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The Tile Project

Posted on Friday, June 1, 2018 in Small Business Today Articles

My daughter Emily and husband Pete recently bought a new house here in Ankeny. It is a great house for them, although isn’t exactly new. Actually the house was built in 1977 and has had some updates, but Emily and Pete wanted to put their own style into it. They have spent the last few weeks painting and doing some minor remodeling before they move their family to their new home.

My wife is really good at painting, enjoys the thrill of making things look new and was eager to help with the home improvements. I am much better at destruction vs. construction. After several days of deliberation, one of the items they determined they wanted to replace was the backsplash in the kitchen. Replacing the backsplash was not essential, but it can be a messy job, better accomplished if a young family was not living there yet. Since this was a job of destruction, I was enlisted to work on the project.  At first I was very nervous as this job could be much more than I could handle.

The existing tile covered the wall behind the sink, between the countertop and bottom of the cabinets, with each measuring approximately 2” by 2”. When I asked Pete what color he thought the tiles were tan, light brown or what, he thought for a moment and replied “mocha”. He was right! The mocha colored tiles were held together by a very dark brown grout. I took a putty knife and a hammer and tapped behind the far edge of the tiles. To my delight, 2 tiles fell onto the counter! I tapped again and 2 more fell. I was on my way to removing the tile and a new look for the kitchen.

As I moved along the wall, more tiles fell and started making a mess. I didn’t care as I was making progress and wanted to accomplish the first leg of this journey. My back was starting to hurt from bending over, but that pain was small considering the new look the kitchen was going to receive. What was left behind after the tiles were removed was a yellow substance that was used to hold the tiles in place. Removing that would be a job for another day because I was on a mission.

Feeling more and more confident with each tile that fell, I was even proud of myself when I freed tiles wedged behind the wall outlet and under the cabinets. I even remembered to cover the sink when I removed tiles above it! 

As small business owners and managers, we are often reluctant to change. Like the tile in the kitchen that has done a good job for what we were guessing had been 40 years, a certain method or process we have been using might be perfectly serviceable. And while it might have been state of the art when we started, we need to examine if it is still applicable in 2018. Sometimes the answer is yes, but more often than not, surrounding methods have changed and improved. 

Change is hard. Change is especially hard when the things we are thinking about changing isn’t failing to work. But we need to look at change that is something that will help our businesses, keep them current not only with our competition, but with our customers changing needs and wants.

After about an hour of working on removing the tiles, the job was done. The next step is to work on removing the remaining glue and handing the project over to those who are better at making the kitchen look updated.

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