The Marble Institute of America (MIA), a 1,200-member global organization, has initiated a plan to create a major accreditation program for residential and commercial natural stone companies. The plan was given life in mid-April at a meeting of a special task force charged with developing the program. The eight-member group, composed of industry leaders, spent a day laying the groundwork for accreditation, which they hope to launch in 2006 for companies in all phases of the business.

The concept for accreditation, which could be promoted by those companies and individuals achieving such recognition, received overwhelming support in an MIA survey a year ago. A large majority of respondents said they favored industry standards for competency and certification, and felt that there would be advantages for companies that became accredited.

“It was a great meeting and an outstanding start to what we're trying to accomplish,” said Scott C. Lardner, president of MIA. “Though there is much to do before MIA accreditation becomes a reality, we are on the right track, which hopefully will lead us to introduce the program next year.

“The Task Force identified the purpose of MIA accreditation as promoting excellence in the natural stone industry and then recognizing organizations demonstrating compliance with quality standards,” explained Mickie Rops, an established and recognized credentialing consultant working with MIA. “[The goal is] that the public values, has access to, and benefits from consistent, competent and safe fabrication, installation and sale of natural stone.”

Four major goals for accreditation include:

  • Maintaining and increasing competency of the industry, raising the standards and creating a greater awareness of safety. This would include creating accreditation criteria and credentialing those companies and individuals who meet them.

  • Increasing the consistency of practice by promoting consistent quality and workmanship.

  • In broad terms, protect the consumer by providing access to companies who represent the best attributes of standard practices and serve as a clearinghouse for accredited stone companies.

  • Enhance the industry's commitment to the beauty, durability and value of natural stone.

    Lardner said that during the next several months, the task force would undertake additional research, including conducting focus group interviews with, and discussing the concept with, kitchen and bath dealers and architects at their respective trade show. For more information, visit the Institute's Web site at