In this issue of Stone World, we present our annual Fabricator Market Forecast (page 34), where hundreds of stone fabrication professionals from around the country offer their predictions for the coming year as well as their expectations for the long-term. Moreover, this study gauges how stone fabricators plan to spend their money in 2010 - in real dollar amounts.
With the issue that you currently hold in your hands, Stone World Magazine officially marks 25 years of covering the international stone industry. I’ve been with the magazine for 17 of those years, and if I could have written this column two and a half years ago, I’d be able to say that it has been an overwhelmingly positive experience.
Although I am in contact with individual stone fabricators on an almost-daily basis, I don’t often get to sit in a room full of fabricators outside of the trade show circuit. And since the last major U.S. trade show was Coverings back in April, I was eager to gauge the collective viewpoint of the stone fabricators who gathered in my home state of New Jersey last month for a segment of the Marble Institute of America/Stone World Industry Education series.
Like pretty much everyone else out there, I am at a loss as to when we will truly be out of this recession. Two years ago, when it became clear that there was trouble on the horizon, the general consensus was that we would see some sort of downward financial “adjustment,” but it likely wouldn’t be long term - and certainly not this severe.
In my travels as editor of Stone World, I have toured large-scale stoneworking plants in locales around the world. These trips have taken me to classic stoneworking villages in Italy, Spain and Germany as well as relative “newcomers” in Brazil and China. However, in 16-plus years at Stone World, I never had the chance to check out the stone industry in India.
As is often the case during my travels, some inspiration for a column finds its way into my head, and I have to get it out before the normalcy of returning home wipes it away. That is why I am typing this column from my hotel room in Nuremberg, Germany, only a few hours after the international Stone+tec trade fair closed its doors.
In speaking with people at the recent Coverings exhibition in Chicago, IL, the universal sentiment I heard was “We are seeing some good signs. Things are starting to pick up.” This was true of both fabricators and stone suppliers at the event, and even some of the machinery suppliers said that they were pleasantly surprised by the amount of interest they were seeing on the show floor.
Over the past few weeks, a hard-working editor on the Stone World staff took quite a bit of time to compile the year-end stone import and export statistics that are recorded by the U.S. Department of Commerce. To my mild surprise - and contrary to what I’ve been hearing from many stone suppliers - the total was not “zero.”
This past February, I made my annual trip to Vitória, Brazil, for the Vitória Stone Fair, which takes place in the stone-rich state of Espírito Santo, where much of Brazil’s stone is quarried, processed and ultimately shipped to the U.S. And in the days leading up to the event, I took the opportunity to schedule visits with major stoneworking factories in the Vitória area, near the city and its shipping port, as well as the Cachoeiro region, which is closer to the quarries.
OK, so “absolute zero” is actually a scientific term unrelated to the business world. These past few months, I often feel like it is the level of business in today’s stone industry - or perhaps the latest closing figure for the stock market (as in “The Dow closed today at absolute zero.”)
In this issue of Contemporary Stone & Tile Design, we bring you our annual focus on Kitchen & Bath Design. From a beach-inspired bathroom design to a kitchen backsplash made of circular mosaic tile, the following are filled with illustrations of innovative and unique uses of stone and tile.