Tile Today interviews A’nge Kokkaliaris, principal of Aqua-Seal Stone + Tile Solutions.
Q: As a manufacturer of sealing, cleaning and restoration products, do you enjoy any advantages that distributors do not have?
A: Of course. Aqua Seal STS is a manufacturer and we are governed by our customers’ desire for performance products and products that fulfill their needs. As an example, our customers have come to us and have asked for a quality anti-slip product so we developed Grip-It T. Shower Tiles and Shower Glass cleaning became an issue so our customers came to us with a request and we developed suitable products to prevent soap scum and grime like Aqua Shield GL for all glass and Tile Shield for shower tiles. Our customers obviously benefit from dealing with an Australian based manufacturer as there is an advantage – what we like to call the “Aqua Seal Advantage”.
Q: Where are your products manufactured?
AK: The majority of our products are proudly manufactured in Australia with the best raw materials we can source from Australia, USA and Germany. We have some products that we manufacture in the USA and that’s due to availability of raw materials and machinery for the manufacturing process.
Q: There are numerous suppliers of sealers in Australia, more than 40, at the last count. How do you aim to gain and hold market share?
AK: The assumption is that we are a just a supplier of sealers like many of our competitors. We prefer to be known as a ‘problem solving’ company. The guys you go to because you want to prevent a problem so you need a quality sealer; the guys you go to because you have a problem with your tiles so you buy a quality cleaner or problem solver; the guys you go to because you have a problem with your grout so you buy a quality grout colorant. Our involvement in the tile and stone industry is over 30 years and covers everything from retail, wholesale, import, export and manufacturing and with experience comes knowledge.
Successful companies understand that being a specialist in your field makes all the difference. We are now seeing that adhesive and tool companies are jumping on the bandwagon and selling a few sealers and cleaners. In the complicated world of tile you cannot be a master of everything and that’s why the successful companies stick to what they do best.
Q: Have you enjoyed any success in export markets?
A: Yes. From Australia we are exporting to the Pacific Islands, New Zealand and into Asia. We have opened an office in UK, which looks after our UK and Europe sales. We are currently exporting to eight countries in Europe and demand for the brand keeps growing.
Q: Do you provide product application courses on a national basis?
A: We offer two day courses for tilers, cleaners, architects or any member of the public looking at getting into a new business. With our training, they can become an Aqua-Seal trained tile and grout, care and maintenance technician with the tools and know-how to specialise in trouble shooting, sealing, cleaning and refinishing of tile and grout surfaces for both residential and commercial installations.
Our comprehensive classroom and hands-on workshop is designed and taught by professionals in the care and maintenance business. The curriculum includes the newest techniques and information on the latest products for hard surface cleaning and maintenance. Instructors will provide the practical step-by-step training needed to begin a tile and grout care business or to expand the services of your existing business.
Q: Are your products primarily used to seal and clean ceramic or natural stone materials?
A: We cover all aspects of cleaning, sealing, maintaining and restoring all tile, stone, grout and glass surfaces. We are the one-stop-shop.
Q: Do you regularly test products and provide project specific information?
A: Tile, stone and grout are continuously evolving. New manufacturing tile procedures are producing some fantastic products and every day new stone is being sourced and introduced into the market. Everything has its own peculiarities and we have wholesalers and importers suppling us with tiles for various testing and recommendations.
Q: Do you provide a product warranty?
A: Our warranty program is unique. Different surfaces have different strengths and different requirements plus they wear differently so putting a blanket warranty is very unrealistic. We consult with architects, interior designers, builders and developers and, after gathering all the relevant information about the project, such as type of tile or stone used, where it is being used, etc, we then write a job specific warranty that is also backed up by a tailored maintenance program to ensure the longevity and the look of the project.
Q: Please tell our readers about your latest product releases?
A: Continuing on with our focus on providing the safest and best products for stone, tile and grout care, we are proud to announce the introduction of C6 Fluoro-Seal Technology to our range of premium sealers. The first upgrade is to Aqua Seal Gold – Rapid Seal. We are one of the first manufacturers in Australia to move to C6 fluorocarbons. C6 Fluorocarbons are the safest alternative for the environment whilst delivering premium performance. Our Aqua-Seal Gold – Rapid Seal is a premium water based sealer that delivers premium water, oil and grime repellency and has the added bonus of curing in four hours therefore drastically reducing the down time on domestic and commercial jobs.
It has NO VOCs (volatile organic compounds) making it ideal for large commercial product where environmentally green products are required. More products will be rolled out utilising C6 Fluoro-Seal Technology and will be distinguishable with the C6 Fluoro-Seal logo.
Q: Finally, what can customers expect from Aqua Seal?
A: We will continue to give our customers the service, product performance and technical knowledge that they expect and for which we are known. We are proudly Australian owned, Australian made with the knowledge of Australian conditions and customer requirements. Our customers expect the best and that’s what we deliver.