renovations may take place, but thanks to Merkrete, you can be sure the stone tiles will be standing strong.

 

Photos courtesy of Bill Caldwell of Caldwell Images. www.caldwellimages.com

Taking a look at the testing behind the tech: TCNA Lab active in new gauged porcelain tile standard

Traditionally, Tech Talk is a place to bring information of specific, practical tips for day-to-day tile installation. But this installment will focus on the technical work that goes on behind the scenes in the TCNA labs, which impacts testing, standards and other aspects of tile and associated products that contractors work with every day. This information was made public at Coverings in April.

TCNA Lab active in new gauged porcelain tile standard

When ANSI A137.3-2017 and A-108.19-2017 were approved recently, their 32 cumulative pages represented many hours of work on behalf of “thin tile” advocates across the globe. The science behind the standards, meanwhile, was provided by a tightly knit group based out of Anderson, S.C., who logged approximately 4,000 hours over six months to make the standard a reality.

“While a number of folks in the industry were absolutely critical in spearheading the thin tile project, and in keeping it moving forward at an incredibly rapid pace, there’s no question our lab played a decisive role in its eventual composition,” said Eric Astrachan, executive director, Tile Council of North America (TCNA). “In fact, our lab plays an integral role in the development of many of this industry’s standards – thin tile is just the latest example. We couldn’t develop consensus as we do today without the lab leading the way through their R&D efforts. We’re very proud of the work they do.”

TCNA Lab Technician Scott Davis (l.) reviews results with Claudio Bizzaglia. Testing and research conducted at the TCNA Lab contributes to the development of many tile (and related products) indus- try standards – the ANSI A137.3-2017 and A108.19-2017 gauged porcelain standards being the latest examples.

“Standards development is a challenging and interesting cross-disciplinary project for our staff,” said director of Laboratory Services Claudio Bizzaglia. “We have a standards team that attacks each particular standards project we work on, and then, depending on the nature of the project, we pull in specific additional staff members, depending on their specialties. The standards we’ve worked on recently or we’re working on now include a new surface abrasion method for ceramic tiles, multiple water absorption methods, various aspects of the glass tile standard, ongoing coefficient of friction studies, and the Robinson floor test method.”

“Having a diverse talent base to pull from here at TCNA is a tremendous asset in standards development and other industry-facing projects, just as it is for customer assignments,” Astrachan said. “With standards, the team has the additional benefit of knowing that they’re contributing something to an industry that we care very much about – and then, of course, it’s nice to have that expertise when it comes to helping our customers should a standard be ratified.”

 

Editor’s Letter – June 2017

I wouldn’t wish any specific thing for any specific person – it’s none of my business. But the idea that a four-year degree is the only path to worthwhile knowledge is insane. It’s insane.” – Mike Rowe

There’s a Mike Rowe video making the rounds on social media that prompted me to write this letter as a follow-up to the April Editor Letter that addressed the ersatz “job shortage” in our country.

In this recent 58-second video, which can be viewed at Rowe’s website at http://mikerowe.com/2017/05/quixotic-attempt-to-close-the-skills-gap/, Rowe asks the question, “Why do we only glamorize expensive colleges?”  He shows covers of popular magazines that rank top colleges in the U.S. – but points out that NONE of these rankings ever include a trade school. His video notes that even though more students than ever are entering 4-year colleges, trade jobs account for 54% percent of the labor market. His video explains that over the next 10 years, 3.5 million trade jobs will need to be filled, but 2 million of those will go unfilled due to the skills gap.

Every parent wants to be sure his or her child is well-equipped to make it in the world in a fulfilling job that keeps them in good financial health. And yet it is clear that a huge swath of opportunities are going unheeded, ignored and overlooked because they aren’t “college” positions. And jobs available NOW don’t require incurring massive debt from a four-year college.

Maybe part of the evolution to greater respect towards trades- and crafts-people is to start referring to trade schools as “trade colleges” to get them on the radar of those high school students (and their parents) looking to take the best angle for the future.

Rowe’s comment that trade schools are never mentioned in top colleges got me wondering, so I did a Google search for Top Trade Schools.  There ARE resources out there, but they don’t get quite the attention, or seem as valued, as traditional college educations. Or it could be that young people, assessing their future opportunities, don’t want to work with their hands, when technological devices have familiarized them with skills that are attached to keyboards and computer screens.

