A few years ago, the Metal Building Contractors & Association (MBCEA) crafted a quality standard for our trade. It is administered by the International Accreditation Service (IAS) and is known as AC478. It was designed to complement AC472, which is the accreditation program used by metal building manufacturers.
The AC478 Accreditation is a standard our industry and you need
- AC478 is a standard to level the playing field and improve the end product.
- AC478 provides tangible proof that you have the personnel, organization, experience, knowledge, management procedures and commitment to assemble metal building systems.
No government agency or code official asked us to do this. This was highly unusual, but we felt it was necessary. Most contractors groan about red tape and government regulation, so why did we do it?
Our friends at the Metal Building Manufacturers Association (MBMA) are working hard to promote the benefits of building with metal. They are spending money advertising to architects, performing research, etc. The manufacturers, through their accreditation program, are held to a high quality standard. They are designing fabulous and complex buildings. Yet, all across this great nation, materials fabricated by these accredited manufacturers are shipped to project sites and assembled by a largely unregulated market of contractors and erectors.
The AC478 mark on a company’s website or letterhead is proof that it is committed to safety and training and quality.
The low-bid contractors—the fly-by-night operators—make us all look bad. That’s not just their fellow erectors, but also the manufacturers, designers, etc. Their poor erection practices result in building failures that give all of us a black eye. Bad news spreads much faster than good. This is why we wanted a standard. We wanted a differentiator.
We crafted our program with one goal: a means to differentiate those contractors and erectors that are committed to safety, training and education, and that perform at a higher level. We needed our program to be sufficiently meaningful to weed out the bad actors but not so onerous that only the biggest companies could apply.
Like most new things, we had a few stumbles along the way, but we continued to fine tune and work out the details. The IAS recently approved our latest revisions. We have successfully removed some of the complexity without diminishing the program.
The MBMA promotes the AC472 program as the most comprehensive quality assurance accreditation program of its kind. Their literature says AC472 assures contractors that their manufacturer has comprehensive quality assurance processes in place that provide high-quality, reliable buildings. Our program seeks to deliver this same assurance. Manufacturers and project owners need to be assured that their building will be erected to that same standard. The AC478 seal on a bid is this assurance. The AC478 mark on a company’s website or letterhead is proof that it operates under a documented management system; that it is committed to safety and training and quality; and that it produces job-site specific plans and use checklists.
We hope you will consider accreditation. When we have critical mass, we will fight to get it added to building specifications. Then and only then can we level the playing field and consistently deliver the fabulous metal buildings the way they were designed to function.
Keith Wentworth is president of the Metal Building Contractors & Erectors Association and vice president of Dutton & Garfield Inc., Hampstead, N.H. Wentworth holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Merrimack College, and has more than 20 years of experience in commercial and industrial metal building design-build construction. He is proud to be a third-generation Butler builder. Wentworth also serves on the board of directors of the Metal Building Institute and is a past president of the New England Chapter of the MBCEA. To learn more about the MBCEA, visit www.mbcea.org.