Monday, July 31, 2017

Creating Memories While Constructing a Lasting Tribute During the 2017 Mosaic Marathon

Guest Blog by our friend Sue Majewski (SAMA member and Marathon Coordinator)
Shared with Permission of the Society of American Mosaics Artists

Finished mosaic mural created by the Society of American Mosaic Artists
Photo: Sue Majewski

2017 Mosaic Marathon

Mural created at the Society of American Mosaic Artists (SAMA) Annual Conference, Detroit, MI; and installed May 8, 2017 at the Children's Hospital of Michigan

When you have a friend like mine, one that inspires and impresses you with her kindness, whimsy, exactitude, and infallible attitude, you tend to stick close. Knowing every time you're together, you teach each other about life, love, and mosaics. What could be better? 

Then this wonderful friend starts talking crazy about the 2017 SAMA American Mosaic Summit in Detroit. “I'm gonna do it! I may be going through the most intense personal issues right now, but, by golly, I'm gonna make this happen! I'm gonna devote all my efforts into making this a reality. Are you coming along?" Really, who could hesitate?! 

Crazy talk, maybe. But how can you not support Joan Schwartz when she looks you right in the eye and says “I really could use your help here.” Okay, I’m in. What’s it gonna take? “I need you to head up the Mosaic Marathon.” Al-righty!

Joan Verdiano
Photo by Tim Stassines 

My good friend, Detroit artist Grace Serra, has worked as a public art coordinator and art educator for almost 30 years. She began the Children's Hospital of Michigan (CHM) Healing Arts Program in 2004, and listened carefully when I described a project that about 250 of my closest, most talented friends could work on together, ultimately donating the handmade piece to a final recipient. 

She guided me to CHM (dedicated since 1886 to providing the highest quality of care to children and adolescents and the first children's hospital in the state) which was building a new emergency entrance that included a long, blank wall, which would be viewed by children coming out of triage and into bays for further treatment and evaluation. It was decided that by creating an uplifting subject, they might be calmed as they continued their journey to improved health. The illustrative theme throughout CHM is safari animals. During my first visit there I found beautiful, colorful murals of different wild animals at each level of the parking structure. In the hospital, each floor is designated by a different animal. Using this information, I drew up a cartoon based on the available 48” tall by 96” wide space.

The Mosaics Artists of Michigan (MAM) is a unique group of like-minded folks from all over our beautiful state. The combination of talent, creativity, and personality is evident at every second-Saturday meeting. Every other year or so, we take on a project—a collaboration— for donation. So when I started calculating the amount of work involved in producing this mural, I knew I could count on our group to get things done.

First, we prepared the substrate by tracing the full-sized patterns on three panels of wallboard with marker. Then, we used a fourth sheet to cut out additional pieces that would define certain aspects by emphasizing depth. I used my jigsaw, set at a 45-degree angle, to cut them out, after which they were adhered with thinset to the base panels. Many of our members were there in the final hours of preparations, helping to ensure a result we were all proud of. Their help and devotion will always be remembered.

Kim Wozniak of Wit’ and donated all of the Mexican smalti. In estimating colors and quantities beforehand, I found it was easiest to simply order mixes—blue mix for the sky, green mix for leaves, etc. Kim also donated her personally designed frames for the finished panels which her son, Jesse, helped assemble. 

LATICRETE International also sponsored the Mosaic Marathon, donating SPECTRALOCK® PRO Grout (epoxy grout), as well as Glass Tile Adhesive (non-sag, polymer fortified adhesive mortar that is specifically formulated for use in glass tile applications), which was individually mixed and used to apply the smalti to the wallboard panels. 

Starting Tuesday, May 2, I set everything up in the Duluth Conference Room of the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center and we were officially ready for our volunteers to begin the Marathon.

Photo by Tim Stassines 

The atmosphere was one that Marathon volunteers have come to expect—sharing techniques, making new acquaintances, catching up with old friends, and mingling the sound of laughter with the snapping of tiles. We worked long, hard hours, determined to complete it on time. And we did!

