Tuesday, October 25, 2011

New Project Award; Kroger Toledo

Midwest Mosaic just received a contract from a General Contractor out of Chicago to provide (furnish and install) tile in a local area Kroger store.  The project covers two pairs of multiple occupant washrooms, floors and walls, plus patch work related to the GC's operations elsewhere inside the store.  With a fast track schedule, Kroger Toledo will provide the crew at Mosaic with just over 30 man days of work in the next two months.  
On this project, which is but one store of Kroger's larger within-the-walls re-imaging program, the Cincinnati supermarket conglomerate sources its tile from Pantheon Tile out of Carrolton, TX.  

Mosaic obtained the work through its plan and spec marketing efforts on the BidClerk network, of which Mosaic only recently joined.  Look for an upcoming post about Plan and Spec Marketing 101.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

How To Modify Linear Drain for Rubber Pan Liner System

For those of you who, like me, prefer 40-mil PVC rubber waterproofing liner, a-la TCNA B-414/415 as their shower waterproofing system of choice, because it is tried and true and less expensive than membrane alternatives, and you want to use one of the awesome new linear drains from Schluter (Schluter Line) or Noble (Freestyle) which work so well with large format tile and slab shower floors, but are designed to integrate with their pricey proprietary membranes and are damage prone by virtue of their position within the floor section, here is a video which shows you how to modify the drain to work with a PVC clamping ring.

Disclaimers: No Schluters or Nobles were hurt in the making of this film, but do not expect either firm to give you a product warranty by following this how-to.  You are on your own, but then haven't we always been on our own with TCNA B414/415.  So far, so good.

Disclosure: I am friends with both these firms. I buy lots of their products and you should too.  But I'm not about to put my waterproofing on top of a shower floor section. (too risky for me)

Happy Tiling!


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Quote from IRS Auditor

"The trick is to stop thinking of it as "your" money." 
-IRS Auditor

Friday, September 23, 2011

Project Update: Tower of Shower (Video)

Tower Base Complete
In this edition of the Tower of Shower, we bring you two video's; one at demo complete stage while the second shows the footer (the base) of the shower ready for concrete.

The water werks beneath the tower.

With the concrete complete topside, we went down below and got our water supply lines squared away in beautiful copper. Now onto building the tower plus a glass block window and the drain lines.

Happy Tiling!


Friday, September 16, 2011

On Prices Paid; Why I don't do in Home Estimates

Last Saturday, I made a house call to quote a friend on some tilework she is considering. She recently had her 5'x5' bathroom floor done by someone else, and to my mind the fellow did an admirable job, so she must have had me look at doing her backsplash (37sf) and wainscot walls (40sf) in said bathroom in deference to our said friendship. So with her I gave - as with you I give - max transparency, because it is just good business. That being said, the experience along with this little idea below from Seth Godin, gave me impetus to write about prices-paid, a file in my folder I've wanted to weave into the blog.

From Seth Godin's Blog

Building a job vs. building a business
Either can work, both do, but don't confuse them.
The shoemaker/copywriter/plumber who seeks a regular itinerary of gigs is building a job, a job with multiple bosses at the same time there is no boss, but it's still a job. You wake up in the morning and you do your craft, with occasional interruptions to do the dreaded looking-for-work dance.
The entrepreneur is in a different game. For her, the gig is building the gig.
On Prices-Paid: Prices-paid is what you expect to be paid for the the work you quote. It is an expectation concept. As with all expectations, only some are met.  Probability is in play with prices-paid.  Some will be met while others no.  A lot of it has to do with your counter party, your potential client.  Does your offer meet their expectation.  
Intuitively we try to maximize the probability our expectation for prices paid will be met.  
One idea in this approach is to minimize price.  Any one who needs to sell a house in this market can quickly get the notion of how painful this approach can be.  But for some its a matter of survival, and so they will whore themselves for next to nothing; however, clients understand little is expected from a whore after services are rendered.
Another approach is maximize pitches to clients who want YOU or who expect to pay prices at your level. This is the targeted approach.  Targeting follows good marketing, good research and good story telling, good content and good distribution.  Marketing and entrepreneurship are intertwined.
Returning to my experience last Saturday: I asked her what she paid the man to do her floor. She said $100.  His work included removing a couple layers of vinyl and giving the commode a round trip to the tub (for the uninitiated, that's removing and replacing the toilet).  The work required all of one day.  I told her that it was a good price for the effort involved.  (She found herself a whore, a day laborer really.)  
No problem, we're all seeking a whore every time we ring the register at Wal-mart. I'm indifferent on the subject. Times are tough and day laborers have mouths to feed just the same.  
I gave her an order sheet she could use to go tile shopping, and then I gave her my prices, $250 for the wainscot and $350 for the backsplash, $600 in all for about 3X what her day laborer did on a square foot basis.  My offer was 6X the money while no adjustment for demo and toilet levitation only increases my price disparity. 
What happened here is she hit some minimum charge thresholds I keep in mind. This goes back to my days in the union tiling company where we could not afford to send a man out of the warehouse for less than $500/day. 
At this moment, how high do you think my expectancy was for this offer?  If you guessed zip.  You are correct. As I said, I'm indifferent. Her viabilty as a prospect was very low, so my duty here was reserved to information. I told her that that I believed she could improve on my prices, perhaps with the fellow who did her bathroom floor. She seemed a bit surprised. 
I asked her to consider what she earns per hour (disclosure she works in the penal system as part of a collective bargaining unit) along with the benefits and her employer's overheads related to her employment.  (She's my friend, so we can have this kind of frank discussion about her cost to her employer and the relative value embedded in the price she paid for tilework.)  Then considering her line of work keeps her fully employed while trade work at the individual level keeps a fellow productive about half to three quarter time, so for him to begin to approach parity to what she costs her employer he would need to charge double her employer's cost.  About $500 per day.
On the significance of Seth's post: It truly boggles the mind who would pay that much for day labor.  I wouldn't, and I don't. Yet if you are building or running a business, your employees, and that begins with you, will require an hourly rate and benefit package which approaches the prevailing rates in your area while being reasonably well anchored in the market in which you have a high probability of realizing your prices paid. If your market is day labor, then so be it, but are working on a job. It will never get better, only worse. Forget about ever having a nice truck, health insurance, and once you knees give out forget about the nest egg, because you will not have one. All others are free to identify their target and create their story which wins the day. This is my story. This is my business. I encourage you to follow it.
Conclusion: This is exactly why I do not do house calls. (friends are exceptions) When I get referrals, I do them over the phone or I don't do them. Please call the next tile guy. Like I said, I'm indifferent. On the phone, I have a sales routine, an excel spreadsheet and all. I can walk you through a measure. I can ask you a series of questions to arrive at a reasonable offer for me. Takes no more than 15 minutes. (some day I will roll this up on-line in a little thing called If you do get me to come to your house, it will be to finalize your tile order and collect an earnest deposit. Not in that order. That is how Home Depot runs their installed sales operation. Works for me. Regardless of the visit, I can make you smarter about your tile job with one phone call. So, you can feel confident engaging someone for a price less than my X. But there is one thing I would rather do less than waste an entire Saturday morning to discover I am competing for 1-2 days work at $9- $10 per hour, and that is to actually work for $9-$10 per hour.
Happy tiling!