A little of what I found follows. Trade schools seem to lean heavily on medical, dental, mechanical and computer careers, but some schools offer construction training as well.

https://www.thebalance.com/best-trade-school-graduate-jobs-4125189:  Top 10 Jobs for Trade School Graduates

http://www.10besttrade.com/schools/: 10 Best Trade Schools, which includes Centura College in Virginia and South Carolina that offers studies in tiling and flooring in the Building Maintenance and Repair program; and Stratford Career Institute in St. Albans, Vt., and Fortis Institute Erie in Erie, Pa.,  have study in Construction Management.

https://www.trade-schools.net/articles/trade-school-jobs.asp gives a listing of 43 Trade School Jobs Among the Highest Paying Trades, and includes a search engine for trade schools.

http://www.abouttradeschools.com/overview/vocationalcareers/ provides a listing of trade schools in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., and a list of top 10 trade jobs, with construction jobs coming in at #6.

There are other groups that have made it their mission to promote, educate and prepare young men and women for careers in trades and crafts, such as the Construction Education Foundation of Georgia (cefga.org) and its involvement with the SkillsUSA (skillsusa.org) competition – which NTCA has supported —   and the National Center for Construction Education & Research (nccer.org).

There is heartening news afoot. On its website, CEFGA notes that Georgia public schools have over 150 skilled trade construction and metals programs and the 2016 Annual Report on the SkillsUSA site reports that in 2016, 1,299 middle-school students were enrolled as members of SkillsUSA, and 385 new chapters were added in 2015-16 according. It counts 385,488 members in its 2016-2017 year, which includes 316,197 students, primarily high school members.

What I DON’T see listed that often are tile installer training and programming. Masonry, contracting and construction management are popular curricula, but tile installer training still seems to be the purview of passed on family knowledge, apprenticeships, manufacturer and association training and self-learning.

This is one reason that NTCA University offers such an essential value – courses that support positions as finishers/apprentices in our trade. Visit http://www.tile-assn.com/?page=NTCAU to check out the offerings in apprenticeship, business and continuing education. And maybe pass it on to a young person who’s contemplating their future.

God bless,

Lesley

lesley@tile-assn.com

Business Tip – June 2017

Is your employee handbook up to snuff?

By Bob Scavone, Labor and Employment attorney, Jackson Lewis P.C.

“Do you have an employee handbook?” No matter the size of the business, or type of industry, this is one of the first questions I ask employers when speaking with them about their business practices and how they can lower the risk of liabilities. Having a handbook and providing employees copies, however, may not be enough to protect your business from legal liability or other unintended consequences. Lawsuits and agency claims, employee turnover, and poor public relations are a few examples of the unintended consequences that can result from outdated or unlawful handbook provisions, or ones that are misinterpreted or inconsistently administered by managers and supervisors.

To reduce your exposure, your employee handbook must be

1) Comprehensive

2) Tailored to your specific business and industry

3) Regularly reviewed and updated, and

4) Compliant with federal, state, and local laws and regulations.

Liability and an incomplete employee handbook

Why are employee handbooks important? First, handbooks set employer expectations and employee responsibilities. For example, your handbook should explain that the company expects its business practices and internal communications to be kept confidential and outline the consequences for breaching confidentiality. Similarly, your handbook should outline what constitutes prohibited conduct and establish consistent guidelines for disciplining those who violate company policy. Absent such guidelines, your company may be open to legal claims based on arbitrary or inconsistent discipline.

Second, a properly-designed handbook can protect your business against legal liability. For example, handbooks that do not include comprehensive anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies can expose employers to charges of harassment and discrimination. Your handbook should include policies that prohibit unlawful employment practices and explain to employees what to do if they are harassed or discriminated against and how to report such conduct. Ensuring your employees sign an acknowledgement form when they receive the handbook and any updates can significantly improve your chances of avoiding liability.

A comprehensive, carefully-developed employee handbook can be a valuable resource, providing important information about an organization’s history, mission, values, and culture, as well policies, procedures, and benefits. Consulting with an employment attorney is the best way to make sure you are covering all of the bases.

Company- and industry-specific

No two companies are the same, even in the same industry. The employer who uses cookie-cutter or off-the-shelf handbook templates to craft a handbook takes an unnecessary risk. First, templates rarely cover all of the topics that may be important to your business and typically do not address specific state laws and regulations. For example, many states have recently passed laws regulating whether (and under what circumstances) employees may store firearms in vehicles parked on company property. Even if an off-the-shelf handbook covers this issue, it likely will not cover the law specific to your state (or states, if your business operates in more than one). Moreover, a generic handbook may contain policies that are inconsistent with your company’s practices or customs.

Review. Update. Repeat.

