Archive | June, 2016

MIA+BSI Announces Additions to Staff

Posted on 28 June 2016 by cradmin

MIA+BSI Mark Meriaux

Mark Meriaux

MIA+BSI: the Natural Stone Institute added two full-time staff members. Mark Meriaux has been hired as Accreditation & Technical Manager. He will have a blended role on staff managing the Accreditation program and addressing technical inquiries from members and design professionals (assisting Chuck Muehlbauer and Mike Loflin). Mark has 14 years of stone industry experience and was most recently a Commercial Sales Manager with VT Industries. Mark stated, “I am very excited to be a part of the MIA+BSI team. I look forward to helping expand awareness and participation in the Accreditation program.”

MIA+BSI Pam Hammond

Pam Hammond

Pam Hammond also joined the staff as Executive Administrative Assistant. Pam has more than 15 years of trade association experience, most recently serving as the Foundation Program Manager for the National Association of College Stores. Pam will assist with a number of administrative functions to support the MIA+BSI executive team in enhancing and expanding member programming. Pam commented, “I am thrilled about joining the MIA+BSI team, where I hope to draw on the skills I have acquired from my previous association experience. The talented group of individuals at this organization are going places and I am excited to be a part of their bright future.”

MIA+BSI CEO Jim Hieb remarked, “We are pleased to have Mark and Pam join the staff. Their combined stone industry and association knowledge and experience will be extremely helpful as MIA+BSI continues to expand programming for the entire natural stone industry.”

You may also be interested in this article about the MIA+BSI 2016 Safety Initiative.

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Aerial Lift Safety

Posted on 27 June 2016 by cradmin

guidance_fig31Although many countertop fabricators do not use aerial lifts in the shop or during the course of a job, those who do should be aware of the dangers and hazards involved these large pieces of machinery. Aerial lifts, often called boom lifts, are highly regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Related lifts, such as vertical-platform lifts and scissors lifts are actually much more common in the countertop industry and are classified separately from aerial lifts as mobile scaffolds, many of the same safety rules and recommendations should be applied.

Aerial Lift Hazards

Statistics show that about 26 people die every year in accidents involving aerial lifts, and most of these deaths are for boom lifts operated from motor vehicles. Some of these deaths, however, involved scissor lifts. The leading causes of aerial lift deaths are as follows:

  • Electrocutions
  • Falls
  • Collapses or tip-overs
  • Caught in or between the lift
  • Being struck or crushed by other objects
  • Ejected out of the lift

Training Recommendations

OSHA requires anyone operating an aerial lift on the job to be fully trained in its operation and in how to prevent, reduce and react to accidents that may lead to injuries or death. All training must cover the following topics:

  • Explanations of common hazards
  • Dealing with hazards
  • Recognizing unsafe conditions
  • Proper operating procedures
  • Demonstration of knowledge and skills for safe operation
  • Performing safety inspections
  • Understanding manufacturer’s

Any time an accident occurs, new workplace hazards are discovered or a different type of aerial lift is used, employers must retrain all workers who are observed making mistakes while operating the lift.

Pre-Operation Inspection

To avoid injuries and death while using aerial lifts, it is important to conduct two separate inspections: an inspection of lift components and work zone inspection.

A full aerial lift prestart inspection includes all of the following checks:

  • Vehicle components, such as fluid levels, wheels, battery, lights, horn, steering and brakes.
  • Lift operating controls
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) availability and condition
  • Hydraulic, pneumatic and electrical systems
  • Insulating components
  • Hazard signs in place
  • Fasteners and locking pins
  • Integral and mobile harnesses
  • Stabilizers and other outriggers
  • Guardrails

The objective of a thorough work zone inspection is to detect possible hazards present in the area, and it includes the following checks:

  • Holes, drop-offs and other unstable surface conditions
  • Ceiling height
  • Debris and other obstructive objects
  • Overhead electrical or communications lines and other obstructions
  • High wind and severe weather
  • People or animals

Safely Operating Aerial Lifts

Before anyone operates an aerial lift, he or she must do everything possible to prevent falls and minimize the risk should falls occur. First, it is important to ensure the gates on the lift are closed, and the operator is standing firmly on the floor of the lift bucket or platform.

