OK, I finally admit it, the stone fabrication market is down. It is not “perceived to be down,” as I have repeatedly argued with my publisher; it is not “up and down.” It is simply “down.” Now, with that being said, the question I have is how far down, and how is this downward trend truly affecting fabricators in the marketplace? Are many shops in dire straits? How many layoffs are taking place? Is anyone buying machinery these days?
In May of 2006, I wrote a column for Stone World entitled, “Silicosis: Dangerous from many angles” that stressed the need for stone fabrication shops to understand the issues of silicosis in our industry, to develop proper procedures in their shop and to educate their employees on the disease. At that time, the Marble Institute of America (MIA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) had recently entered into an alliance to develop information to help MIA member employers and workers recognize and prevent hazards such as exposure to silica. The results of this alliance have been extremely positive, and they are continuing to develop.
Last month, I drove to Richmond, VA, to check out the new Charles Luck Stone Center. And while I anticipated seeing a new, top-of-the-line stone showroom, I ended up seeing a lot more than that. Taking their cue from high-end retailers such as Gucci, Prada and Armani as well as hospitality experts such as Ritz-Carlton, the people at Charles Luck Stone Center have truly created a stone sourcing “experience.”
No matter how long you’ve been in the stone industry, or what areas of expertise you have developed, you can always benefit from continuing and advancing your education. Fortunately, there is no shortage of high-quality educational opportunities within the stone industry. One prime example of this can be found at StonExpo, which takes place from October 18 to 20 this month in Las Vegas, NV. In fact, an extra day of seminars - with longer, more in-depth sessions - is set for October 17, the day before the exposition opens.
As usual, the CarraraMarmotec trade fair included some interesting stone industry analyses when it took place in Carrara, Italy, a couple of months ago. Among them, the show’s organizer, Internazionale Marmi e Macchine, presented the “Stone Sector,” an annual statistical handbook on world production, consumption and trade of natural stone.
Not too long ago, I received an e-mail from a public relations firm representing Toyota, saying that they wanted to lend Stone World one of their Toyota Tundra trucks for review. As a quasi-construction magazine, Stone World has been placed on many periodical lists used by public relations firms, and as such, we get a lot of misdirected e-mail from “mainstream” construction-related companies. Since I couldn’t discern a relationship between Toyota trucks and the stone industry, I chalked this e-mail up to Stone World’s presence on some sort of list, hit the “delete” button, and went on with my day.
Earlier this year, I made my annual trip to Brazil for the Vitória Stone Fair, which has very quickly developed into one of the most important international stone fairs in the world. As I walked the show floor and met with the exhibitors on hand, the overall feeling was a bit different than the past few years. Although the pace in the exhibit hall was brisk, and containers of slabs were certainly being purchased at a solid rate, many owners of Brazilian stoneworking plants cautioned me that the rapid growth they enjoyed over the past few years has slowed down a bit in recent months. It hasn’t exactly plateaued, but the 20 to 30% growth rates seem to be less common than before.
I was thumbing through an issue of The New York Daily News the other day, and my heart sank when I saw a headline that read “KILLED BY MARBLE SLABS.” I went on to read that Xavier Minchala-Cardenas, a 19-year-old immigrant from Ecuador, was stacking slabs in a Queens, NY, stone shop when several of the slabs toppled over, pinning him underneath. Although six New York firefighters and several shop workers were able to pull him from the rubble, he died from his injuries a few days afterward.
Every spring, Major League Baseball heads to Arizona and Florida for Spring Training. And while much of the talk there is obviously about baseball, the ritual also gives rise to “human interest” stories about the ballplayers - particularly the non-superstars, who get enough press during the regular season.
In this issue of Contemporary Stone & Tile Design magazine, we present a Cersaie 2016 product showcase, some tips and tricks for renovating and updating, we sit down with the interior designer for REDCOM Design & Construction, Sophie Lubin, and much more!