Meet Michele Hoover, Vice President of Operations for Tile Outlets of America.
Michele is based in the Fort Myers, FL store and travels to the other Tile Outlets locations as needed. You'll frequently find her on the showroom floor. She is relentless in her focus on making sure the stores are not just presentable, but also welcoming and inspiring for every customer visiting Tile Outlets!
(When you visit TIle Outlets, be sure to check out the restrooms which Michele designed. They are well worth the tile Wow! factor.)
We recently caught up with Michele in her office in Fort Myers and asked her a few questions.
Michele Hoover Talks Textiles, Tiles and About Tile Outlets Fort Myers FL
TOA: Michele, tell us about yourself and your background with Tile Outlets of America.
I was born and raised in Pennsylvania. I graduated from Bloomsburg University with a BS in Business Management/Accounting and went immediately to work full time in the 3 generation family textile manufacturing business. I worked in my family’s apparel manufacturing company from my teenage years until we closed the business in 2002.
After closing the business my family decided we would move to sunny Florida and re-start our careers in gorgeous southwest Florida. We arrived in Cape Coral in August of 2002 and I started working for Tile Outlets of America in September 2002. I was one of the first hires and started a few weeks before the Fort Myers store opened.
It was love at first sight!!! I was originally hired as the Fort Myers Store Accountant. I always joke that I went from textiles to tiles. Over the years my title changed several times as I took on additional responsibilities and more stores.
I was promoted to Vice President of Operations in 2013. I oversee the day-to-day operations of the Fort Myers, Tampa, and Sarasota stores and work in coordination with the corporate support staff.
TOA: What is your role at Tile Outlets?
As Vice President of Operations, I work with the managers and assistant managers of the three stores (Fort Myers, Sarasota, and Tampa) to ensure we consistently deliver an exceptional shopping experience to each and every customer who walks through our doors.
In addition, I work with Warren Lampert and Kate Spencer in selecting new tiles and determining when to discontinue items. I also get to design most of the displays throughout the stores. Designing displays is my favorite responsibility.
TOA: How did you get started with tile?
I had no tile experience before I started with Tile Outlets of America in 2002. I have been fortunate to always be surrounded by knowledgeable managers, sales associates, and our contractors who love to share their knowledge. As a result, I've learned a great deal about tile over the last 12 years from some of the best “teachers” around!
I enjoy learning everything I can about new products, new installation materials and methods.
TOA: What do you love most about tile and stone?
What’s not to love?
- Both tile and stone are durable, beautiful, and easy to keep clean.
- You eliminate issues such as allergens and dust that embed themselves in carpet.
- You eliminate the worries of moisture and refinishing that you face with wood.
- There are so many options to choose from in the tile and stone category that your options are almost limitless.
After you make your selection you still have more options as far as how you prefer it to be set – straight, offset, diagonal, pattern, etc.
TOA: Which is your favorite product and why?
My favorite product is mosaics. They are so versatile. They can be used in pools, backsplashes, borders on floors, cut into decorative inserts, cut into decorative liners, etc. etc. To me they add the personality to the project. You can go as bold or as conservative as you like. They are a great way to add some color or texture to an otherwise neutral area.
TOA: What tile product trends do you like most?
I love the rectangles! I don’t consider them a trend as I think the rectangular tiles are here to stay. I only expect that will become more popular with more styles and sizes offered.
I like that rectangular tile looks great on both wall and floor applications and can be set horizontally or vertically. I think installed they look fantastic. I especially like to see 12x24 tiles installed on the wall. (See Faux Wood Tile Sophistication for an example.)
TOA: What can a first-time visitor to Tile Outlets of America in Fort Myers expect?
First-time visitors are often a little overwhelmed by the huge selection of in-stock merchandise. For that reason, we make sure to greet every visitor and invite each to walk through the store with an experienced sales rep who can show the range of choices and explain the differences between the ceramic, porcelain, and stone products. Visitors will find that our experienced sales reps can help them make an informed decision that they will be happy with for years to come.
Of course, they are also welcome to wander through the store on their own to gather ideas and then consult a sales rep.
It often takes more than one visit and taking some tile or stone samples home to solidify the decision.
TOA: What's the best way to prepare for a visit to the store (and a tile project)?
- Bring in throw pillows, cabinet doors, paint chips, or anything from the area that will be tiled to help coordinate the project.
- It helps to know the rough dimensions of the area to be tiled.
- Come into the store with an open mind to view all of the possibilities.
TOA: What are your favorite sources of tile ideas?
I love Houzz. I am always looking for new ideas using that website.
I also enjoy going to Coverings each year where many of the manufacturers show their newest tiles and designs for the year.
And of course, we always welcome customers to share pictures of their completed projects. We’ve seen some amazing finished tile and stone projects that our customers have kindly shared!
TOA: What do you like to do when you're not immersed in tile?
I can usually be found in one of two places when I’m not in one of the stores – either at an ice rink watching my son play hockey or outside enjoying the beautiful Florida sunshine. It’s one extreme or the other!
TOA: Any parting words of advice?
Don’t ever be afraid of adding some color to your project. Neutrals will always have their place, but a little pop of color adds character, warmth, and most importantly shows your personality in the finished project.
TOA: That's great design advice! Thank you, Michele. We look forward to sharing your design inspiration ideas in future blog articles,
And, we invite readers to visit Tile Outlets of America in Fort Myers, FL to experience first hand what Michele works so hard to consistently deliver to visitors: a remarkable shopping experience, knowledgeable and helpful sales reps and a store full of inspiring ideas for designing with porcelain and ceramic tile, stone, and mosaics.