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        “Preserving the Past – Protecting the Future” by Jeffrey Steele
        January 30th, 2012

        As a child growing up in Scotland, Sheila A. Menzies was entertained by the stunning floral tiles that surrounded her grandmother’s best room fireplace.

        Across the Atlantic in Rochester, New York, Joseph A. Taylor was spending an early childhood in front of a Tiffany tile fireplace at his family’s home.

        Inspired by the beauty of tile at very early ages, it was only natural that Menzies and Taylor would join forces to create the Tile Heritage Foundation in Healdsburg, California in 1987. The foundation has since come to be seen as the singular authority on art tile heritage in the United States.

        In the One-on-One interview that follows, Taylor and Menzies trace the evolution of their foundation, share their philosophy ?on the importance art tile preservation, divulge some? secrets of their research methodology, and share insights about the future? of their organization.


        ?TileDealer: Why is tile preservation important?

        Taylor: It’s kind of fundamental, because the tiles that the Tile Heritage Foundation focuses upon are a decorative art form. They would fall into the same category as any other decorative art. When installations of decorative art are part of public places, they become an integral part of the cultural fabric. People identify with this decorative art form on the buildings in their own cities and towns. So in a sense, it’s very definitely part of the cultural fabric, and that’s definitely worth preserving.

        Even the glazed tiles that became part of storefront decoration after World War II, with glossy black, maroon, and diagonal patterns or a combination of patterns and designs to attract attention to the store, fall into the decorative art category. They are commercial tiles, produced primarily for their function, but become decorative art because of the design of their installation.

        Menzies: A great deal of literature has been dedicated to art pottery, and tiles are no different, but are considered something of a step-child. That’s why we began exploring the questions of what they are, where they come from, and who made them. That’s why we started the Tile Heritage Foundation.


        TD:? How and when did you start the Tile Heritage Foundation?

        Menzies: It was started in 1987 when we were returning from a winter trip.? Joe had thought it would be a great idea to write a book about tile history in California, then broadening the book to cover the history of tile across the nation.

        It became a larger and larger project. So we agreed, let’s start a non-profit. Let’s ingather, based on who has knowledge.

        Taylor: We have a whole slew of taped interviews from those early days.? Both Sheila and I interviewed many of the old-timers. I’d been involved with the McIntyre Tile Co. here in Healdsburg, and from my experience was increasingly aware of other companies making tiles. I also met other people who comprised the older generation. So even before the foundation started, I was interviewing people, and many people told me, ‘If there’s anything else I can do, please let me know.’ We felt we had established a base of interest for an organization. We stopped in a bookstore and purchased Anthony Mancuso’s book titled How to Start a Non-profit. Six months later, in July 1987, we got our status as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization through the federal government and State of California.


        TD: What skills did you bring from the start to the operation??

        Taylor:? I had worked at a tile company from 1973 to 1985, so I had tile in my blood. Twelve years got me oriented in the tile world, in charge of sales and marketing for what was basically a small company where we not only made our tiles by hand but also made all the machinery we used to make the tiles. My college degree was in English, and I taught in the Peace Corps, and I had taught remedial English at UCLA, and in order to get the message out for the Tile Heritage Foundation, we started with a quarterly newsletter, ‘Flash Point.’

        Those skills came in handy. And my family is very artistic, I have two sisters who are professional artists. My mother was an artist, and my dad was active in nonprofit organizations. It was all right there.

        Menzies: One of the things that’s always been very important is that Joe and I are kind of a meld. He is a detail person and I’m a big picture person. My background is in art, but not in ceramics. I have a lot of very practical skills, and also write very well. We were on the same page. I grew up in Scotland, surrounded by tiles. My whole focus was easily directed into another kind of artistic and creative outlet. The nuts and bolts of what we do, whether answering questions, researching, archiving or publishing, we have those abilities.

        There’s a lot of crossover of skills, and we bring different attributes to the table.


        TD: How do you identify tile worth preserving?

        Taylor:? The installations we deal with aren’t always public. In fact, more than half the time, when we get an inquiry, it’s regarding a private home. Someone wants to identify the tiles on the fireplace. We will get a call in which someone describes their fireplace, and we say that’s like doing a root canal over the phone. You need a picture. Digital photography has made this whole arena so simple for us. Not a week goes by without us responding to someone wanting to know about the tile in their home. Compared to 25 years ago, we now have direct access to all kinds of books on historic tile, and many tile catalogs from manufacturing companies and tile studios operating during the last 150 years. So we have the resources to research what’s found in the home.