Photo by Tim Stassines 

I am so very proud of this project. From start to finish I was honored and humbled by the faith everyone had in us and the fabulous time we had, creating memories while constructing a lasting tribute from our talented SAMA friends to our city. What a great experience—definitely a bucket list week for me! Meeting my ‘mosaic crushes’ and spending time connecting with creative personalities from all over the world! 

Sue Majewski sits in front of the finished piece
Photo by Tim Stassines

Much gratitude and positive, creative energy from me to all of the productive, imaginative souls we were able to share our time with. 

Born and raised on the east side of Detroit, Sue Majewski completed a graphics degree at Wayne State University. Art has always been a passion and creating mosaics was an easy transition, having dabbled in every other media available. “Once I created my first mosaic, I knew I was hooked.” Acquiring a kiln enabled Sue to create her own handbuilt pieces, offering even more variety to her style.

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Monday, July 24, 2017

Top 10 Favorite LATICRETE Products – Told to Us by Our Facebook Fans

Earlier this month we ran a contest on our LATICRETE International Facebookpage asking our followers to tell us which two LATICRETE products were their favorite and why. We received over 275 responses! We randomly selected three lucky winners from those who commented on our post. The winners each got to choose two great prizes! 
Congrats to our winners: Paul Luccia of Cabot & Rowe in Texas, Elmar Roennig of Coastline Flooring & Design in Alabama and Kris Klinge in Texas! 
If you haven't liked our Facebook page already you're missing out on contests, product and installation tips, industry news, events and more. Just click here to like and follow us on Facebook or check us out on other social channels like Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn! 

We compiled all the responses from our contest and have come up with the top 10 favorite LATICRETE products told to us by our Facebook fans. See them below along with comments from our fans.
1. HYDROBAN® - the industry’s premier standard in liquid applied, thin, load bearing, waterproof, anti-fracture membrane. The product that started it All! 
“Easiest to install product of their kind, bulletproof, consistent and provides the best in industry warranty.”
“It's wicked. Super easy to apply! Saves time and money!”

HYDRO BAN waterproof anti-fracture membrane

2. PERMACOLOR®Select – advanced high performance cement grout offering the industry’s first dispersible dry pigment solution
“Color consistent, workability and I can stock all 40 colors on one shelf.”
“Best grout on the planet! True color every time, workability A+, select any color is very cool, and you can also get a few colors off the custom grout chart. Seriously, I love all your products and will continue to try out all of them with confidence. Thank you!” 

3. TRI-LITE™ - lightweight, high performance tri-purpose mortar designed for large and heavy tile, thin bed and wall installations.
“The best period no explanation needed. Non-sag and gives the shower system a 25 year warranty! Rad stuff!!”
“Is one of the most versatile thinsets, and so nice to work with. It’s creamy smooth, and holds the trowel well, non sag, works like a medium bed, the bags are light to carry (old guy friendly).”

TRI-LITE mortar
4. SPECTRALOCK®PRO Premium Grout  – the world’s # epoxy grout
“Easiest to install product of their kind, bulletproof, consistent and provide the best in industry warranty.”
“The color consistency is amazing! I have never had any problems with final color. Workability is superior to other epoxies I've tried.”

5. 254Platinum – one-step, polymer fortified, thin set mortar for interior and exterior installation of ceramic tile, stone, quarry tile, pavers and brick
“Tenacious bond which allows you to install over practically everything.”
“It will stick to anything and everything. When doing a premium job nothing less than a premium thinset will do.”

254 Platinum mortar
6. ThePEOPLE – while, this isn’t s a product, many responses also included the people of LATICRETE! We’re glad to hear it as our mission is to be a customer-focused company who pride ourselves on the service we offer.
“I must say far and away the best part of LATICRETE is the people who work there. Second-to-none customer service consistently provided by well trained and friendly employees (and owners!) put LATICRETE International, Inc. at the forefront of our industry. Sure they make great products, but that wouldn't mean as much without the people who make it all happen.”
“#1 the team behind the products! I have found that LATICRETE has the best staff in the industry!” 


7. STRATA_MAT™ - Allows you to use the appropriate thin-set mortar for the job, with this next
STRATA_MAT uncoupling membrane
generation high performance uncoupling membrane you get anti-fracture protection, a quicker time to grout and great adhesion all compliments of the mortar hydration vents.
“It's a money-making, back-saving, technological marvel that provides a lightweight and fast way to give many of our installations the high-end base it deserves!”
“Has been a go-to for the past year now. I actually got local shops to keep it on standby for stock. It makes the job go so much easier and the customer gets an amazing product with an amazing warranty. I like the fact that I can see the coverage as well when installed.”

