This new series of interviews TILE is beginning in 2018, coined the “Contractor Spotlight,” will highlight a range of industry efforts, while also lending advice. For the first edition, we sat down with Kyle Peters, account manager at Lippert Flooring and Tile in Menomonee Falls, WI.

How did you first get involved in the tile industry?

Peters: I started my sales career selling windows, residentially, for almost three years. Interested in additional challenges and growth opportunities, I started looking for a career change. Coincidentally, a recruiter reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in an opportunity to join Lippert Flooring and Tile. I interviewed with the owner and leadership teams a few times, felt that it was the right direction to take my career, so I made the switch. It was definitely a leap for me and my family, as my wife and I already had one child and a second child was on the way. While I knew very little about the flooring industry, I have a ton of resources here to learn from. There are many different possibilities in flooring and tile, and I get to see so many different things that keep this job exciting every day. I can honestly say it was the best career decision I made in my life.

Has the tile industry changed much since you first started?

Peters: I’ve only been in the industry for about a year and a half, but I’ve seen how things have changed. The tiles are getting bigger, and gauged porcelain is becoming a bigger part of our market, as well as a lot of large-format tiles.

Is there a particular job that you’ve completed that stands out? Why?

Peters: I did a job at an auto auction that really stands out for me for a few reasons. We got a call from the customer who wanted to create a new showroom. She called her usual general contractor and got a bid from his sub for the tile. She wasn’t sure if it was a good price or not, so she called us to be her “check bid.” I ended up finding out what she really wanted to get out of this showroom and got a real understanding of the project. I brought her many samples, showed her colored plans, and by the end of the bidding process, I was almost as excited to see how the finished product look as she was. She originally had 6- x 6-inch quarry tile throughout her showroom and break room. We ended up using a large 24- x 24-inch tile with marbled gray and brown tones, and a 4-foot-wide border of 12- x 12-inch black and white in a checkerboard pattern with a 4-inch red border. It was one of the first large jobs I had ever worked on in my short career, and to have something so cool-looking come from something I had a hand in designing was an awesome feeling.

What are some steps you take to educate your customers about their tile installation before you begin?

Peters: I always make customers aware of crack isolation membranes because it is something that can pretty easily save a headache in the future. I also educate customers on the benefits of properly constructed caulk joints and how perimeter caulk joints can isolate floor tile from building movement. Lastly, putting sealers on tiles that are so porous they are difficult to keep clean, or too slippery they are dangerous to walk on. I want to ensure the tiles are suitable and safe for the customer’s actual use.

If you could lend any advice to professionals just beginning their careers, what would it be?

Peters: Learn everything you can from anybody and everybody in this industry. There is a lot of information out there and a lot to learn. You can’t become an expert overnight like you might with other sales careers. Be patient, and always look for opportunities to learn and grow.

If you or anyone you know is interested in being featured in a future edition of the “Contractor Spotlight,” please email Heather Fiore at fioreh@bnpmedia.com.