I had just completed the 5th grade and thats when I became an apprentice tile setter. My dad Angelo, just like his father and generations before him, was going to teach me his trade and our family values. My dad explained to me that when he was growing up he was taught that you must never do anything to tarnish your family's name and honor, and this is how he raised us.
My dad had his rules and we lived by them. "Always be truthful. Respect other peoples homes. Take pride in your work and treat your clients like family, because they are."
I can still remember that warm summer morning when my dad brought my cousin Sandro and I to our very first job site in Oyster Bay, Long Island. I can still hear my dad talking to us in his broken English. "Boys, your job starts before you even walk in the house. Say hello, smile and thank these nice people."
We took the drop cloths my mother would wash and dry out of the truck and placed them on the floor. Then like any true craftsman, my dad took the time to teach us the right way to prepare a floor. To set every tile with pride, to never skip steps and always do the right thing for the client.
"Build things to last a lifetime" he said as we carried those heavy buckets of sand and concrete for the mud floor my dad was about to level to perfection. He was teaching us the value of taking pride in our life's work. The way he was taught as a young boy by his father back in Italy.
Sandro and I will always remember that summer fondly. Sadly, my dad is no longer here, but he lives through us and the lessons we pass down to our children. I still wake up every morning like that 5th grade kid, looking up to my father with love, admiration, respect and a promise to him that I will do everything I can to honor his name.
"Always be truthful. Respect other peoples homes. Take pride in your work. Treat your clients like family, because they are."
Mike Patti & Joe "Sandro" Agate. Owners of Selective Sculptures
"Because every project should be a work of art"