Massimo Barbari

We’re all familiar with the fundamentals of elementary education: Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic. Small companies, along with mid- to large-sized corporations, have come to the realization that a new set of “R’s” must be implemented for any well-thought endeavor to succeed.

The construction sector, especially the flooring division, has had a difficult time recently. Many companies have taken large financial hits, while others have weathered the storm. But this isn’t news to anyone.

What is news, and encouraging, is that several well-rounded tile industry members agree that as an industry, we have the strength needed to keep going. With that in mind, they shared their knowledge, insight and experience exclusively withTILE Magazine.

Our questions focused on four specific areas: their stance on the housing situation and the challenges shaping the tile industry; how they differentiate their business from others in a highly competitive market; their response to the demands for greater environmental responsibility; and finally, their perspective on the near- and long-term prospects of our industry.

Massimo Barbari, Executive VP Sales & Marketing, Florida Tile, Inc.

In a time when companies are severely challenged, Florida Tile is making some bold moves. We are reinventing our company with a new headquarter, logo, Web site, a revised and better product line and new faces. These changes will continue and make 2010 a big year for our company.

Despite the difficult past three years, we are continuing to make important investments on all aspects of our company. I still think that 2010 will be a challenging year; I think we will start to see a mild growth in the residential market, while on the commercial market I foresee a very difficult year.

The current housing and construction downturn affected clearly our business so we are trying to work on our costs, but still investing heavily. I feel that a lot of business in the next couple of years could come from gaining market shares rather than from real growth and now being in the USA with Made in USA production and logistics is a really key important strategic advantage.

In an effort to be closer to our manufacturing plant, Florida Tile announced that we would be moving our corporate headquarters to Lexington, KY, close to our manufacturing plant in Lawrenceburg, KY, a strategic move since we want to revitalize our product offering and we are sure to obtain increased synergies in all our departments, so to be able to provide a better service to our customers.

As a leader in environmentally responsible production of porcelain floor and wall tile, we are proud to be the first manufacturer to have our tile and stone products certified by GREENGUARD Environmental Institute as a zero Emissions product.

We are revising our product line and we are looking to add more contemporary, more commercial and higher quality products into our mix.

The commercial market is another area in which we are investing heavily and a strategic move for us trying to increase our presence in the commercial arena.

In terms of technology, we have already launched on the market Legend HDP (High Definition Porcelain), a color body porcelain using Digital technology and made in the USA, really a great technical achievement for our company. This will be the first of many others series that will be developed using this state of the art technology. The Web site and the logo tie the overhaul together, giving the company a new fresh, modern look.

We plan in unveiling the new logo in the first quarter of 2010 together with the grand opening of our new headquarters.

We are investing a lot in a difficult time, we want to get our name out there and we think if we make the waves a lot of people will notice.

America is a great country and I’m positive that by working hard every day we will get through these difficult times.

Luigi Di Geso

Luigi Di Geso, President and CEO, MAPEI Americas

The challenges shaping the tile industry have occurred because our industry is dependent on the larger sphere of residential and commercial construction. As these two sectors have slowed down due to the slump in the economy, the market available to the tile industry has shrunk. The tile industry cannot influence the size of the construction sphere, but we can and are making continuous strides in meeting the needs of contractors to produce durable, sustainable floors for all buildings.

Current trends from tile manufacturers around the globe show that they are coming up with thinner tiles that use less energy, slip-resistant tiles that provide safer surfaces, larger tiles to meet emerging trends in vertical and horizontal designs and even tiles that reduce pollution (TILE Magazine, January 12, 2004). MAPEI research chemists constantly examine our formulas to meet the demands of the tile industry while at the same time minimizing impacts on the environment.

While the market for construction may be slowed, customers’ desire to remodel and generally change existing styles flows on. To remain on the leading edge of popular color trends, MAPEI will be renewing its color palette for grouts in 2010.

As a company that was founded more than 70 years ago, MAPEI Group has been through many business and economic cycles, and our people have managed wisely. In the past year, we added the APAC brand of adhesives to the Americas portfolio, acquired Polyglass Group in Europe and the U.S. and enlarged the Garland, TX, manufacturing plant. We are currently enlarging the Delta, British Columbia plant and have acquired additional space in Dalton, GA; and we have just acquired the Austrian firm, Betontechnik.

Dr. Giorgio Squinzi, CEO of MAPEI Group, has summed up our approach: “In the current economic situation, MAPEI is continuing to invest with courage and farsightedness, concentrating on acquiring those companies which are built on excellence and can advance the vision of our company. This is our formula for battling the economic crisis.”

In response to the environmental responsibility question, MAPEI has always supported an environmental approach to manufacturing products for construction, including:
  • In the Americas, MAPEI has been a member of the USGBC since 2001 and the CaGBC since 2008.
  • We strive to manufacture from locally produced raw materials at each of our 14 plants in the Americas.
  • Our R&D chemists have formulated new products with Low Dust technology to make jobsites cleaner for workers and end users.
  • And, we continue our commitment to sustainability by working to achieve certification according to ISO 14001 for Environmental Management Systems, beginning with our plant in Laval, Quebec, in 2009.
In terms of economic recovery, while nobody has a crystal ball, we feel that a positive economic turnaround will begin in the latter part of 2010. As the economy cycles out of contraction and back to expansion, the construction industry, and subsequently the tile flooring industry, will slowly begin to grow once more.

Harold Turk

Harold Turk, President of Dal-Tile

Once thought to be a passing fad, green construction and awareness of environmental impact are here to stay. Since the U.S. Green Building Council introduced its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification program years ago, green building programs have been, and continue to be, developed for nearly every type of construction project. Commercial construction, home building, remodeling and even specific industries, like hospitals and schools, now have their own sustainable construction guidelines and certifications, each with their own slightly different criteria on what constitutes “green.”

The tile industry needs to take advantage of this opportunity to its fullest. We should be actively educating our customers -- architects, designers, homeowners, dealers and builders -- about the inherent sustainable attributes of all manufactured tiles, not just a select few. Being transparent about each product collection will only help customers by allowing them to choose how sustainable they want to be and how to best use the specifications to achieve the green certification of their choice.

Currently, sustainability information available from tile manufacturers about their products varies dramatically – from generic, generalized statements to extensive, interactive websites. At Dal-Tile, we have developed online tools for the Daltile and American Olean brands ( and that allow users to research real-time information about any tile’s recycled materials content (RMC) and manufacturing locations, as well as download certification letters. They can even find the RMC and manufacturing location for a specific box of tile that they’ve already purchased by simply entering the UPC code on the carton.

Simply put, the easier we make it for our customers to find the green information they need, the more likely they are to specify tile products for their current and future projects. And that’s a “green” benefit of a completely different variety.