        Out in the public arena, it’s a different story, because normally the Tile Heritage Foundation is contacted when an installation somewhere in the U.S. is being threatened with demolition. We’re called upon by concerned community members to identify and authenticate an installation in its setting. That’s where our knowledge and writing skills come in, because we’re writing to an architect, a school board, or a government agency to provide our opinion as to the historic importance of the installation. In the case of some installations we’ve been involved in saving, we’re not out there on the front lines. We’re just the information providers. It’s the community citizens who have gotten together and decided they have to find out what this is. When they find out from us that it has significance, they go to bat for these tile installations themselves.

        For instance, there were architects who used decorative tiles in fireplaces installed in schools to provide an environment to teach kids how to read. This phenomenon was particularly seen in kindergartens built in the 1910s and ‘20s.

        Menzies: Fireplace tiles in schools were used to help teach children how to read. Not only did the artwork on the tile often reflect a nursery rhyme, but the teacher would sit before the fireplace because it was a home-like environment.

        Many county courthouses went up across this country in the 18th and 19th centuries where encaustic tiles were used on the floors. Encaustic or geometric tiles are colored clay tiles cut in shapes that make up larger designs. Instead of having a glaze on the top of them, the entire body of the tile was made up of one color of clay creating a very enduring product. However, after 100 years of wear, you do see an impact on that floor.

        Many municipalities try to find out where that original tile was made and if it’s available for replacement purposes. That’s an important thing to document.?? And that information makes a restoration more possible.


        PT: What kind of research is involved?

        Taylor: In many cases, the Tile Heritage Foundation, meaning either Sheila or myself, have been collaborators in writing tile books that are out there. Or we’ve provided our editorial skills.

        What’s important here is that over these 25 years, one of the principal things that Tile Heritage has done is serve as a receptacle for information about the output of companies producing tile over the last 150 years. We estimate we have between 30,000 and 40,000 individual documents about the manufacture of specific tiles.

        Menzies: Today, companies and studios sending us new material for the archives will provide sell sheets and other current advertising.? We also receive weblinks and digital images of current products and installations. We have over 35,000 images of tiles and installations that have now been digitized, many from slide originals taken by us. It’s a huge body of work available as a resource.


        TD: Do you document what you’ve found? If so, how?

        Taylor: If you walk into the Tile Heritage Library, which is open to the public by appointment, you find file cabinets and the file drawers are manila folders representing the materials we have on different companies. The files are alphabetized, from A to Z, on all companies producing tiles in the United States, from the middle of the 19th Century on. In addition to these files, we have information on contemporary tile makers organized in the same way. .

        Menzies: The information represented in these physical resources will eventually be accessible via a digital card catalog system. Ultimately our files will be able to be researched that way on line. This is one of the priorities we anticipate getting under way soon. We’ve embarked on that with all of our photography, transforming it digitally and documenting the sources.

        Currently our ephemeral materials are in physical files; they will remain that way but will be enhanced, kept alive for use with a finding aid or digital card catalog online at our website that would be used to find specific articles, for instance, on a specific tile.


        TD: Do you have inquiries/requests from other preservationists?

        Taylor:? Yes, both in terms of the public installations about which we are approached by people concerned about preserving those installations, and also by private individuals wanting the installations in their homes identified. Preservationists want information on installations in their own communities. They’re concerned about preserving what they have. But they first want to know if it’s worth expending time, energy and money to preserve.

        We say no it’s not, or yes it is, and then back up our position with information. There are a handful of very skilled people around the country who are able to remove tiles without breaking them, when preserving the tile is required before a building in which the tile is installed is demolished.


        Menzies: What shouldn’t be forgotten is the role of the tile dealer in all this.? Dealers will call us because someone has come to them and said ‘I have a really beautiful installation in my home built in the 1920s. I need to have my bathroom tile matched, because I need new piping behind the existing tile installation and part of it has to be removed.’? They don’t know what to do next.

        Taylor: What we can do is simply steer the dealers to sources where old tiles are stockpiled for sale, and there are a number of these places around the U.S. We can also direct their attention to contemporary tile makers who are able to skillfully replicate historic art tile.


