The National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) announced the 2022 winners of the NTCA Tile Setter Craftsperson of the Year awards in residential and commercial market segments. This year’s winners are Gabriel Cortez with Heritage Marble & Tile in Mill Valley, California, for the residential award, and Triniti Vigil with J & R Tile, Inc., of San Antonio, Texas, for the commercial award.  Both will be recognized at the NTCA Ambassadors Reception at TISE in Las Vegas on January 30, 2023.

Cortez started with Heritage Marble & Tile in 1998, where his value as a tile setter was quickly realized. Through the years, Cortez has not only grown personally, but he has become a key player to the growth of the company. Today, Cortez not only sets tile but also mentors and trains up and coming tile setters. Cortez not only mentors in the trade but he is also involved in the community and mentors young people at his church.

One former apprentice stated, “His eye for detail often had me redoing work because it did not meet his standards. Although it was difficult to tear out and redo at the time, I now realize how it benefitted me today.”

Vigil started with J & R Tile in 2007. Today, Vigil is the director of installation and training, but you can still see him on the job setting tile and active mentoring. Vigil is also known to educate the design community on the need for qualified labor. He is a CTEF regional evaluator for the CTI program.  

In his spare time, Vigil is a volunteer coordinator for the Westside San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, where he works to improve neighborhoods.  One local contractor stated, “Triniti is helpful, caring, resourceful, and happy to offer help no matter the task. Even though he doesn’t need to, he always does so willingly and cheerfully.”

To be considered for this honor, nominees were required to have a minimum of 15 years of installation experience and must still be setting tile today.  They were evaluated on artistry, technical correctness, problem solving, continuing education, and mentoring or leading others. To recognize outstanding artistry and craftsmanship in the field, the NTCA asks yearly for nominations of NTCA members for this prestigious award.