In this edition, we sat down with Tommy Miles, owner of Old School Tile Company LLC in New Carlisle, IN.
TILE: How did you first get involved in the tile industry? Please explain a little bit more about yourself.
Miles: My dad, Mike Miles, started Miles Distributors in 1968. Before that, he was a sales rep for Florida Tile and was one of the founding fathers of the Ceramic Tile Distributor Association (CTDA). I was born into the tile industry. My brother, Doug, and I took over Miles Distributors around 20 years ago; I sold my shares of the company to my nephews six years ago and opened up Old School Tile Company in 2016.
TILE: Are you a company owner? If so, what were some reasons for starting your own business?
Miles: Yes. Honestly, it was a fluke. My brother and I made an offer on a 26,000-square-foot condemned school building, and at that point, I had enough of owning a large business and just wanted to start over. I have five employees now instead of close to 100. I am much happier with my small team.
TILE: Has the tile industry changed much since you first started? If so, in what ways?
Miles: It has changed in a huge way. When I started, the most common sizes were 4 ³/₈- x 4 ³/₈-inch wall tile and 8- x 8-inch floor tile. Porcelain tile was not even a thing. Unloading trucks with rollers versus forklifts. Hog roasts, softball and summer parties were a yearly event.
TILE: Is there a particular job you’ve completed that stands out? Why?
Miles: It’s not the big jobs that stand out. We did the Basilica of Sacred Heart at Notre Dame when I worked at Miles Distributors. It’s the small things that stand out such as helping Habitat for Humanity. When our counties flooded, we gave tile away for pennies on the dollar or even some for free. It’s donating to Rosie’s Place or the local little league that does it for me.
TILE: What are some common issues you have to deal with on the jobsite? How do you overcome them?
Miles: I don’t like human error, but when it happens, I believe job complaints are a way that sets us apart. We jump on it and fix it ASAP. Most of the time, customers are so impressed on how we handle things that we get referrals from them.
TILE: What are some steps you take to educate your customers about their tile installation before you begin?
Miles: We do educate our customers by doing onsite walk-throughs and photo selection confirmation. We always teach people about cleaning their products and what products need to be sealed. We also offer installation seminars often.
TILE: If you could lend any advice to professionals just beginning their careers, what would it be?
Miles: Something my dad always said, “Remember, it’s only clay.” Leave your job in the truck -- don’t bring it home with you. Take a day off when needed and always thank your customers for their business.