On March 17, Henry Rothberg, founder and chairman emeritus of Laticrete, passed away. He was 91 years old.

While working as a young man in his family’s South Carolina floor covering installation business and with a background in science and a degree in chemical engineering from the University of South Carolina, Rothberg began investigating how synthetic latex technologies could be applied to the concrete industry.

Rothberg started Laticrete International in 1956 with his wife Lillian, who worked as bookkeeper for the fledgling organization. Laticrete became a global company with a reputation for quality and service. Rothberg successfully ran the organization until 2001 when he became chairman emeritus, ceding leadership to his sons Henry and David.

Among the many honorary awards presented to Rothberg are the Carl V. Cesery Award (Tile Contractors Association of America), the Joe A. Tarver Award for Lifetime Service to the Tile Industry (National Tile Contractors Association) and induction into the Ceramic Tile Distributors Association (CTDA) Hall of Fame.

Henry M. Rothberg 



Keene Building Products has acquired an 11-acre facility in Euclid, Ohio, to create a new laboratory for research and development along with a prototype production line for small filament products and an application lab for all products in the Keene family of companies.

“This is an opportunity to revitalize a small portion of this nice community. We selected Euclidbecause of its proximity to transportation lines and its local support for industry,” said Jim Keene.

Manufacturing for Keene will be moved to the new facility over 18 months. The acreage allows room for expansion and the creation of a rail spur to manufacture products in one location. Future plans include a new 40,000 square foot manufacturing facility.




MAPEI’s operations facility in Tempe, Ariz., was recently certified by the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s  (OSHA) Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP). This plant shares the distinction with MAPEI’s Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., plant, which achieved SHARP status in 2010.

“We are extremely proud of our employees and our safety record,” said Al Fornaro, unit manager for MAPEI’s Arizona operation. “When we were notified of our certification by the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health, director Bill Warren gave us some startling facts that emphasized the significance of our accomplishment. He said there are 158,000 employers in Arizona, but only 26, including MAPEI, have achieved certification by the SHARP program.”

MAPEI’s Al Fornaro, unit manager (seated middle), and the Tempe operations team.



QEP Co. completed the acquisition of Faus Group (Faus USA) in February. Faus USA manufactures and distributes premium laminate flooring under the Fausfloor name.

“The acquisition of Faus USA and its manufacturing facility in Calhoun, Ga., will allow QEP to offer its customers a line of high-end laminate products that complement the Harris Wood line of engineered wood products as alternatives to existing imported products,” said Lewis Gould, chairman of the QEP board of directors. Faus USA operates out of a 380,000 sq. ft. manufacturing and distribution facility located on over 78 acres in Calhoun.




Armstrong World Industries has partnered with the International Certified Floorcovering Installers Association (CFI) to present two-day, hands-on, individualized installation skills training from the beginning stages to the finished floor. Installers learn substrate properties and the use of meters to perform testing, along with laminate skills, and wood and resilient training.

“Armstrong World Industries places a strong emphasis on flooring installation training,” said Tim Provence of Armstrong Installation and Technical Services. “Our partnership with the International Certified Flooring Installers Association, CFI, is one of the many avenues by which this training is conducted.” Through this partnership, over 30 installers have been added to Armstrong’s Certified Installer Program.

Two day, hands-on installation training presented by Armstrong World Industries and CFI.



Michael Halebian, Sr., who helped build the well-respected East Coast distributor bearing his name, passed away in February at the age of 90. Born in New York City, Halebian grew up in the Bronx. He acquired his uncle’s Oriental rug supply business after returning from World War II in 1945, and built it into a nationally recognized floor covering distributor.

Known in the industry as “Big Mike,” he continued working until recently. The company is now headed by his son, Michael Halebian, Jr., the third generation to run the family business. Halebian, Jr., noted with three locations, Michael Halebian & Co. continues to inspire confidence with creative solutions for every flooring challenge.



The Dixie Group has acquired Atlas Carpet Mills for approximately $17.5 million, which includes assumption of certain outstanding purchase orders of Atlas, the payoff of existing debt and a cash payment.

“Although Atlas will operate as a separate brand within the Dixie portfolio, we believe there are significant synergies from the consolidation of the two dye houses and utilization of other Dixie assets,” said Kennedy Frierson, Dixie’s COO.