        TD: How’ve you spread the word about the Tile Heritage Foundation?

        Taylor: When the foundation first started, we published a newsletter called Flash Point was printed and mailed out quarterly for 15 years: it varied in length from 8 to 16 pages. In the early 1990s, we launched Tile Heritage: A Review of American Tile History. We still sell back issues of these magazines. Today, our comparable publication “E-News” is available online. Starting in 1991, we presented an annual tile symposium that we presented in different cities around the U.S., which were three- to five-day events. We had lectures on historic and contemporary tiles, tours of the city’s tile installations, tile-making workshops, and a sale of art tiles. We did this for 13 years, and it really got to the point where it was too much work, and the community that the events were designed to serve did not fully utilize them.

        Menzies: As the web developed over the last 20 years, the way people connected with information changed dramatically. Fewer and fewer people wanted to gather in one place to take part in such symposiums.

        Taylor: At Coverings, in the early days, art tiles were presented haphazardly on the convention floor. But the organizers have now highlighted art tile in the American area of Coverings. This is where people gravitate because of the art. It’s a marvelous aspect and really speaks very well of the support of the various tile organizations representing the United States at this international event. This annual convention has had a direct, positive effect on communications within the tile industry. Artists and others know they can go to Coverings, talk to other artists, and experience tile artistry firsthand.

        Menzies: This is another place where dealers come into play. We have many dealers who are members of the Tile Heritage Foundation. One of the things they do that helps promote the foundation is display our attractive brochure or a sign that says they are a member of the foundation. They can assist in promoting what the foundation is about.

        Tiles being made anywhere today are historic tomorrow. The dealers have catalogs and samples from multiple tile makers. In fact, dealers are archivists — they just don’t realize they are.


        TD: Has the foundation developed as expected, or has it morphed a bit with time?

        Menzies: The mission of Tile Heritage has not changed.

        Our mission going forward has always been the same, preserving, protecting and documenting tiles and other ceramic surfacing materials. Technology has actually enhanced our ability to do that.

        Taylor: Technology has greatly assisted communication. People throughout the U.S. have this organization, the Tile Heritage Foundation. They can contact us by sitting down at their computer or contacting us on their iPad.


        Menzies: If people don’t know of a particular tile maker, we have a printed directory soon to be available as a PDF online, and we also have resources right on our website, the Member Tile Gallery, with thumbnails taking you to all these members‘ websites. It’s a super resource for dealers, architects and designers. See http://www.tileheritage.org.


        TD: What are some of the interesting tile preservation projects you’ve been involved in?

        Taylor: Within the last two years, we have been directly involved in saving two historic mantels in elementary schools, one in Royal Oak, Michigan, and the other in Cranford, New Jersey. Both fireplaces were adorned with Flint Faience tiles from the 1920s, both slated to go down with the buildings. In both cases we were contacted by community members, former alumni, who were concerned—desperate is a better term—that “their” tiles were going to be destroyed when their school buildings were demolished. We were able to supply the proper documentation authenticating the historic importance of the tiles and recommend a tile contractor with the expertise necessary to remove the tiles without damage. In Royal Oak the tiles were reinstalled in a new school; in Cranford the tiles are waiting for a new home.

        Menzies: Similarly, when the old East High in Erie, Pennsylvania was on the block for demolition, a team recommended by Tile Heritage successfully removed the American Encaustic tile panels from twelve water fountains on the walls of the old school, and these were ultimately reinstalled as a permanent display in the corridors of the new East High School in Erie, not as water fountains but as decorative tile art.

        TD: Do you sense tile preservation is gaining more support?

        Menzies: In America, it used to be ‘tear it to the ground and ask questions later.’ Now there’s much more awareness and sensitivity.

        In communities like Los Angeles, for example, you can’t destroy a building if it has an art element on it, and that may actually be true of buildings without art on them. You may not raze that building without special permits.

        Taylor: I’m sure you’re familiar with the Antiques Road Show. Never is a show aired without a piece of pottery or an artistic tile being appraised, because people want to know what those art items are worth. It shows that people in the United States are becoming increasingly conscious of their art history.

        It has to do with our age, not our personal age but the age of our country.? I think citizens of the United States are getting more and more into the idea that their country’s history is important, and that’s where the Tile Heritage Foundation becomes important to them, in assisting the validation of that history.


