St. John Vianney's glass tile installation by Greg Andrews

Greg Andrews measures swimming pool stairs in Southern California
For several years, I have coordinated seminars for trade shows and conferences that focus on all aspects of tile and stone installations. The focus of these seminars often deals with job failures and how to prevent them. Technical calls we take at our offices generally address jobsite problems and failures as well. I hear the cry all the time! "We need a more qualified and trained workforce!"

All of this is true. But as I sat in my office reflecting on the seminars we had hosted and trying to figure out future programming, I began to see a dangerous trend. I have been focusing too much on what is wrong in our industry, and not celebrating what is right. Well, it is time to buck the trend. This article will celebrate some of my favorite installations from 2004.

A beautiful tile installation is a collaborative effort. The relationship between the client, builder/general contractor and the subcontractors is the key to the project. When all parties involved work together in harmony, beautiful installations are the end result.

Spiral Staircase by Stone Perfection, Pompano Beach, Florida
Engineering and Logistics
Successful commercial tile installations often require expertise in a variety of areas. At various times, contractors need to be artists, engineers, mathematicians, and mechanics. What people don't understand is that if one mistake takes place, several thousand dollars in delays and material costs are likely to be incurred.

Installed Granite Lion Mural by Rheinschmidt Marble and Granite Designs
Art and Creativity
Many tile contractors enter the trade due to a love of art and the desire to create it with their hands. This especially holds true of individuals who work with mosaic and glass tile. Greg Andrews, a specialist in this field, has generously shared his expertise with the industry in presentations at Coverings and NTCA's Total Solutions Conference. Andrews has worked with mosaic tile in California for many years. His passion for his work is evident when he speaks about his craft. The St. John Vianney Chapel on Balboa Island is a testament to Greg's expertise and will remain standing long after we are all gone.

Eric Rattan's Crane Dreams
Eric Rattan is another artist who has carved a niche in our industry. His installations have gained him recognition in the prestigious Spectrum Awards, sponsored by Coverings, for two years in a row. Eric collaborates with his client to design, produce and install the product. His award winning fireplace titled Crane Dreams is one of the most beautiful residential installations I have seen.

Turning Customers' Dreams Into a Reality
One of the most satisfying feelings for a tile contractor is to take a client's vision and make it happen. Sometimes, this vision represents a passion for the client. Such was the case for Kent Angerer. Angerer had taken a photograph of a male lion while on a safari in Africa in the mid 1970's. He came up with the idea to recreate the photograph in a granite mural. He hired Rheinschmidt Marble and Granite Designs of Burlington, Iowa, to preserve his memory in more than just a photograph.

Designer Heather Staub worked with fourteen different colors of granite from several different countries. The result is a granite mural that comes to life on the owner's floor.

Mario Romay of Stone Perfection in Pompano Beach, Florida specializes on high-end residential installations, working closely with the builder, designer and the client on his projects. One particular home, located in Lake Worth, Florida, utilized over 20,000 square feet of natural stone and 10,000 square feet of ceramic tile.

Romay and his men worked on this project, built by Addison Developers, for ten months. The design and installation on this project is incredible, incorporating glass, quarry tile, natural stone tile and fabricated material throughout the home. The result is a testament to the beauty and versatility of natural stone and ceramic tile.

In a world where we often deal with the negative, it is important we pause to celebrate the positive. There is an incredible amount of outstanding work being done every day in homes and buildings throughout the country. It is installations like these that have enabled all of us to be a part of an industry experiencing rapid growth.