In 1954, Jimmy Sikes started Florida Tile in a small building in Florida to produce one specialty trim shape that wasn’t easy to find. The tile market was a vastly different landscape at that time. Small format wall tiles and extruded floor tiles were all the rage. Two-tone effects were the cutting edge of decorating technology. Florida Tile grew quickly and became an industry leader in adopting new technology to make increasingly more complicated products.
In the decades since Florida Tile began, the tile market has changed considerably. Tiles have gotten much larger and the printing much more complicated. As a leader in responding to these changes in the market, Florida Tile has marked many firsts. The floor tile factory was the first to produce pressed floor tile in the US market. The Monoporosa wall tile lines were the first to produce large-format glazed wall tile with a single pass through the kiln. The Roto-color machines were among the first installed in the US, and that spirit of innovation continues today.
Florida Tile’s original pioneering spirit found a perfect partner in 2006 when the company was purchased by Panariagroup. Panariagroup is one of the leading Italian manufacturers with a strong international presence, distributed in over 120 countries around the world. It has eight brands positioned in the high-end of the tile and stone market: Blustyle, Cotto d'Este, Fiordo, Lea, and Panaria in Italy; Love and Margres in Portugal and Florida Tile in the United States. With more than 1,700 employees worldwide and over 10,000 customers, Panariagroup has brought strong support of knowledge, technology, and financial stability that empowers Florida Tile to expand in the domestic market.
As a result of this partnership and after a $25 million investment, Florida Tile marked another first in September of 2007. The first tile came off of an ultra-modern porcelain production line in Kentucky, one of only three such factories in the US capable of making very large sized, through-body porcelain tile. Today, Florida Tile is adding HDP-High Definition Porcelain®
, to its long list of firsts. This revolutionary technology uses high speed printers to give a life-like realism to the decorations on the tile.
What has never changed over the decades of business for Florida Tile is its dedication to its employees, customers, and society. Their safety and on-time delivery records are unrivaled in the industry. Florida Tile was the first to attain GREENGUARD® certification for all of its products and one of the earliest producers to carry the Certified Porcelain mark on all of its porcelain lines. Another first, a unique partnership with a charitable organization that takes the unsellable tile and provides floors for the underprivileged in the US and abroad keeping this tile out of landfills was begun in 2008.
As it has always done, Florida Tile is looking ahead for opportunities to innovate and streamline. The headquarters moved in 2010 from Lakeland, FL to a modern office building in Lexington, KY where the support staff can function seamlessly with the production facility. This is part of a broader strategy by Panariagroup to use the American market as the strategic centerpiece of their globalization development.