        TD: Where do you see the Tile Heritage Foundation going next?

        Taylor: In addition to the information we have talked about, we also have a collection of tiles donated to the foundation over the last 25 years. These are historic artifacts that date back 125 years. Our intention is to get these in a virtual museum-like setting.

        Menzies: These tiles are already photographed; it’s a matter of setting up a portion of our website so those tile images are available. Tile Heritage is not a museum, but we will create one virtually. Getting the tiles in the collections in the public eye is an important thing. And that’s definitely in the works.

        Taylor: It will feel like walking into a gallery with art tile on display.


        TD: Any final thoughts?

        Menzies: None of what we do would be possible without support, and it’s important that the TileDealer readership support Tile Heritage. For more information see http://www.tileheritage.org.



        Joseph Taylor, Sheila Menzies, co-founders

        Tile Heritage Foundation, Healdsburg, CA



        In Search of Recovery by Jeffrey Steele
        January 16th, 2012

        With the dawning of a new year, it’s only natural for businesses to engage in reappraisal.? The last few years have been among the toughest on record for the tile industry, and that fact has many companies taking stock of the recent past, and looking ahead to what will hopefully be a brighter tomorrow.

        With this in mind, TileDealer has brought together some of the industry’s brightest minds to give us a sense of where the industry is now, and where it may be going.? While none of them possess crystal balls, the wisdom they’ve gained through long industry experience makes them among the best prognosticators around.?? In the pages that follow they assess the economic damage of the recent recession, lay out reasons for optimism and, importantly, consider ?how dealers should position themselves for the near future.

        The construction field has clearly been the most decimated segment of the entire economy, and that has had profound impact on the entire tile industry, says Al Bates, president and CEO of Boulder, Col.-based Profit Planning Group, a profitability research firm that also prepares CTDA’s Profit Analysis Report. .

        “The people in the construction segment have had to work harder than anyone else to be successful,” Bates says, noting tile, like other construction-related industries, has seen revenues plunge 20 to 25 percent since 2008.

        The tile industry has recovered slightly since 2010, he adds.? One of the reasons it has is that many tile industry companies no longer exist.? “That’s not a recovery in terms of an entire industry,” he says.? “But it’s a recovery in terms of those businesses who are still there trying to make a profit.”

        Steve Rausch, Atlanta-based field marketing and technical services manager for Chicago-based U.S. Gypsum, agrees.? “We’ve flushed out a lot of people — manufacturers, distributors, dealers — who needed to be flushed out,” he opines.? “There were a lot of people who in better times found the business easy.? They made money, but didn’t know what they were doing, or didn’t care.? There were manufacturers who expanded into areas where they didn‘t have any expertise, and they weren‘t legitimate, and now they’re gone.”

        For Kermit Baker, director of the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies, Harvard University, the whole malaise can be traced back to the decade of overbuilding in the housing market that occurred prior to 2007.? “A lot of units we didn’t really need we’re still discovering.? And five years in, we’re dealing with it,” he says.

        “There are estimates we have an additional three million vacant housing units, above and beyond typical rates.? We’re dealing with an industry overhang.”

        The Great Recession has “obviously been pretty devastating for our industry, as the new housing market fell off the face of the earth,” adds Donato Pompo, president of San Diego-based Ceramic Tile and Stone Consultants, an international team of consultants performing forensic investigations, providing architectural specifications and quality control, marketing and training services.

        “When people buy new homes or purchase used homes and do remodeling, they select ceramic, glass or stone tile for the project.? Lack of confidence and discretionary income has kept folks from spending.

        “That’s had a huge impact on our industry.”


        Signs of hope

        Despite the drumbeat of negative news advanced by media, there are signs of improvement, Baker says.? The basic building blocks are household formations, he observes, adding that in the 1990s, 1.1 to 1.2 million households were being formed every year, and that number grew to more than 1.3 million a year in the first five years of the millennial decade.? For the past four years, household formations have averaged perhaps half a million annually, he adds.

        But Baker believes that by the time 2011 has been fully tallied, it will be found the country added close to 1 million new households: ?an encouraging rebound.

        “We need to start eroding that excess inventory” of homes, he says.

        “We need to work that off, and start seeing new housing units being built.”

