I would like to begin my first column as MIA President with a tip of the hat to my predecessors and mentors. They have all given generously of their time and talents during the years that I have served on the Board. Mike Twiss did a fantastic job this last year in leading the board to name a new Executive Vice President. He has built on the successes of G.K. Naquin, Brett Rugo, Guido Gliori and Jim Hogan, to name a few.
As we begin a new year, things in the building industry finally seem to be looking up. We can all hope that this stubborn, vicious recession is on its last legs. Those that have survived the past four years are stronger for it. Those that have prospered are fortunate. Yet, as we know too well, many in our industry were unable to weather the storm.
Given the recent past, the necessity of a strong Industry association is even greater. Many of the issues that confront us are too great for any one company to address. Working together, we have the opportunity to make things better for us all. That is the essence of a strong industry organization, and it is the guiding principal of the Marble Institute.
2012 marked the retirement of Gary Distelhorst, who revived this organization over his tenure. Jim Hieb, stepping into the EVP role, has the confidence of the board and every member that knows him. You will find no more committed advocate for the stone industry and our membership. With Jim, we have outlined an aggressive agenda for the new-year.
I would like to give you a brief outline of just a few of the things to come:
- Regional and Local Chapters: The MIA will begin a pilot program this year, by forming two to three regional chapters. It is our hope that we can expand the program over the coming years until we cover North America with local MIA chapters. Local chapters will allow us to touch many more members, professionals, and consumers, with the many programs that have had great successes. They can provide a forum for Members to work together on local issues, as well.
- Research and Study: The work that the MIA piloted during the radon scare continued in 2012. We underwrote a scientific, peer-reviewed study of the risk of radon in the home due to the use of granite. The study demonstrated that “radiation emitted from granite countertops is well below levels that would pose a health concern.” The MIA will continue to underwrite studies to scientifically demonstrate the safety of our products for both our employees and our customers.
- Education and Outreach: We will continue to expand and improve our CEU (Continuing Education Unit) offerings so that member companies will have the tools to reach out to local architects and designers with presentations that are useful and interesting. Last year, a record number of CEU courses were hosted by MIA member firms.
- Technical Publications: We are partnering with ISFA to produce a countertop standards booklet for engineered stone, similar to the MIA Countertop Module. We recognize that our mission is the promotion of natural stone, but we also know that many of our members work with engineered stone, and the MIA is uniquely able to provide this expertise. We are also working on a restoration/maintenance handbook, which will become a companion to the Design Manual.
- Safety: We will continue to produce the hugely popular safety training modules that have likely helped avoid injury on the job for members and our clients.
For these, and many other reasons, I urge you to get involved with the M.I.A. Renew your membership early. Encourage your friends and associates in the Industry to become members. When all of the suppliers, distributors, fabricators and installers in North America, and those around the world that work in North America, become a part of the M.I.A., our combined ability will surely strengthen our industry, and us all.