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.
Back in January, I traveled to Austin, TX, to visit a friend of mine (and to get a little work done). When I got off the plane, the business portion of my trip started pretty much as usual. I visited a granite countertop fabricator in the area and talked about the CNC machinery, bridge saws, edging machines, etc. they use in their day-to-day operations. I took some photos of their equipment in action, looked at some finished countertops and called it a day. It was the continuation of our magazine’s goal and mission to provide our readers with “real life” examples of the stone fabrication sector, providing practical information on countertop production in the field.
Park Industries introduces the Destiny® XE CNC Stonecenter, which has been engineered to increase production capabilities with automatic changing of 50 tools. Users can route and edge straight or decorative radius shapes on 1- to 6-cm stone with just one easy set-up, the company reports.
I have been on many boards and committees during my years at Stone World, and while they have all been important, and I feel like we achieved some worthwhile goals, no group has the potential to do as much good for the stone industry as the Natural Stone Council (NSC).
A year and a half ago, VIC International, with its engineering and manufacturing joint venture associate, Schubert Environmental Equipment, sought to address the problem of adequate water treatment for stone fabricators without “over costing the problem” with ultra high efficiency water cleaners.
Each year, the parent company of Stone World Magazine polls stone fabricators around the U.S. to get their outlook for the coming year and beyond. And over the past few years, the results have been overwhelmingly positive - for the short term as well as the long term. However, in this year’s report (beginning on page 58), the overall feeling was optimistic - but a bit more tempered than in the recent past.