Industry Insights

Do fabrication shop owners still have skills?

November 10, 2011
/ Print / Reprints /
ShareMore
/ Text Size+
A couple of weeks ago, I attended the Stone Fabricators Alliance (SFA) MegaWorkshop in the St. Louis suburb of Collinsville, IL. In my view, this event is unique in the level of hands-on demonstrations it offers. Although some attendees noted that there was not as much large-scale machinery as last year, there was still a nice variety of equipment operating on the show floor. But for many people at the event, the most intriguing hands-on demonstrations took place inside "The Cage."

No, I'm not talking about a UFC event here. "The Cage" is literally a large area surrounded by a chain link fence on the MegaWorkshop show floor where attendees can test out the hand tools and accessories being showcased at the event. Shop owners/managers squared off against the rank-and-file last month at the "Fabricator Olympics" -- a competition held at the SFA MegaWorkshop in St. Louis, MO.

This year, the organizers of the SFA added a new dimension to the activities within The Cage with the introduction of the "Fabricator Olympics." This initiative tested the skills of stoneworking professionals in three different categories: flat edge polishing, edge profiling and top polishing. A large turnout of competitors entered the program, and it was one of the highlights on the show floor during the event's first two days. I was actually asked to judge the first stage of the competition -- flat edge polishing. At first, I was somewhat hesitant, because I never polished an edge in my life -- flat or otherwise. But then I came to the conclusion that I've seen enough stonework in my day that I can certainly tell good work from bad, so I joined the panel. From my viewpoint in The Cage, I made several observations of the competition:

  • People in this industry are not afraid of competition or showing off their skills. The amount of people taking part in the event kept growing as time went on. 
  • The people who were competing out there really wanted to win. No one was just doing it as a lark.
  • The competitors were a healthy mix of "shop guys" (who spend most of their time standing at a worktable with a grinder in their hands) and owners/managers (who obviously spend much of their time on multiple tasks).

That leads me to the question I posted as the title of this article. Do the shop owners still have the chops to compete side-by-side with the guys who run grinders eight hours per day? I would say that the answer is a resounding "yes." The best craftsmanship in the competition was achieved by both owners/managers as well as shop staff. In fact, two of the three winners came from the owner/manager side. Overall, it was a pretty cool experience to see this competition take place, and I commend the SFA on coming up with this initiative. It would be great to see them take the Fabricator Olympics to other North American trade shows as well, because no matter what else is going on out there, it is important to emphasize the craftsmanship and hand skills that are part of this trade.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Stone World 

Recent Articles by Michael Reis

You must login or register in order to post a comment.

Multimedia

Videos

Image Galleries

November 2013 Stone Products Gallery

Take a look at some of the latest stone industry products.

THE MAGAZINE

Stone World Magazine

April 2014 stone world cover

2014 April

In this month's issue of Stone World, check out an extensive preview of Coverings 2014, which will be celebrating its 25th anniversary in April. Also learn more about various types of limestone that were used to build private residences.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Contemporary Stone & Tile Design Magazine

CSTD_Spring2014_Cover.jpg

2014 Spring

This issue of Contemporary Stone & Tile Design includes our annual focus on Kitchen and Bath design

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Training Program

How formal is your training program for new employees?
View Results Poll Archive

The Stone World Store

How_To_Polish_&_Restore_Mar.gif
How to Polish & Restore Marble Flooring

This video will show you step-by-step how to resurface and polish marble flooring from grinding and removing lippage and scratches to achieving a highly reflective polish.

More Products

Italian Trade Commission Coverings exhibitor preview

Italian Trade Commission logo 2

The Italian Trade Commission is presenting a large group of the most innovative and internationally renowned Italian suppliers of dimensional natural stones. We hope your busy schedule will allow you to join us for a “genuine” espresso in booth N. 4045 and explore the exciting Italian natural stone resources offered by our exhibitors. Check out Italian stone producers exhibiting at Coverings 2014 here!

  

Stone Industry Education

stone industry educationStone Industry Education is sponsored by Stone World Magazine and Marble Institute of America. The SIE events will help you: strengthen your skills, build your business, and  increase profit in your shop.  Check out stoneindustryeducation.com to register for upcoming fabricator and installer seminars.

STAY CONNECTED

facebook logo Twitter  YouTube