Never climb or lean on the guardrails, and never work from a plank, ladder or other object that does not allow you to keep your feet on the floor. In addition, anyone on the lift must be wearing a body harness or a restraining belt and lanyard attachment. However, be sure not to anchor to or tie-off on adjacent structures that are not part of the lift, such as poles or walls.

You will also want to ensure to protect the overhead area from becoming a hazard by being aware of the clearance and any objects that may be in the way. If overhead hazards do exist, try to reposition the lift to avoid them completely, and always stay clear of power lines. Electrocution is the leading cause of aerial lift deaths.

Now that the lift and the area have been analyzed for hazards, it is necessary to ensure that the lift is stable and has enough support. If the lift has outriggers, use them, but be sure to set the brakes if you are on a vehicle-based lift. In addition, wheel chocks should be used on sloped surfaces, and work-zone signs and cones or fencing should block access to the worksite and make others aware of the dangers.

The following safety tips are recommended whenever anyone is using an aerial lift:

  • Do not exceed load capacity.
  • Stay at least 10 feet from all electrical wires. If possible, power lines should be insulated or deactivated.
  • Use an insulated bucket to help prevent electrical shock.
  • To prevent falls, use a harness or another OSHA-approved support device.
  • Never move the base while the platform is elevated.
  • Obey the vertical limits for the lift.
  • Do not carry objects larger than the platform

For further information on aerial lift safety, contact the nearest OSHA office or call the national number toll free at (800) 321-6742

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Emser Tile Named Newest Distributor of Laticrete Products

Posted on 24 June 2016 by cradmin

LATICRETE announced that Emser Tile will distribute LATICRETE products through its nationwide service and distribution network. The partnership provides Emser Tile customers access to LATICRETE products. In turn, LATICRETE gains greater access and exposure to Emser Tile’s significant customer base.

The two family-owned companies share similar values and have seen significant growth in recent years. With its award-winning training programs and technical sales support, LATICRETE offers Emser Tile and its customers excellent service to complement its premium products. In turn, Emser Tile offers LATICRETE expanded access to the residential and commercial contractor market.

Over the past three years, LATICRETE has acquired three companies and expanded the product lines it offers. Similarly, Emser Tile has experienced significant growth over the last few years through market share gains and by expanding its national footprint with the addition of branch service locations.

“This year LATICRETE celebrates its 60th year of building a chemistry of trust with its customers and partners, and we are delighted to celebrate this anniversary by announcing a relationship with our newest partner, Emser Tile,” said LATICRETE Vice President of North America Sales Ron Nash. “Two factors drive our business, the development of innovative products and access to valued customers. LATICRETE provides the former and Emser Tile provides the latter.”

Established in 1968 and headquartered in Los Angeles, Emser Tile offers a high level of service and a dynamic selection of tile, natural stone, decorative and setting material products designed for both residential and commercial projects and applications. The company has a nationwide service and distribution network that combines the strengths of a national presence with the benefits of local service to quickly respond to changing trends and technologies.

“The addition of LATICRETE to our offerings is consistent with our strategic plans of partnering with the industry’s best-in-class suppliers and will be an important part of our program moving forward,” said Emser Tile Chief Marketing Officer Bob Baldocchi. “Easy and local access to LATICRETE products throughout our distribution network is a major win for our customers, who are always looking for high-quality products designed for their business. By carrying a full line of LATICRETE products and offering access to the company’s training programs, we can offer new options to meet their every need.”

Emser will begin rolling out the full line of LATICRETE products by July 1, 2016.

You may also be interested in this article about LATICRETE’s 60th anniversary.

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Native Trails Introduces Nipomo NativeStone Concrete Bathroom Sink

Posted on 23 June 2016 by cradmin

native trails nipomo sinkThe Nipomo NativeStone concrete bathroom sink by Native Trails is perfect for today’s clean design styles. Nipomo can be installed as an apron-front, undermount or vessel sink. The soft rectangular shape shows off the organic beauty of concrete, at a much lighter weight and with no-fuss maintenance. The Nipomo concrete sink is handcrafted of NativeStone, an innovative, strong blend of cement and jute fiber that is surprisingly lightweight for concrete, heavy-duty in the bathroom and reportedly easy when it comes to clean-up. It is available in Ash, Slate, and Pearl finishes. The Nipomo features a single four inch deep bowl that is crack, stain and scratch resistant. It includes a limited lifetime warranty, installation sheet and a care and maintenance guide.

