Virginia Tile's Brent Stoller is a serial Certified Tile Installer (CTI) program hands-on testing host. In fact, he has hosted more tests in a single location than anyone else in the entire United States. He also regularly hosts Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT) evaluations in the Virginia Tile facility in Kansas City, KS. As you can imagine, we're grateful for all that Brent and Virginia Tile have done to promote these programs along with finding the installers to take the tests.
Brent is also actively involved in CTEF as a Board Member.
We recently caught up with him to learn more about his background and his intense commitment to the CTI program.
Meet Brent Stoller, CTEF Board Member and CTI Hands-on Test Host
CTEF: Brent, what is your background?
BS: I have a BFA degree in Graphic Arts and worked in that field for 13 years.
CTEF: How did you get started in tile?
BS: I was born into an installation family business and worked that gig every summer and school vacation from the time I was 8 years old through my high school graduation.
That's when I say 'enough' to tile and vowed never to return to the tile industry. Never say never.
After 13 years in the graphic arts field - when it started merging into the computer world - I decided to return to the tile business which, by the way, was a great second job during those 13 years.
I spend the next 3 years with the family business and then decided to work in the distribution end of tile. That's when I started my career with Case Supply in Kansas City, Missouri in 1992. We were an American Olean, US Ceramic, Crossville and like sundries distributor in Kansas and Missouri.
CTEF: Brent, tell us about Virginia Tile and ISC Surfaces.
BS: The Virginia Tile journey began with Case Supply.
Case Supply was sold to Interstate Tile around 1999 which - along with AMC Tile (both of those were St. Louis distributors) - became ISC Surfaces.
We grew into Oklahoma City and Tulsa market.
Then, around 2016, Virginia Tile purchased ISC Surfaces and RBC Tile. As of now, we are all Virginia Tile, and this is our mission:
We are one company focused on supplying our customers with design-oriented solutions and celebrated service experiences.
CTEF: What do you love most about tile?
BS: I think it's the satisfaction of the craft and seeing the real results of an excellent installation.
CTEF: What are the biggest issues affecting the tile business?
BS: That's obvious. It's labor and getting the younger labor force to embrace the craft.
>> See The Future Looks Bright for Certified Tile Installers: Installation Summit 2016
CTEF: When did you first become aware of CTEF and the CTI program?
BS: That was in early 2011. We hosted our first CTI hands-on test in September of 2011.
CTEF: What made you such a strong supporter?
BS: I would say the work ethic and training I had from my father and our company’s willingness to travel to - as we called them - “dog and pony” events in the city back in the 60s and 70s made me realize that these were important industry events.
And also seeing what the CTEF stood for and believed in made a big impression on me once I became familiar with it.
CTEF: What inspired you to become a CTI hands-on testing site host?
BS: From the very beginning with Case Supply, I saw firsthand how beneficial training is.
Since the early 90s, we had great success having factory representative/technical persons in to our own Training Center in Kansas City. As a result, I believed that a CTI program would be just one step up and better because it involved certification.
The CTEF has brought considerable education, learning and experience to the tile installation community.
CTEF: How many hands-on tests have you hosted?
BS: 13 tests so far.
(FYI - Brent holds the record for hosting the largest number of CTI tests at one site. In fact, he received the first CTI Host of the Year award in 2014.)
CTEF: How has it affected your business?
BS: I/we believe it has let us become a better, more complete partner to our industry and customer base.
CTEF: What’s the biggest surprise from all those tests you’ve hosted?
BS: The biggest surprise has to be the wide range of knowledge and skills that installers working out there in the marketplace have. And how combining that with a certification program such as the CTI that acknowledges tile installation methods and standards makes for an even better installer.
I encourage any installer who is making this his or her career to seek that level of education to grow their skills. This is a respectable and honest way to make a living.
>> See Addicted to Quality Tile Installation
CTEF: Thank you, Brent!
Brent also participated in a video exchange with CTI Coordinator Kevin Insalato. You can watch the entire 2:44 minute interview with Brent in the video below:
When You Become Qualified Labor, the Tile
Industry Has a Reason to Refer You
Special thanks to Brent Stoller and Virginia Tile for their ongoing support of the CTI testing program by hosting this and so many other CTI and ACT hands-on tests in their Kansas City location.
For the installers who take the CTI test and the businesses supporting them, the payoff is gained by becoming a crucial part of the Qualified Labor pool that provides the consumer, whether residential or commercial, with a choice of the best quality possible.
It's also about supporting the tile industry and everyone who believes in delivering quality tile installations.
Are you ready to become a Certified Tile Installer?