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Tilt-Up Company Certification Streamlined

The Tilt-Up Concrete Association (TCA) Board of Directors established renewed commitment and energy for the Company Certification program over a year ago. Since the time of this recommitment, 18 companies have become active participants in the program, receiving full certification status. In addition, the program interest is gaining momentum with 6-10 additional companies projected to move into the program over the next year.

Through this expansion diversification of both geographic coverage and market segments continues to define a strong future for a higher-level commitment to quality control and quality assurance. Today, certified companies extend from Nova Scotia to the Dominican Republic and from the state of Washington to Florida. Perhaps not surprisingly, Texas has the most certified companies, a total of seven, representing both general and tilt-up contractors. The program has also seen project development impacted by the growth trend with the first several project specifications requiring companies to be TCA-Certified, a trend expected to only continue growing.

Growth also provides an opportunity for program strength. The Company Certification program has undergone an evolution at this stage with such a strong background of experience. TCA staff and certification task-force members have just completed a rewrite and reorganization of the policy manual, which is the governing document for the program. Version 2.0 of the manual maintains the same qualifications and requirements while improving the application and the process. One of the simplifications to the process is the ability to apply in phases instead of having to submit all documentation with the application at one time. TCA has developed checklists for the requirements and has sample documents from approved companies to serve as guidelines for companies working to produce submittals.
“The first phase requires the applicant to submit contact information for key company personnel,” states Ed Sauter, TCA’s Manager for certification programs. “This key personnel roster along with the initial critical details about the company help position the company for initial response from the review and prepares them for the remaining tasks.”

The list of additional information for Phase I includes: the type of certification sought (contractor category and application type, either general or architectural certification), information for the requisite number of projects, contact information from the listed projects, a list of ACI-certified personnel, references; basic safety plan information; safety metrics (OSHA or similar reports), and evidence of insurance coverage. Upon approval of the Phase I submittals, the company is granted conditional approval.

Within ninety days of being granted conditional approval, the company must submit Phase II documentation. This documentation helps establish compliance with the core requirements of the program: quality control/quality assurance and safety.
Submittals should include a copy of the company’s safety manual along with descriptions, evidence, and samples demonstrating an active and effective safety program. It should cover items such new employee orientation, ongoing training, discipline, job hazard identification and related items. Safety and training for related activities such as crane and pump operation, riggers and signalmen is also required.

The quality control/quality assurance submittals must demonstrate that quality is not a happenstance or a one-time occurrence. The applicant should demonstrate through items such as checklists, test reports, and other records that they have consistently produced quality tilt-up and that they have the mechanisms and checks in place to give reasonable assurance that they can reproduce a quality product on an ongoing basis. Applicants must also describe their methods of communicating between consultants, office, and field.

Self-performed and subcontracted work must be identified, and the applicant must show how they make certain that subcontracted work meets the standards and qualifications for the project.

The final phase (Phase III) of the process is the site audit. A TCA staff member and a non-competing peer reviewer conduct the site audit. A typical audit takes 6-8 hours and includes interviews with key personnel, a review of documentation on some of the projects identified in the Phase I submittal, as well as visits to job sites. The job site visits allow the review team a firsthand perspective on the implementation success of the company’s policies and procedures.

“One of the more frequent questions for the program to date,” states Sauter, “deals with the relevance of company certification for international locations. The policy manual provides for alternative qualifications for foreign companies as well as topics such as non-compliance, probation, and appeals. This ensures that any company can provide evidence for the nature of a stated requirement alternative to the specified requirement.”

The Company Certification has a one-year term. Companies must renew on an annual basis, a process that requires the candidate to notify TCA of any changes in company status, list new projects in the prior-year approval, provide affidavits from at least two members of the project team attesting to compliance with industry standards and specification, update insurance, and show proof of continuing education.

The true impact of Company Certification can already be identified. Several of the companies who have completed the process indicate that this has forced them to track and organize information in ways they should have been doing all along; the certification process provided an excuse to maintaining such healthy work habits. For more information about the TCA Company Certification program, call TCA Headquarters at 319-895-6911, email Ed Sauter at esauter@tilt-up.org, or visit TCA’s website: www.tilt-up.org.

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TILT-UP TODAY, a publication of the Tilt-Up Concrete Association, is THE source for Tilt-Up industry news, market intelligence, business strategies, technical solutions, product information, and other resources for professionals in the Tilt-Up industry. A subscription to TILT-UP TODAY is included in a TCA membership. Subscriptions for potential TCA members are also available. If you would like to receive a complimentary subscription to the publication, please contact the TCA.