You may also be interested in this article about what’s trending in kitchen sinks in 2016.

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Outlook Continues to Improve; Can the Industry Keep Up?

Posted on 22 June 2016 by cradmin

spcs-1Several key indicators show that the construction and remodeling industries will continue to improve for the duration of 2016 and likely beyond. However, with the growing economy, unfilled construction jobs are also on the rise, showing that the nation may not have a large enough labor force to keep up with demand.

Home Prices on the Rise

Early this month, Qualified Remodeler reported that the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices rose by 5.2 percent year-over-year at the end of March as an average of all nine U.S. Census divisions. In addition, even though 10 major cities reported price increases over the year-end in February, the 10-City and 20-City Composites remain unchanged at 4.7 percent and 5.4 percent, respectively. The National Index also showed a month-over-month increase in March of 0.7 percent.

“Home prices are continuing to rise at a 5 percent annual rate,” said David M. Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “The economy is supporting the price increases with improving labor markets, falling unemployment rates and extremely low mortgage rates.”

Blitzer also noted that one of the factors responsible for rising home prices is the short supply of homes on the market. At less than 2 percent of the number of U.S. households, this is the lowest percentage since the mid-1980s.

“The Pacific Northwest and the West continue to be the strongest regions. Seattle, Oregon and Denver had the largest year-over-year price increases,” Blitzer continued. “The Northeast and upper Midwest were at the other end of the ranking. The cities with the smallest year-over-year prices gains were Washington, D.C.; Chicago; New York City; and Cleveland.”

Interest Rates Remain Unchanged

Just last Wednesday, June 15, the Federal Reserve announced that interest rates would remain unchanged while signalling that rates could still be raised twice before the end of the year. However, six of the 17 policymakers on the board believe that rates will only increase once during 2016.

May saw a sharp slowdown in hiring in the U.S., which has fueled doubts about how strongly the labor market will recover, and Janet Yellen, chair of the Federal Reserve, said the board needs to ensure the market has sufficient momentum to adjust to any rate hikes.

The Federal Reserve forecasts economic growth of 2 percent in 2016 and 2017, which is 0.1 percent lower than the previous forecast.

Single-Family Construction, Builder Confidence Up

Total housing starts were hindered in May by a decrease in multifamily buildings and fell by 0.3 percent, but permits for new construction rose by 0.7 percent. In total, multifamily construction fell by 1.2 percent, and single-family homes increased by 0.3 percent. However, this is an improvement over what had been forecast. April saw a strong surge in starts before the stagnation in May, and single-family construction is now predicted to outpace multifamily.

“Another month of gains in building permits coupled with near record-low mortgage rates provides opportunity for a bounce back,” noted Bill Banfield, vice president of Quicken Loans.

This news came just one day after the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index rose by two points to 60 on a scale of zero to 100. This index is considered the most reliable indicator of builder confidence available today, and the latest figure marks the first increase in the index since January.

All three elements that comprise the index experienced an increase this month:

  • Sales expectations rose by 1 point.
  • Sales expectations for the next six months increased by 5 points.
  • Buyer traffic rose by 3 points.

“Builders in many markets across the nation are reporting higher traffic and more committed buyers at their job sites,” said Ed Brady, chairman of the NAHB. “However, our members are also relating ongoing concerns regarding the shortage of buildable lots and labor and noting pockets of softness in scattered markets.”

“Rising home sales, an improving economy and the fact that the HMI gauge measuring future sales expectations is running at an eight-month high are all positive factors indicating that the housing market should continue to move forward in the second half of 2016,” said Robert Dietz, chief economist for the NAHB.

Construction Job Openings Remain High

One of the biggest problems the construction and remodeling industries currently face is a high number of unfilled jobs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and an NAHB analysis, the number of monthly job openings in April is estimated at 200,000, which is a decrease from 215,000 in March. The March estimate is the highest number of job openings experienced by the industry since March 2007.

The overall trend for open construction jobs since the end of the Great Recession has been a steady increase, and hiring by home builders and remodelers remains weak with a decline of 4,400 positions in May and 5,200 in April. However, more than 128,000 jobs have been added collectively by home builders and remodelers over the past 12 months.

