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Tilt-Up Company Certification is Advancing Leaders

Español | Translation Sponsored by TCA

By James Baty, Manager for Regulatory and Technical Affairs

Three years ago, the Tilt-Up Concrete Association (TCA) Board of Directors strategically improved the Company Certification program to encouraged companies to begin the process toward full certification by establishing phases of completion. Since then, 23 companies have become actively certified, and an additional 10 companies are at various stages of advancing into certified status. A complete list of active certified companies is attainable on the TCA website.

Among the things I am most impressed with at this point in the program are the consistency and commonality of what applicants have achieved in their respective organizations. Although no two companies are alike, the structure of organization, safety and quality assurance have strong similarities, particularly when it comes to effectiveness.

Let’s take a look at the information required in each phase submittal. A company may take on the first two right away or they may choose to get started in the program with Phase I and then follow through during the six-month grace window for submitting Phase II documents.

Phase I

When a company begins the application for becoming a TCA-Certified organization, the TCA learns critical information about the nature of the company and the key personnel. Ed Sauter, former TCA Executive Director and manager for Certification Programming stated, “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.” A primary goal of the program is to identify the depth of responsibility for each company and to increase the commitment to certified personnel, establishing a foundation for success in all three areas of safety, quality and profitability. With the Phase I forms, a company seeking to become certified will submit:

  • Type of certification sought – indication whether they are a tilt-up subcontractor or a general contractor and whether their certification will be general in nature or specific to architectural specialties
  • Information on a minimum number of completed projects
  • Contact information from the listed projects – primarily seeking architectural, engineering, general contracting and/or owner references
  • List of ACI-certified personnel – this list should include personnel specifically certified as tilt-up technicians or supervisors as well as any other ACI certifications carried (e.g. flatwork finisher, concrete tech, etc.)
  • Reference letters – these are submitted by key customers or project relationships supporting the track for certification based on their history with the submitting company
  • Basic safety plan information
  • Safety metrics (OSHA or similar reports) showing IR and MOD ratings
  • Evidence of liability insurance coverage meeting the requirements with the Tilt-Up Concrete Association named

Once Phase I submittals have been received and reviewed by TCA staff, and if they demonstrate compliance with the minimum standards set for the program, the primary company contact listed on the submittal will be notified and the company is granted conditional approval and Certified Status for a maximum of three months.

Within the three-month or ninety-day window for granted conditional approval, the company must submit Phase II documentation. This documentation delves deeper into the culture of the company and helps ensure compliance with the core requirements of the program. Ed McGuire, president of Bob Moore Construction and the first general contractor to achieve TCA Certified Company status said, “The greatest measure of success for companies like those found throughout this industry is the consistency by which they attack and complete their work using repeatable processes with failsafe checks.” The submittals for Phase II will include:

  • Quality control and quality assurance procedures
  • Safety manual – including descriptions, evidence, and samples demonstrating an active and effective safety program
  • Onboarding and training information – such items as 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

When asked what the program is looking for in the requirements for quality control/quality assurance to the program, Sauter stated, “Submittals must demonstrate that quality is not a happenstance or a one-time occurrence.” Applicants should demonstrate through items such as checklists, test reports, and other records the ability to consistently produce quality tilt-up projects. They should also be able to demonstrate how these mechanisms and checks give reasonable assurance for a reproduceable quality product on an ongoing basis.

One of the biggest challenges to reproduceable quality control between the field and the office is communication. Applicants must describe their process and methods of communicating between consultants, office, and field. They will define where and when work is self-performed, and subcontracted work must be identified. As the review moves from Phase II into Phase III, the applicant must be prepared to demonstrate the methods for handling subcontracted work with consistency to ensure it meets the standards and qualifications for the project.

The final phase (Phase III) of the application to become TCA-Certified consists of a site audit. The TCA will assign this review to either a staff member or a third-party consultant, accompanied by at least one non-competing peer reviewer. The review generally takes six to eight hours of office time and visiting job sites. During the visit, the review team will interview key personnel, review documentation on some of the projects identified in the Phase I submittal, and confirm the operational characteristics of the procedures during 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 first questions asked of the certification program is about its alignment with international companies. The United States relies on safety procedures and practices largely defined by OSHA, an organization with no international influence. However, this program has been established with a universal perspective on what constitutes appropriate safety and QC/QA plans by including the review team in the process of identifying the unique characteristics of international locations. This is why 4 of the 23 existing companies have operations outside of the U.S. The policy manual provides for alternative qualifications for these international companies and covers such topics as non-compliance, probation, and appeals, thus ensuring any company can provide evidence for their unique nature or specific requirements.

Once a company has completed all three phases of the initial application, they will be given an expiration date of one-year from the initial contingent approval date. During this year-long term, the company is expected to continue the commitment to certifying individuals as well as collecting continuing education for key staff members and field personnel. Prior to their anniversary date, companies receive a renewal packet that provides some of the core value statements from the previous certification and asks for adjustments and updated characteristics. The renewing company will provide:

  • Any changes in company status
  • Listing of new projects
  • Affidavits from at least two members of the project team attesting to compliance with industry standards and specification
  • Updated insurance listing the TCA
  • Proof of continuing education

Continuing education is a big part of this industry’s certification. Through continuing education, individuals become well-rounded and broaden their perspective on the specific and general industries in which they work. Continuing education also demonstrates a culture of training and advancing the workforce, not just upper management, into field-specific values. Continuing education courses are available at the annual Tilt-Up Convention and Expo as well as each year during the World of Concrete. These pre-identified courses can be stored with attendance certificates and easily provided during the renewal process.

The expansion of this program continues, ranging from Nova Scotia and Ontario, Canada to the Dominican Republic. Companies from California to New Jersey and Florida across the continental U.S. have achieved this status, demonstrating a diversity of both geographic coverage and market segment.

Where will the next TCA-Certified Company impact the tilt-up construction world? What new location, region or country will be serviced by this growing list of certified experts? The energy of this process benefits the company greatly, as stated by Clay Fischer, CEO of Woodland Tilt-Up in Jupiter, Florida. “Until we sat down and started looking at what we could submit,” she said, “we hadn’t stopped long enough to realize we were repeating quality processes. Entering into the TCA Certified Company program gave us a hard look at ourselves, and now as I participate in peer review to non-competitive companies, I continue to find new ways of inspiring our own evolution.”

TCA Company Certification was established to build a stronger tilt-up market by identifying and verifying the leading companies involved in tilt-up operations around the world. For more information about the TCA Company Certification program, call TCA headquarters at 319-895-6911 or visit TCA’s website:

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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.