Innovation is an interesting thing and it comes in many different forms. The definition of innovation involves the creation of better or more effective products, processes, services, technologies and ideas. Innovation also comes in the form of applying something that already exists to a use that nobody has thought of before. And, that’s exactly what Curt Rapp, the founder and CEO of The Tile Doctor, has done.
Curt is a guy that was literally born into the ceramic industry. Innovation in his case came in the form or searching out chemistry that had been used successfully for years in the textile industry and applying it to new application in the ceramic industry. It all started when Curt struck out on his own after a stint at The Home Depot. He selected care and maintenance as the low-hanging fruit that he felt held the greatest opportunity in the ceramic sector. Next, he selected The Tile Doctor as the brand he would go forward with and that’s when he began his search for something he felt could make a difference in the industry. That exploration led him to technology developed by Dow Corning decades ago that has been used extensively in the textile industry for microbial and odor control.
What Curt quickly learned was that the chemistry he found, when applied as a base layer to tile, provides something called a covalent polar bond (a chemical bond at the molecular level) and a hydrophobic surface (one that dispels water). What this means is that when it’s applied to tile, say in a shower for example, water and everything in that water literally sheets off and can be cleaned with minimal effort.
That’s only the base layer; on top of that there’s even more technology, which Curt says eradicates mildew, mold, algae and even viruses and does it with chemistry that’s completely safe, with no ill effects for humans or pets, and is environmentally friendly to boot. And that doesn’t mention the fact that it’s durable and won’t come off even with bleach. And did I mention that it’s odorless? As for the safety aspect, the reason this technology has been successful with textile manufacturers is because it can be applied to clothing that’s against the skin and causes no reaction.
This technology is available immediately in the ceramic industry as a spray-on from The Tile Doctor for ceramic, stone, grout and even laminate. But the best part is that this technology can also be applied during the manufacturing process where it’s engineered to be even more durable than the spray-on version. A major player in the industry has taken note of this and will soon be launching it in a branded version that will be applied to ceramic during the manufacturing process. On top of this, the technology also appears to have a home with non-ceramic products like wood, vinyl and laminate, which promises to make all of these options antimicrobial and easy to clean, according to Curt.
Cleanability and ease of maintenance has come in at the top of nearly every consumer’s “gotta have” list regarding flooring that I’ve ever seen. Bottom line, with all the TV ads we’ve had to sit through telling us their products will make our bathrooms sparkle, this technology appears to be the one that comes closer to actually being self-cleaning. That seems to point to Curt as a guy who has the tiger by the tail.
The Tile Doctor is a story of pending success through tapping this consumer maintenance need that existed since I suspect the dirt floor, and it does it with technology that has been in existence for over 40 years. As The Tile Doctor saga plays out we’ll be looking forward to noting the companies that will be among the first to launch products with this consumer extra applied to them. And when that happens we’ll remember how innovation has many definitions, but the best definition is the one that elevates our industry.
From Clothes to Tile: The Story of Tile Doctor
By Dave Foster
A pioneer in the industry’s digital media, Dave Foster launched the industry’s first news and information websites, culminating with TalkFloor.com, the industry’s first site offering both audio and video interviews and industry news as it happens. Now with BNP, Foster will continue to travel the industry interviewing its movers and shakers and offering his thoughts in this blog.
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