Volume 12 | Issue 3 | Year 2009

Tile, Italian style, has made it to America by way of Florida Tile, Inc. in Lakeland, Fla. One of the nation’s leading tile manufacturers and distributors since 1954, Florida Tile was purchased by Panariagroup in 2006.
For 30 years Panariagroup has operated in the sector of manufacture and marketing of flooring tiles in porcelain stoneware and single-fired ceramics, and is one of the leading Italian manufacturers with an international presence. Specifically, the manufacture of ceramic flooring and single-fired tiles is the Group’s traditional area of business.

And that made a perfect fit with Florida Tile, which is a world-class manufacturer and distributor of porcelain and ceramic wall and floor tile. The company also imports and distributes natural stone and other decorative products and maintains a manufacturing plant in Lawrenceburg, Ken., with 24 showrooms located throughout the United States. The dedicated professionals at Florida Tile continue to support the mission of delivering quality products and exceptional service, which is how Florida Tile separates its business from competitors.

Florida Tile is committed to preserving the beauty and health of the planet and its natural resources through its CARES program (Creating a Responsible Environmental Strategy). All of its products come directly from the earth, and in this era of heightened environmental awareness, the company prides itself on being “a pioneer in the greening of America.”

Sean Cilona, Director of Marketing, says Florida Tile is the first tile producer to receive GREENGUARD and GREENGUARD Children and Schools certification for all of its tile products. The GREENGUARD Environmental Institute (GEI) is an industry-independent, non-profit organization that oversees the GREENGUARD Certification ProgramSM. As an ANSI Authorized Standards Developer, GEI establishes acceptable indoor air standards for indoor products, environments, and buildings. GEI’s mission is to improve public health and quality of life through programs that improve indoor air. A GEI Advisory Board consisting of independent volunteers, who are renowned experts in the areas of indoor air quality, public and environmental health, building design and construction, and public policy, provides guidance and leadership to GEI.

Cilona says Florida Tile is the first and only tile manufacturer to have all of its products certified under the PTCA (Porcelain Tile Certification Agency). The Certified Porcelain program, verifies that products are low in porosity so they won’t harbor mold or allergens. But he says the company’s CARES program doesn’t stop at indoor environmental quality. In fact, he says the company strives to have a minimal impact on the whole environment, indoors and out.

Florida Tile utilizes an environmental policy based on the four basic premises of ISO: 14000, the international standard of environmental management. The four pillars include prevention of pollution, compliance, setting environmental objectives, and continuous improvement.

This is accomplished with a new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility that is the direct result of the large investment Panariagroup made in Florida Tile. That investment allows Florida Tile to basically replicate the high quality manufacturing process Panaria follows in Italy.

“We have brought skills and technology of Italian manufacturing to the United States,” Cilona says.

Florida Tile uses the latest technology to reduce energy usage in making tiles. The manufacturing facility is closed loop, which means it recycles all unused materials and water back into the products. Recycling is at the heart of Florida Tile’s pollution prevention efforts. The company recycles dust, water, scrap tiles, and its cartons are even made from recycled cardboard. Offices, distribution center, and showrooms recycle paper, plastic, and other waste streams and, wherever possible, the company consolidates shipments to reduce costs and consumption of fuel.

The company donates those tiles that can’t be sold or recycled to various charities where they are used to improve underprivileged communities both here and abroad. Further, the company allows customers to send back used pallets so they can be re-used. The cardboard, wood, and plastic packaging is recycled as well.

Florida Tile complies with or exceeds the requirements of all local, state, and federal environmental regulations. Its products comply with all applicable standards but the company is also actively involved in developing new and updated standards. In fact, Florida Tile was one of the first companies in the world to go completely “leadless.”

Florida Tile commits time and resources to meet the objective goals set for its environmental policies and procedures. Moreover, the plan is to continue to lead the way by being an environmentally responsible manufacturer and distributor of ceramic and porcelain tile. Cilona says the greatest asset and ally in improving the environment and the overall quality of the products is the people the company employs, who are passionately committed, he says, to reducing, recycling, and reusing. “This is borne out by our world-class safety record because we are equally committed to giving our employees a safe and clean work environment,” Cilona adds.

When Florida Tile began 55 years ago, it mostly manufactured tile for residential use. Throughout its history, the products were designed with the future in mind. That is, with proper installation and routine maintenance a tile installation can last for decades or longer. So the company diligently works to ensure the quality and style of its products outshines all other floor and wall coverings.

True to its environmentally friendly ways, Florida Tile touted that ceramic and porcelain tile is durable and long lasting which saves maintenance, landfill and reinstallation costs. Additionally, ceramic and porcelain tiles emit virtually no volatile organic compounds, which means they will leave the air cleaner than all other floor or wall covering choices.

Since Panaria came into the picture, the company has begun to carry its dedication to perfection into the commercial market. Today, Florida Tile prides itself on meeting the specific needs of architects, designers and commercial contractors. It is now a one-source solution for contractors and Florida Tile satisfies virtually any mix of requirements for aesthetics, durability and value in every major tile category – all abundantly available at its National Distribution Center.

The company recently unveiled a new product category called HDP-High Definition Porcelain, which is a first in the United States market. This process is similar to a desktop ink jet printer that applies a glaze on the surface of the tile. The main benefit, says Cilona, is the ability to duplicate virtually any design on the tile’s surface, with a minimum number of repetitions.

The ability to create the minimal repetition of patterns in manufacturing is a source of prestige Cilona points out. Like the distinctiveness of a diamond or a snowflake, the tile’s pattern is what distinguishes a certain product. To that end, with Digital Printing, over 200 linear feet of tile can be produced without having a pattern repeated, which sets the product apart from the rest.

Inspired by the rich resources found in the hills of the ancient area surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, Florida Tile nonetheless uses sophisticated technology to deliver wall and floor tile with the visual intricacies, rustic and modern depth for both residential and commercial markets. The company will no doubt continue to bring value to the market as it expands its operation into new areas of growth.

Previous articleAir Excellence
Next articleFrom the Ground Up