Monday, September 12, 2011

New Project Award; Tower of Shower (Video)

Midwest Mosaic received a general contract from a private homeowner to perform a bathroom remodel in the western suburbs of Toledo, Ohio.

We are naming their project Tower of Shower due to the dramatic configuration of the shower head and water controls in a tower.  The tower will call upon Mosaic's unique skill set to ensure plumb level and square as well as water-tightness.

Designed by Mary Glowacki, AIA of Robinwood Ave, Toledo Ohio, Tower of Shower will provide Mosaic with 70 workdays of work.  Mrs. Glowacki has over 20 years design experience on a broad range of architectural challenges.  She is very creative and demanding. Tower will be Mosaic's second feature project of this year, the first being the Forsyth-Vaquero.  We expect this feature project to be every bit as compelling as our first. And, we look forward to rising to Mrs. Glowacki's expectations.

Click on the video below for more details about the Tower and to view it in its before condition.

Happy Tiling!


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Really Easy Not so Sleazy SEO Marketing tip: No Website Required.

For my LOTC readers, and other mom-and-pop service contractors, and for anyone who pretty much is the "Chief Cook and Bottle Washer" of their enterprise - any biz where your customers know your business by you and your name.

Here is a Really Easy Not so Sleazy SEO Marketing tip.

You don't even need a website to do this. And, you'll want to do this, because it is a really good way to bridge the problem with us humans' inability to remember the ten digit telephone number we are plastering on the sides of our vans and on our yard signs.
Finding you with a Google keyword is infinitely more effective than memorizing your phone number. Just Google my keyword, "mudduckk". Google will first ask you if you meant mud duck. Nothing I can do about that, 'tis the title of an important book apparently. But if you click on, "return results for mudduckk", all roads lead to me.
I had no intent to be tops on the page results for mudduckk, or all over page one. I did it by by accident not design. Also, I did this over time. Time and effort, not money, are key ingredients of SEO marketing. Now, I'll tell you how you can do it on purpose. Who knows, you may find you've already done it.
Make your Google keyword the username of all your social media accounts:
I have multiple social media accounts under the name mudduckk. I'm mudduckk on Scribd, Blogger, Stumble Upon, JohnBridgeTileForums to name a few.
Choose a keyword that fits you – how people would intuitively remember you, when you share your keyword:
Why mudduckk? I'm a tile guy. I lay ceramic tile. We tilers work with mud. Also, Toledo is the home of minor league baseball's Mud Hens, affectionately referred by some fans as the Mud Ducks. Soo...There has to be a tiler tiling in Toledo named mudduckk. In fact there can be many, but the mudduckk in Toledo or anywhere in the world for that matter who sits all over page one of Google's page results for mudduckk is me. Priceless.
Utilize your accounts frequently:
Chances are you do. Utilization is more important than account creation, because utilization is content creation, and Google's SEO algo is a content organizing son-of-a-gun. Not an account counter.
How it works, No Website Required:
Every time I utilize these social tools to interact with others, the media app creates a unique web page somewhere up in the cloud. Cool hunh? So, I don't even need to be a web geek like Dharmesh Shah, author of Inbound Marketing: Get Found on the Internet Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs. I don't even need a website and I don't need a marketing spend. This is great news for my LOTC pals. We're a real low overhead bunch, don't cha know?
Twitter, the killer app:
Twitter is wickedly effective here. All those individual tweets cost you at max only 140 characters of mind power or depending on your take with any given tweet, mindless power; regardless, just type a bit, hit tweet, and BOOM! you hatched a web page with your Google keyword on it.
Embed Hyperlinks in your tweets:
Tweets with embedded hyperlinks are especially juicy. Even more so if you get the scoop on something important or you create a link to a really compelling piece of lit in your blog. Like this one. (That's a hard hint for you to hit the like button up top. Yo! Hit it now!) Popular or not, those hyper-linked tweets end up creating a unique web page with traffic coming and going.
Its gooder than good, Better than a trademark:
Needless to say all of these pages and page views along with so much clicking to and fro have two things in common, your social media moniker and the attention of Google's page ranking algo. As we all know, getting that high page rank on your keyword through SEO is sticky. It's a barrier to entry by others. In fact, It is better than a trademark, because it is highly effective in directing traffic to you...or me in this case. That’s gooder than good.
Need a tileguy? Google: mudduckk
heavy on d's and k's please.
Putting that on my van and all my yard signs for sure.
Since Mighty Casey struck out, there may be no joy in Mud Ville, but there is a tiler who is wayyyyyyyyy...
Happy Tiling!
And blogging too. :-)


Sunday, August 28, 2011

I Love Mud!

Today, just finished a mud shower floor with waterproof pan liner. Once this cures, the shower is essentially ready for tile, a dramatic moment on the job where every nook and cranny of the job seems to go from rough to finish. Colors begin to pop as the drywall elsewhere go from sanded to primed and from primed to painted. Like the first flowers of spring, so too does the intense dust and filth clear like snowshowers and dirty snow pack meltaway down the drain, never to return till summer has had its full riot of green growth.

an ode to Mud

But its the mud I like best.
Yep along with the complex inner workings of the preslope,
the rubber upturned the wall studs nailed up high
never down low
folded with care and tucked into corners.

Hanging the durock over plastic lapped over rubber,
taking care not to drop any screws or tools onto the rubber,
and never ever putting screws along the bottom edge of the board - defeating the point of zen waterproofing in its entirety - leave the final slope of mud to lock in the bottom of the board.
Oh how I love the eternal flexibility and usefulness of mud.

