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training & Education
Talking tile at the bark park
Mark Heinlein
, NTCA Training Director
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Everyone has a tile story.
I’ve never been much of a dog person. We had a couple as family pets when I was young but that never really seemed to turn out very well, except for the goldfish that lived for many years. As a tile contractor, I’d agree to feed a client’s dog for day or two while they were out of town, but beyond that I’ve never been a dog guy. My son’s family in Minneapolis has a friendly dog, Lucky, but I don’t get to hang out with him very often.
My daughter and son-in-law who live near me recently got a puppy. In times of COVID, it turns out that going to the bark park is a pretty good way to get out of the house. So I tagged along with my son-in-law, Colin, and the family puppy, Penny, one bright, clear, crisp Saturday afternoon.
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The local bark park is fenced in with a sally port to make sure no one escapes. It’s a large area with a long fence dividing it into sections for small dogs and large dogs. There was one chihuahua in the small dog side. Penny is a Berne-doodle, so we went to the large dog side. There were several other dogs and their people in the large dog side. It was a good situation for practicing human social distancing and for dogs to run around and do whatever it is dogs do.
Colin and Penny ambled off towards a group of medium-sized brown dogs and their people. I didn’t want to be a third wheel so I hung back. I’d spotted a guy sitting on a park bench watching his big white furry dog with a curvy tail so I wandered over to him and said, “That’s a beautiful dog.” I learned it was a 10-year-old Samoyed. Its person and I chatted while it walked back and forth between us and the other dogs.
We talked about the usual stuff, the weather, blah, blah, blah. Turns out we were both new to the area and we finally got around to “So, what do you do for a living?” He is an economics professor for a university in Chicago. In these days of COVID, he teaches from home so he moved to a small town. I explained my background in tile and my role with the National Tile Contractors Association. He said, “So, you mean like ceramic tile?” I said, “Yup. That’s the stuff.” (I get this all the time)
A "tile breaker" my new friend was referring to is a snap cutter like this one from Rubi Tools.
He said, “I had some tile work done on the house I bought here. I had the upstairs bathroom remodeled and fully tiled.” He said, “The tile guy must not have ‘gone to your tile school’ because he had a big, loud power saw and grinder downstairs in the garage since it was too big and messy to bring into the house and up the stairs. He spent a lot of time and must have made well over one hundred trips up and down the stairs from the bathroom to the garage to cut pieces of tile. He would have saved himself a lot of time and effort if he had just used one of those other tile-breaker, cutter things. He could have cut most of the tiles on it, and would not have gone over schedule, and I would have gotten my bathroom finished sooner.”

He was satisfied with the finished product, but as a seasoned economics professor he knows inefficiencies when he sees them.
He went on – “After the bathroom was done, I had the kitchen floor tiled. I hired the same company, but it was a different tile guy. This guy had one of those tile breakers and used it for most of the job. He was much more efficient and completed the installation on schedule.”
Tile is everywhere. You can’t escape it, even at the bark park on a Saturday afternoon.
If you are an installer, or if you are a tile contractor that employs installers, make sure you attend NTCA’s training programs where our trainers will help you improve yourself and your company with a better understanding of why you should own, understand and use the tile industry’s recognized standards, methods and best practices. We will help you improve your skills and efficiencies. You may discover things that you didn’t yet know that you didn’t yet know. Spending some quality time with NTCA is good for you, your business and your clients. It’s a win-win-win.
Visit the NTCA site or email the NTCA technical team for more information about our training programs or how to become an NTCA member.
Maybe we’ll see you at the bark park next time!