Northern Stone Supply: Certified Sustainable

Natural Stone Sustainability Standard: Why Northern Stone Supply Certified

This interview was originally published in Natural Stone Institute‘s Cutting Edge Newsletter

A conversation with Greg Osterhout, President of Northern Stone Supply.

Please tell us a bit about your company and why you felt it was important to earn this certification.

Northern Stone Supply is a quarry and fabricator of natural building and landscape stone products. We market worldwide through a large distributor network. We pride ourselves in being forward thinking, producing highest quality products, and being good stewards in all aspects of our business. The certification was a natural fit to our business philosophy and it gave us the opportunity to not only have our practices verified by a third party but also learn ways to improve in the process.

What have you found most surprising about the process of certifying to the NSC 373 standard?

To be honest, I was surprised at how easy it was to work with and get guidance from the NSF staff as we worked through the process. Dealing with many different regulatory agencies in our business we’ve become accustomed to being told to meet or live up to standards with no help in figuring out how. That was not the case with NSC 373. While the NSF staff was strict in their auditing, they were very helpful in providing resources and personal help as we went through the process.

What do you feel will be the biggest benefit to your company in securing certification to the sustainability standard?

We are completing our 4th renewal of our platinum certifications. By far the biggest benefit has been teaching us to see and question our processes with eyes of efficiency, longevity, and sustainability. We are a better company because of the standard.

How has this process helped your company’s bottom line?

The biggest quantifiable contribution to our bottom line to date has been in cost savings as we constantly look to reduce waste of every kind. It’s becoming a culture.

What would you like to communicate to the design community about this standard?

Over the past few years I have had a number of members of the design community comment to me that they avoid natural stone products because they are so damaging to the environment, this really saddens me. I always pull out pictures of our quarries and the environment that surrounds us. I explain how small the disturbance is versus the amount of product we can produce. I show them areas that we have restored, I explain the Standard and our certification, I explain how our material is a long-term material that is completely reusable or recyclable. Then I reiterate that the standard gives them verification that certified producers are following the same practices.

How long did it take your company to complete the standard certification?

We completed our initial certification using a couple of college interns. We completed it in a couple months time while they were on summer break.

What was the biggest challenge for your company in completing the certification and how did you overcome it?

Our biggest challenge was finding the time to get the initial certification done. The secret was bringing in the interns. They had a passion for sustainability and worked quickly to complete each step.

What advice do you have for other companies who are going through the process of certification? 

Don’t hide or run from the hard stuff. The NSF staff are great help. Other certified