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Tenax Offers Tepox V Color Match System

Posted on 21 June 2016 by cradmin

Tenax Tepox VTenax introduced Tepox V, a special chemical color liquid used to color match stones that have been resined with color additives. Tepox V may also be used to enhance slabs or to alter the look of a slab for specific applications. Use a single color or mix multiple colors together to achieve the desired hue. Tepox V is designed to be used in conjunction with Ager or Ager Tiger. It is also recommended to follow up with Tenax Proseal or Tenax Protex premium grade sealers. Tepox V is for indoor use only. Kit colors include: Black, Brown, Green, Red, Yellow and Blue. Gold and Red Rust are not available in a kit but are sold separately. Individual colors are available in 250 ml. or 1 liter sizes.

You may also be interested in this article about Tenax Transparent Flowing Stone Glue that repairs, bonds and fills countertops.

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Stonetalk Episode 23: Jeremy Mathison

Posted on 20 June 2016 by cradmin

Listen now to episode 23 of Moraware’s Stonetalk podcast with host Patrick Foley and special guest Jeremy Mathison, CEO of Western Marble & Tile Ltd. The wide variety of topics discussed include all of the following:

  • Why radio is still a viable avenue for marketing
  • The problems with social media
  • How team pride in workmanship is important for business
  • Saving money on sinks and faucets imported from Asia
  • The benefits of automating your shop

To read a full transcript of this podcast, visit the Moraware website here: Episode 23 – Jeremy Mathison.

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Antolini Adds Black Absolute Gold to Natura Collection

Posted on 16 June 2016 by cradmin

Antolini’s Black Absolute Gold DesignThe Natura Collection by Antolini was inspired by Antolini’s love of transforming surroundings by crafting natural stone in new and unique ways that enable the full potential of the materials to be realized. The Black Absolute Gold Design created by Antolini is a dark polished granite embellished with golden strands in a fusion of modern and classical.  This detailing evokes a sense of modernism that elevates and inspires.

The material is available in slabs of 51½ in. (nominal) height and variable length depending on block dimension, thickness ¾ in. or 1¼ in. (nominal). Upon request and for specific materials only, Antolini can produce up to 71 in. (nominal) high slab.

You may also be interested in this video about how granite is extracted and processed into countertop slabs.



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Vadara Quartz Surfaces Launched by U.S. Surface Warehouse

Posted on 15 June 2016 by cradmin

Vadara Carrera

Carrara is one of 24 colors in U.S. Surface Warehouse’s new Vadara Quartz Surfaces

U.S. Surface Warehouse, supplier of Livingstone solid surface, launched a line of quartz surfacing designed to have a natural look monikered “Vadara.” The company’s Los Angeles distribution facility is now open and serving fabricators in the Southern California market. The material offers a line of colors and patterns across four collections, each containing six colors for a total of 24. The Santorini, Toledo, Paris and Milan Collections feature a spectrum of options from earthy tones, to marblesque colors to grays, whites and dark options ranging from more traditional looks to veined tones. The product is priced to be very affordable, according to the company.

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BLANCO PRECIS Medium Single Sink Wins Architizer A+ Award

Posted on 14 June 2016 by cradmin

Blanco Precis Medium Single SinkGerman sink manufacturer BLANCO announced that the BLANCO PRECIS™ Medium Single sink with drainer received the 2016 Architizer A+ award in the Plumbing and Kitchen Fixtures category. The BLANCO PRECIS offers a crisp angular design, durable SILGRANIT® surface and a unique wave-shaped integrated stainless steel grid that effectively doubles the drying area when the grid sits back on the sink’s functional ledge.

Tim Maicher, Marketing Director for BLANCO stated, “Being recognized as a winner in the Architizer A+ Awards is a true honor for BLANCO.”  Maicher added, “The PRECIS sink is the ultimate kitchen work area with its elegant, contemporary design and unique integrated features and we are thrilled that it caught the attention of the judges. We are proud to be associated with such a prominent publication and for being acknowledged out of hundreds of talented entries from around the world.”

The Architizer A+ awards are the largest program focused on awarding and celebrating the year’s best products in architecture and design.

You may also be interested in this article about a variety of kitchen sink options.

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