Lepisto views the CSI certification requirement for membership not as a way to exclude producers, but as a way to mentor new companies and to share important innovations. He is proud of how CSI members shared information about technology as they finalized the certification requirements. “Although we are all tough competitors, our willingness to pull quality forward is evident in our regards for each other,” he says.
Fry believes CSI members' openness and consistency has been extended to the other members of the construction community through the certification effort. “We are using our program to reach out to several other trade organizations, forming alliances and relationships that provide added value to our membership and the industry,” he says.Certifying quality
The decision to embark on a certification program was cast almost two decades ago. Jim Edwards, CSI's president in 1998, had the foresight and, more importantly, the tenacity to start developing the certification process. CSI leaders then foresaw the importance of a formal code of ethics that now serves as the basis of the certification effort.
The code of ethics has created a common bond for industry improvement. Through supplementary programs that foster peer-to-peer interaction in education and training, members can share best practices and work together to promote the cast stone industry.
For Fry, the key to success has been developing a certification process that is managed by the numbers. “We needed to eliminate any subjectiveness in the process,” he says. He feels that this numbers aspect of certification is the most visible, verifiable element to potential customers. “It is not enough to simply install certification. We must assure continued compliance to maintain credibility, a second and more important measure of value to our customers.”
CSI's initial certification effort was designed to foster an exchange of information of mutual interest by members following the guidelines set in the Code of Ethics. While this approach offered an opportunity to share best practices, it lacked the credibility the design community required.
Listening to their customers, the CSI board decided to use third party inspectors for the certification process. “Although that approach is more expensive, dollars should not drive decisions that affect the reputation of our association and its members,” says Fry. Members must also undergo the process every two years.