Tom  McNall

Floor Restoration Contributor

Peyton Manning, Wayne Gretzky and Tiger Woods.  What do they all have in common?  Aside from making more money than me, and being superstars, I do have something in common with them.

We are all pros! They are/were at the top of their game and although opinions vary, I have been accused of being at the top of mine as well.

The definition of being a professional is defined as:

1. A person following a profession, especially a learned profession.
2. One who earns a living in a given or implied occupation: hired a professional to decorate the house.
3. A skilled practitioner; an expert.

Now, seeing that we get paid for what services we perform (or at least we should all be getting paid), are we considered professionals?  As in all professions, the cream always rises to the top. Certain individuals just stand out. 

Why is that? What makes them special? Are they just lucky? Blessed? Do they come from a planet far, far away that has a stronger gravitational pull, which allows them to leap tall Defensemen in a single bound?

Well, the answer lies more under one definition of commitment: “An important psychological attribute, characterized by dedication to completing a particular task in preference to doing other things. Commitment is one of the most important factors affecting an athlete’s success. Athletes who want to achieve their full potential need high levels of commitment,” (source:

Every sport has hundreds, if not thousands, of other athletes all competing to be the best.  So, what kind of commitment do these super athletes make to be the best? Time is one thing.  All three aforementioned super-star athletes probably started with their fathers when they were very, very young. So, their mentors and those they associated and trained with were deeply committed to their growth and success as well, from their youth and beyond.

Who has mentored you in the stone business?  Who has taught you the value of commitment?

But, what was it that they were doing at that young age? Were they winning championship games at the age of 6?  Mostly they were learning the basics. Have you ever seen a pee wee hockey game? You have ten 2-foot tall tykes on skates, all chasing a puck into the corner, and two little net minders whose pads outweigh them, longing and waiting for action. It isn’t until they reach their early teens that they learn the value of teamwork and positioning. But their coaches still teach them the basics.  They make them run drills and go over plays that they may or may not use during the season.

And when they finally reach the pros, do our gridiron heroes just step onto the field and play?  Do they bask away the week sunning themselves around the pool while us fools work for a living, only to receive glory and honor come Sunday? If you have ever had the privilege to witness an NFL Training Camp or practice, you would see that they do more work off the field and away from the cameras before game day, then they actually do on game day.

How about you? How do you condition yourself? I know that most of those working in a fabrication shop get to see plenty of practice time on an edge grinder, but in restoration, we see more differences in the surfaces that we work on than there are different defensive line-ups in Texas. How can we stay “on top of our game?” How can we condition ourselves against our next opponent?

Pro athletes run drills and practice, and so can we. Sure we may have worked on Crema Marfil and become the King of Travertine, but how long has it been since you tackled top polishing Black Absolute or faced off against a 900 lb. Blue Pearl island? Can your equipment stand up against the checker board granite/marble floor? Are you just winging it in the big game like Tebow coming off of the bench? Are you hoping to spy off of someone else’s notes online the night before, like you did in college?  I have to tell you, Peyton didn’t learn how to play football by playing Madden ’97 on his Gameboy. He got in the game! He didn’t talk about it, he did it.

We have test floors set up in all of our locations for our technicians to learn and practice on. Amazing coincidence here: all of the NFL teams have practice facilities as well. Is it a coincidence then? No, it is meant to be that way. If our team has a black granite elevator cab coming up, I do not want them looking like the Detroit Lions out there. I want them to be disciplined and ready to succeed, not bleed. If they cannot do it on the test floor, how are they going to do it on a customer’s floor? And if they cannot do it on the test floor, I pull a Herb Brooks on them by blowing the whistle and saying, “Again!”

What is the difference between being practiced, organized and prepared to just showing up and doing your own thing? The same difference between the Dallas Cowboys and the London Silverbacks. If you are professional, can succeed and put on a good show, you can sell out an 80,000 seat stadium at a minimum of  $159 a seat to as much as $9,999 per seat ( 

Now, the London Silverbacks put on a good show too, but they just don’t have the talent or the means to support coaching for extra training, and therefore draw about 350 at $10 general admission to a playoff game. Perhaps this is why some  companies can get a higher dollar per sq. ft. for restoration than others can.

All it takes is a little ingenuity, a test floor and the desire, drive and commitment to be the best.

Until next time, keep your stick on the ice.

Tom McNall is founder and owner of Great Northern Stone, an Ontario-based stone cleaning and restoration company servicing Ontario and Chicago, IL. Tom also offers corporate and private consultations as well as speaking at conventions. He can be reached at .