Chris Ard of LATICRETE uses LATICRETE thin-set mortar to install Durock in a Habitat home in Biloxi, MS.

Kevin Gummow of Brandon Company installs Mapelath, donated by MAPEI, in a Pascagoula, MS, Habitat home.

Industry members donated tile, setting materials, tools, and time to help tile a total of 60 homes along the Mississippi Gulf Coast as part of the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project (JRCWP) in May.

Habitat for Humanity of the Mississippi Gulf Coast (HFHMGC) built 30 new homes and completed 30 rehabilitation projects in Gulfport, Biloxi, and Pascagoula. Industry members provided materials for all 60 homes and personally donated labor for 24. Tile Partners for Humanity, the partnership between Habitat for Humanity and the tile industry, worked with industry members to coordinate the donations.  

Representatives of Brandon Company, LATICRETE, MAPEI, Orchid Ceramics, and Tiede Zoeller spent nearly a week installing materials donated by their companies in 24 homes in late May. In Pascagoula, two teams worked side by side: LATICRETE and Tiede Zoeller tiled ten homes and Orchid, MAPEI, and Brandon Company tiled ten. LATICRETE also worked with TPFH Executive Director Ally Venugopal to work on four more homes in Biloxi.

Industry members have donated tile and installation materials for nearly 200 homes along the Mississippi Gulf Coast since Hurricane Katrina. The affiliate is averaging anywhere from 75-100 new homes per year and uses tile in all of them.

HFHMGC Materials/Warehouse Manager Mike Durand said the affiliate appreciated everything industry members contributed and that the homes look amazing.

“We were extremely pleased to have representatives from these companies donate their time and efforts to the recent JRCWP 2008. Like always, they provided superior products and the hard work of each individual has not gone unnoticed.  Many homeowners have told me how proud they are of their floors.  Their willingness to get “down and dirty” was greatly appreciated!”

This marked the second TPFH project for Tiede Zoeller, who donated labor for another local Habitat home in 2006. For the Gulfport-based tile and stone installation specialist, the decision to participate again was an easy one. “We didn’t have to think about it because we all lived through the disaster in one way or another, we all had some type of damage from it,” said Kevin Crawford, Tiede Zoeller sales and training manager. “It was a no-brainer for us to donate time to rebuild our community, especially with so many other partners involved in it.”  

John Striednig, regional sales manager for LATICRETE, donated three days with LATICRETE Contractor Sales Representative Chris Ard and Technical Sales Representative Ben Novak, both of Louisiana. The company donated LATICRETE 253 Gold Multipurpose Thin-set Mortar and LATICRETE 1500 Sanded Grout in Parchment to tile the ten homes in Pascagoula as well as the remaining 40 homes in Gulfport and Biloxi, including the rehabs. Striednig and Ard also worked on four homes in Gulfport in addition to the homes they shared with Tiede Zoeller in Pascagoula.

“LATICRETE is a firm believer in supporting Habitat for Humanity,” said Maria Oliveira, corporate marketing manager for LATICRETE. “ Not only is donating LATICRETE product and our helping hands for the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project rewarding, but seeing the impact it had on the homeowners makes all the difference. “  

Orchid Ceramics donated two truckloads of tile to cover all 60 homes.  Orchid General Manager Kurt Graves said he was thrilled to be involved in the project.  “We’ve participated in past events with Tile Partners for Humanity, but this project was special because it was an opportunity to help in a part of the US where we have a strong market presence.  Helping to repair the social fabric in the Gulf Coast was a terrific way for us express gratitude for all the rich goodness we have been given.”

Orchid Regional Sales Manager Jack LeBlanc spent two days working with representatives of Brandon Company, an Orchid distributor in Mississippi and Louisiana, and MAPEI, a manufacturer of systems for tile and stone installation. The team installed tile in ten homes in Pascagoula.

Brandon Company’s Kevin Gummow, John Arruebarrena and Austin Branscum, all of the company’s Prairieville, La., branch, donated time to work on the homes on Monday, May 19. Tina Bucklin, James Parrish and Andy Johnson of Brandon’s Jackson, Miss, branch donated time on Tuesday, May 20.

For Sales Manager Gummow, the project represented a great opportunity to do something good for families in need.

“It’s a great opportunity to give back to those who are less fortunate and have fallen on hard times,” he said. “Time is the hardest thing for any of us to give. You can throw money at a project all day long, but giving time is the real heart and soul of a project. We were proud to give our time to help these families.”

MAPEI Sales Representative Wilbert Adams, Jr., Technical Field Consultant James Evans, and Corporate Communication Specialist Diane Choate spent two days working in the homes. They also donated Mapelath, a lightweight lath underlayment, as well as Dust-Free Ultraflex 2 thinset mortar, Keracolor S grout in Bone, and a variety of installation tools for the project. Adams’ wife Shelley also joined in the fun!

“We had a great time on this project,” said Adams. “It’s fun to work together with our distributors, and this was an especially rewarding job. A lot of the folks who will be moving into these houses have been without a permanent home since Hurricane Katrina hit two years ago. I’m really glad we could do something to help them get re-settled.”

Tile Partners for Humanity is guided by representatives of the seven leading industry organizations: Rick Church of the Ceramic Tile Distributors Association, Scott Carothers of the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation, Gray LaFortune of the Ceramic Tile Institute of America, Bart Bettiga of the National Tile Contractors Association, Eric Astrachan of the Tile Council of North America, Curt Rapp of, and Sheila Menzies of Tile Heritage Foundation.

For more information, please contact TPFH Executive Director Allyson Fertitta Venugopal at