But before I pack you in place
and before I establish control screeds
high and low
left to right
and front to back.
Nay, before I strike my screeds
and pack your bed
and cut you to grade.
I carefully cut your rubber pan and place your drain's clampping ring - always a cast iron by Zurn
never those cheap PVC jobs with the tin strainer like some cheap pop-metal car toy that would not pass for a Matchbox.

Oh Zurn how I love your heft,
your large weep holes
and your robust threaded strainer with the brushed metal top available in nickle bronze and/or brass
and with four real screws to secure your strainer plate.
Craftsmanship you become thee, Zurn.

And mud pan, let us not forget your curb,
concrete throughout formed with lumber
but no wood inside to get moist down the road
and pop the grout joint in the tile bullnose,
and render the shower door useless as you heave.
No never ever wood inside for that is the place for rubber upturned toward top of curb.
That is the place for a few sixteen penny nails or 3" screws driven partway into the deck - outside the rubber of course - acting as gentle reinforcement
to protect your elegant tall thinness from being toppled by some short sharp shock.
Curb, I pack you in your form with my very fingers,
the butt of my trowel handle making sure your rubber stands tall, upright and in the middle of your body.
I pack you just as I pack the body of the shower floor pan below you, beside you.
Yet you and the floor are all one.
And now I strike thee toward the drain all 1/4" per foot.

Finally I smooth you
troweling back and forth
sprinkling dry pack as I go
closing your face
like a porcelain doll.

And now you are done.
And so am I.

Happy tiling!

posted from Bloggeroid


Friday, August 26, 2011

Quote from George Washington Carver

When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.
-George Washington Carver


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mosaic Joins BidClerk Network

Midwest Mosaic, Inc. just joined, the construction search engine. Mosaic's affiliation with bidclerk is one of strategic marketing importance.

For LOTC's like me, there are so many ways to market our services. For instance, lettering your van, setting up a website (blogging will suffice), or mass mailing a brochure, and so on. You really can't go wrong so long as your approach is a good fit for your target customer and an effective use of your precious investment capital. No matter how you choose and how much you choose to spend, you will soon be out of business if you do not pay attention to your firm's marketing.

Subscribing to a construction news service is one marketing approach of which I am very comfortable. It provides me with access up coming bidding opportunities on projects of all sizes throughout my geographic area as well as a list of my potential customers also bidding on that project. The bidders are my customers and plans and specs in the bid opportunities are my targets, this is also known as plan and spec work.

For about the last three months I have been considering a subscription to one of the many construction news outlets out there. Of all the choices, I liked bidclerk best. For one low price, they give me access to the entire U.S., if I need it. I doubt I will, but anyway its good to know they go where I want to go.

I have 20 plus years experience with plan and spec work. In my time I have seen the state of the art move from physical plan rooms with secret passwords, to microfilm machines, to the early days of ftp data exchanges to where we are now - search engines with social media components...bidclerk. I guess you could say I am an expert on the subject. One thing I do know is I have fed my family on plan and spec work for a long time, and now I am pleased to be affiliated with

Happy Tiling!


Monday, August 8, 2011

Progress on the Locker

Here are some photos from the Locker project.

Details: 1300 square feet of 8x8 porcelain tile, laid on a 45, thinset installation, standard cement grout. We considered changing the job name to the Sauna on account of the persistently high heat and humidity.

Enjoy the photos and...

Happy Tiling!

posted from Bloggeroid


Sunday, July 24, 2011

9 Factors of Leadership

Continuing in my series exploring what makes a professional, I bring you these nine factors of leadership. Most recently I discussed the formation of professionalism in The Significance of Humility and Own Tools. While that one was based on my own personal experience, these nine are brought to you from my notes on a CEO presentation. Can't remember who it was because the notes are dated summer 2008, and no speaker subject is noted. I was simply going to file these away, but felt better value would be gained if instead I reflected upon them here while sharing them with you.

1. Vision - Vision is undeniably universal in the leadership discussion. The future is always uncertain. People don't like uncertainty, it triggers fear; hence, follower-ship - a prerequisite to actually being a leader - is earned through having a vision and that it not suck. Recently I was asked by a fellow who is embarking upon a new career path for some words of advice. This is what I said to him, "Learn the Biz. Figure out where it is going, and make a plan to add value in that future space. Look ahead. No stopping you." Come to think of it, I was encouraging him to develop his own vision.

2. Communication - Communication goes hand in hand with vision. The speaker placed emphasis on this factor highlighting the need to communicate your vision and the organizational priorities as frequently as possible. He also stressed the need to find different and engaging ways to communicate the same thing, so your message stays fresh and memorable. This is marketing 101: The message and the sender and the receivers of the message. It's how ad jingles end up in our heads. Here, I am reminded of how you can develop a child's taste for a new food. Introduce it on 30 different occasions. Don't take the initial 29 rejections personally. Eventually we all come around to like most of the foods our parents like.

3. Keep but a few priorities - This is never more true in this age of rapid change and constant interruption. I am a list maker. Have been for years. I do believe list making is essential to goal accomplishment; however, in my time I have come to achieve sudden death from to do lists. This is somewhat similar to analysis paralysis. In that while you are managing and prioritizing what you should do, the thing that you should do - should have already been done; and now you are in deep do do. Hence, list making if taken too far becomes a form of procrastination, a character flaw akin to greed and laziness. Let's face it, we all have far too much to do and we are far too under-resourced to accomplish all that we must do; however, we can choose to do a good job on the most important things in our sphere of control. Good leaders make good decisions about what must be done from among the clamoring noise of everything else begging to be done.

4. Relentless preparation - Note this one does not say complete preparation or perfect preparation. So, let us not confuse these with relentlessness. But before we go there, let us consider preparation. If we take preparation to simply mean planning it would not be enough. Refer to keeping a few priorities above and recalling to do list sudden death syndrome. Perfection is but another symptom for procrastination, a flaw through and through. Do not be tempted to reach for perfection or completeness in your preparations. Rather take time each day, week, and month to make plans while you are doing what you should be doing. Because, preparation is everything you do to make what you do remarkable. It is in the research and due diligence you do for the things you will do or about the people you will meet - learning what must be done to get it right, or how to respect the customs and traditions of those with whom you do business; discussing with your team ways to accomplish goals or ways to successfully interact with others. Preparation also means checking yourself in the mirror both literally and figuratively; that your fly is zipped, all belt loops looped, and no spinach on your teeth; that you have taken care to be sure that your obligations and responsibilities to others are met. Always keep in mind, your followers are watching you to see how to be. Relentlessness here is a commitment to do these things and to defend your focus to doing only those things which make you and what you do remarkable. Refer also to Calvin Coolidge's quote on persistence.