Jim Horwich, founder of Atlas, remains president, reporting to Frierson. Mark Nestler, executive vice president and Scott Price, vice president of manufacturing, will continue in their respective leadership roles at Atlas. According to Frierson, there will be no change to the administrative, product development and sales functions of the company.



Bona US recently issued a voluntary safety alert of its Atomic Dust Containment System (DCS) unit mounted in a trailer used to sand and refinish hardwood floors, due to a potential fire risk. The company is urging all owners of the trailer to immediately stop use, unless and until it has been modified according to Bona’s instruction.

To remedy this issue, Bona is offering a free retro-fit kit that, when installed, will prevent the potential hazard.Owners of the trailer can get more information about the retro-fit kit at under the Professional tab.



Ceramic Tile and Stone Consultants (CTaSC) is now providing Fuse Alliance members with technical and training services for ceramic tile, glass tile, stone, and other masonry products.

Fuse members will have access to the University of Ceramic Tile and Stone’s (UofCTS) interactive online training courses.  Founder of UofCTS, Donato Pompo and his staff will also monitor Fuse’s online forum to answer members’ questions regarding tile and stone.

“Following industry standards is key to avoiding costly tile and stone installation failures and delays. Standards are created to avoid recurring problems, so it’s important for distributors and installation companies to have easy access to them. CTaSC will guide Fuse members to relevant standards, and at the same time give them the benefit of CTaSC’s experience and insight on how to avoid problems,” Pompo noted.



USFloors now offers distribution out of Anaheim, Calif. to provide faster service to customers in the West Coast region.  “We opened our office in Shanghai in October to address quality and service in order to reduce lead-times at point of purchase. Our commitment to West coast inventory allows us to further build on this and provide stronger support to our sales team and our customers by significantly reducing transit times to deliver their orders,” said Piet Dossche, USFloors president and CEO.

USFloors has also expanded its sales force in California and the Mountain West to allow more attentive representation to USFloors customers in the region.



Dal-Tile’s new glazed porcelain and colorbody tile manufacturing plant and distribution center is set to open in Dickson, Tenn. in late 2015. “By partnering with Dickson County and Tennessee state officials, we were able to find a perfect match for our manufacturing expansion needs and continue to provide the exceptional service our customers require,” said Dal-Tile president, John Turner Jr.

The 1.4 million sq. ft. plant will have glazed porcelain capabilities, as well as advanced decoration technology to meet the need of the commercial market through technical color body products, plus in-line rectification and polishing to meet market requirements.



Florida Tile kicked-off its year-long 60th anniversary advertising and merchandising campaign in March.  “Few companies survive to celebrate 60 years. Florida Tile has not only survived; it has thrived by remaining loyal to its core values of innovation and service,” said Sean Cilona, Florida Tile’s marketing director.

Florida Tile, which began as a one-product specialty ceramic tile maker, opened a porcelain tile manufacturing plant in Lawrenceburg, Ky. with a $25 million investment from Panariagroup. That plant now operates three full time shifts 24 hours a day, and is capable of producing very large-sized, through-body porcelain tile. The company also recently celebrated the grand opening of its new 15,000 sq. ft. designer showroom and warehouse in Dallas.



Joe Yarbrough has been selected to lead the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) as president.

Yarbrough is succeeding Werner Braun, who retired as president of the non-profit carpet industry trade group in March.

“With his 40-plus years of carpet industry experience, Joe brings an unprecedented array of knowledge, experience, and insight regarding our customers, markets and opportunities,” said David Jolly, president and CEO of J&J Flooring Group and current CRI board chairman.

Yarbrough comes to CRI from Mohawk Industries, where he most recently served as senior vice president for advanced manufacturing engineering. Earlier in his career, he spent six years with Coronet Industries and was later vice president for manufacturing for Aladdin Mills when that company merged with Mohawk in 1994. Yarbrough is a current member and immediate past chairman of CRI’s Strategic Issues Leadership Council.

Joe Yarbrough



Over 1,400 flooring industry professionals have been certified through nora’s Technical Academy since the flooring installation program started six years ago. The objective of the Technical Academy is to provide flooring professionals, ranging from installers to company owners and contractors, with tricks and techniques to work with nora flooring.

Program participants receive one-on-one instruction, learning about the latest industry standards including new moisture testing methods and equipment, subfloor preparation, heat vs. cold weld, how to handle installation problems and what makes rubber flooring different to install, while utilizing the resources nora makes available to installers.

