With decades of experience in tile industry as a fabricator, tile setter and estimator, Greg Gerber knows how to succeed and deliver the best results for each installation. Greg sat down with CUSTOM Insights to share his tips on selecting the best materials and finding the right resources for any job.
How did you get into the tile business?
My dad was in the business for 30 years and he got me started learning the trade from the ground up. I began driving a truck for Bayshore Tile while I was in college. When they got into the slab business as Shore Marble in the 90’s, I worked for them as a marble fabricator, making countertops in the warehouse. After that, I became a tile setter’s helper, then a tile setter. I went to Tile Trends, then was at Select for 15 years, and am now a project estimator at Stonerock Tile in Sylmar, CA.
What type of installation is your firm’s specialty?
For many years, Stonerock installed tile in tract homes. After the shift in the housing market, we began bidding on commercial jobs, which now make up almost 80% of our business. Stonerock specializes in schools, and we have done a lot of performing arts centers. We also do a lot of work with Lennar, one of the largest home builders in the country. These days, it's nice to have a more balanced project portfolio.
Which notable projects are you currently working on?
Right now, we are finishing up the Wasserman Building at UCLA, which will house an expanded eye research center and several medical departments. We bid on this job at the request of PCL, who is a general contractor we have worked with in the past. The specs called for different manufacturers, but we successfully requested to use Custom Building Products for this installation. After introducing the team at Stonerock to CUSTOM, we use it on every job we possibly can.
What kinds of challenges do you encounter on the job?
Project specifications are always a challenge. You have to put the right thing in the right place – implementing the vision of the architect – and match your bid to what is in the architect’s head. Large commercial projects are also a challenge, as they involve a lot more construction supervision.
Do you typically agree with architects' specified products? What might lead you to challenge their choices?
Sometimes we help to educate them on new products or solutions they might not be aware of. For instance, using RedGard liquid membrane has completely changed how we waterproof before tiling.
How has the tile installing business changed since you started?
There is an increased worry about liability and litigation issues. I don’t worry about this because I use CUSTOM. They will help with any issue regarding product performance. One call, and they’re right on top of things with answers, site visits and whatever it takes to help us complete the install.
How do you determine which materials to use on a particular installation?
We trust CUSTOM since we know they will back us up with their warranties and support.
What are some of the advantages to using installation products from a single manufacturer?
CUSTOM products are made to work together and they are tested together to get the best results as a system. A single manufacturer makes it easier to get knowledgeable support about the entire install, simplifies delivery coordination, and best of all – you get the CUSTOM system warranty.
Do you rely on any other resources from manufacturers? Which ones?
I like having materials available online like the technical data sheets on the CUSTOM website. If I have questions beyond that, I can reach out to anyone on their team, from the sales reps to the technical department, to get in-depth information. Everyone is great to work with.
What tips or tricks do you have for tile installations?
Pay close attention to those specs and do not deviate without written approval. This protects the manufacturer’s warranty and your customer’s satisfaction.
Which developments in tile setting make you the most excited? Why?
RedGard and Crack Buster Pro. The CUSTOM prep products, underlayments and membranes are incredible innovations for protecting tile. They provide durability without taking a lot of time to install. Then there is thin tile – we're going to install some that's just 1/8" thick at Pierce College. These tiles are popular with our customers and give our installations a modern look.
Do you have any final words that you'd like to share with Custom Insights readers?
Read the instructions. Install the right products the right way. And don’t count on a lottery ticket for retirement.