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Last Update: Wednesday March 20, 2019

Key Idea: Find A Need To Fill

Jimmy Fand discovered a business opportunity just by paying attention.  He started importing a large variety of tiles that were not available in the US.

Key Question:


Jimmy was able to spot the opportunity because of his education and his global travels.  He has a degree in geology so he understands tile and ceramics.  Also, traveling and living around the world informed him about the way most people live.  In the US, wall-to-wall carpet had taken over and Jimmy always thought it odd.  He didn't like carpet because he  thought it was the perfect place for dirt and germs to accumulate.  He told us that most people in the world live with wood and tile flooring with tile especially popular in warm climates.

Since he had made Tampa his home, Jimmy became aware that there were very few tile choices available.  He put two and two together and launched his company aptly named, Tile Connection.

Q: How does Jimmy know what his customers want?

A: Jimmy focuses on the state of Florida. He only works with factories he believes make the products best suited to his customers and potential customers. This way Jimmy is able to buy large quantities from a few factories and it  gives him leverage on price and even product development. He has a statewide sales force that calls on the retail stores that sell tile. These sales people are constantly talking to both retailers and end-user customers to understand what it is they may want in the future.

Q:  What determines the profitability of a business?

A:  The total dollars taken in less the cost of doing business. Jimmy is very smart to buy his product right. He buys in large quantities and has extraordinarily good relations with the factories. His ability to control the purchase price and the details of the shipping process give him a great advantage over his competitors.

Think about it

In your field of expertise, where is the opportunity?  If you already own a business, where are the opportunities for growth?

Clip from: Tile Connection - Jimmy Fand Sources Globally

Tampa: Meet Jimmy Fand and his wife, Maria. They were shopping for ceramic tile for a new home. Jimmy thought the selection in the USA was too limited and the prices were too high. So unlike most people, they started a business!

Their business, simply called The Tile Connection, is the largest North American importer of several tile manufacturers through Europe and South America.  Jimmy was born in Columbia (South America),  traveled the world extensively, and speaks Spanish, English, Italian and Portuguese. Jimmy came to New York City when he was 19, completed three university degrees, and became an American citizen. He met his wife, a Cuban-American.  They're a global people and they encourage us all to source globally!

The Tile Connection

Jimmy Fand, CEO

5906 Johns Rd
Tampa, FL 33634

Office: 813-885-2219

Business Classification:
Construction, Specialty Retail

Year Founded: 1991

Find A Need To Fill

Many years ago, when we came to this area, I was building a house--14, 15 years ago--and the builder's selection of ceramic tiles for us was very limited. I went to a Color Tile store in Clearwater, and I saw the prices. And immediately I realized that we had a position in this industry. I have a degree in geology, and that made me understood immediately what these products are made of and how they're manufactured. So I started looking for a location, warehousing and suppliers immediately.

Most of these tiles...

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Jimmy searches the world for the best products.

JIMMY: All of this section comes from Italy.

HATTIE: Can you name them off, all the countries, that you have tile from?

JIMMY: We have tile from Spain, Portugal, Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Japan.

We bring tile from all over the world. Right up there you have a tile made in Turkey. That's a small factory located in Turkey right over there.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) To control the inventory as it travels, Jimmy has tight security.

JIMMY: I'm very specific as to the type of pallets they use so the pallets don't tilt in the high seas. They need to be thoroughly strapped. They use corner beads to protect the merchandise even more. And...

HATTIE: This right here.

JIMMY: Right. And the containers--as the shipping company prepares those containers, they have to have these type of seals. And the seal has to be unbroken when the merchandise arrives at our doors; otherwise, someone has tampered with. And we won't accept it, or we write a note to the effect where the broker or the shipping company are responsible for. And that's a way to protect yourself in case the containers don't come with the merchandise that you specified.

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