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MIA SURVEY REVEALS POSITIVE NEWS FOR U.S. STONE INDUSTRY . . .
A survey commissioned by the Marble Institute of America (MIA) at the December 2003 StonExpo trade show in Atlanta, GA, reveals that the majority of stone professionals in attendance expect 2004 to be a better year for their businesses and the U.S. economy.
A total of 85.4% of the 400 attendees personally surveyed by the Hudson Economics Group, L.L.C. are optimistic about the U.S. economy for 2004. More specifically, 26.6% believe the economy will grow 1-2%; 24.3% think it will grow 2-3%; and 13.9% expect 3-5% growth.
Survey participants, which included natural stone fabricators, wholesalers, distributors, importers, finishers and quarriers, expect their businesses to perform better than the U.S. economy in 2004, with the majority expecting to see growth between 3 and 30%.
When polled about their businesses, specifically their plans for capital investments and employment and their most significant business challenges, responses were as follows: 42.2% plan on investing 0 to $100,000; 26.0% plan on investing $100,000 to $250,000; 6.4% plan on investing $250,000 to $500,000; 6.4% plan on investing $500,000 to $1 million; and 4.0% plan on investing more than $1 million.
More than 75% plan to bring on new hires, as opposed to just replacing departing employees or those laid off or fired. And the most common business problems and challenges were as follows: personnel (26.7%); competitive market (22.3%); cash flow (20.4%); economy (11.2%) and suppliers (6.8%). A total of 5.8% of respondents stated â€œother,â€ and 6.8% did not answer.
â€œThe general optimism this survey reveals among natural stone professionals is well-founded,â€ says Garis F. Distelhorst, MIA Executive Vice President. â€œDemand for natural stone continues to build in the commercial and residential marketplaces despite the lagging economy. Helping to drive that demand is a growing appreciation of natural stone's superiority over engineered products, both in beauty and value.
â€œMIA is proud to play a key role in educating design professionals and consumers about real natural stone,â€ Distelhorst continued, â€œand in the year ahead, we will continue to offer our members the technical expertise and business advantages they need to grow their businesses.â€