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editor's letter
Craftsmanship – the heart of our industry
Lesley Goddin
Editorial Director and Senior Writer
“We require from buildings two kinds of goodness: first, the doing their practical duty well: then that they be graceful and pleasing in doing it.”
– John Ruskin, English writer and philosopher
Craftsmanship is at the heart of our industry. I always marvel at the incredible tile and mosaic work that is unearthed in archeological digs, with most of the patterns still intact, or stunning tile installations in iconic structures that have stood the test of time. Every single tile installer is part of the rich legacy of tile craftspersons of generations past, and of businesses that have been handed down in families – and those who are choosing this trade due to its artistry, longevity, beauty and the personal satisfaction that comes from bringing a client’s vision to life.
To that end, July TileLetter offers content that celebrates that craftspersonship. First, we have a story about the upcoming NTCA Tile Setter Craftsperson of the Year Awards, begun in 2019, to recognize stellar craftspeople in our industry. Do you know a craftsperson you’d like to nominate for this honor? Check out the story for details.

Second, next month MUD 6 takes place at Tile Trends in Idaho Falls. This celebrated event not only offers training and demos and camaraderie centering around the time-honored tradition of mud setting, it also will host both Certified Tile Installer and Advanced Certifications for Tile Installer exams. Glowing reviews from past attendees position this training as a must-attend event. Visit Mud Event on Facebook and read the article for more information.
Another example of craftspersonship is evident in the A&D story about the 2023 Southeastern Designer Showhouse in Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood. Interior design firm Source worked with Allison Eden Studios to create an 11'x8'x6' palatial shower. Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Allison Eden Studios crafted an Art Nouveau-inspired mosaic of a tree in rich golden hues. Read about this amazing project.
Craftsman and NTCA member Robert Angle, of Ohio’s Classic Tileworks LLC, takes the mantle of craftsmanship and artistry to heart in his work, and through his membership, feels he can help the skilled trade be recognized and appreciated. Learn more about his perspective and his artistry in the Member Spotlight feature.
Craftspeople are learning new methods for setting tile and pavers on patios – pedestal systems are another option in the toolbox of skilled installers who have been performing on-ground paver installations for eons. Learn more about both systems in our Technical feature.
Any business person – or casual internet user – has to juggle, remember and monitor passwords on phones, computers and tablets to maintain security. Yet, many individuals and companies employ passwords that are very easy to hack. Read our Business feature to learn what NOT to do when creating a password, and how to add greater security online.
SikaTile® and PIF Construction Group combined their resources to renovate the pool deck of the 23-floor condominium property known as Winston Towers in Sunny Isles Beach, Fla. Learn about the pride of workmanship touted by PIF and the stellar Sika products that helped transform this deck, and also led to project expansion into the interior spaces of the building as well.
Industry veteran Rich Citro, most recently with Schluter Systems, recounts with appreciation his 37 years in the industry on the occasion of his retirement.
Craftswomen and craftsmen, I salute you! If you are investing tile setting with artistry, excellence and setting your projects up for longevity, and quality performance, you have a lauded claim to your “craftsperson” title. Stand strong and proud and know you help make the world a more beautiful, safer place. May your work stand the test of time and cause future generations to look back in awe upon the craftspeople of 2023!
God bless, Lesley lesley@tile-assn.com

Rich Citro, 37-year industry veteran, exits the industry

Farewell to my active career in the tile industry.
Most of us remember the tragic explosion of our Challenger Space Shuttle and the loss of nine brave astronauts. It was January 28, 1986, and of greatest visibility among the crew was the Concord, NH, School Teacher, Christa McAuliffe. I will never forget that day as I watched it while having lunch with my new boss, Ken Moore of Bostik. It was my first day in the tile industry.
In 1978, I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and dabbled in a few industries, but since that day, I knew the tile industry was for ME! I saw the opportunity, gave it my all, and never looked back. I now conclude that joining the tile industry was the best business decision I have ever made! Projections of growth were clear, and remain in place today. What I did not anticipate was a lifestyle full of exciting change, technical challenges, artistic concepts, and most importantly, wonderful relationships.
In 1990, I went to MAPEI, then finally in 2006, I moved on to Schluter, where I ended my career as one of their workshop instructors. In these 37 years, I performed thousands of presentations, inspected over a thousand complaints, and interacted with tens of thousands of the best people on earth.
While the design community explores unlimited forms of expression, the installation folks are among the hardest working and down-to-earth human beings that I could have hoped to befriend. So, at 67 years old, I depart by saying “thank you!” Thank you to the thousands of people who have helped me, and those who I helped recognize how truly fortunate we are.
The tile industry is a family that thrives in a way of life that most never discover. Farewell my good friends! I would love to hear from any of you at richcitro55@gmail.com.