Why it Matters
Mountain Marble has recently received a great honor. We’ve been accredited by the Marble Institute of America (MIA), a one hundred year old professional organization with an international membership, recognized as the “authoritative source of information on standards of natural stone workmanship and practice and the suitable application of natural stone products”.
There are only about 100 stone fabricators in the country who have earned this accreditation—only four in North Carolina. And only Mountain Marble in Western North Carolina.
We’ve been working toward this for over a year. It’s a rigorous qualification process that involved documenting the quality of our workmanship and the integrity of our business practices, having a voluntary inspection by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), completing a five-hour, 200 question exam and having a representative of the MIA do a site visit to substantiate everything that we’d submitted and see our operations first hand.
Why did we put ourselves through this? Because we’re proud of the work we do and the excellence of our craft. We’re in an environment where it’s not enough for us to tell clients how good we are. You need an unbiased opinion. There’s no opinion more important than that of the international governing body of an industry.
When I came up in the marble industry, marble masons were the venerated masters, the Prima Donnas of the building trades. They worked the most luxurious material—the hardest material to work—to the finest tolerance of any material on any job. There was great pride in the craft. To call yourself a marble mason required a seven-year apprenticeship.
The Marble Institute of America serves as the standard bearer and the developer of new standards. I felt it was important for us to join the elite group of fabricators who understand that we’re not choosing, personally, what standards we’re going to work to; we’re working to the industry accepted standards, as a minimum.
Many people think that after you pick the material, the only remaining issue is price. They’re missing 50% of the equation. Craftsmanship matters, as does working with a legitimate business that will stand behind what they do.
Stonework is an ancient and noble craft. We’re proud to be at the vanguard of this important industry movement to preserve and encourage a standard of excellence. We’re delighted to be recognized for our commitment to that ideal.
Bedrock: Our Mission...
Doing What We Love
I was talking with a marketing consultant recently who suggested that I should consider preparing a Mission Statement for Mountain Marble. “Hmm,” I thought. “We’ve been in business here in Western North Carolina for 20 plus years. We’ve weathered some very tough times— including the ‘Great Recession’—and we’re still here, doing what we love to do. Isn’t that a statement?”
Still…it got me to thinking about why, exactly, I started this business over two decades ago. I’m passionate about stone; it absolutely fascinates me…it informs my world. I’m also passionate about the craftsmanship that brings out the full potential in that stone and makes it a beautiful addition to someone’s home or workplace.
To get the full picture, I’d have to go back to Birmingham, Alabama where my family had a masonry business. I learned how to read blueprints at my father’s knee when I was ten years old. It sparked my interest. I was always building something…tree houses, shacks in the backyard,
or miniature towns.
Making things that are durable and functional is in my blood. I am a builder.
As a young man, I went to work at the Arthur Morgan School with Richard Kennedy fashioning some of the first ‘earthships’ in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I signed on for six weeks and stayed for years, completing a passive solar jappalachian handmade home. Then I got a call from my brother who said “I’m going to take the family business from brick and block to marble and granite” and, like the prodigal son, I returned to the fold.
That was in the early 1980s and it was a rocket-ship ride. We helped to build the Atlanta skyline, working with the major architects of the time…I.M. Pei, Philip Johnson and John Burgee, John Portman…I’ll spare you excessive name-dropping. I was traveling to quarries around the world, selecting and importing millions of square feet of stone and coordinating large crews on 50+ story buildings.
Then the bottom dropped out of the commercial construction business and I had to make some significant life decisions. My wife, daughter and I chose to return to the Asheville area and, with encouragement from an architect friend, to bring the lessons I’d learned in high-end commercial construction to serve the local and residential customer. We founded Mountain Marble & Granite in 1994 to do just that.
Those lessons included a broad understanding of the world of stone, from quarry to fabrication to installation. I’d learned about the importance of realistic scheduling and how to work in concert with builders and sub-contractors. I’d also developed a deep and abiding recognition and respect for the craftsmanship and skills that seasoned stoneworkers bring to the process—skills that can be furthered by computers and technology, but will never replace those craftsmen.
I’ve gathered a team of talented and dedicated artisans and customer support staff…many of whom have been with me for more than a decade.
We like what we do. One of my primary goals in starting Mountain Marble was to create a decent place to work. That meant it had to be pleasant for me, for the team and for the customer.
So I suppose that’s my mission: to give our customers an education about stone that allows them to make the best choices for their home or business; to offer a carefully selected, high quality inventory that can address their needs; to provide them with the expertise of a team that cares and executes the job with dedication, skill and pride—to get back to the essence of the craft.
I see us as “the village stone guy”, just like the village cobbler or the village blacksmith. If someone needs stone, it doesn’t matter what size or amount. We’re here at your service. We do stone.
It’s as simple as that.comment