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Passion for Certification on Tile Money: Interview with Heidi Cronin

Passion for Certification on Tile Money: Interview with Heidi Cronin

Are you familiar with Tile Money? Created by tile contractor Luke Miller, this podcast/YouTube channel is all about helping other tile contractors run a successful and profitable tile business:

"Tile Money is the source of business knowledge and advice for today’s Tile Contractor."

Luke recently interviewed CTEF's Heidi Cronin about her role as CTEF Industry Liaison and Promotions Director and the Certified Tile Installer program. Her passion for certification came through loudly and clearly as you'll soon discover reading through this article!

Heidi Cronin Voices Her Passion for Certification with Luke Miller on Tile Money

This episode of Tile Money consists of three parts:

  • The interview with Heidi (~ 34 minutes)
  • Luke's perspective on the Certified Tile Installer program (~ 8 minutes)
  • Tile Money Tip with Ron Nash (last 10 minutes of the episode)

Here are the top 8 topics Luke and Heidi discussed.

#1 - What are Heidi's goals in her role with CTEF? 

Heidi's goal is to get contractors signed up and certified as tile installers. She wants to get them engaged in the industry and fully involved in raising the bar.

She'd also like to see states make being a CTI a requirement for being licensed. First, though, there need to be more Certified Tile Installers.

(Another issue as Luke and Heidi detail in the interview is that so many differences exist in requirements from state to state. For example, not all states have requirements for shower pans.)

Ultimately, she wants to raise the bar and make being a certified installer a good thing.

Change takes time, though. This is a transition year to create a strong foundation. By 2021, that foundation will be in place and the groundwork done.

#2 - How did Heidi get involved with the CTI program?

Heidi has been aware of complaints about the need for Quality Labor, and the need to involve millennials. She wanted to address this and got involved with industry associations.

She met Dirk Sullivan from Hawthorne Tile at Surfaces. As a result, she hosted the hands-on portion of the CTI test at The Cronin Company in 2017. She got to experience it, listen, observe and see tile installation passion firsthand. She met Jason McDaniel at that event.

>> See Why Should You Take the CTI Test? Contractors Respond

>> See Passionate About Setting Tile By the Book: Jason McDaniel Explains

No one involved in the tile industry should underestimate the importance of industry events for meeting people.

Be aware that Heidi is a question-asker; she asks tons of questions and gets both great information and valuable perspective. 

#3 - What drives Heidi's zeal for certification?

As Luke asks in the interview, "Heidi you're on fire. What's driving your zeal?"

Heidi explains that Qualified Labor is such a major issue for all of the trades. It's critical for young people to realize that there's an alternative to college that allows you to make good money without the burden of financial debt. It's a mindset.

That's the way to combat the race to the bottom in distribution and installation. Tile installation is not where anyone wants to cheap out.

Heidi has also been inspired by the camaraderie she's witnessed in the various tile-related Facebook groups where members are quick to help and offer advice. She is very active in those groups.

#4 - What does Heidi say to the CTI-naysayers?

There have been plenty of naysayers who question the need to be a CTI.

>> See Questions About CTI, ACT Certifications and Qualifications

Heidi realizes that you can't convince everyone. It's important to see the CTI program as a goal, rather than a necessity.

It's a matter of investing in yourself, continuing to educate yourself and grow. You have to be uncomfortable to grow; you have to be educated to grow and the CTI program is a way to grow.

The CTI program focuses on the standards, methods and best practices of ANSI A108, A118, the TCNA Handbook and Manufacturer Instructions. 

Becoming a CTI doesn't say you're a better installer, but rather that you've stretched yourself to reach a goal. You can then have pride of accomplishment for having achieved this personal goal. 

#5 - How is Heidi encouraging tile contractors to become certified?

Heidi receives many private messages about the CTI program. She encourages everyone to sign up regardless of date and location. 

CTEF will get an event going if there's interest. For example, there are no CTIs in South Dakota. However, a couple of people are interested, and the next step is to find a test-host location and keep that passion going.

It makes Heidi's heart sing to witness the passion. She also encourages installers to join the NTCA.

Getting tile installation training, becoming certified and reaching a higher level of tile installation knowledge and expertise benefit everyone in the industry including homeowners and end users.

#6 - How can the Tile Money audience help?

Luke asked Heidi how can the Tile Money audience help?

  • Sign up for the Certified Tile Installer program so Heidi knows you are interested.,
  • Sign up even if you see no dates/locations. She'll find one. CTEF is busy training more evaluators to get more tests and locations set up.

To learn more about the CTI program:

#7 - What benefits can Certified Tile Installers see?

Certified Tile Installers see many benefits including achieving a sense of pride and accomplishment as well as a true sense of confidence.

In addition to investing in yourself and keeping up with tile installation standards, methods and best practices, CTIs can get leads from the CTEF website through the zip code locator.

Furthermore, when installers successfully complete both the online and hands-on tests, they will receive a packet which includes manufacturer coupons valued at $1,250

>> Read 5+ Benefits of Being a Certified Tile Installer

#8 - What about consumers and tile installation expectations?

Tile work has never been 'just a blue-collar job." It involves artistry and technique. The complexity of this trade is such that is has nothing to do with getting the cheapest to do the job. Quite the opposite! Never go for lowest price when it relates to a tile installation.

In some ways, it's unfortunate that the term 'labor' is used. Perhaps it would be better to refer to 'installation concierges'? (Reactions?)

Consumers know more about products than salespeople do because they have researched them in depth on the Internet. That's why it's so critical to set expectations for every tile installation project. Refer to specific methods and standards; educate customers about why you approach an installation they way you do. Develop a strong presence on the Internet where you can explain your expertise, who you are and why you are the best choice in town.

A significant benefit of the CTI program is learning to sell yourself because you follow best practices in industry. It builds confidence.

As Heidi states,

"Don't fear the CTI test; fear not trying. You can't judge anything if you don't try."

>> Check out the Qualified Labor series.

Luke Miller's Personal Viewpoint About the Certified Tile Installer Program

Luke wasn't planning to take the CTI, but he is now. Although it's a controversial topic, he sees it as a benefit to his business and supports the Certified Tile Installer program. He will do so in February 2020 at the Fresno, CA Mud event.

For Luke, becoming a CTI is about bolstering his marketing. Although he doesn't install that much tile, yet sees it as important for communicating his expertise.

For others, it may be for another reason. Becoming a CTI is a personal decision about how this will benefit your business. Although it can help, it's not for everyone. For Luke, it's about marketing; for others it may be about becoming an ACT next.

Regardless, it's an opportunity to invest in yourself.

Watch the Tile Money Interview with Heidi Cronin

Here's the entire 52:23-minute video of the Tile Money CTI episode.

What's Your Reaction to Becoming a Certified Tile Installer?

Do you see it as a burden or as an opportunity to invest in yourself and challenge yourself to be the best tile installer?

Let us know in the comments.

Thanks for reading.


Learn More About Becoming a Certified Tile Installer Click Here to Download the CTI Kit. 


Note: This episode of Tile Money is brought to you by the National Tile Contractors Association and sponsored by Laticrete International