        Pompo also cites encouraging signs.? In third quarter 2011, housing permits nationwide increased by 6.5 percent, and existing home sales grew by 17.8 percent nationwide, he says, quoting statistics from Stuart Hirschhorn at Catalina Research.? It’s also been reported that floor covering store sales have increased as well.? They were down 7.9 percent in the first half of 2011, but increased 1.2 percent in the third quarter, again per Catalina Research.

        What may be driving home sales increases, Pompo adds, is consumers’ belief that depreciation has finally left home prices at levels they can afford.? They also may be reacting to historically low mortgage rates and slightly rising employment levels.

        Share of household delinquencies on mortgage payments fell to their lowest levels since the fourth quarter of 2008, Pompo says, again referring to Catalina Research numbers.? “So the question is how sustainable are these trends?” he observes.? “Catalina Research forecasts are that we may see stronger floor covering sales for 2012, but all bets are off for 2013.”

        Mitch Dancik, chairman of the board of Cary, NC-based Dancik International, Inc., reports that while the tile and flooring markets are off 40 percent from their highs, the key story is that tile distributors and dealers managed this downturn more effectively than expected, and more effectively than in past downturns.? That could suggest they’re positioned to rebound well.

        Rausch also sees signs of hope, but his indicators are far more anecdotal. “In the past month, I’ve flown into Toronto, Canada, and on final approach into the airport, I counted more than 50 cranes,” he says.

        “That level goes back to 2006, when there was a lot of construction demand in that city.? The conditions today are different than they were back then.? Someone’s actually paying for the construction rather than financing it through a construction loan, which speaks to the confidence they have.”

        When he was in Phoenix, a city with well-publicized economic woes, in November, Rausch saw notable levels of construction.? In conversations with folks in Atlanta and Miami, he has heard business is not setting records, but it’s better than it has been.? “People are saying I’ve got some extra money this year, and I’m going to remodel my kitchen and bathroom,” he says.? “The remodeling business is going to come back, but it will be different.? It’s not going to be six months same as cash, it’s going to be you have the money and you’ll spend it.”

        Baker also seems to feel remodeling may ignite sales.? “[Remodeling is] much closer to its long-term trend than housing is,” he says.? “Tile tends to be in the discretionary category, and it could take a little longer for that to snap back.? But on the other hand, indications are the discretionary projects are seeing some signs of life.? Again, however, the comeback has been a slow one.”

        Still, there are other observers who find it difficult to be upbeat at all.? Tom Carr, president of Pan-American Ceramics, a City of Industry, Cal.-based tile distributor, says the last year has been the same as the year before.? “And going forward, I don’t see a difference,” he adds.

        “Everyone talks about the economy improving, but we heard that in 2008, 2009 and 2010.? Without the foreclosure situation being rectified, I’m not expecting the next 12 months to be different from the last.

        “The only good news is it doesn’t appear to be getting worse.? But if our legislators have any way about it, they will make it worse.”

        Particularly discouraging is the environment on his home turf in the Golden State, where unemployment rates stand at 12 percent, vis-à-vis 9 percent nationwide.? “The foreclosure situation is worse, where the rate of new home growth was greatest, in states like Arizona, Nevada and California,” Carr adds.? “Those states were more dependent than others on new home building.”
        For his part, Bates says the only reason for optimism in the tile industry specifically is that homeowners have postponed remodeling for some time, and may have no choice but to remodel.? This phenomenon is clearly more evident on the upper end.? “But even at the lower end, when things have become so shopworn you can’t stand it any more, and tile is falling off walls, you remodel,”? he says.? “There’s some demand there that will be in evidence because people have to remodel.? But I see no optimism in the area of new housing starts.”

        How should tile dealers be positioned?

        Looking ahead, dealers and distributors will surely benefit from the fact that tile is positioned to be a preferred wall and floor covering among consumers, Dancik says.? “However, the tile industry will need to use technology more effectively in order to meet consumer expectations,” he adds.

        “Tile distributors and dealers used yesterday’s technology effectively to survive this recession.? They must now embrace today’s technology to stay competitive.”

        Without overall growth, tile dealers will be faced with the fact they can only grow their businesses by taking share from their competitors, Bates reports.

        “This gets back to really just running the business better,” he adds.? “When things are really good, you don’t look at pricing and say, ’Did I get all I could have from that sale?’? You ignore those things and go with the flow.? And right now, you have to look at all those things really closely.? It’s running the business the way we should have all along.? When things are good, you don’t look at things with the precision you must at times like right now.”

