TileLetter logo
NTCA member Spotlight
AMBER HUNTER: Carrying on the family legacy at Nichols Tile & Terrazzo Co., Inc.
Based out of Joelton, Tenn., Amber Hunter of Nichols Tile & Terrazzo Co., Inc., is the third of four generations to work for the company her grandfather built. TileLetter originally published a story on the company in October 2016, but since then, significant changes in leadership spurred an update.
David Nichols started the company back in 1973 with his wife, Juanita, Hunter’s grandmother. Her dad, Billy Denny, helped during summers growing up and joined the team after graduating college in 1974 to work full time. Hunter’s older brother, Bradford (Brad) Denny, spent many summers learning from their grandfather and joined in 1998. Shortly after, Hunter followed in their footsteps and joined the family team in 2001 after graduating high school.
Amber Hunter
The family operated out of the grandparents’ house until 2017. The grandparents then gifted their shares of the family business to Hunter, her father and her older brother. It remained the three of them until 2022 when older brother Brad received a job offer “he couldn’t refuse,” and he joined the Certified Tile Education Foundation as Executive Director.
Currently, Hunter’s kids, McKenzie and Austin, work part time for Nichols Tile and are the fourth generation of the family company.
The Nichols Tile family goes further than just blood. The longest employed installer, Chris Martin, has been with the company for 23 years. He isn’t the only one – there are other team members celebrating several-years-long anniversaries as well. Hunter said, “We try to create a culture where our team members feel they are an extension of our family.”
Nichols Tile specializes in small commercial work, but doesn’t shy away from the occasional large commercial or custom residential jobs. Hunter and her family pride themselves on their reputation for their experience levels and ethics. “We aim to not only educate our employees of proper methods and standards, but also our customers. Our end goal is to create appealing and sustaining tile installations and make a living for all families,” she said.
Finding NTCA In 2010, Brad Denny’s research and curiosity led him to NTCA and the Nichols family joined. Hunter said, “I must admit I didn’t understand the multitude of benefits at the time other than the voucher program.” After attending her first Coverings show in 2017, she “realized quickly that there is a whole world outside of our little office in Joelton, Tenn.,” she said. At Coverings, she experienced all the different resources that NTCA and other organizations provide.
At the recent Coverings show this past April in Atlanta, Hunter (l.) chats with Jennifer Blumer of Legacy Bath & Tile during one of the show’s women’s events. Photo: Ron Nash.
“The connections and friendships I have made are priceless,” said Hunter, “Where else can you go sit down to collaborate and learn from some of the greatest minds in our industry?!”
Hunter acknowledges what it’s like to be on both sides of the education spectrum: “More than likely, there is a tile contractor that is experiencing or has experienced a hurdle we are or will face, so it only makes sense to be proactive instead of reactive with our struggles,” she said. She and her family incentivize their employees to use the assets NTCA provides, as they firmly believe that staying in the loop on proper methods and standards is “crucial to a proper install,” said Hunter. And in 2023, she delved even further into NTCA as a Regional Director.
In addition to being a part of NTCA, Nichols Tile has a couple of Certified Tile Installers: Brad Denny, CTI #1190, in 2016 and Trevor Golden, CTI #1827, in 2022. Hunter believes that homeowners seem to have more confidence in the abilities of their CTIs. Nichols Tile is also a Five-Star Contractor, working towards the Five-Star Accreditation.
Amber Hunter, second from right, joined the NTCA Board of Directors in 2023 at Total Solutions Plus. Shown are (l to r): Megan Garvey, Welch Tile; Cody Cox, Cox Tile; Matt Blood, Paragon Tile Installation; Martin Brookes, Chairman of the Board; Hunter; and NTCA President Sam Bruce.
“I think that speaks volumes to operate a successful business for 50 years predominantly from references,” Hunter said.
Some of the largest struggles Hunter and her company experience include scheduling, freight costs, and finding the best employees for their team. They are upfront with their customers about possible material delays. “After attending Coverings 2024 in Atlanta, it seems everyone I talked to has had the same challenges as Nichols Tile this year,” she said. “We all hit a slow spell with workload during the first quarter but are slowly starting to gain some momentum,” Hunter said. Fortunately, the Nichols Tile team has been around and experienced this before so they are able to be smart with their financial plans.
One of the greatest satisfactions, to Hunter, is the feeling of an extended family with her business. “We’re a little dysfunctional and we all have a ‘Cousin Eddie’ in the group, but at the end of the day we’re here for the same reason,” she said.
Nichols Tile & Terrazzo Co., was asked by a local distributor to install gauged porcelain tile panels in a portion of its showroom. This was a difficult install since the crews had to work over the top of the lower cabinets, and the thickness of the material was 9mm. The upper cabinets had to be removed prior to installation. Crews of at least six people set up several benches for multiple employees to simultaneously step up onto, while protecting the lower cabinet, avoid hitting the walls and ceiling, and then stick the tile.
Nichols Tile used a low-VOC primer on the substrate before installing the ledger stone. Once cured, a high-performance mortar designed for large-format and stone ensured a solid bond. One installer used a lift to easily reach each surface with expert maneuverability. Another installer stayed on the ground as the cut man for the measurements shouted above.