How One Tile Installer Built a Brand Trusted by Pros
A Q&A with Chase Twitchell of FloFX
After a simple conversation with a friend and fellow trade professional revealed a gap in the market, a new business idea sparked for longtime tile setter Chase Twitchell. With 19+ years of industry experience under his belt, he knew firsthand how drain systems for tiled showers could be improved, making everyday installation jobs easier for people like himself and his peers. Thus, the idea for FloFX was born. Marketed as a brand “by an installer, for installers,” FloFX offers products like advanced bonding flange drains and premium grates that only continue to grow in popularity among professionals in the tile community.
Keep reading to learn more about tile installer-turned-FloFX founder, Chase Twitchell, and his fascinating story!
CAN YOU SHARE A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR BACKGROUND?
I grew up in a small town in Southern Utah with a single mom of 5 kids. As a teenager, I got my start in the flooring trade by spending the summers with my brother, a 3rd generation floor coverings installer. Fresh out of high school, I knew I wanted to get into the tile trade. I started as a helper for a company doing custom tile work and quickly got promoted to tile setter. A few years later, I thought I was ready to go out on my own and got my tile contractor’s license at 21. I quickly realized that I had a lot to learn! 19 years later, I’m still learning new things every day.
WAS THERE A SPECIFIC EXPERIENCE THAT INSPIRED YOU TO CREATE FLOFX?
I was talking to one of my good friends, Rod Katwyk, Owner of RodKat Custom Shower Trays, about his products and the shower drains he was using. He had a few options from some of the bigger manufacturers, but nothing that was really a perfect fit for his application. After this conversation and seeing the current offerings, I knew I could make something better. That’s when I set out to create the Universal Bond Flange Kit. With a universal outlet, it’s ready for whatever you show up to on a jobsite. Sometimes you’ll need to connect to a bare 2” waste pipe and other times you’ll need to adapt to an existing 3-piece clamping drain. Our universal kit is like 2 drain kits in one.
HOW DID FLOFX GET ITS START?
The concept started in my garage with a grinder and a piece of sheet metal. I didn’t have access to a welder, so hot glue held the poorly cut pieces of metal together just long enough for me to realize that it was a horrible idea. It solved almost no problems and carried over all the issues installers face when installing stainless linear drains – most notably, bent flanges in shipping and having to use a no-hub/rubber boot for the waste pipe connection. I quickly realized that plastic injection molding was the way to go. It brings repeatability, durability and enhanced geometry not available with stamped sheet metal. However – I had zero experience with 3D design or plastic prototyping at this time.
So, after spending the next weekend banging my head on the keyboard trying to learn the basics of a 3D design program and eventually finding a deal on Facebook Marketplace for a 3D printer, I loaded my first design and waited… 24 hours later, I was holding my 1st 3D printed prototype. And it was garbage.
I spent the next year making revision after revision. Each version a little better than the last. Learn a new 3D design technique – make a new revision – print another prototype. 3D printing really was the game changer. Being able to hold and feel your prototype to see how the parts interact with each other was key to making a good product.
The current Universal Bond Flange Kit has around 78 revisions. It was finally good enough.
Below (left): Chase’s first prototype | Below (right): Current FloFX Traditional Bond Flange Kit
WHAT SETS FLOFX APART FROM OTHER COMPETITORS ON THE MARKET?
The biggest advantage we have is our installer-centric focus. I’m positive that I wouldn’t have been able to make a product that has been so well reviewed without my experience setting tile. Every part of the design was built around the installation first. I knew that it had to be something that I would want to install myself.
The under-flange mortar cavities lock the flange into the setting material for a rock-solid installation. The universal outlet sets you up for almost any drain connection you need to make and the kits come with all the grate install components giving you everything you need to install tile and grout without needing the actual grate kit in order to complete the installation. Not to mention, both versions of our drain kits offer horizontal grate adjustment to nail the tile layout with designs that prevent mosaics from sagging around the grate.
Below: FloFX PVC Universal Bond Flange Kit
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART ABOUT WORKING IN THE TILE INDUSTRY?
I love talking to and meeting installers, especially when they have a problem that I can offer a quick and easy solution to. I love seeing some of the epic projects that FloFX has been used on! 2 out of 3 finalists for Floor Covering Installer Magazine’s Best Shower Award were using FloFX drains in 2022. I’m humbled to have that caliber of installers using our products.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE JUST STARTING OUT IN THE INDUSTRY?
Make connections as soon as you can. Find a mentor that can answer questions and give you advice when you get stuck. As a tile contractor, I know people who are smarter than me that I could call for advice, and I don’t think I could have made it without them. The same goes for my role with FloFX.
WHO ARE SOME OTHER PROS WITHIN THE TILE INDUSTRY WHO INSPIRE YOU?
This is a tough one because I’ve made friends with so many good people that I look up to in the industry that I would feel horrible If I left even a single one out. This is an awesome industry that I’m very fortunate to be a part of.
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR FLOFX MOVING FORWARD?
The biggest thing I’ll be focusing on in 2023 is building out a team to help take FloFX to the next level. I’m currently handling all areas of the business on my own – everything from sales and marketing to inventory and accounting. Bringing in people who are better than me at some of those things will free up my time to focus more on the things I excel at. We’ll be able to have better products, better marketing, better service and a better business overall. The future is bright!
HOW DO YOU ENJOY SPENDING YOUR TIME OUTSIDE OF WORK?
Living in Southern Utah, we’re blessed with the beautiful outdoors. I spend a lot of my free time outside. Racing dirt bikes, mountain biking and fishing take up most of my free time when I’m not playing competitive slow-pitch softball.
Stay up to date with all things FloFX on Instagram at @flofx.usa!