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Given today’s extremely difficult economic climate - which has been particularly challenging for the stone industry - it was difficult to predict the activity for this year’s edition of StonExpo 2008, which took place from October 16 to 18, 2008 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV. Ultimately, though, the companies that displayed at the event - now StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas - seemed to agree that the event met expectations.
StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas boasted 276 exhibiting companies in 113,000 square feet of space, and it was attended by nearly 6,000 industry professionals. Key audience segments had modest growth, including a 3% increase in international attendance and a 2% increase in the architecture and design segments - both attributable to Marmomacc’s increased influence on the event.
As always, StonExpo served as a launching ground for a range of new machinery and products. Manufacturers of stoneworking equipment unveiled several new innovations at this year’s event that had never been seen before. This included new CNC introductions, waterjet technology, cutting solutions and more.
“We were expecting StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas to be a ghost town, so I was quite shocked to find a large line of fabricators waiting outside of the show on opening day,” said Mike Saraylian of Blick Industries. “We were quite pleased with the attendees, especially considering the current state of the economy. Overall, the show was well done and exceeded our expectations.”
In addition to stoneworking technology, the exhibition also included several new solutions for upgrading the fabrication shop itself, such as material handling and storage products, air and water filtration systems and equipment for dealing with shop waste.
In terms of stone products, attendees at the event were able to peruse a sampling of granite, marble, limestone and other materials - including a number of high-end exotic materials that have remained popular in today’s marketplace.
Among the highlights of the show this year was the expanded New Product Pavilion (NPP). Centrally located in the lobby just outside the entrance, it was one of the busiest areas of the show and constantly had a crowd of attendees browsing the latest products available to the industry. GranQuartz took top honors with its product, the Pro-Cart AT1 by Omni Cubed, Inc.
Educational SessionsIn addition to the exhibition, StonExpo has been noted for its in-depth, quality education program. This includes a detailed seminar program as well as hands-on demonstrations in the exhibition area.
As usual, the 2008 seminar program included three open Fabricator Forums at the start of each day. The forums on October 16 and 18 focused on fabrication work, while the October 17 forum focused on countertop installation in the field. These sessions ran for 90 minutes each, and they encouraged participants to bring up industry issues currently affecting the stone industry. Topics ranged from seam placement and overhands to tracking waste, billing issues, templating and more. (Look for in-depth reports on the topics covered in these forums in a future issue of Stone World.)
As part of StonExchange, attendees participated in informative sessions from the MIA, SFA and the Natural Stone Council (NSC), along with two roundtable discussions with industry experts and a keynote presentation on surviving and thriving in any kind of economy.
Sidebar: Stone World presents â€œFabricator of the Yearâ€ AwardSince 1987, a committee of stone industry veterans has worked together to select the winners of the Stone World Magazine “Fabricator of the Year” Award (formerly the Technological Achievement Award). The award, which is given to a North American stone producer, is based on the following criteria:
| cooperativeness in sharing technology with the industry |
| willingness to pioneer the use of new technology |
| fostering educational programs for the training of stoneworkers in industry methods |
| promoting technological progress through association work |
This year’s award was given to Paul Menninger of Capitol Granite & Marble in Midlothian, VA. In 2002, Menninger opened Capitol Granite & Marble in a 5,000-square-foot facility. In five years, the company expanded from a five-person operation to a 27,000-square-foot facility employing over 70 people operating in two shifts. Menninger recognized and seized the opportunity of utilizing automation and new technologies in fabricating stone and quartz countertops. For over three years, Menninger has been a Park Industries Customer Council member, representing thousands of fabricators and providing the company with direct and candid feedback regarding equipment automation. The company also has an “open door” policy in which it has welcomed visits by other fabricators from around the country, as well as trade publications. Menninger has also presented at a number of trade show events. Working with technology manufacturers, the shop has been instrumental in the development of new equipment and tooling. Additionally, Capitol Granite & Marble was one of the first companies to apply for the MIA Accreditation Program.
2008 - Paul Menninger, Capitol Granite & Marble
2007 - Ron Hannah, Cadenza Granite & Marble
2006 - Dick Laliberte, Ripano Stoneworks
2005 - G.K. Naquin, Stone Interiors
2004 - Tim and Scott Buechel, Buechel Stone Corp.
2003 - Kip Cameron, Granite-Tops
2002 - George Fox, Luck Stone Corp.
2001 - Fred Becker, Becker & Becker Stone Co.
2000 - Connie and Brenda Edwards, TexaStone Quarries
1999 - Walter Dusenbery, Johnson-Atelier School, Sculpture
1998 - Harold Stobbe, Owen Sound Ledgerock
1996 - Willard Vetter, Vetter Stone Co.
1995 - Chuck Monson, Dakota Granite Co.
1994 - Linus Dingman, Cold Spring Granite Co.
1993 - David Teitelbaum, Cathedral Stoneworks
1991 - Wilbur Bybee, Bybee Stone Co.
1989 - Tony Ramos, New England Stone Industries
1988 - Jim Stengel, Dakota Granite Co.
1987 - David Elliott, Elliott Stone Co.