8. HYDROBAN® Board – made with two layers of waterproof sheet
HYDRO BAN Board wallboard
membrane and XPS you can triple your waterproof protection with this new lightweight, easy to handle, ready to waterproof tile wallboard. No tab washers required on the wall, just add HYDRO BAN liquid, Sheet Membrane or Adhesive & Sealant for the seams and penetrations to get the industry’s most comprehensive warranty!
“It’s so easy to work with and yet stiffer than any other foam board I've worked with.”
“Efficiency = money to an installer. The only way to make more (without stretching your family life thin) is to install more jobs per year. HYDRO BAN Board saves me around 6 hours on the average shower. If I hustle, that's several showers per year I can install in the saved time. Lighter and faster is unbeatable.”

9. 4-XLT - multi-use, polymer fortified adhesive mortar for non-sag wall installations and more
“Is our only choice for thinset/medium bed (we only stock one thinset). It is great for all applications: floors, walls it doesn't slide, interior and exterior and sold together it gets the end user a 10 year warranty. It was a no brainer for us to make the switch, and doing very well with it!”

4-XLT adhesive mortar
10. GlassTile Adhesive - one-step, non-sag, polymer fortified adhesive mortar specifically formulated for use in glass tile applications
“We install a lot of glass tile and love to work with GTA. Completely bright white creamy and smooth. Satisfied customers every time.”

Glass Tile Adhesive

Thank you to all who participated in our 'Pick Two' contest. We appreciate the comments and feedback! Stay tuned for our next contest by following our social media pages! 

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

LATICRETE Family Story: Doing Business LATICRETE Way!

Story by: Sujit Singh, LATICRETE® Middle East GM

A small scale landscaping company maintains many private gardens in our residential area. My wife Seema usually calls this company owner to seek advice on seasonal plants and maintenance issues. Being very social, Seema would also inquire about his business, challenges and growth prospects. The company owner shared how he started from a very small venture who has grown rapidly having maintenance contracts for 50 villas in our communities.

During one of the casual chats with Seema, the landscaping owner declared proudly that he recently added a general maintenance company to his portfolio and he was trying hard to land some big contracts. Seema promptly advised him to start working with a reputable company such as LATICRETE, so he will have better chances securing big projects. Seema asked him to visit the LATICRETE Middle East office to collect some brochures to keep handy to present to any high profile prospects as an assurance of quality work. It was all just a casual conversation.

After few months, the owner of the maintenance company returned excited, telling Seema that he is bidding for a project of refurbishment of swimming pools for an international chain of hotels called, Banyan Tree. She told him to submit LATICRETE products as samples to increase chances of approval. After a prompt visit to the LATICRETE office, purchased a range of LATICRETE swimming pool products, payed cash and submitted it as sample to the project.

Until this time I was not aware of this project until last month when my wife called me and told me that the landscaping guy has landed a big swimming pool refurbishment project and he is going to use LATICRETE products!  He may contact me for a good price. I asked her, “When did he start working with LATICRETE products? How big is this project?” The answer: 70 + swimming pools!  I was taken aback, speechless. She narrated the whole story while I wondered how come she managed to sell LATICRETE products without any help!

Her answer and approach was very simple. She believes that products of a high quality, and with a good brand image will help him win the project. She did not try to sell anything, she just tried to help someone who wanted to become successful.

I learned a very important lesson…you do not need to hard sell a product. You just need to try to help someone achieve his or her goal with the help of your product if it can help.

Last week the maintenance company purchased their first initial stock of LATICRETE 254 Adhesive and SPECTRALOCK® epoxy grout. I expect him to be back soon to try more LATICRETE products as he’s currently getting approvals for HYDRO BAN® / LATICRETE 302 waterproofing membrane materials.

We’re not only happy to have a new customer, but happy to be able to help out a ‘guy’ trying to make his dreams come true. 

Click here to learn more about our company and the products we offer.

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