5. Conviction of belief - Beliefs are at our core. They shape our values and motivations. Formed over a lifetime, our beliefs are very hard to change. By the time we enter our 30's our beliefs are intractably in place. Yet at times we are unclear about just what it is we believe. We betray our beliefs to get something we want or to prevent something of ours from being taken. People are not stupid, once we betray our beliefs we betray their trust, and so goes their follower-ship. So what do we do with this? We must become convinced our beliefs are worth defending, because there is precious little we can do to change them and a great deal we can accomplish by accepting them.

6. Willingness to take risk - Nothing ventured nothing gained should be a proverb. Yet we so often ascribe to the idea, "I will try that when I..." fill in the blank. Usually financial security fits here, but it could also be an emotional trigger such as, "I'll wear that when I lose a few more pounds". Only most of us never loose the weight or get better off. We play it safe and never live the dream while getting fatter and deeper in debt along the way. The point is, if something you believe is worth striving for above all other options, go for it. Fact of the matter financial and emotional security are tenuous at best, things easily lost once attained. Besides, even if you start out with the bank roll or with the hot bod, events can and will conspire to take away what you've got anyway. Point is no matter whether you win or lose by taking risk, you will be engaged in something worth fighting for. You will be doing something you love, and for some reason this never feels like work.

7. Optimism - Optimism is the mother's milk for your followers. Mother's milk contains special antibodies to protect baby from harmful diseases, immunity is imparted though the milk. Just as these antibodies transfer immunity from mother to child, so does your optimism transfer immunity from all the environmental negativity to your followers. And there is always negativity; hence, optimism is a choice in the face of a difficult reality. As a leader, you are contagious. You infect others with your disease. Make it a good virus. Make it optimism.

8. Stewardship of others' resources - Under the file taking care, leaders are blessed with follower-ship. That is the people in your organisation give you permission to lead. They give you their time talent and treasure with the expectation that you will not waste them. They do this contingent upon the benefits associated with your tenure. Trust is the principal attribute in this transaction. Trust is granted so long as you set realistic expectations (refer to vision and communication), and take care to meet them (refer to keeping few priorities relentless preparation).

9. Passion - Leaders are a bridge to a vision. They carry followers over to a preferred reality. It must be a reality for which you are willing to stake the time of your life. There must be something about your vision which stimulates your emotion, energy, and personal power. Because if what you are seeking does not get you excited, how can your followers be expected to get motivated just the same?

What do you think about these 9 factors of leadership?

Thanks for reading and Happy Tiling!

Monday, July 18, 2011

TEC Specialty Unveils its Big Tile Mortar

For those of you in love with big tiles, and the tiles just seem to get bigger and bigger, TEC Specialty has just launched its Ultimate Large Tile Mortar.

Big tiles mean big installation challenges
If you’ve installed large format tiles, you know how difficult and time-consuming it can be. Before now, there was no single solution that addressed the multiple challenges faced by installers:
1. Slumping on Floors: Large, heavy tiles on floors slump in mortar, creating unevenness or lippage across the installation and can cause a tripping hazard
2. Slipping on Walls: Tiles on walls can slip unless mechanically held in place, creating extra labor steps, wasting time and costing money
3. Lack of full transfer: Tiles need 100% mortar coverage to avoid hollow spots and bond failures

TEC Ultimate Large Tile Mortar solves any large tile challenge in one solution. Saving you time and money. Click (here) for the dope sheet.

We look forward to using this product on our next Big-Tile tile job.

Happy Tiling!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Working with a LOTC

In this blog I have mentioned the Low-Overhead-Trade-Contractor (keyword LOTC in the Tagcloud), a term I coined to represent a broad population of construction services businesses such as my company, MidWest Mosaic of Toledo, Ohio. This is a story about George, a LOTC with whom I recently collaborated on a project. I provide it to give you perspective into the LOTC reality, a topic about which not so much is written. But first a little background on industry structure and then on to George.

Construction services, you see, is very local, an excellent example of a highly fractured marketplace. Large consolidated businesses - such as the infamous “no-bid” Halliburton (HAL) or the homebuilding giant Pulte (PHM) - are the exception. In fact, the everyday large construction firm is comparatively small-to-middling with respect to these large publicly traded businesses. A check of US Census data tells us that over 75% of the 330,000 plus construction contractor businesses have 10 or fewer employees, suggesting much of the construction work put-in-place in the US is put-in-place by LOTC’s. LOTC’s can be found performing the work of large organizations, even in the Halliburton/Pulte complexes, due to the ease with which work is subcontracted. The reality is, the bigger the firm gets, the less work is performed in-house; hence, the more the firm relies upon LOTC’s. But this is an idea to explore in future posts.

Now back to George.

George is a professional tiler. He enjoys laying tile and sharing his craft with clients and fellow LOTC’s alike. George appreciates their unsolicited comments that, “he does good work.” He hears this often. Upon our first meeting, George represented to me that he is among the best tilers in his town. Having worked with him, I can attest that he is indeed highly effective among the tilers with whom I had the pleasure to work over my 20+ year career. George is fast and clean – a desirable combination for a tile installer. His workmanship is both flat and true – universally appreciated qualities.

In addition to his exceptional trade skills, George demonstrated superior customer facing skills. When on the job, we were working in an ongoing retail environment (we were the noise behind the plywood dust enclosure). The tenant complained about the noise from our saws. He asked us to shut down our cutting operations and reserve noisy work for off-hours. While tile cutting can be disruptive, it is integral to the work process. One cannot just stop it without making extraordinary accommodations. Besides offering no options, the tenant’s request threatened our customer’s budget goals and schedule commitments; hence, jeopardizing the profitability of our work as well as the continuing patronage of our client. A lot was at stake. Still, George subverted our worries to the tenant’s needs by offering a reasonable alternative. George’s cool head and customer awareness saved the day.

All the while, George and I grew in our mutual respect and trust for each other as we discussed the subtle nuances of the tile trade. It’s amazing how so many pass themselves off as competent tilers yet fall short. It’s all about the provenance of the tiler. Are they masons who specialize in tiling or are they floor layers who count tiling among their capabilities? The distinction is important, especially when you consider where tile is typically utilized in conjunction with the expected quality and performance characteristics of the work. Tile may be a flooring choice, but you would never expect to see carpet in a shower, nor would you expect its lie to be flat and true conveying water from high to low. With tile there is more beneath the surface, and simply being capable of combing a notch and dealing the squares as if they are some common VCT (Vinyl Composite Tile) does not a tiler make.