Federal, state, and local labor and employment laws are changing constantly. For example, state and federal anti-discrimination laws are in flux with regard to whether discrimination based on sexual orientation is unlawful. Conduct that may not have been illegal when your handbook was issued may now be prohibited. With the assistance of employment counsel, your human resources professionals should monitor changes in the law and update your company’s policies regularly.

In addition to changes in the law, your handbook should keep up with changes in your company’s policies and practices. For example, your handbook should reflect changes in your IT policies or vacation matrix on a timely basis. Your employees must have access to the current policies to reduce your company’s exposure to liability.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” 

Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote is particularly relevant to employee handbooks. Let me be blunt: each of your employees is a potential plaintiff (or cause of litigation). Making sure you have a comprehensive, tailored, up-to-date handbook could save you a substantial amount of time, money, and grief. If you do not have an employee handbook, I strongly recommend that you get one. If you have one, check when it was last updated. If it has been more than a year since its last update, it is time to get your employee handbook up to snuff.

Robert Scavone Jr. is an attorney at Jackson Lewis P.C., which represents management exclusively in workplace law and related litigation. Its attorneys are available to assist employers in their compliance efforts and to represent employers in matters before state and federal courts and administrative agencies. Prior to becoming an attorney, Robert was an executive with one of the nation’s largest commercial flooring contractors and a member of the NTCA’s Board of Directors and Technical Committee. He works out of the firm’s Miami office and can be reached at 305-577-7619 or Robert.Scavone@JacksonLewis.com

This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice nor does it create an attorney/client relationship between Jackson Lewis P.C. and any readers or recipients. Readers should consult counsel of their own choosing to discuss how these matters relate to their individual circumstances. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without the express written consent of Jackson Lewis P.C.

 

President’s Letter – June 2017

Defining a “Best in Class Tile Contractor”

You have heard me use the term “Best in Class Tile Contractor” in past letters. So, what does that term mean? How do we bring our companies to that level of achievement? These are very good questions, and I’m glad you asked.

In a nutshell, the working definition of a “Best in Class Tile Contractor” is a professional contractor committed to excellence in every phase of their business, utilizing industry best practices, and has been recognized by its customers as a preferred contractor.

Other aspects of a “Best in Class Tile Contractor” are to use the right materials for the application and intended use, and carrying themselves in a professional manner, interacting respectfully with the client and other trades. And “Best in Class Tile Contractors” draft proposals and contracts that are well written and clearly identify the specific scope of work, while quoting a fair price — not a cheap price.

One of Stephen Covey’s principles of highly effective people is to “Begin with the end in mind.”  If we want to be successful, profitable, trusted, respected and preferred tile contractors, we must build our businesses on each of these principles. To become a “Best in Class Tile Contractor” we must be willing to invest in every aspect of our business. This means providing the best trained and skilled craftspeople, installing the best materials for the given application, while utilizing the current best practices of the trade.  Each of these elements requires consistent education and updating. Have you heard the statement, “I’ve been doing it this way for 20 years and never had a problem?” I’d say chances are high this individual is not part of a “Best in Class” organization.

Foundational to this is striving to hire and train the best people, and giving them the opportunity to stay on top of the latest industry standards and best practices. If we aren’t aggressively seeking to keep up with these improvements, we will quickly be left behind. Our level of professionalism will gradually decline until we become reactionary in nature rather than proactive.

When I visit job sites and talk with crews of installers and finishers, it becomes clear very quickly that they have received minimal training. They may have had a mentor for a short time, but most have just figured it out in the field, picking up a little here and there. Most of these crews are eager to learn “best practices” because they want to walk away from every completed job with pride in their finished work.

The NTCA has many options for you to take advantage of when considering training and education curricula for your craftspeople. The Finisher Apprenticeship on-line training program is an excellent place to start. Participation and involvement at Total Solutions Plus, Coverings or TISE West (Surfaces) can supplement your regular educational activities. Getting copies of the TCNA Handbook and ANSI A108, and beginning the process of learning how to use these industry recommendations and standards is another great step forward.

We all need to evaluate our businesses and find the areas where we aren’t using best practices and implement procedures to move us toward the goal. The health of our companies is at risk and so is the health of our industry. We all know that skilled craftspeople are in short supply and the only way to improve this is to train and educate those we have and those entering the trade.

Let’s all make a commitment to see the NTCA logo carry recognition and respect from the customers that employ us. Keep on tiling!

Martin Howard, president, NTCA Committee member, ANSI A108

mhoward@davidallen.com

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