The Marble Institute of America (MIA) announced a major leap in its educational offerings on a regional basis, adding one-day programs and customized training for member companies as well as two-day seminars on the residential natural stone business.

Garis Distelhorst, executive vice president of the 1,200-plus-member group, called it the most dramatic expansion of the association's regional programs, which will jump from two in 2004 to 19 in the current year.

“This offering represents a milestone in our attempt to carry MIA's educational opportunities way beyond what occurred in the past,” he said. “Members and non-members now have a choice of the educational sessions they want to attend close to home and at value pricing. There's nothing else like these offerings anywhere in the stone industry.”

In addition to the five two-day residential seminars already announced, MIA will host at least 14 other one-day seminars on subjects ranging from improving shop efficiency to natural stone restoration and maintenance. The fabrication shop program will be taught by Kevin Padden, long-time industry trainer. Tom McNall will host the maintenance seminar.

Distelhorst said one of the most exciting new packages will be customized programs for individual company employees, in which the firm can pick and choose among several subjects, adding up to a one-day program.

In 2005, MIA one- and two-day programs open to members and non-members and will be held in Arizona, Florida, Texas, Ohio, Missouri, Kansas, Washington, DC, Virginia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Washington, British Columbia, Indiana, Illinois, Connecticut, Montreal, North Carolina and Oregon.

Complete details on subjects, scheduling and pricing are available at or by calling MIA headquarters at 440-250-9222.