Finally, when we had completed the job and were quite exhausted having met our goals and commitments, George took responsibility for jobsite cleanup above and beyond what is customarily expected. This little detail at the end is a difference maker. It said to our client, “we absolutely want your continued business”.

George’s business organization is straightforward. He is its sole proprietor, the Chief Cook and Bottle Washer. His principal hard assets are his tools and equipment, of which his full-sized work truck comprises the majority of his business capitalization; however, his most prized asset is his word, an intangible asset. I have no doubt that George’s word is far more binding than Halliburton’s. One only need look to Halliburton’s slippery escape from BP’s Deep Water Horizon fiasco. The irony here is Halliburton’s intangibles – in its name and reputation – are transferrable, making up a significant portion of HAL’s share value; whereas a LOTC’s word, while more precious, is non-transferrable, as illiquid as a mortgage backed security. Go figure.

George has a simple approach to business: Do really good work at the market price to earn the continued patronage of his clients and their referrals – all the while accepting what remains after his expenses. George does not own a computer. Moreover, he does not keep up a regular bank account. Essentially, his back pocket is his all-in-one banking and bookkeeping package. You see, George is disinterested in the numbers side of the business; naturally, he wants to focus on doing his craft. Lest we forget that accounting and bookkeeping, while immensely useful, are not prerequisites for actually doing something. Besides, LOTC’s come to be through their skill at building, not through accounting or management acumen.

While this may surprise the more marketing and management minded among you, the proof is in George’s outcome. Like so many LOTC’s, George’s effort has provided a simple yet wholesome lifestyle for his family, with whom he holds a steadfast commitment. And, up until recently, his lifestyle was on a growth trajectory – following a long standing bullish trend in the housing sector.

Unfortunately, his business model, like so many others, imploded with the housing bubble. Pre-bubble, his backlog of projects extended out for weeks, sometimes months. George used to name his price and even turn away work (usually smaller or messier jobs). Now his deal flow is spotty; his usual customers (principally home builders) are slow or no longer in business, while prices-paid are what they were 20-25 years ago. He is no longer turning away the small and messy jobs. The slow flow and low pay make it increasingly difficult for George to spend less than he takes in. His business provides the bare minimum for his home while his tooling and equipment suffer. As we write this, rising gas prices are limiting his ability to operate his vehicle.

As a LOTC hungry for work, George finds himself at a crossroads—he can continue to struggle through as is or he can change what he is doing and perhaps find a better way to get through. George and I agree a subtle shift in his marketing approach may be all he needs to improve his deal flow; improved prices-paid follows deal flow. I can offer him help because George trusts me. He knows that as a fellow LOTC, I have faced and continue to face dilemmas like these.

I choose to put these in writing.

On the Musings blog we talk about a wide range of topics useful for LOTC’s, from Marketing to Women to exploring How Prevailing Wages Hinder our ability to Create Jobs. Just enter a search in the search box or scan the Tagcloud. Here, we have a place to share successes overcoming business problems as well as failures arising from others. It is a place where we can share what we are doing and what we are thinking about doing, all in a friendly helpful way.

All of this information is available free of charge.

Take the best and leave the rest.

If you know a George or a Georgia who might benefit from our thoughts, please share this blog with them. And if there is something we’re not talking about that would be helpful for George and other LOTC’s, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Happy tiling!


Friday, July 1, 2011

New Project Award: The Locker

Mosaic just received a contract for tilework from a local general contractor. The scope of work includes approximately 1300 square feet of 8" x 8" porcelain tile on the floor of a locker room at an undisclosed location, hence the name of the project. Two colors will be used in a diagonal pattern. Photos to follow under the tag, "the locker". With this award, Mosaic gains 14 workdays for its workforce.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Photo's from Ft. Wayne

Here are some images from the Ft. Wayne project.

Meet the Ft. Wayne Crew. From left to right, Malcolm (me), Rick, and Jacob.

It all begins by placing this little cove. Have to set it at a level which we expect the floor to be. Have to also set it at a location where we expect the floor joints to be. No sweat for a layout and leveling expert. Mitre corners very nice too.

Next we jack up the walls 1/16" joint nice n flat. Were averaging 110 SF per. 8 hour manday. Pretty fast but challenging with 12" x 24" tiles.

Once the walls are all set and grouted, then we set the floor ( not wanting all the mess from walls on floor). Floor goes in a running bond( bricklayer pattern).

Here's Rick, from the crew, putting in the last piece. He's been looking for that piece all week. LOL.

Here's a shot of the finished work ready for the buffaloes to come in and hang toilets and stalls etc. It will never be as clean as this moment.

We'll be back at it next week to do the women's bathroom.

Happy Tiling


Monday, May 9, 2011

Marketing Tile to Women

From Jeanne Nichols

It's probably not a surprise to any one that women matter in the tile purchasing decision. They matter alot is an under statement. In her column in the most resent issue of TILE Magazine, (here) Jeanne Nichols, Owner of Star Grass Partners and Mod Mood, she defines women as "The Prominent Influencer". It appears that some of us guys are not getting the message as she indicates a recent panel on industry insights and innovations held 15 men and not one single woman.

Yep its 2011 and we men are still clueless; however, I am most at home when I have a tangible goal to meet, like laying the next 100 feet of tile. But after reading her article I am reminded that I need not be so clueless so long as professionals like Jeanne are around to inform me about the latest ways to market and sell to women.

In this article, which is geared toward the tile designer/dealer as an audience - Mod Mood being her tile and furniture store she co-owns with her husband provides a petri dish for her to continuously test and improve her theories toward sales and marketing (Not to mention her 17 year stint as VP of Sales and Marketing with The Trans Ceramica) - Ms. Nichols tells how to go about sales and marketing to this the Prominent Influencer.

She explains how, "women approach purchases: emotionally/reactive, or through research/discussion." She offers tips that can improve sales effectiveness no matter which way a prominent prospect presents herself.

The article keeps it real simple - which is probably why Jeanne is so good at marketing - there is the Before, During and After the visit to the store.

