Education Key to Success in Family Tile Business

by Terry Baskin for Tile Letter magazine

Bergerson Tile in Astoria, Oregon has been in business for 50 years and is now employing the third generation of the Bergerson family. Second-generation owner Trask Bergerson is an NTCA member and sits on the board of directors of the CTEF. He attributes the company’s ongoing success to a number of factors and education is at the top of the list. “We are very progressive about training and education, to the point that we have created our own apprenticeship program for our installers,” he says. The company employs a young workforce of about 24 employees and does not subcontract any of their tile installation work, so it is critical to ensure that work is done to the proper standards every time.

This commitment to education has been the perfect foundation for a long-standing partnership with Schluter Systems. Bergerson Tile is an Authorized Schluter Dealer and was a “very early user of the Schluter shower system,” according to Bergerson. “I am a fanatical system-based guy. We learned this philosophy through the early years of the business when some mistakes were made and we needed to correct them.”  Today those mistakes are prevented through the use of a single system and an unwavering commitment to education.

Bergerson says he has personally attended at least 20 Schluter seminars and learns something new every time. He pays his installers to attend shows with him so they continue to learn and get exposed to all that is new in the industry. “I can show my guys how to do something all day long and it doesn’t have nearly the impact of a live demonstration by an outside expert who has been in their shoes. They know right away if that person has worked with a trowel.”  He adds that there is a healthy, friendly competition between his installers. Each wants to push his limits and take on new challenges.

Showroom vignettes are built to real world standards, complete with waterproofing and drains, as many of the display areas are functional with running water and even stream.