For over sixty five years, the Marble Institute of America (MIA) has served as the authoritative source of information on standards of natural stone workmanship and practice. Membership in the association is worldwide and includes nearly 2,000 natural stone producers, exporters/importers, distributors/wholesalers, fabricators, finishers, installers and industry suppliers — all committed to the highest standards of workmanship and ethics.
Jonathan Zanger, prior President of MIA, in his interview to our Newsletter, talks about MIA and his goals.
-Your estimation about marble sector worldwide in the remainder of the year. It is written that building industry recovers and natural materials are on the rise.
We believe that the Marble Sector in the U.S. will expand, this year, after some difficult times. Construction is picking up and stone continues to be ever more popular. In other parts of the world, there is more of a mixed outlook, depending on regional economies. In the developing world, in areas like South America and India, we expect greater demand. In China, we see demand softening, although it will continue to be very substantial. In Western Europe, we see weak demand as long as the Euro zone suffers through weak growth. In Russia and Turkey and part of the Middle East, we see a stronger demand for stone for the balance of 2013.
-Your vision as leader of MIA. Do underline some crucial steps you plan.
The M.I.A. continues to be one of the strongest, most viable, trade organizations in the industry, world-wide. While the majority of our members are North American companies, we have members from over 50 nations. We set the standards for fabrication and installation of natural stone, world-wide, and we will continue to do the technical work necessary to promote the safe and skillful fabrication and installation of natural stone. This year, we are beginning local chapters of our national organization, to bring training and education closer to our members and to reach even more architect and designers.
-MIA pays high attention to matters of education, safety training, technical publications. Could you describe to us the main points, tools and efforts. How your members and clients face and accept all these innovative steps.
The main tools for education, are our CEU (Continuing Education Unit) Courses for architect and designers. These courses educated design professionals about the fabrication, installation, and use of natural stone and give them the opportunity to earn education credits necessary for their licensing and professional advancement.
For safety training, the M.I.A. publishes "tool talks" for stone industry workers, that educate them in such topics as the proper loading and unloading of containers, handling stone slabs, proper use of equipment and machinery, etc.
Our principal Technical Publication is the Design Manual for Dimension Stone, which is considered the "bible" for the fabrication and installation of marble, granite, travertine, onyx and slate. The Design Manual is constantly being updated, and new segments are constantly being added. MIA also contributes to several ANSI committees that are crucial to stone industry specifications.
-As for Greece, what is your view about greek companies, greek marble, market shares and their dynamic extroversion worldwide. Which are the criteria for a successful entrance to USA.
Obviously, Greece has a long and storied history in terms of natural stone, and marble in particular. Many Greek marbles are well known in the United States, with Thassos among the best known and most popular stones exported to America. Of course, the best way to successfully enter the U.S. market is to partner with well respected, professional North American companies. Participation in the M.I.A. is open to Greek companies and firms all over the world.Through the M.I.A. and its activities, one can learn about and encounter the best U.S. stone companies and have numerous opportunities to learn about the requirements of the market and trade information with American counterparts to improve the prospects for Greek materials and suppliers.
-Your estimation about engineered stones.
While they are not "Natural" stones, many of our members work with Engineered Stones and they continue to grow in market share. While the M.I.A. exists primarily to promote Natural Stones, we acknowledge the value of Engineered Stones in certain applications and for certain uses and clients. However, no matter how authentic they may look, it is our opinion that no man-made material can match the beauty and diversity found in natural stone. For that reason among others, we consider "engineered stones" to be an additional product that our membership can offer their clients, which only enhances the value that M.I.A. members bring to the world of architecture and design.
-MIA's standards of natural stone. Basic ethic code.
We have a Code of Ethics that is integrated into our Membership requirements.Also, M.I.A. has an accreditation process for fabricators and installers, that is rigorous and well respected. Members that choose to become Accredited go through a rigorous process to prove that they have the history and body of professional knowledge necessary to rank among the top fabricators and installers in the world.
-Is MIA going to open offices in Europe and other regions?
Currently, our short term plans are to begin local chapters in North America, while increasing our presence in Europe and other regions, through membership. We count the finest stone companies around the world in our organization. They spread the word better than any other ambassadors.
STONE GROUP INTERNATIONAL is official member of MIA