The Before makes a strong case for web presence and social media. For those of you fellas that don't get this, I suggest you read some Seth Goden, else you risk becoming a buggy whip dealer who happens to inventory tile. When I think about how my gal shops (even though she is an n of one) she spends a lot of time online researching and comparing prices features and benefits. By the time we go shopping, she is very goal oriented. I know my sisters and my mom spend a lot of time online researching purchases as well, so now we have an n of four. If the women in your life are anything like the women in my life...I think you get the picture. Its a statistical ceratinty for you: No website no deal.

The During emphasizes five things; that your store possess the same characteristics as your website; that personal contact gives you a read on how she prefers to approach the purchase (also to better demonstrate to her your good listening skills [GUYS! YOU CAN DO THIS!]); how you might and might not respond; provide interesting trivia (there's always something new in tile); and most important from my perspective, that you be genuine with your conversation.

The After emphasizes follow-up. She makes it fun for us guys by suggesting it's like dating [does this mean if I call her back just as she's leaving the store she'll think I'm a creepy stalker?] Silence of course sends the wrong message, that you are just not that into her. So its important to acknowledge, "that she was in the store, purchased the product, or to have been given the opportunity to share some ideas with her is a genuine way to continue the connection"

My take:
While we humble installers and fellow LOTC's (Low Overhead Trade Contractors) do not typically own stores, it is none the less important to take note: all of this applies to us too (except for the store part), but you do not get let off with not needing a website/social media presence. Instead of a store orgainzed for presentation at time of sale much in the same way as the web presence, we must organize ourselves for presentation at the time of service much in the same we present ourselves online. I'm here to tell you, my customers are choosing me because I blog, tweet, facebook, email, linkin and youtube. They are choosing me because I make a genuine presentation of me and what I value, so it is easy for me to back that up at the time of service. So in the long run I predict LOTC's who do not venture into the online arena with an emphasis towards dynamic (social media) as opposed to a static presence (brochureware), risk irrelevance through loss of market share or pricing power or both.

Happy Tiling!


Friday, May 6, 2011

Feature Project: Forsyth and Vaquero

To whet your appetite we gave you an in progress video from the Forsyth Vaquero project on 17-Feb. Many of you have patiently awaited this follow up where I show you the completed work.

While this post comes to you on May 6th the actual project completion was shot (scroll to end) on April 1st. Hence, the good doctors have been happy customers for going on 6 weeks. The lag between then and now can best be explained by success. You see when you are a job creating LOTC (low-overhead-trade-contractor) like me, success means you end up spending quite a bit of time in the field doing the work, getting dirty, getting tired, and just plain having fun. It's difficult to post in real time.

Since the time of April Fool's, the Crew and I have been out there in the mud the blood and the beer; finishing up The Cooler, an encore to The Encore, resolving punchlist on the Urban Canvas, as well completing two new projects projects in The Bootlegger and The Manor.

In this feature we bring you a video post.

The shot starts with a lovely stained glass window. You should know the glass is not original to the house, but the window itself is. Would you believe the previous owner covered it up with a fiberglass shower enclosure, Eww! See the photos;

The stained glass is by Mike Bomar of Bomar Glass, Toledo, OH . The house is blessed with several stained glass features which may be seen in the fall issue of the American Bungalow Magazine, #71. Mike used these for his inspiration.

Well done Mike! Hat tip to you for your artistic creativity.

In the "ready for tile" video we previewed the materials. In this shot (scroll to end) you see them put in place; 5/8x5/8 Cararra marble mosaics on the floor, 3x6 Hampton crackled glaze subway tiles on the wall along with ogee trim and mosaic return. Tile is courtesy of Virginia Tile Company, Livonia, MI. Here also you get to see how we carefully mixed in cut-to-fit Cararra slabs on the window sill and jambs, the radiator enclosure, and wrapping the threshold. We used slabs to enhance the look as well as provide additional watertightness in key areas.

Here Bomar also provided the freestanding walk behind glass wall. It gives what is otherwise a smallish bungalow bath a larger open feel while not blocking the view of the window. The shower barrier is only 36" wide, yet we need not worry about water splashing about because of the shower head's overhead orientation. Designers take note on this compact trick.

We kept quite a few of the original items, because they just are not made like they used to; the site-built medicine cabinet, the pedestal sink, and the terrazzo floor and base. More on the terrazzo restoration (here)

We did put new reproduction faucet sets on the sink (and Dr. Vaquero pointed up the metals in bronze). I put a new marble mosaic inlay in the floor to create symmetry in the exquisite border (in its original configuration the border must have flowed under a claw tub completing a rectangle about the room).

Bathroom accessories are from Pottery Barn (here and here) and the Paris style towel shelf available from Amazon (here). Plumbing fixtures are from Strom, "sign of the crab", Plumbing. Paints are all Benjamin Moore colors as selected by Dr. Vaquero. The gal has guts. Dr. F does too, giving he held firm on retaining the terrazzo.

The doctors took great risk; bold color scheme, mixing old things with with new - slabs with tile, a walk behind wall and a window in the shower. Oh my! All in all the finish is quite rewarding and a great fit for their home. Remember reward follows risk, so while the bath may not be plain vanilla, this bathroom is for them. They know it and they love it. I love it too!

We pulled this off by working a group process, one in which they were firmly in control yet confidently led by yours truly. I was so pleased to be their builder. Enjoy the video. It is our gift to you.

Presently we are out at two fill-in-projects, The Pool and The Pan before we head off to the Ft Wayne project.

Happy tiling! And be sure to let me know what you think by hitting the like button up above or taking the time to leave a comment below.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

How To: Terrazzo Restoration

This How To is about terrazzo restoration. Comprised of cement and marble chips, Terrazzo is by far the most durable long lasting flooring around. Used ubiquitously throughout the earlier half of the 1900's especially on institutional projects, terrazzo fell out of favor due to its high first costs (long run costs suggest it is least expensive - but we live in a short term society so its value is lost on us), as well as its schedule intensive process (not good for quick building). Call it a slow food architectural finish. Worth the wait.

Terrazzo came to be in Italy. Italian for terrace, terrazzo is what humble marble quarriers would do for home improvement, where dirt floors were standard fare. Each day the quarry workers would stuff their pockets and sacks with chips from the cubing and slabbing processes. Not but waste to their employers, the workers would bring this offal home to accumulate in a pile by the terrace. In time enough would accumulate to make a floor, and so the worker and family and friends would gather the mix it like you would concrete - cement and marble chips in lieu of gravel. Once poured, the worker would return on the second day while the pour is still quite green and he would set to grinding the top off of the slab thus exposing the beauty within the marble chips just beneath the neat paste cover. Following the grind, the worker would add a layer of neat paste as grout to fill any holes exposed in the first grinding only to return a second day to grind this grout layer flat again. On the third day the worker would finish with a fine grind to bring the floor to a high hone. According to Wikipedia he would seal it with goat's milk. There there no use in crying over split milk. On the fourth day he rested to enjoy his new floor with his family and friends and to make toasts to health and happiness and a bottle of grappa.