        It’s also the time to be consistent, Bates says.? If you are an upper-end dealer, you should be an upper-end dealer now as well as when times are good.? Moreover, dealers can’t cut back their presence in the market.? “When things get better, as they surely will, folks have to know who you are,” he says.? “If you maintain visibility now, you will have an advantage when things get better.”

        Rausch agrees.? Tile dealers must offer value, not just low price.? “A lot of people have ducked their heads under their wings, and have tried to survive just by offering low prices, rather than the value the customer is seeking,” he says.

        “I was at Total Solutions, and one of the major speakers spoke of tile as art.? Big boxes have been beating the tile dealer because no one is going to beat the big boxes on price.? But what the boxes can’t do is give you a custom tile job.

        “They can’t give you any sort of artistic project.? For the most part, their installers are not qualified to go in and do custom layouts and installations.

        “That’s where the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation and the CTDA work so well together.? They support each other on the craftsman and artistic end of the business, not just putting in tile.”

        Rausch notes only a handful of dealers and distributors are creating blogs aimed at consumers.? There should be hundreds, he says.? “Century Tile in Chicago is out every week putting decorating ideas out to consumers.? D & B Tile in Miami is going to the architectural community for commercial work with some of those same kinds of ideas.? Neuse Tile Service in Raleigh is going to the consumers with the message of quality tile.? Welsh Tile in Grand Rapids, Mich. is doing the same thing, with a blog to commercial and residential markets.”

        Baker notes that a couple of arenas within the remodeling sector are stronger than others.? One is the area of green retrofits, which tile dealers should leverage to the hilt, he says.? The other area showing even greater robustness is the rehabilitation of distressed properties.? In the nation’s tidal wave of distressed homes, there has been little incentive for occupants to remodel, until now.

        “These homes have been in the same situation for years, where very little money has been reinvested in even basic maintenance,” Baker says.? “If a household purchases that home for 50 or 60 cents on the dollar, the buyers have to go in and do some improvement to areas of the home not maintained in years.

        “That provides some opportunity.”

        If any additional proof is needed, Baker says the average distressed home is absorbing $4,000 in improvements as it is prepared for sale, about 50 percent more than would be spent by the average homeowner on home improvements over the course of a year, according to figures from Fannie Mae.

        For his part, Noah Chitty, the Crossville, Tenn.-based technical services director for Chicago-based Stonepeak Ceramics, says dealers and distributors must make themselves a resource to the end user.

        “They need to be the place that offers the education, and has the training,” he asserts.? “If the dealer can be that resource, it heads off the thought of buying from the Internet or from someone who doesn’t really know tile.? I think tile is still something you need to touch and feel to understand the beauty and physical properties.? If you’re buying tile for a residential application, you may not need all the physical properties we build into commercial tile.? But it takes an educated distributor to explain the important differences between the two.”

        Pompo agrees.? Dealers must focus on service, he argues, realizing a limited market exists for their products and the one way to grow their shares right now may be to differentiate themselves by providing heightened service.? “That’s always been their advantage over the big box stores,” he says.

        Like Bates and Rausch, he argues tile dealers can’t cut their prices overall, because doing so will only make them busier, in turn leading them to compromise their levels of service or be forced to spend more money to keep the quality of service high.

        One of the mathematical truths in marketing, he says, is that if a business decreases its prices by 10 percent and its costs remain the same, it has to increase sales volume by 43 percent just to break even.

        One way to improve service is by investing in employee training, Pompo adds.? “We provide the CTDA . . . the online training courses for selling ceramic tile and for selling stone,” he says.? “These courses give employees more confidence and credibility, making them more effective salespeople.? Training provides a return on investment that never ends.”

        Tile dealers also should make sure their showrooms are up to date and showcase both a good product representation and the features and benefits of the products.? Today’s consumer wants information, the kind provided in detailed features and benefits, Pompo says.

        Because the hot button these days is sustainability, tile dealers should also demonstrate a commitment to that objective by featuring recycling containers in the showroom and aligning their business with green-oriented manufacturers that are certified in product sustainability.

        Finally, Pompo says, they must ensure they have a presence on the Internet.? “Today’s consumer is so much more inclined to go to the Internet first,” Pompo says.? “Your website should be an extension of your showroom, and a reflection of who you are as a business.”

