Schluter Systems NA

Schluter Systems’ Andy Acker discusses the benefits of their product

During this edition of CareyBrosPros, you’ll find out:

  • How to stay competitive by using Schluter
  • How to continue your education through Schluter

Guest: Andy Acker – Schluter Systems

3 Points for Success – from Andy Acker

  • Be as picky as your customer — and let them know it
  • Always put the customer first
  • Let your knowledge speak for you

Listen to “Welcome Back Schluter Systems with Andy Acker” on Spreaker.


Magic Mike [00:00:00] Welcome to CareyBrosPros, the podcast for Construction Pros by Construction Pros, because good information is always the best tool in the bag. Now here are James and Maurice Kerry.

James [00:00:18] I’m James, and it’s great to have you with us on another edition of CareyBrosPros.

Morris [00:00:22] And I’m Morris. Yes, we are professional contractors and we are brothers. Have you had the tile installation on your mind? Oh, that’s good, because today we’re talking about a company that has the answer for every type of tile installation on your projects. Be at walls, floors, countertops, you name it. This is one company that has it all.

James [00:00:50] And that’s why we’ve invited an old friend. Well, he’s a young old friend, Andy Acker.  He’s the director of education for Schluter Systems. Andy, welcome to CareyBrosPros. It’s delightful to have you.

Andy [00:01:02] Thank you very much, guys.

Morris [00:01:04] Hey, Andy, why would someone want to use a Schluter system for their tile installation?

Andy [00:01:10] Well, I think if you’re in the profession and you have your reputation at stake, that you should do the job right the first time and build on that reputation of quality. Do it once, do it right, and give that homeowner the satisfaction of a job well done and one for you as a as a business person, you can eliminate your callbacks because those can be very costly and time consuming.

James [00:01:37] You know, Andy, we have been remodeling for over four decades. And when we got on board with Schluter about a decade ago, plus or minus, I can’t remember maybe, let’s say a decade ago, we do some of our own tile installation and therefore we install the SCHLUTER system ourselves. Sometimes we engage a tile contractor and they do it all. We’ve met with some resistance among tile contractors who haven’t come on board to the SCHLUTER system because they say they can’t compete with other traditional products. How do you address that?

Andy [00:02:21] Well, I was there, too, James, being a former C54 licensed contractor right in the state of California. When I first saw Schluter stuff, I was reluctant myself. I can recall seeing Detra, you know, a product you guys use on your floors under tile. First time I saw it, I said, you know what, I’m a real tile setter. I set on morter I am not going to be setting tile on orange plastic. But you know what, after a while seeing what was going on in the industry, how competitive I needed to be in regards to my pricing and how much time I spent on the job. And then, of course, being able to offer a lifetime warranty with the work, I saw the benefits of using the SCHLUTER. And as you said, you guys have been in the in the trades for decades now. I can’t imagine at this point. I’m not far behind you guys as far as age, but I can’t imagine carrying around, you know, concrete back or board or or mixing mortar and lugging that all around. When I have product from SCHLUTER systems such as Detra and Kerdi Membranes and Kerdi Board, which, you know, takes the place of drywall or backroad in a wet area, so that I would be definitely looking at that. So I think what the tradespeople, you know, the men and women that are coming into this or in it now, when they look at that, I think they have to look at the overall picture, not just the cost of the material. They need to look and see what’s the wear and tear on their on their body and on their equipment and their and their vehicle. And how about the time element? How much time are you spending in preparation to set tile? And when you factor all those things in and then you add on the longevity and the quality of the job, you know, waterproofing, protecting moisture, sensitive of building materials, protecting the tile from the dimensional change that can happen in wood and concrete and all of these things that occur. You can see that, you know, that’s where Schluter comes from, is were there to address challenges, everyday challenges for the tile as well.

James [00:04:25] Exactly. And I think that for those who are of the and we see, by the way, those tile contractors like you who were formerly resistant coming over to our side because like us, they’re not selling price, they are selling value to the consumer. And as Morris has said repeatedly, it’s not more expensive. It’s less expensive because maybe it requires a greater initial investment at the end of the day when you look at a leak. Trouble free installation, your money ahead.

