A World of Tile
A World of Tile (AWoT) started in 1989 as a small tile retailer, and the company continues to make a name for itself by representing tile products exclusively today. It is AWoT’s focus on friendly, facilitative service that keeps each customer coming back for home improvement after home improvement. AWoT professionals scour the world for the best available natural and engineered stone products to meet a wide scope of aesthetics while also empowering the customer with the knowledge and resources to succeed.
“We pride ourselves on providing an excellent product selection and an incredibly knowledgeable staff to help customers turn dream homes into reality,” says Bryan Hawthorne, CFO and manager of operations at AWoT. The company is based out of Englewood, Colo., with nine other locations across the state, three locations in Arizona, and one outpost in Albuquerque, N.M. AWoT’s mission is to work with homeowners to facilitate the design and installation process, whether it’s their first home-improvement project or thirty-first.
AWoT doesn’t offer installation services; instead, the company refers contractors and home remodeling specialists. The company keeps no agreements or compensation arrangements for the service, giving AWoT the ability to recommend the best local professionals based only on the client’s needs and the project requirements.
The AWoT team is more than happy to work with the do-it-yourself crowd as well. “We focus on the remodel homeowner, specifically those who own a home, can afford to invest in it and who really care about the way it looks even though they might not know how to create that look,” expands Sean Kearns, president of AWoT.
AWoT offers free hands-on workshops every second and fourth Saturday of the month at every location to take the mystery out of laying tile. Customers can learn firsthand how to lay tiling to achieve different patterns, the proper consistency for grout, how to tile over a crack in the concrete subfloor and other tips and tricks of the trade.
“We work with contractors, but we still consider our target demographic to be the homeowners themselves,” asserts Hawthorne. Hawthorne joined AWoT in 2006 after a career in finance at the behest of Kearns, with whom Hawthorne went to business school. The extra financial experience has helped the company develop additional customer-friendly services like order layaway and project financing. The company also offers a flexible return policy where AWoT will buy back unused products from the customer with no restocking fee within six months of the purchase date, ensuring projects don’t run out of steam or material.
Tile’s Top Dogs
Consumer tastes are continually changing and the AWoT team works with a network of suppliers worldwide to source products of the highest quality that meet the needs of consumers with traditional and more adventurous tastes alike. Advances with ink-jet printing technology have made printed tile products increasingly affordable and AWoT has responded by incorporating a selection of products into its inventory.
“We have tile that looks just like hardwood and natural stone,” adds Hawthorne. “It’s more or less like printing your document; the high-definition printing technology can now print high-resolution glazed images so products look very realistic and are without repeat patterns.”
Heated tile flooring has also become more popular and AWoT offers products from SunTouch Floor Warming Systems. The products are renowned not only for keeping toes toasty on cold mornings, but also for its easy installation, which requires only mats and the heating element installed beneath tiling, making the system as safe to operate as it is efficient. In many cases the system also saves money on heating.
Shopping the World
AWoT understands mortar matters and tile setting materials are just as important to the overall aesthetic and durability of a tile floor, which is the reason AWoT launched The Whole 9. “The Whole 9 is an initiative we have been working on all year that addresses a set of nine decisions every customer has to make about their tiling project, whether they realize it or not,” expands Hawthorne.
The list of nine bullet points helps customers pin down all the smaller points in a tile project, allowing projects to be budgeted properly and without any surprises at the end. The Whole 9 addresses surface preparation, mortar, grout, accents and designs, specialty items like towel bars, tools, accessories like inset niches, transitions and proper care products. By addressing all nine points upfront, AWoT hopes to help customers avoid as many hassles down the road as possible while also putting the project into perspective.
“A bucket of waterproofing compound at $80 might sound like a lot, but when you think about it in terms of waterproofing your shower for the next 20 years, it’s not so bad,” explains Kearns. “We don’t want to just help our customers visualize their project, we want to be a complete consultative resource.”
AWoT is always on the lookout for new tile setting products that maximize durability and budget. “We recently picked up a grout additive called Grout Boost that guarantees grout will not stain for 20 years, which is truly revolutionary from a maintenance standpoint,” states Hawthorne. When applied properly, the product ensures surfaces are easy to clean and stay free of mold, mildew and stains for as long as possible.
AWoT has also begun a store-wide campaign to promote the use of environmentally responsible products. The company recognizes that tiling requires no harsh chemicals to clean so recently began positioning tile as eco-friendly. The company also began partnering with other companies that embrace an eco-conscious philosophy; AWoT scaled back on fuel requirements and introduced a series of lightweight mortars containing 10-percent recycled content.
The company is expecting a steady increase in sales in the coming years and AWoT is actively looking to expand into additional geographic areas when the opportunity presents itself. Even as AWoT expands, the company will continue to uphold its reputation for friendly, facilitative customer service by empowering the A World of Tile LLC staff with unparalleled product knowledge and always working to bring the best products from around the world a little closer to home.