On the Forsyth-Vaquero project we had the opportunity to try our hand at terrazzo restoration. While in a serviceable condition their 80+ year old floor exhibited cracks and surface stains. I relied on the advice of local terrazzo guru Tony Anese, of Anese (Ah - knee - see) Masonry about how to approach it. The photos and captions below sum up his approach. Thanks Tony.

Enjoy and Happy tiling!

Photo 1: Cracks Chased
This photo shows cracks in floor now "chased". To Chase means to cut out the crack. This helps clean it out and make room for crack filler material. I chased the cracks with a mini saw popular among tilers. I used a 4-1/4" continuous rim wet cutting diamond blade. I set the foot of the saw to a depth which breached the terrazzo topping and went into the mud bed below, about 7/8".

Photo 2: Prep for mosaic inlay
Here, I simply cut a chase the width of the mosaic plus one joint. I used the same saw I used to chase the cracks. For control, to keep a straight line, I used my tile setter's aluminum straight edges held in place with my knees. Always the knees in tiling.

Photo 3: Cracks filled Mosaic set

My crack filler mix design is Portland cement, 50% gray 50% white, mixed with a latex admixture, grout additive. I set the mosaics flush with the existing floor, and packed the cracks with filler to the top and overfilled by a sixteenth to an eighth of an inch. It is important to overfill the joint so you can sand it flush later. The beauty and function of terrazzo is in its monolithic presentation and flush form.

Photo 4:Latex admixture
Heres a photo of a latex admixture product from Laticrete. You might also consider Tec, Mapei, Custom, or Hydroment brands - All top notch.

Photo 5: Slurry shot
I let the filler cure 24 hours. While hard, it is still green enough to work. Here I used a 120 grit drywall sanding screen, water and good old elbow grease to sand the filler flush with the surrounding terrazzo. You need not worry about damaging the surrounding floor. It is far too cured to be affected.

Photo 6: Before and After the Sanding Screen
Here is a shot of the sanding screen. Above the line of the mosaics you can see the overfilled crack. This is the before sanding condition. After about five minutes of vigorous sanding and below the mosaics you can see the after condition. The crack is now sanded flush. You will need to the process a second time, because the filler from the first go will shrink a wee bit while curing.

Photo 7: The Finish
Next I sanded the entire floor with 60 and 80 grit screen and water followed by three coats of Terra Glaze, a popular terrazzo coating by Spartan Chemical. This final step is all you really need do if you have a crack free floor which looks a little chalky or tired. A good sanding with water or perhaps add a bit of oxy-salicic acid to brighten up the marble chips in the mix. Keep it clean and keep up with the Terra Glaze from time to time.

Let me know what you think by hitting the like button above or leaving a comment below.


Project Award: The Pool

You gotta give to get. Its a saying I heard while reading up on venture funding. While Mosaic is the farthest thing from a Venture Capitalist's mind the principal rings true in this most recent project award. You see while we were furiously trying to meet the completion date on The Cooler project, an addition to a commercial kitchen, I noticed there was a floor drain failure in the existing kitchen. I proposed to the buildings manager at this prestigious facility to remain nameless that I should fix it while he had me on the job. He agreed, but he needed to know what it was to cost him. I told him naught so long as he thinks of me next time he needs some tiling done. Now, before the project was completed, he returned the favor by awarding me this my next project I'll call The Pool. The Pool is a repair project at my new client's outdoor swimming complex. The complex is 50 years old and has suffered countless harsh winters. Needles to say there are many tile about the pool coping in need of repair. The project will provide Mosaic Inc. about 9 work days of activity. So you see you have to give to get. LOTC marketers take note.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Do prevailing wages help or hinder our recovery?

Do prevailing wages help or hinder our recovery? For the uninitiated, prevailing wage requirements establish labor costs on construction projects at levels which closely track local union wage rates. More often than not these levels far exceed the market level of pay (by as much as 40%) for skilled labor in the same locales.
On one hand, workers receiving more pay will spend more back into the community. Call this the Aggregate Demand Argument. And on the other hand, more capital is exhausted per unit of prevailing wage labor. Meaning less work is accomplished, productivity is diminished - value destroyed. Call this the Free Market Argument. The outcome of these arguments is important because it determines the pace and strength of our recovery.

The impetus for prevailing wages owes its roots to the "Progressive Era" which brought child labor and workers compensation laws to the fore, reaching a crescendo with the Davis-Bacon Act (DBA) of 1931 which established prevailing wage requirements for Federally funded projects - required on projects receiving $2000 in federal funding or more. It was thought that DBA and the prevailing wage laws in 32 states would ensure only local skilled mechanics would be engaged on projects of public import both large and small while preventing migrant contractors using who knows what for labor.

In reality while the rules do prevent a race to the bottom in terms of wages paid, they create an onerous competitive barrier for scrappy upstarts like yours truly, a highly skilled tiler. This is true now as it was then when the concern at the time was toward upstart "Negro"-owned contractors or small contractors utilizing "Colored" labor encroaching on the market share of the larger more established white-owned unionized contractors. Likewise the history of building trade unions is similarly checkered toward African Americans. While this post is not about institutionalized racism within the construction industry, the facts illustrate how prevailing wage laws are more of a big-business protectionist policy paraded about in a "Pro-Labor" wrapper. It is well known that protectionism adds costs to and limits opportunities for society.