Morris [00:05:04] Yeah, absolutely, I agree with that. And one of the nice things that I just come to find out was that you guys have something called E learning. Can you discuss that, Andy?

Andy [00:05:18] E-learning. Yes. Well, we were developing this and actually started it before this whole covid-19 thing where we were actually offering online self-paced in the education industry. They call it autonomous learning, which is just a fancy word for you. Do it on your own by yourself online at your own pace, and you can start and stop a particular program and finish it later. But you can learn a lot about tile installation, not only Schluter products from our e-learning modules, we also have a live stream webinars. We’re running eight of those a week. They’re about an hour and 15 minutes, an hour and 20 minutes long where you go in and you you engage on your computer, on your laptop, on your smartphone. And we put on a presentation and do demonstrations on in one particular topic. And you can learn a lot from just attending those and you can interact. You can actually turn on your microphone and ask questions, live to the presenter and the people that are actually doing the traveling, if you will, actually installing the product. So it is very interactive and engaging and you can learn a lot in an hour, 15 minutes, hour and a half and get credit.

James [00:06:33] By the way, industry credit.

Andy [00:06:34] We do offer what are called CEU’s, which is continuing education unit, which a lot of people in the architectural and design community and then I don’t know about in California. Now, guys, maybe you can call me in. I haven’t lived there in a while, but most states, if you have a license as some sort of tradesperson, you have to do a certain amount of continuing education every year or two in order to keep your license current. Is that in effect there? I know it is in many, many states across the United States,.

Morris [00:07:04] Not not in California.

James [00:07:06] Why would they want to do that in California?

Morris [00:07:08] Yeah, why would they want to do that in California? They’d have to get rid of half the contractors.

James [00:07:13] Yeah, fortunately, I think that a lot of people share the same values and ethics, and that is that they know they’re only as good as their last bit of knowledge. And therefore, it’s important to keep up with trends. We know that if we go to industry trade shows like the National Kitchen and Bath Association’s annual event or the International Builders Show, typically colocated, that we can attend a workshop that you put on at your exhibit. You’re not just there to peddle your wares. You are there to demonstrate how the product is installed, what the value proposition is associated with the product, what elements are available not only from a installation, as we talked about the Kerdi board, the Kerdi fix, the tape, the washers, the fasteners, the preformed shower floors, the drains. But then we get into the uncoupling mat, the the Detra uncoupling mat, the Detra Heat and how wonderful that is. You don’t need to get a template and have a mat made for electric resistance task heating. You guys have created a system where the heat can go anywhere, including the shower floor and the shower bench, by the way, which worked out great on a recent project.

Andy [00:08:36] And you guys did that? Oh, we did it. Yeah.

James [00:08:39] The client, it’s an accessible shower. It had the inline drain that you have. It had a bench and the benches heated. The floor is heated in the shower and then, of course, in front of the toilet in front of the vanity as well. So that is one happy customer. And I think one of the things that we think about is as we go to these shows and learn from folks like you, we go back into our respective markets and we offer something above and beyond mediocrity to our clients. And we’re not selling price.

James [00:09:19] People that remodel typically are not doing it because their price shopping, they’re doing it because they want something better than what they have or they want to improve comfort, they want accessibility. And so we sell value and integrity and we feel that that’s what other contractors should be doing.

Morris [00:09:39] I said to James 35 years ago, when we switched from building construction to remodeling, I said, I want to only do upscale work. And then I said, and if the public doesn’t want it, we won’t make it. And guess what? That was thirty five years ago.

Andy [00:10:00] Seems to have worked out OK for you guys.

Morris [00:10:02] Yeah, you know, and in other words, that’s why that’s why we’re so intent on using SCHLUTER Systems products on every project.

James [00:10:11] I haven’t aged today, by the way, Andy. In 35 years.

Morris [00:10:14] Yes. Yeah.

Andy [00:10:15] You know, I was going to mention that you guys I encountered you fellows well over 20 years ago when I was still in the San Francisco Bay Area, East Bay mostly.

Morris [00:10:24] Yes.

Andy [00:10:25] I ran into you guys and I haven’t seen you for a while because all the big trade shows were canceled in twenty twenty. But yeah, you guys haven’t changed a bit.

