Currently there are so many different stones involved in purchases (as many as 25,000 different stones by name available for sale at any one time) with many new stones entering the market every day from new quarries in over 70 countries. Adding in the ever-changing technology of finishes, the variety of choices becomes overwhelming.
To avoid confusion with such a variety of selections it becomes necessary to classify, categorize, and control the nomenclature of these products. It is everyone’s job to communicate this information clearly and make the nomenclature and naming of stones more simple by agreeing on controlling the changing of stone names from their original quarry name. Europe is now promoting registered names for stones to control the identification of the origin of the stone and avoid confusion. MIA supports this endeavor, and advocates its worldwide implementation.
Everyone is looking for new and interesting stones and finishes that can be sold in the market. The fabricating or machining of stone will change, and the demand for stone in architectural use and design is ever changing. This makes our industry an ever evolving, changing, challenging, and exciting market as there are endless possibilities, opportunities, and rewards for excellent companies to thrive as innovations occur within the dimension stone market. With so much diversity, no one can ever claim to know everything about the natural stone industry.
The MIA encourages and applauds new technology and new ideas, welcoming new members to help the natural stone industry succeed, grow, and continue as the leader of hard surfaces. There is no better product in its field than natural stone. There is nothing that can’t be made with it, and nothing that outlives it.
As the market changes so must this program
With so many choices in natural stone, coupled with the fact that the quartz industry(imitation stone) and ceramic tile industry continue to make their products look like natural stone, it is easy to see how people can become confused about the products they are purchasing for use in their home or office, thus making this program so necessary.
This manual is only a guideline. Using their years of experience MIA members have given their input into the writing and details of this manual. In the years to follow it will be updated and changed, as companies worldwide will add their input. This is an international document as well, and there are certain local laws that may further apply to international trading as established by the governmental regulators of that particular country. Should a supplier find such regulations that need to be noted and applied to transactions, they should notify both the Buyer and MIA immediately and note it on all correspondence during initial communications.
The MIA respects the environment, and is working with other groups, advocating recycling, proper disposal of hazardous waste products, and making all stone certified as Green Building Products (sustainable building or construction) , respecting the guidelines for Leeds Certification and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGGBC). By the end of 2013 or early 2014 there were over 60,000 Leeds projects globally, spanning over 10.6 billion square feet. This is expected to grow by at least 7% yearly.
The MIA supports the Natural Stone Council and its efforts. The Natural Stone Council is committed to supporting sustainable initiatives and innovations at all levels of the production of Genuine Stone® products (Genuine Stone means natural stone as opposed to products that look like stone) and increasing the use of Genuine Stone®. As such, the NSC has established a Sustainability Committee made up of key industry members to elevate the issue of sustainability within the industry and provide a body responsible for planning and implementing relevant initiatives. The Natural Stone Council (NSC) is a collaboration of businesses and trade associations that have come together to promote the use of Genuine Stone® in commercial and residential applications. By pooling resources, their goal is to increase the understanding of, preference for, and consumption of these natural products. Trade associations affiliated with the NSC include Allied Stone Industries, Building Stone Institute, Elberton Granite Association, Indiana Limestone Institute, Marble Institute of America, National Building Granite Quarries Association, and the National Slate Association. Also refer to their publication “Quarry Site Maintenance & Closure” as important documents for all quarriers to abide by. The NSC has also published a document “Case Study: An application of a Green Building Certification Program….” This can be found on the Internet.
Further, the NSC promotes water conservation through their publication “Best Practices of the Natural Stone Industry: Water Consumption, Treatment, and Reuse” prepared by the University of Tennessee Center for Clean Products, as water plays a key role in production of stone. and expects all countries and suppliers to be familiar with, and abide by this publication. Copies are available on the Internet. The NSC promotes the use of Genuine Stone a registered trademark for all stone companies in general.
It is important to note that when ordering a job or project all parties involved must be notified in the early stages of the job. Most contracts are time sensitive and in order to fulfill the contracts on time and not be penalized everyone must work closely together including Producer/Quarriers or Suppliers, Buyers, General Contractors, Architects/Designers, Brokers, Freight Forwarders, and others who are involved in the job. The Supplier needs as much early notification of a forthcoming order as possible to put aside production time, accumulate blocks or material, and to avoid taking on other contracts while quotations are being negotiated, which may delay or cause another projects delay. Early notification/confirmation may also bring on discounts in pricing from a Supplier.
Suppliers need to understand better the import export business. Most companies are ill prepared to conduct such business, and think that by going to a trade show, or visiting a Buyer they can sell their stone or products internationally. This is dangerous. Seek a qualified lawyer, well versed in international trade, who will protect you from those who would try to take advantage of your inexperience in the global marketplace, or from unknowingly perpetrating violations yourself!
An experienced law firms will be able to advise you on intellectual property issues, mergers, acquisitions and reorganization.
A good accountant specializing in international taxation will help maximize your cash flow, limit your eventual worldwide tax exposure and protect you from double taxation.
A well-versed banker can help you finance an import/export sale, guide you in structuring competitive payment terms or even advise you on risk factors before you transact business in a new overseas market.
For your legal, accounting and banking needs, start out with a smaller firm that can attend to you on a more personal and economical basis. When a question is too tough for your small firm to handle, let them outsource it to a larger firm with a more developed international presence. That way, you can stick to your budget and your small firm stays in charge of your accounting operations.
When you reach the point where you're outsourcing more than insourcing, then it's time to move to a larger firm!
Large international firms employ individuals of many nationalities who are well-versed in the laws, professional ethics, and regulations of the countries in which they operate, and are well-positioned to serve your interests. Expect to require more extensive and sophisticated information as your business grows, particularly if you do a lot of business in any one country.
Your lawyer, accountant and banker are vital to the success of your import/export strategy. They should be considered the charter members of your import/export dream team. As you will see, they often work in concert to keep your new enterprise in the most advantageous legal and financial position possible.