Louisville Tile: ‘People are Our Greatest Resource’

If you’re a tile industry professional and have been at it for a while, you probably know the name Louisville Tile. As a fourth-generation, family-owned, 67-year-old tile distributor with 13 locations in five states (Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and Tennessee), it offers employees long-term careers, establishing a family-like environment strengthened via its caring culture. The firm has quietly and successfully grown to having sales approaching $100 million. Ostensibly, one would think with accomplishments like that, it would be time to chill out and have a mint julep (or two).

“Not today!” declared Matthew Saltzman, CEO of Louisville Tile, who joined the firm last year, bringing with him a seasoned Wall Street background. “The world has changed and continues to evolve rapidly. Rather than rest on our laurels, it was time to proactively re-think, re-invest and revitalize. Standing still only makes you a target to be run over.”

As the Great Gretzky once said, “We play to where the puck is going, not to where it is.” Many new initiatives were implemented, including bolstering the company’s executive management team by promoting internal team members and complementing the existing team with industry and non-industry new talent. 

“The key to the future, however, resided in another group of existing team members,” Saltzman said. “This group of individuals which are the focus of this article, hold the key to the Louisville Tile future. They are formally known as our senior management team.”

Tina Boyle, vice president of warehouse operations, has been with Louisville Tile for more than 30 years, starting out as a receptionist, fresh out of high school. “One of the many items offered to me back then was the promise to pay for my college. So, I took courses in accounting, and before you knew it, I was handling accounts receivables, then accounts payable, and more. Responsibilities kept coming up and I was always game for them.” 

Becoming tile-business savvy, Boyle was motivated to take on new challenges. “It seemed as if every two years I would be taking over a new opportunity,” she said. From accounting, she moved on to the design department, ultimately training showroom designers. She took over contractor sales and after strong growth, became the force behind the call center, which streamlined response to all requests for samples. From there, Boyle morphed into Louisville Tile’s nascent IT department. “I kept learning and ultimately teaching what I had learned to newer employees.”

“Tina was a natural choice for the senior management team,” Saltzman said. “She had touched every area of the company, knew all the employees and understood how it had worked in the past. This institutional knowledge was critical for us to harness in charting our future path.”

Each member of the seven-member senior management team serves in a functional role that rotates every three months. The team consists of Tina Boyle, vice president warehouse operations; Nick McLoughlin, branch team support manager; Amanda Helen, director centralized purchasing; Marc Harbeson, director IT; Dylan Birkla, senior director training; Travis Wilcox, vice president national accounts; and Kristine Gaines, controller.

“I not only learned more about the business I’ve worked for the past three decades, I also was able to interact with other top Louisville Tile employees, and in doing so, continue to not only learn more about our business and leadership but also, become more tight-knit with my co-employees,” Boyle added.

They have been tasked to come up with ideas on a regular basis and then present them both the employees and the executive team, consisting of CFO Walter “Dub” Newell; COO Adam Beck; Crosby Hall, executive vice president of corporate resources; Don Kincaid, senior vice president of sales and CEO Matt Saltzman.

“People are our greatest resource, and here we had all this talent and knowledge just looking for a place to be engaged.”

— Louisville Tile CEO Matt Salzman.

“The Senior Management Team’s priority is to learn about our business and develop ourselves and our colleagues as better leaders and employees,” said Amanda Helen, purchasing manager and an 11-year Louisville Tile veteran. “One contest program implemented by our team is called ‘Above and Beyond.’ Anyone in the company is invited to nominate another teammate that they received superior service from, or who went above and beyond the call to better serve the company interests. Those nominated had the opportunity to win a YETI cooler. The number of nominations were well beyond our expectations, and many coolers were awarded. The program fostered teamwork, respect and a cultural shift to think about others before oneself.”

The company is currently working on an initiative allowing for any employee to submit their very own business plan, focusing on how areas they work within can be improved. “The buzz is tremendous,” Helen said.

“It’s been a healthy experience,” said Branch Team Support Manager Nick McLaughlin, who just reached his eighth anniversary working at Louisville Tile. “Each person on our team has something different to offer relative to the tile industry. We really can learn from each other at our weekly meetings. And collectively, all of us feel as if we individually have more skin in the game.”

Travis Wilcox, vice president of national sales, is a fourth-generation family member of Louisville Tile who learned the business from the ground up. “I started off by installing tile for a residential contractor. From there, I’ve worked at the warehouse, ran the sample department, was an assistant branch manager, moved on to commercial quoting and estimating and then helped build the national accounts division,” said. “We are actively addressing centralized purchasing, implementing a new logistics model, advancing inventory policies and controls, developing an internal concierge branch support team, investing in new technologies and creating new employee engagement and retention initiatives. We’re making things happen—and having a great time in doing so.”

Saltzman said his team is working hard to stay on-trend, make investments in the future and prioritize positive relationships.

“People are our greatest resource and here we had all this talent and knowledge just looking for a place to be engaged,” he said. “We have a mission to be the leading independent distribution company in the industry, and we take that mission very seriously.”