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Q&A: An interview with Mike Picco and his experience being a member of the NSI

January 2021 – by Mike Picco

This month we had the opportunity to Zoom with Mike Picco, founder of PICCO Engineering—and President of the Natural Stone Institute (NSI) for 2021. Interviewed by Project Manager Analisa Fraga (a fellow NSI “Women in Stone” member and participant in the mentorship program), Mike shares his long history and what he’s enjoyed about being a member of the Natural Stone Institute.

Caption: NSI President, Mike Picco, checking out the Building Stone Materials Kit

The Natural Stone Institute is a trade association representing every aspect of the natural stone industry. It serves more than 2,000+ members in 55 countries, offering them a wide array of technical and training resources, professional development, regulatory advocacy, and networking events. Two prominent publications—Dimension Stone Design Manual and Building Stone Magazine—raise awareness in both the industry and the design communities for the promotion and best use of natural stone.

The following is a transcript of the interview, which has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Caption: Mike Picco, up close and personal with the sandstone walls at Antelope Canyon, AZ

AF: Where were you first introduced to stone? MP: I've been in the stone industry pretty much all of my adult life. I graduated from McMaster University with a Bachelor of Engineering, and was working as a structural engineer for a precast company; but, we also serviced stone contractors with engineering and shop drawings. I was hired by one of the larger stone contractors to head up their in-house drafting, facades and engineering department. This is where I really gained very valuable experience being out in the field working with the installers and fabricators. I really learned a lot from the masons on site, and since then, I have been engaged with stone in some aspect or another, and love the industry.

AF: When did you first join the NSI? What made you decide to join?

MP: I joined the association in the early to mid-1990’s. I realized very early on that membership was the way to connect with industry leaders at large, while learning and collaborating with colleagues to grow its effectiveness. My positive interactions over the years motivated me to contribute as a member in greater capacity. During the last decade, I've stepped up and served on the Board of Directors–Zone 8 Canada, Assistant Secretary–and then Secretary of the Executive Committee, Vice President, and finally—now as President.

As President, my goal will be to fill the shoes of many outstanding past Presidents that have led the NSI to becoming the global leading authority in natural stone. I am committed to representing our industry in a professional manner, to ensure we continue to grow our presence, and educate on the benefits of natural stone within our industry and beyond to the design community.

Read Mike’s open letter in NSI's Cutting Edge newsletter

AF: How has the NSI benefited PICCO Engineering? MP: Ever since I became a member of the NSI (previously MIA), I've been able to grow the network of industry colleagues and clients for PICCO. NSI’s vast collection of industry data, including their resource library, instructional webinars and safety standards have served as a great educational tool for both its members and our employees. As a firm, we also take advantage of utilizing the NSI’s Testing Lab—an indispensable resource whenever we are working with new stone materials or on projects requiring any testing.