The National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), the world's largest tile contractors association, recognized industry leaders at its fourth annual awards ceremony during Coverings 2016 at McCormick Place in Chicago, IL.

Over 200 guests were present to see the association present its annual Five Star Contractor Grand Prize awards for outstanding installations in both Commercial and Residential projects and this year's Special Recognition Awards for the Promotion of the Tile Trade and Membership. An independent panel of judges evaluated submissions, based on execution and installation, original usage, and overall design and purpose. Special recognition was given to those projects exemplifying stunning tile and stone.

NTCA's Five Star Prize awards were presented for both Commercial and Residential Tile Installations. The Five Star winners received $2,500 each in prize money, sponsored by Daltile Corp. Over 20 submissions were received and judged via the following criteria: scope (size of project), complexity (challenges), technical soundness (resolution of challenges) and design and presentation (overall appearance, layout and artistic value).

Grazzini Brothers & Co. of Egan, MN,was the recipient of the Five-Star Grand Prize for Commercial Tile Installation. The firm's installation of over 24,000 square feet of exterior natural stone wall tile and interior porcelain floor and wall tile at the Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory in Anchorage, Alaska proved to be quite a challenging project due to lack of infrastructure, cold, unpredictable weather and lack of daylight in the winter months. The largest installation challenge was the extreme weather conditions. Due to manufacturer's specifications, exterior installation could not be completed in temperatures below 40 degrees. Wind factors had to be considered due to hoisting the exterior stone wall tile for installation. Safety of the crew was the top priority. Grazzini Brothers & Co. had only 72 days to install the exterior stone work, so limited weekend work was necessary to complete this job on time.

Cox Tile of San Antonio, TX, was the recipient of the Five-Star Grand Prize for Residential Tile Installation. The firm's project, "Brick and Stone Paradise," had a foundation of brick, natural stone and handmade artisan tiles throughout the interior of the home and exterior. Weeks of planning were needed to fine tune the details and designs of each area of the home. The project proved challenging and quite labor intensive. From Old Chicago Bricks cut into 1/2-inch veneers and Turkish travertine set diagonal on stairs, to curved glass tile accent wall in the master bath shower, this project was the epitome of craftsmanship that only an NTCA Five Star Contractor could master.

This year, the NTCA's Special Recognition Awards were presented to two individuals for their dedication to Promoting the Tile Trade and Membership -- Rod Owen of CC Owen Tile in Jonesboro, Georgia and Bradford Denny of Nichols Tile & Terrazzo Co. in Joelton, TN. Rod is responsible for the Promotion of our trade to the youth of Atlanta. He is an active member of the Construction Education Foundation of Georgia (CEFGA). Each year, the Foundation hosts a "Careers in Construction Week" to educate students, parents and school counselors that skilled trades are a legitimate career. Since 2007, Rod has led the Tile Craftsman section of the program and on September 10, 2015, Atlanta Governor, Nathan Deal, signed a proclamation for Careers in Construction Week in Georgia.

Brad is the moderator of the NTCA Members and the Regional and State Directors Facebook page. More importantly, Brad introduced the NTCA to the "Tile Geeks" Facebook page. Through the Tile Geeks, NTCA has increased membership by more than 30 new members. Brad has been a constant voice promoting NTCA in all forms of Social Media.