Membership in the Mia: It Just Makes Sense
Kevin M. Padden
AZ School of Rock &
KM Padden Consulting

I have been a member of the MIA (Marble Institute of America) for going on 10 years now, and I wanted to share my thoughts on the value of being an MIA member and the "what's in it for me?" Factor.

I could start by saying the usual clinche responses that people give when it comes to joining and belonging to a trade organization the most common being "It's only as good as what you put into it" response. Well, that does have some weight, but in my opinion, the MIA does a lot more for our industry than people realize. I get more out of being a member than I have to put in, and this is key to why I feel the way I do about the MIA

To understand the impact that MIA has on our industry as a whole, you have to look at one of the keystones in the foundation of why the MIA exists. If you look at their logo it's right there in black and white: "Setting THE Standards in the Natural Stone Industry."

There is no other Natural Stone Industry trade organization that publishes a Design Manual that is relied upon (as the definitive authority as to how a countertop should be fabricated and installed)by Architects, Designers, Fabricators, General Contractors and Consumers none.

When a stone application fails, and the issue has to be decided in court as to who's at fault for a faulty stone installation, the expert witnesses that provide technical information as to the integrity of the assembly (of which I am one) rely on one source of data to show how the assembly should have been constructed. That source is the MIA Design Manual. It's the "bible" for stone countertops, and as such is the industry-wide, recognized authority for how something should be done the right way. The bottom line here is that when this kind of scenario plays out as helpful as they are, you can't go to ISFA or the SFA to find established, published Industry Standards you go to the Marble Institute of America.

As a young apprentice in the late 1970s I started out in "the trades" in my Dad's footsteps as a Tile Setter. Back then, the "bible" for us guys on the Tile side of the industry was the "Handbook for Ceramic Tile Setting" published by the Tile Council of America. I was taught that "IF you want to do things right do `em by the book" and use the TCA Handbook as your guide. All of these years and countless hundreds of thousands of square feet of tile floors, walls and even ceilings I've installed I've done them "by the book" and have never had a failure.

The same holds true for the MIA Design Manual I first found out about the MIA when I started doing slab work back in 1985. Back then, I never even saw the "book" but knew that if it was anything like TCA Handbook it had to be a good thing. But back then, MIA had this mystique about it almost a kind of "secret good-ole boy's club" that only the "invited chosen" could join. I sat on the outside looking in until right around 1999 when things started to change at MIA.

A new leadership with a new vision came to the organization, and with it, suddenly MIA was available to everyone in the industry. It no longer had the appearance of a "good old boys club" as people had referred to it back in the 80s and 90s. Now, people could actually join MIA and start reaping the benefits of membership namely, access to "The Book" = The MIA Design Manual. The "Good Old Boys" club title has long since gone away from the MIA but there are other trade organizations that have stepped up recently that are working hard to fill that void.

Helping the "Industry" as a whole is what the MIA is all about. Helping everyone that has something to do with Natural Stone (as opposed to a select few, or as some will say a "chosen" few) is what MIA exists for. If it's going to benefit the Natural stone Industry MIA is there.

For me personally, having access to the single defining collection of technical direction found in the MIA Design Manual is probably the single biggest benefit that I promote to all of our students that come to AZ School of Rock. We teach fabrication methods and techniques in accordance with accepted procedures outlined in the MIA Design Manual. We teach new Fabricators just like I was taught to do things "by the book". We use the Design Manual in court when the integrity of an installation is being questioned by the two parties involved in the case. We use the Design Manual when we fabricate and install our work. It's our "stone bible" and it's the book we live by as Stone Fabricators. No other organization has such a comprehensive source of technical knowledge that applies to Natural Stone Fabrication as does the MIA.

Additionally, being a member of the MIA gives you access to a network of members world wide, and the referral program that MIA uses has paid back in spades what I have put into the system. I get calls each month from people that got my name from the MIA and are looking for training, consulting, expert witness services or Natural Stone fabrication.

The MIA Pinnacle Awards Program give you as a Fabricator the opportunity to showcase a project that you feel is worthy of competing with other "masterpieces" submitted by MIA member companies. I have friends that have won MIA Pinnacle Awards in the past, and proudly display the award in their showrooms, and the logo on their websites, and you can't tell me that THAT does not make a difference in making a positive impression on a prospective customer. The prestige of having your work recognized by a jury of your peers in the industry has a value you can't put a price tag on, and it equates to validating your company as an Industry Professional. No other Industry Trade organization has the effect or provides that kind of firepower for you as a fabricator.

At the end of the day, you have many choices as to which organization you can be a part of for "Setting the Standard in the Natural Stone Industry" I will choose the Marble Institute of America as THE organization I want to support it just makes good sense!

Until Next Month Best Regards & Happy Fabricating!

Membership in the Marble Institute of America is encouraged every day, to everyone that comes in contact with AZ School of Rock. Find out more at the web sites &

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