Attendees at the recent StonExpo show received an orientation on the MIA’s Accreditation program from Committee Member Gasper (G.K.) Naquin of Stone Interiors.

After two years of planning, the Marble Institute of America (MIA) is set to begin accepting applications for accreditation in early 2007. The purpose of the accreditation program is to “provide a tool that allows the natural stone industry to recognize companies demonstrating compliance with quality standards, so that the public values, has access to and benefits from consistent, competent and safe fabrication, installation and maintenance of natural stone.”

“A great deal of time and effort has been spent ensuring that this accreditation program is the real deal,” said Scott Lardner, MIA Past President and Accreditation Commission Chairman. “The MIA Accreditation Seal will not be a rubber stamp; rather, it will lend instant credibility to firms that earn it.”

A major step toward creating an industry accreditation program for MIA was taken in mid-March 2005 when an eight-member task force composed of industry leaders began laying out parameters for accreditation. Members of the task force were: Scott C. Lardner, Rocky Mountain Stone Co.; Brett Rugo, Rugo Stone LLC, Natural Stone & Mosaic Contractors; Gasper (G.K.) Naquin, Stone Interiors; Tony Malisani, Malisani, Inc.; Jon Lancto, Solid Surface Products; Lindell Lummer, Malibu Art Tile & Stone; Jim Janochoski, Granitex USA; Rodney Harvey, Curtain Wall Design and Consulting; and Ken Krebs, OHM International, Inc.

The concept of industry accreditation was supported in multiple MIA member surveys conducted in 2004, 2005 and 2006. Respondents overwhelmingly indicated they favored such a program, believed there would be an advantage for firms accredited, and were in favor of industry standards for competency and industry accreditation or certification. MIA Accreditation Committee Member Tony Malisani indicated what accreditation will mean to accredited companies. “This program will assist firms in projecting both their quality of product and quality of service to the public, in a highly recognizable way,” he said. “The Accreditation Seal will become the ‘Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval’ for the stone business.”

“This program will assist firms in projecting both their quality of product and quality of service to the public, in a highly recognizable way,” said Committee Member Tony Malisani. “The Accreditation Seal will become the ‘Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval’ for the stone business.”

Accreditation will be available to all companies within the natural stone industry, not just MIA members. Initially, three forms of accreditation will be available: “Natural Stone Fabricator,” “Commercial A Contractor” and “Commercial B Contractor.” The Marble Institute of America intends to expand the program to other sectors of the natural stone industry upon the successful implementation of the first three.

Accredited “Natural Stone Fabricators” will consist of residential-oriented companies that have been in business a minimum of three years, have successfully completed 200 projects in those three years, have 2,000 square feet of dedicated fabrication space and have passed a voluntary or mandatory OSHA facility inspection in the previous year (amongst other standards). The pool of Accredited Natural Stone Fabricators will consist of companies that primarily work on residential projects such as kitchens and bathrooms.

Commercial Accreditation is broken into two categories, which are differentiated as prescriptive or “non-engineered” veneer and non-prescriptive or “engineered” veneer as implied by the universal building code (generally regarded as 30 feet high). “Commercial A” companies will be firms that handle large-scale commercial stone installations such as skyscrapers, museums or hotel exteriors. These companies will have completed five mechanically anchored cladding installations (engineered) typically over 30 feet high with a minimum of 10,000 square feet each (amongst other standards). Companies applying for “Commercial B” accreditation will have completed at least three cladding installations (non-engineered) typically under 30 feet that are at least 2,000 square feet or three commercial building lobbies with a minimum of 3,000 square feet (amongst other standards). Commercial B companies will be firms that handle smaller-scale commercial stone installations such as hotel lobbies, bank lobbies and low-rise interior/exterior cladding.

The process of becoming accredited will consist of three equally weighted phases. Phase One is the completion of a lengthy application that requires the applicant company to provide various documents and references which ensure that the company is in compliance with the 10 standards of accreditation as laid out by the MIA Accreditation Commission. Phase Two requires the company’s qualifying agent (the designated company representative responsible for filing and maintaining accreditation records for the applicant company) to pass a 200-question, multiple-choice test. The exam will test the applicant’s knowledge and application of material usage, installation, fabrication, restoration, care and maintenance, administration, legal/contracts and jobsite and shop safety. The third phase is a comprehensive site visit, which will include a facility review, document review, and one or more installation site visits.

Once a company is accredited, the qualifying agent will be required to fill out an annual renewal indicating any and all significant changes that have occurred within the company that would impact accreditation. There will also be an ongoing site visit requirement to be determined prior to program launch.

Companies that achieve accreditation will have use of the MIA accreditation logo and have the backing of an ongoing robust advertising and public relations campaign targeting consumers, architects, consultants, kitchen and bath dealers and designers that promotes the use of accredited natural stone companies.

MIA Accreditation Commission Member Jon Lancto said initial response to the program has been very positive. “Every fabricator that I have talked to has been asking, ‘When can I apply?’ rather than ‘Why should I apply?‘“ If this is any indication of the interest in stone industry accreditation, the MIA Accreditation program should be one of the hot button issues for 2007.

For more information on the MIA accreditation program, contact Garen Distelhorst at 440-250-9222