Well Made

Ep. 119 Knowing What it Means to Be a Good Business with Eric Edelson

May 13, 2020 · RSS · Apple Podcasts

The tile industry moves slowly, but when Eric Edelson joined the Fireclay Tile team, he was set on speeding things up. They were making a phenomenal product and it felt like they’d hit their limit in wholesale. In a sort of eureka moment, Eric penned a new manifesto/business model for a going direct to consumer. That was in 2008. 

With new flexibility and freedom, Fireclay Tile has experimented with all kinds of upcycled materials (from toilets to monitors), software for customization, sample processes, and sustainability initiatives. In 2015, they became the first tile company to be B Corp certified. Even in the midst of a pandemic, they didn’t lose speed. They were prepared with a plan of action, grounded in their core values: the health and safety of employees, business and client stability, love and kindness. 

“Never waste a crisis.”

 Knowing What it Means to Be a Good Business
 Knowing What it Means to Be a Good Business
 Knowing What it Means to Be a Good Business
 Knowing What it Means to Be a Good Business

Eric is the CEO of Fireclay Tile, but he didn’t start that way. He takes us back to his role when he joined the team in the midst of the 2008 recession (0:56). He explains why Northern California is a hub for great ceramics (5:17), and all the materials that go into making their tile (7:15).

Eric talks about the struggles to scale custom production past max capacity, while maintaining quality (9:40), plus the software they use to do it (13:14). He dives into the drastic shifts they had to make to go DTC and how they’ve seen the tile landscape change since then (19:37).

He shares the Fireclay Tile recession plan — how they made it and how it helped them to act quickly at the start of COVID-19. Plus he gives us the run down of measures they’ve put in place to support and protect employees (35:37). In a quest for more sustainable materials through upcycling, Fireclay Tile found themselves in a three-year litigation, stuck between one organization that was encouraging a material, and the other, suing them for it. Eric shares the push and pull on the road to sustainability and how they've grown their B Corp status (41:27).

Also mentioned on this episode:

You can find this and all future episodes on iTunes, Google Play, and here on the Lumi blog. This episode was edited by Evan Goodchild.

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