By: Jonathan Zanger, Walker Zanger, 2013 MIA President
It’s been a wonderful year, working for you all as MIA President. We have had many successes...and one big failure. I expect that your Board of Directors and the MIA staff will build on the successes and overcome the failures.
The big failure had to do with Check- Off. As many of you know, we attempted to get legislation passed by Congress to allow the natural stone industry to design and potentially implement a check-off program for natural stone. Similar to programs run by many industries, this would afford the industry reliable, consistent, and substantial funding for research and marketing that no individual company or industry organization has the wherewithal to undertake.
Our amendment to the Farm Bill was defeated by just a few votes (and for those of you who follow the gridlock in the Capitol, the Farm Bill still has not been passed). Our members and lobbyist did a great job, considering that our industry has no political action group. We had to start from scratch, contacting legislators who had never heard of, or from, natural stone producers.
From this setback, we learned that we have to become more politically active and develop contacts in Washington, so whenever there is legislation or government issues that may impact our membership, we can be there to intercede on behalf of the industry. It is my hope that the MIA will develop these contacts, and someday soon be able to communicate effectively with legislators in both parties, and all the states. We are laying the groundwork now by doing the first serious industry statistical work. This will allow us to demonstrate to our political representative how many people the industry employs and supports. The survey that many of you filled out in November and December is one of the first steps in that direction. Once we have developed the proper contacts, we can go back to Congress and revisit the Check-Off issue.
In terms of successes, they are numerous and substantial. Under the leadership and inexhaustible energy of Jim Hieb and the team at MIA headquarters, we have begun a local Chapter program, increased MIA membership, expanded the education and safety programs, underwritten important scientific research, and developed a number of
technical documents. The MIA continues to be the most vibrant, productive, and professional organization in the stone industry, and under Tony Malisani’s (your incoming President) leadership, even better days are on the horizon.
I want to thank the Executive Committee (Tony Malisani, Dan Rea, David Castellucci,
and Michael Twiss) for their hard work, and the entire Board and membership, for their support and input. Although my term ends, I expect to be an active member for many years to come. I urge all of you who have toyed with the idea of becoming more active with the MIA to contact us and find out how you can get even more out of your membership, for your benefit, and for the benefit of us all! Thanks!!!