From this Friday's Wall Street Journal:
Currently, lawmakers and governors in 21 states are seeking to limit the use of prevailing wage requirements. The proposals open another front in a battle pitting Republican legislators against unions, and push the debate further into the private sector. One of the biggest changes has been proposed by my governor, John Kasich of Ohio. His budget proposes eliminating prevailing wage requirements for public universities and for local and many state government projects under $5M as opposed to the current hurdle of $78,258..."There are fewer resources in the state right now so government needs to optimize every dollar," said Rob Nichols, a Kasich spokesman..."Prevailing wage artificially inflates the cost of labor construction in the public sector," said Bryan Williams, director of government affairs at the Ohio chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors, a trade group that backs bills curbing the rates. [representing smaller contractor businesses] The Ohio Contractors Association, made up of 90% union contractors, and the Associated General Contractors, with 55% union membership, oppose changing the laws. [both represent larger contractor businesses]
Why does this impact the pace and strength of the economic recovery? Up until this last recovery, housing has led the charge. I disbelieve the recovery thesis. And if you are underwater in your home, have seen little appreciation in your pay over the last decade (perhaps even took a pay-cut a few years back), or are close to a hardworking someone now out of work, then you are probably disbelieving the recovery thesis too. I believe we are more likely engaged in some sort of zombie recovery where the talking heads are ignoring the lack of a housing recovery. In fact housing is one negative monthly report away from being a double dip recession. Rather the pundits are postulating that perhaps we can have an overall recovery without a turn in housing.
For a while you can so long as you have a Federal Reserve to back it up, but the consequences on those of us who live paycheck to paycheck cannot be denied so long as the price of food and fuel continue to escalate. I think the Fed and the wealthy elite are out to destroy us. And, I doubt pundits can continue to ignore the impact this housing depression is having on their recovery.

Is the answer striking down state prevailing wage laws and the federal Davis-Bacon Act? It's not quite clear especially given that housing is traditionally put in place nonunion low overhead trade contractors like myself. But when you consider the residential construction market is but a fraction of its size from its peak in 2006, there are literally tens of thousands of displaced small businesses with over a million highly skilled workers who could easily convert their target from housing to commercial work if not for the barrier of prevailing wages. Are not small businesses the engines of US job creation? And, does their workforce not deserve a right to work? Was not their skill level sufficient and safe enough for you to live with in your own home?

Prevailing Wages are Retarding Growth and Job Creation in my Hometown Toledo, OH:
a Case Study

I'm following the Toledo Blade's coverage of Mayor Mike Bell and the Dashing Pacific Group's attempted acquisition of the Marina District Property. (here) and (here). The city owns a significant stretch of undeveloped prime riverfront real estate. Up until this week it had a willing buyer/developer who sketched out a $200M residential light commercial development plan that would attract a diverse, moneyed, and international clientele. I can just imagine the amount of tile that will go into this development. Now what happened is a good deal hatched between mayor Mike Bell and DPG is falling through because city council wants to put a deed restriction in place which would require prevailing wages. For over ten years, the property has been a development target by various developers, most recently by Dillin Corp. - a local developer who flew high on leverage with the lovely Levis Commons development (a union only project), but is now in the dumps in this our post real estate credit bubble collapse. No doubt he is in the dumps because the cash flows from current rents do not justify his prices paid for union labor. The main point here is DPG is stepping away from the deal. Good for DPG bad for Toledoans.

What we have here is binary, on or off. With prevailing wage restrictions, no deal - no jobs. Without restrictions, the deal lives and the jobs prospect follows.

Score: Aggregate Demand Argument 1 Free Market Argument 0.

In the article, Mayor Bell rightly raised questions about Toledoans' understanding of the Global Marketplace. I agree. We have a great value in Toledo, inexpensive real estate, access to world markets, great universities, four seasons, skilled workers, and more. Of these, I think real estate leads the pack. Ours is an undervalued asset. One only needs to look at the fact that investors from the coasts and overseas are buying up our housing to hold for investment or to improve and rent back to us. Our properties cash flow among the best cities in the US, and in deflationary economies (your home values your wages) cash is king. Investors don't get cash flows from rents on the coasts - they gain on appreciation (speculation as of late). That speculation appreciation bubble broke...hard. Meanwhile our real estate has room to appreciate in relation to other markets, because it is undervalued, our location is remarkable, and it matters not in a global marketplace where you lay your hat to call home, so long as it is nice and live-able. I believe that as the middle class gets squeezed by food and fuel coupled with stagnant wages, families outside Toledo especially mobile wage earners will come to consider locales such as ours as a good place to call home simply because of the quality of life and their housing dollar goes farther here. This is what I believe Dashing Pacific sees in Toledo and the Marina property in particular. And here the Marina development is essential toward the nice-ness dimension and attracting new moneyed residents. I think this is the globalization point wasted on most Toledoans.

To get there, we need to break away from the protectionist views espoused by councilpersons Phil Copeland (Laborers Local 500 Sec-Treasurer) and Adam Martinez (union backed politico). Mr. Copeland says he is, "Pro-Citizens of Toledo" that he makes decisions based on "what affects the citizens of Toledo." Mr. Martinez feels council has a duty to protect, "our tax base and citizens". So long as I am held out from working on cherry projects such as the Marina, Messrs. Copeland and Martinez do not speak for me, a job creator. I guarantee most union contractor Owners and managers do not even live in Toledo. And how does Mr. Martinez justify his protection of the tax base when he chases $200M in foreign direct investment out of the city? For what? Another 10 years in development Purgatory.

Note to Messrs Copeland and Martinez: Refer to the latest census report. People are fleeing the Midwest, principally Michigan and Ohio. This is clearly because we no longer have a lock on opportunities. In fact ours pale in comparison to other regions/nations. Manufacturing alone will not deliver us. Our president even says the jobs lost in the last recession will not be coming back. And, then there are structural problems with the governance and policies of our region. Adherence to prevailing wage requirements is but one of the problems. One only needs to look at nearby Detroit, a city which lost 25% of its population from 2000 to 2010, to see what is to come for Toledo so long as we cling to these old policies which are manufacturing centric and dependent upon a unionized political base. In the words of Upton Sinclair, "It is difficult for a man to understand something when his salary [power base] depends on his not understanding it!" On the flip side I also understand why Messrs Copeland and Martinez must fight zealously for prevailing wages on the Marina property and on any other project of import in Toledo. An undisclosed source tells me that Toledo is one major project going non-union away from becoming a right-to-work town. That as soon as one major property owner goes non-union so goes the hospitals and others.

Now look back at the Marina property and consider how similar it is to large swathes of Detroit. So long as the Marina remains fallow, the adjacent Front Street/Waite/East Toledo area will continue its decay. Here is where prevailing wages are hindering our recovery. And, I am reminded how Socialism destroys incentive. In Toledo we are still promoting it through Unionism, taking wealth from our collective tax revenues and redistributing it through prevailing wages (or lack thereof) in a way which makes us all more equally poor and miserable.

Now that I have said this my piece, Score: Aggregate Demand 1, Free Markets 10.