Growing up in an Italian American neighborhood on the edge of New York City, it was hard not to immerse yourself in the people and the heritage that was Brooklyn in the 1980s. Two of eleven children, Kevin and John Merola spent their childhood popping around the neighborhood, working in the community, and returning home for Sunday dinners.
Like most Italian American Brooklynites, the Merola’s teemed with the kind of pride that is clearly born in New York. Good families, good neighbors and good people permeate life, and at its center, home.
As young men Kevin and John Merola entered the tile business in 1983, working in a small neighborhood shop. John Merola was captivated by the style and color of the tiles, able to pick up on trends that customers would appreciate, and Kevin had a way with people, service and cultivating sales.
That was the Merola brothers’ first venture into tile.
In 1988, Kevin launched his own company, growing his business through relationships with distributor customers and with a keen understanding of service. By 1989, John Merola joined his brother, and with an eye for trend and design that has gained him some notoriety, John expanded the businesses into big commerce, including the retail giant Home Depot.
Today, with over 20,000 customers and 650 distributors, and more than 500 employees, the Merola brothers bring the beauty of their tile design directly to your home. Now you can design with the full spectrum of styles, textures, shapes and patterns delivered to your neighborhood.
Merola is an Italian American story, one that celebrates people, design and the heart of our home, Rose Merola.
From our team at our headquarters and offices to the artisans around the world, Merola values our people. Creating a dynamic atmosphere where work, design and collaboration come together, Merola celebrates curiosity, innovations, ideas, and courtesy. Life is colorful, craft your spaces well.
Discover Merola Tile's Impressive Selection of Over 150,000 sq ft of Innovation and Quality.
John Merola: Tile Visionary and Entrepreneur
John Merola, CEO of Merola Tile Distributors of America, has a history and character as full of grit, energy, and endurance as the tiles he loves. Born into a bustling family of eleven siblings, John’s story began in the vibrant streets of Brooklyn, New York. His formative years were shaped by the values instilled by his father and his brother Kevin, whose entrepreneurial spirit paved the way for John’s remarkable career.
From early on, John embraced the art of self learning. He learned the ropes from his father while working at the family butcher shop from the age of seven, then as a teen at a prominent Brooklyn restaurant, where the fast-paced environment ingrained in him a work ethic that would become characteristic of his life. Although he struggled academically in high school due to illness and a restless intellect, his real-world experiences offered what traditional education could not teach.
John’s journey into the world of tiles began at the age of 19 when he got a job at the local tile shop where his brother Kevin worked. He started by crafting sample boards, then applied his skills to gain knowledge in tile sales, manufacturing, and design. When his brother Kevin first embarked on his entrepreneurial journey to found Merola Tile Sales Co. in their parents’ basement, John went on to hone his skills at another tile store. However, he soon left to join forces with his brother in 1989, a move that helped transform the company’s trajectory.
Through Kevin’s leadership and John’s initiative, the Merola Tile Sales Co. experienced immediate growth and innovation. In 1990, burgeoning sales led to them to move to a 5,000-square-foot facility in Queens with additional staff. John quickly became the top sales driver.
During the 1990s, the company grew quickly and moved to a larger 10,000 then 17,000-square-foot warehouse. In 1998, John’s visionary approach to tile sales led to a partnership with Home Depot. This opportunity, driven by John’s dynamic product ranges, innovative displays, and a unique order processing system, propelled the company’s success and solidified its place in the market. By 2006, John moved the company of 10 employees to a new 40,000-square-foot facility in NJ, while Kevin continued to lead the NY division.
However, the road to success wasn’t without its challenges. The 2007-2009 recession necessitated a strategic pivot for Merola Tile. John’s ingenuity came to the forefront as he devised the SomerTile brand, celebrating their relationship with Home Depot while expanding their reach to a broader customer base.
John’s foresight once again impacted the industry when he spearheaded the company’s venture into online sales, the first US tile company to do so, making them pioneers in the online tile market. Focusing on content, quality, and customer experience, Merola Tile’s online presence soared, leading to remarkable growth, and establishing them as leaders in the digital marketplace.
In 2019 John officially became a 50/50 partner and co-founder in the newly created Merola Tile Distributors of America, LLC (MTDA). This newly formed company being dedicated to John’s flair and ambition while honoring Kevin, his brother as the original founder.
One of the most remarkable factors in MTDA’s success is the unique company culture and environment that John created. With characteristic determination, he aimed to become a leader worthy of the Merola family name. John became a member of the prestigious VISTAGE organization of prominent CEOs in the NY-NJ metro area, a group dedicated to excellence in leadership and growth of individual as well as company and community. He collaborated with experts in executive leadership and personal development. He forged alliances within the industry and supported nonprofits dedicated to preserving tile history and artistry. Along the way, John developed a unique company culture based on integrity, self-motivation, and mentorship that resulted in the 33 Fundamentals. These integrity-based principles are at the heart of MTDA’s extraordinarily invested team, who begin each workday with a kick-off meeting consisting of stretching, followed by a quick discussion of that day’s Fundamental, such as Do the Right Thing or Give Your 100% Best Effort.
MTDA’s growth from $4 million and a handful of employees in 2006 to its current $40 million and team of over 125 individuals is testament to the positive impact of John Merola’s leadership and influence. But there is another factor that drives the company’s success: John’s exceptional talent for tile design and aesthetics.
Over the years, John tapped into his natural artistic talent to develop a unique perspective on tile as a medium of emotional expression. He became captivated by tile history and curated a collection of tiles, ranging from a 5,000-year-old Egyptian tile to medieval European tiles, to transformational modern tile. Through his immersion in tile history and work with hundreds of clients, John came to understand that tile is a story teller and powerful emotional connector. He also developed an uncanny talent for predicting tile trends, but more important, for helping clients find their own personal trend and style.
From humble beginnings to a multi-million-dollar enterprise, John Merola’s journey epitomizes the American Dream. His ability to transform adversity into opportunity, coupled with his indomitable work ethic, has left an indelible mark on the tile industry. As the CEO of Merola Tile Distributors of America, John Merola continues to shape the future of the industry, inspiring entrepreneurs, employees, and tile enthusiasts along the way.