Italian tiles lead the world | by Simona Storchi
The US ceramic tile distributor Wayne Tile (based in the city of Wayne, New Jersey) was founded in 1953 and has many years of experience working successfully with leading Italian brands. We spoke to one of the company’s owners Tim Westra.
Mr. Westra, how did the idea of selling tiles first come about?
During the post war boom in the early 1950s, the three brothers Robert, Harry and Donald Westra were installing tiles in new homes, so they decided that it would make things more streamlined if they also sold the tiles that they were installing. At that time, the tiles were rather simple. Most of them were basic tiles made in the United States or imported from Japan.
How has the company evolved since then?
Over the years Wayne Tile has evolved from a tile installation business to a complete floor covering business and then to an importer, distributor and retailer of ceramic and porcelain tile, natural stone, mosaic and glass and installation products. As ceramic and then porcelain tile increased in popularity in the 1980s we were able to make direct contacts with agents and tile factories. Our first direct imported container of tile was half Sichenia and half Athon Ceramiche.
By the mid-1990s we were importing from Italy, Spain and other parts of the world. We now have more than 100 employees, four showrooms, two outlet stores and three warehouses.
What kind of clients do you work with?
We sell to mostly residential homeowners and to professional tile installers and builders. Our customers are loyal and demanding and appreciate the quality, style and value that can be found in Italian tiles today.
What are the main characteristics of your showrooms?
Our retail showrooms feature many permanent displays showing the latest tile fashions. Our sales people are highly experienced and have many varied backgrounds from interior design, tile installation, retail sales and marketing to name just a few. Many of our sales people have worked for us for more than 10 years, and they are the most important part of our showrooms.
What makes Italian tile special?
We love selling Italian tiles because the companies make it easier for us to sell their products. Italian tiles lead the world in both design and fashion and the companies are very helpful and loyal to us, providing excellent customer service and support.
What advice would you give Italian companies on how they can improve?
They should listen and learn about the American market. Above all, they need to realize that each region in the United States is different. There is no “one size fits all” tile.
Italian brands available at Wayne Tile