Stone Column

Building on last year’s growth

May 1, 2013
In last month’s issue of Stone World, we published the year-end U.S. stone import and export statistics, which are provided to us by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Every month, U.S. Customs does a thorough job of reporting the full spectrum of stone imports — from tiles and slabs to cut-to-size work. Generally speaking, these statistics are a good barometer of where we are collectively headed as an industry.

Most years, I use the column in that issue to talk about how these statistics look compared to the previous year — and frankly, I was looking to share a little good news with our readers as we head out of this recession. But when I got out my calculator and crunched the numbers, the growth really wasn’t what I was hoping for — just about 7% across the board.

I really shouldn’t have been surprised, because while many months during the first half of 2012 were showing growth of 10% (or even a bit more), stone imports during the second half of the year were relatively flat. The end result was single-digit growth. I know that the optimist might say, “Hey, at least it didn’t go down,” but after a prolonged recession, I am tired of hearing that.

Now it is May, and for the first four months of 2013, I have been hearing positive feedback across the board. It started at StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas in Las Vegas, and a month later, it continued at the Vitória Stone Fair in Brazil. In fact, some of Brazil’s top suppliers were reporting major growth for the first part of 2013 — as much as 70% in one case.

Last month, I attended a gathering of the Artisan Group, a group of independent North American countertop professionals. Virtually everyone I spoke with at the event said that they have been enjoying sustained success in 2013, and most of them are making investments in their operations. Some of them told me that they were revamping their showroom. Others said they were taking delivery of a new machine. Yet another told me that they were doing so much equipment investment that the entire layout of their shop was about to change.

Shortly after attending the Artisan Group event, I attended a meeting of the Education Advisory Council for StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas. There, I spoke with everyone from fabricators to commercial cladding professionals to technology suppliers, and across the board, people were excitedly talking about growth in their business. And I mean significant growth; one person used the word “slammed.”

All of this tells me that these fabricators are not just seeing a positive week or month — they are seeing significant growth in their fabrication business, and they are confident that this growth will remain over the course of this year and beyond.

Going back to the U.S. stone import statistics, the hard figures so far for 2013 are greatly improved, with growth of just under 15% — more than double last year’s growth. Imports of marble — which includes limestone, according to U.S. Customs — have been more than 20% this year.

OK, four months down so far in 2013, and eight more to go. Let’s see that momentum continue!

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.



Image Galleries

November 2013 Stone Products Gallery

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


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


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 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 to register for upcoming fabricator and installer seminars.


facebook logo Twitter  YouTube