Published February 12, 2018
When was the last time you walked into a new building and said, “Boy, that is a beautiful conduit!” Or, “I love how the Batts insulation really warms up the space.”
Probably never, says Kent Randle, BS ’02, president and co-owner of Cheektowaga-based Tiede-Zoeller Tile Corp.
Most people “usually look down at the floors, or at the walls, and state how beautiful the colors are, how the finishes really bring the spaces together,” Randle says. “It’s just that simple.”
Randle’s company won the contract to install terrazzo flooring in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences’ new building on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. And the company also donated 90,000 square feet of terrazzo tile for the new building. The donated tile spells out “UB” and “Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences” under the donor wall adjacent to the café on the building’s second floor.
“I’m a proud UB alumnus, and I have always taken great pride in our company having the opportunity to perform any form of our work at UB,” Randle says. “As a well-known terrazzo contractor, I couldn’t think of a better way to promote terrazzo flooring and its versatility and beauty than incorporating terrazzo artwork into the original terrazzo design.
“I also thought it would be a unique opportunity to showpiece the space, memorialize the Jacobs family, add value to the project, and show architects and designers that although terrazzo is one of the most expensive floors, it also offers a range, versatility, longevity, beauty and value that no other floor can truly provide,” he says.
Randle says he and his employees worked long hours and weekends to get the UB project done, but it’s all part of the job.
“We have become accustomed to the demands that are placed on the finish trades in this industry,” he says, noting the finish trades “are always last-in and last-out, and most of what we are asked by our clients before we even start is, ‘When are you going to be done?’
“It’s a frustrating challenge,” he notes. “We are providing finishes — the first thing people see when they enter a building, which are generally the most scrutinized of all work in construction — and we have to provide this work in very limited timeframes.
“Poor quality in finish work can ruin a superbly engineered and constructed structure, and vice versa.”
Randle worked full time during the days as a tile and terrazzo installer for Tiede-Zoeller while pursuing a degree in business and finance at UB at night. “Those were three very long years,” he remembers.
He continued working at Tiede-Zoeller after graduation in 2002, serving consistently as a project foreman from 2006-09. He was promoted to a project management/estimator position in 2009. By 2012, he was managing partner and co-owner with Dan Hull, his longtime friend, mentor, business partner and father-in-law.