It is no secret that the Brazilian granite industry has grown tremendously over the course of the last decade. In the early 1990s, Brazilian granite suppliers began seriously marketing material to the American market, and exports of granite from Brazil to the U.S. reached a total of $19.5 million in 1994. Five years later, that total reached $42.9 million, and by 2004, a total of $267.9 million worth of Brazilian granite was exported to the U.S., placing Brazil a close second behind Italy in terms of granite exports to America.
No matter how many times I travel to Italy, it never gets old -- and not just because of the excellent food and wine I enjoy while I am there. As editor of Stone World Magazine, I am fortunate enough to travel to Italy at least two or three times each year, and every time I go, something new seems to be taking place in the stone industry.
The American Red Cross estimates that 275,000 homes have been destroyed by Katrina and the flooding that followed in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. More than 1 million people have been displaced, their homes unlivable and likely to be demolished. Rebuilding these homes and helping these families represents a staggering challenge, especially when you attach names and faces to the evacuees.
As soon as I approached the entrance to this month's â€œRe-Emerging U.S. Stone Industryâ€ subject - Vangura Surfacing Products of North Huntingdon, PA - I knew this was not going to be a typical fabrication shop article. To begin with, the facilities of the company were quite imposing, with multiple large-scale buildings and its own private roadway leading from the highway. Driving past several loading bays and warehouse/manufacturing facilities, I ultimately reached the main lobby - an inviting, two-story space that showcases a broad range of finished stonework.
Over the years, companies in the stone industry have developed a reputation as a bunch of â€œgood old boys.â€ This has been particularly true of stone fabricators. Given this assessment, one might get the impression that the typical stone fabricator in North America sets about his daily business with a hammer and chisel - and perhaps a hat made of folded newspaper.
In this issue of Stone World, we take a look at several U.S. stone producers. Among them is Quality Stone Quarries in Stigler, OK. The owner of the quarry has transitioned his business through the years to keep up with market demand.