What do associations offer, and how do they differ from each other? Discovering some of the answers to this question has merit in and of itself. In addition, many of our readers are choosing to include natural and/or engineered stone as a product offering to their clients. The transition to stone is not a simple one, and we felt that some assistance from a stone association might be helpful.
Our last issue had an interview with executive director of the MIA, the leading stone association. In December, Fred Hueston, who writes a column for us called "Stone Shop," started a new association called the International Stone Institute, or ISI.
The ISI is for-profit, and independently owned. Fred will act as the executive director and will be running the day-to-day activities and managing the studies and programs the ISI will be implementing. We invited Fred to explain his new association to us.
SolidSurface:Could you tell me a little about yourself and your background?
Hueston:I started as a chemist working for the University of Florida right out of college. I soon got bored with my work and ended up helping my mother start a small cleaning service. Well, one thing lead to another and I found myself in the stone business. That was some 25 year ago. My father had worked with stone when I was growing up, but I really didn't care to get into the business at the time. Well, here I am, lock, stock and barrel in the stone industry. I had a very successful stone company in Orlando, Fla., for quite a while. Our company did everything from restoration to fabrication to installation. About 15 years ago I was asked to write some articles for several magazines. The next thing I knew I was not only writing articles, but was researching different application techniques, etc. and then I ended up consulting and training.
SolidSurface:Why did you decide to start a new association?
Hueston:For years I have belonged to several trade associations. In one of these associations, the Marble Institute of America, I served as their publications and education director for a number of years. One of the things that always frustrated me while at MIA was the lack of commitment, concern and responsiveness to the needs of many of the members, most notably the contractors. I can remember making numerous suggestions to address these critical concerns in meeting after meeting and these suggestions just got ignored time and time again. It was time that someone takes a stand and starts an association that serviced the members of this industry in a positive way and addressed their concerns. It was time to take the stone industry out of the Stone Age and into the 21st century and become a true voice for its members.
SolidSurface:What is the purpose of the ISI?
Hueston:The purpose of the ISI is simple. The ISI was formed to fill a void. That void is to provide education, technical help and sound advice based on tested standards. It will also serve its members by listening to their needs and providing them the benefits and help they need.
ISI will give its members and contractors useful information and would back up our recommendations and standards with some sound scientific reasoning. One of the problems with the current associations is that they don't have any sound reasoning for their recommendations. In some cases, their standards where recommended by one person and they were implemented without question or review. I know this for a fact, because I sat in those meetings.
SolidSurface:Who else is involved with it, what are their qualifications, and what roles do they play?