Tiling systems expert, Davco has travelled around the country searching for talented tilers, acknowledging the passion they have for their trade and their local communities as an important part of their lives.

The regional events, held recently in Brisbane, Newcastle, Sydney, Western Sydney, Canberra, Perth and Melbourne, were well attended with over 100 registrations to compete. Participants were required to complete multiple rounds including a written and practical test. The two scores are combined to determine the winner.

The criteria that each contestant was judged on included overall appearance, cutting, screed, plumb, square, surface alignment, measurements, fully completed to drawings, and safety.

Each winner was awarded $500 and will be flown to Sydney for the national final in September to battle it out over two days of challenges on all aspects of the tiling trade.

The overall winner will receive the prestigious title of “Australia’s Best Tiler”, a cash prize of $5,000 and an all-expenses paid, business class trip to China to represent Australia at the international final.

The judges consisted of a current World Skills judge and local TAFE teachers. They saw unique ability in each of the winners, whether that was speed, creativity, perspective or a great attitude.

Chris Timms won the Newcastle regional event by scoring highly in his theory and doing a great job on his practical test. He operates his own business called Newcastle Tile Company, and enjoys working on projects that that require complexity and precision.

A four-hour drive from Bundaberg to Brisbane to participate in the competition was well worth it for David Snodgrass, who claimed the regional title. Unbeknown to David, his fiancé had entered him in the competition after reading about it in Tile Today magazine, the event’s media partner. David has his own business called Q Tile Rite. He tiled the HIA Queensland Bathroom of the Year in 2007 with Bundy Homes. This has led to more work in upscale projects.

Marjan Trakoski claimed the title for Canberra (ACT). Although Marjan started slowly he brought it home like a freight train, finishing his screed, grouting, joint sealing and cleaning in 20 minutes flat. He made a last minute decision to re-do some tiles, which ultimately paid off earning him the winning position.

Marjan has been tiling for 31 years, starting in the late 1980s working in his family’s tiling business during school holidays. Since finishing school, Marjan has been a self-employed tiler for 27 years.

Ben McGivern, a local tiler from Glenmore Park, won the title for the NSW region of Macquarie Fields. He has been tiling for 15 years, learning his trade at TAFE and now operates his own business called Acute Tiling.

Based in Sydney’s Northern Beaches, Sam Petrolo won the competition held at Randwick (NSW). Sam was encouraged by his wife to enter the competition as a bit of fun and give him the opportunity to showcase his tiling skills and passion. He runs his own business, Petrolo Tiling.

Seb Gradisen is the regional winner from Perth (WA). A colleague encouraged him to sign up for the competition.

Ian Freemantle from Bendigo (VIC) is deemed the best tiler in Victoria. Confident of his ability and reputation in Bendigo, Ian signed up to take part in the event to pit himself against other formidable tilers in Victoria. He works for himself and specialises in tiling jobs such as swimming pools and glass mosaics, a skill which he learnt in Italy.

Jake Hall, from Melbourne, is this year’s Wild Card finalist. Back in 2010, Jake won the Wall and Floor Tiling category at the World  Skills nationals, which enabled him to represent Australia in the international competition in London, competing against 21 other tilers from all over the world. It’s been nine years since Jake has competed, so he entered the Davco competition to challenge himself and see how far he can go.

“The commitment shown by all competitors has been amazing,” said Andrew Nunn, managing director, Davco Australia. “They’ve each sacrificed a day’s wages to potentially earn a spot in the final. Davco has always been committed to the tiling industry and development of skills. We are proud to be giving one of these finalists the opportunity to represent Australia in the inaugural world championship event in China.”

Pictured: Macquaire Fields winner, Ben McGivern (left) and Rob Luc, Davco NSW sales manager