James [00:10:34] You’re very sweet.

Morris [00:10:35] Oh you’re so full of. Yeah. And I’m. I’ll send you that twenty dollars right away.

Andy [00:10:40] OK.

James [00:10:40] And now it’s that time. You know we always ask our CareyBrosPros guests for three points for success and we know you’re you’re never bashful about sharing tips that can help our pro independent business people succeed. So take it away, Andy.

Andy [00:11:03] Well, we were just talking on this, guys, but I think it’s important that you let your customer know that you are as picky as they are. I can remember getting into that conversation many, many times when I went out to do a measure in a bid that people would admit that they were very picky. And I would I would say, well, you know, we’re going to get along very well because I am, too. I don’t worry about that. If there’s anything that you see that you’re not liking, by all means, bring it up. So always put the customer first. It’s their job. It’s their home. They’re giving you the opportunity to go in there and create something that they may have limited vision for or a full vision. But nonetheless, you are more than just the operator of tools. You are fulfilling a dream and a vision for many of these people. So, you know, if you follow that, those couple of rules, I think you’ll be successful. And I think you guys are perfect examples of those. Definitely. Thank you. And then as far as the quality, set yourself apart from your competition with your quality and with your knowledge. You know, these days we have so much competition, there’s always somebody willing to do it cheaper than us. What is going to be your value add that’s going to get you the job and that will be your knowledge. I mean, come on, guys, how many times have you gone in to do an estimate and the homeowner has been online, has done all this research and they could have as much knowledge of maybe not even more of a particular product that they have in mind for you to install.

James [00:12:36] That’s right.

Andy [00:12:37] That’s kind of embarrassing. So, you know, you want to be up on all the new trends and see what’s on the cutting edge and what’s the highest quality, what’s the best quality for the for the value. And I think that’s where you really need to position your company these days.

James [00:12:51] Great advice, as usual.

Morris [00:12:55] Our thanks to Andy Acker, director of training for Schluter Systems, for spending some time with us on this episode of CareyBrosPros. You could learn more about their organization and services at their website Schluter dot com.

James [00:13:13] S-C-H-L-U-T-E-R dot com. But remember, remember, if you’re looking for information about any of our guests, as well as other podcasts, videos and articles, just check out our Web site. It is CareyBrosPros. Thank you, Andy.

Andy [00:13:30] Thank you very much, guys.

Morris [00:13:31] Thanks, Andy. Really enjoyed having you.

Magic Mike [00:13:34] OK, everybody, hold on to your hard hats. It’s time for a quick bro tip from the Carey brothers.

James [00:13:42] We just returned from the remodeling show and Deck Expo, one of the several industry trade shows that we attend throughout the year. Thanks to today’s robust economy, the show was packed with manufacturers showing off products and pros seeking the latest and greatest in building products and technology to integrate into their businesses and incorporate into their projects. And trust me, we weren’t disappointed. Aside from having a look at new and innovative products, another of the many benefits of attending an industry trade show is the opportunity to sit in on educational seminars, participate in hands on tool and material workshops and network with other pros. You’ll find more than your share of pros who are from out of your market area where you can feel comfortable to let your hair down, to compare notes and share, well, war stories. The exchange can be both reassuring and a real eye opener. Plus, in addition to trying out the hottest new Tueller gizmo, there’s no shortage of great information and resources on marketing, advertising, estimating design and how to use technology to improve the business end of your business. Unfortunately, many pros believe. They don’t have the time or the money needed to attend a trade show. Well, we say hogwash. The cost is as important to your business as well, two by fours and concrete and the benefit to you, your business, your crew, your customers and our industry are numerous. So think twice before you delete that next e-mail or toss out the next postcard, inviting you to attend an industry trade show or event with one good show under your tool belt. We believe that you’ll find that it was money well spent and you’ll find yourself looking forward to the next event.

Magic Mike [00:15:38] Well, that’s our podcast for today. Thanks for listening to this edition of CareyBrosPros, the podcast for Construction Professionals by construction professionals. Want more, check out CareyBrosPros Dot com. You’ll find articles and videos to help make your business a success.

About The Author CareyBrosPro Staff

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