“[Participants] get a feel for our flooring and can experience how it installs in a setting where they can experiment with the material without consequence. It has also effectively reduced the amount of installation mistakes on jobsites,” said instructor Marc Ilgenfritz. The three-day training program takes place at nora’s headquarters in Salem, N.H.

Flooring industry professionals participate in nora’s Technical Academy.



GranQuartz has opened a new store in Carrollton, Texas, near Dallas.

The 3,500 sq. ft. warehouse and showroom will allow the company to better serve customers across the region with stock on hand and experts in the store. “We are committed to continually improving our service and shopping experience, making it easier for our customers to find what they need in their area”, said Ted Skaff, director of marketing and communications.

The Dallas-area store is one of 13 GranQuartz stores located across the country, with a complete offering of tools and equipment for the stone, tile and concrete professional.



HomerWood has named Belknap White and BR Funsten/Tom Duffy Co. co-distributors of the year for 2013. “From the top down, [the distributors] epitomize everything you could wish for in a business partner and we are very grateful for all of their support. Both have fully embraced our recent product and merchandising initiatives and have leveraged these to achieve significant growth for our companies in 2013,” said Paul Walker, general manager, HomerWood.

Massachusetts-based Belknap White serves New England, New York and Northern New Jersey. BR Funsten/Tom Duffy Co. serves Arizona, California and Nevada with more than 27 locations.

From left: Ryon Ganser, Belknap White; Paul Walker, HomerWood; Rich Vanbuskirk, Belknap White; Sean Connolly, Belknap White; and Mike May, HomerWood.
From left: BR Funsten/Tom Duffy’s Kyle Sherman, Rick Wagner and Donna Lagano, with HomerWood’s Paul Walker and Scott Bertram.



Starnet’s Reclamation Program is aiming to recycle 50 million pounds of reclaimed carpet by 2015. In conjunction with Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE), the Reclamation Program is assisting companies with everything from removal to compliance to certification, while “alleviating the hassles that can be associated with environmentally responsible disposal of commercial carpet materials,” according to the company. Since the Reclamation Program began in 2006, Starnet member companies have already recycled more than 44.6 million pounds of carpet.


In Memoriam: Richard ‘Rick’ Brian

Hardwood flooring industry veteran and former Floor Trendscolumnist Richard “Rick” Brian died on Feb. 5 at his home in Southern Pines, N.C., following a brief battle with cancer. He was 66.

Brian was past board member of the National Wood Flooring Association, Maple Flooring Manufacturers Association and NOFMA - The Wood Flooring Manufacturers Association, among others. He also held positions as vice president of marketing, chief operating officer and president of Robbins Inc., where he was instrumental in expanding that company’s residential hardwood business. Shortly after Triangle Pacific Corp. acquired Robbins in 1997, Brian established R.B. Brian & Associates, a consulting firm for the hardwood flooring and building products industries.

Rick Brian


New Hires and Promotions

Courtney Sturtevanthas been named HPS Schönox’snew distributor relations and business development manager, a nationwide role to support the growth of distributors and their business interests. Additionally, Rex Revardhas joined the company as western region business manager, focusing on Southern California, Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico with strategic business development and key customer support.

Laticretehas promoted three key personnel within its technical services department. Curtis Rogers-Vereenhas been promoted to senior technical services representative/training coordinator; Adrian Riverahas been promoted to senior technical services representative; Gilles Bignolashas been promoted to senior technical services representative – SPD.

Jamann Stepp


Jamann Stepphas joined QEP as senior vice president of sales. In his new role, Stepp will be responsible for driving sales execution for multiple channels of business including mass merchant, distribution, direct and to the trade segments for the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Jack Bostwick


South Mountain Hardwood Flooringhas appointed Jack Bostwickas national sales manager. In his new role, he will manage distribution throughout North America. Bostwick most recently served as vice president of sales and marketing for WE Cork for five years.


Upcoming Events

CFI/WFCA Certification Training – Lynnwood, Wash., May 13-16; Pomona, Calif., June 3-6.

CFA 2014 Spring Golf Outing – Orland Park, Ill., May 21. or (630) 637-8877.

NeoCon 2014 – Chicago, June 9-11.


For more industry events and training, visit and click the Calendar of Events link under the Resources tab.