        Above all, it makes good business sense to understand depressed times can’t last forever.? Rausch believes dealers must position themselves for a recovery, whenever it arrives.? “In the past year, USG has again spent money on new product innovation and development,” he says.? “We’ve been doing that consistently, and the reason we have is we want to be prepared for the growth and prosperity that’s coming.? The crystal ball gets cloudy as to whether it’s going to happen this year or next year, but our business is cyclical, and if you don’t invest now, in these times, you’re going to be left behind in the others.”


        Kermit Baker, director

        Remodeling Futures Program, Joint Center for Housing Studies, Cambridge, MA



        Al Bates, president/CEO

        Profit Planning Group, Boulder



        Tom Carr, president

        Pan American Ceramics, City of Industry, CA



        Noah Chitty, Crossville-based technical services director

        Stonepeak Ceramics, Chicago



        Mitch Dancik, chairman of the board,

        Dancik International, Ltd., Cary, NC



        Donato Pompo, president and consultant

        Ceramic Tile and Stone Consultants, San Diego



        Steve Rausch, Atlanta-based field marketing and technical services manager

        U.S. Gypsum, Chicago





        Tile Doctor Shield Named 2012 Max Awards Finalist
        January 15th, 2012

        Atlanta (Jan- 2012) – Tile Doctor Shield?, the first non-toxic antimicrobial product approved for hard surfaces that has no potential for legacy environmental concerns, has been named as a finalist by the Robison College of Business at Georgia State University, in association with the Atlanta Business Chronicle.? Each year the MAX Awards recognizes outstanding marketing innovations introduced in Georgia in the previous year with the Marketing Award of Excellence – the MAX Awards. Entries are judged by members of the Georgia State University RoundTable in terms of degree of innovation, great marketing and marketplace success. ?For information about the MAX Awards, visit www.MaxAwards.com

        “We are extremely honored to be a finalist for such a reputable award, we feel Shield is a game changer in the household cleaning space and this recognition reinforces our hard work and commitment to create a product that is not only effective but is also non-toxic and 100 percent safe to use in the home,” said Curt Rapp, founder and CEO of The Tile Doctor.? “At The Tile Doctor our goal is to provide continuous innovation and environmentally-friendly products, and it’s truly humbling for Shield to be recognized for just that.”

        In April of 2011 Tile Doctor Shield was also named as Best New Product in the Consumer Packaged Goods Category by the internationally recognized Edison Awards

        The distinguished Edison Awards symbolize the persistence and excellence personified by Thomas Alva Edison, inspiring America’s drive to remain in the forefront of innovation, creativity and ingenuity in the global economy.

        “This year’s Awards recognize a broad array of innovations including far-reaching products, services and technologies that impact daily life,” said Edison Awards Steering Committee chair Sarah Miller Caldicott, a great grandniece of Thomas Edison.? “The Awards applaud the forward-thinking innovations for which Thomas Edison remains internationally admired.? It’s exciting to see companies like The Tile Doctor continuing his legacy of challenging conventional thinking.”For more information about the Edison Award, please visit www.edisonawards.com.

        About The Tile Doctor?

        Founded in 1999 by tile industry veteran Curt Rapp, The Tile Doctor, TheTileDoctor.com and its line of advanced products focus on meeting needs of consumers and tile professionals. With tens of millions of unique visitors, The Tile Doctor website features a line of how-to information and an advanced collection of products, solutions for consumers and pros.

        The company is incorporated as Tile Media Properties, a nod to the company’s informational origins. Headquartered in Atlanta, the company is an active member of all major industry associations and is the founding member of Tile Partners for Humanity (www.tpfh.com).

        About Tile Doctor Shield?

        Shield is the first antimicrobial product approved for hard surfaces that is non-toxic and has no potential for legacy environmental concerns. Shield’s active ingredients are common organic materials, carbon, nitrogen and silica or sand. Available in a three part system (Prepare, Shield, Maintain), these products enable consumers to have the benefits of bacteria, mold, fungi, mildew and algae free surfaces without the harmful effects of outdated, toxic chemicals and cleaners.

        Shield Will Be Recognized at the 20th Annual MAX Awards Ceremony on February 24th 2012 in Atlanta Georgia

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