Every January, Stone World presents its annual Fabricator
Market Forecast, where hundreds of stone fabrication professionals from around
the country present their expectations for the coming year as well as their
feelings for the long-term.
At a time when the international stone industry is
scrambling on a global level - where it seems that no port is safe from this
economic hailstorm - Italy
has managed to ride out the crisis by maintaining its position as an innovator
in all things stone.
A decade ago, I traveled to the famed Giallo Veneziano
quarry in Brazil -- via helicopter -- and immediately counted it among the most
interesting places I visited while doing this job. To see an entire mountain of
granite being worked by nearly 100 people was a sight I will not forget.
With fabrication shops working on tighter margins than ever before, many shop managers and owners are eliminating unnecessary cost by increasing efficiency. Recently, I conducted a roundtable on increasing shop efficiency with members of the Stone Fabricators Alliance (SFA), which can be found on page 62 of this issue.
As I walked around two of the major international trade fairs earlier this year - Coverings in the U.S. and the Vitória Stone Fair in Brazil - major exporters were telling me that sales to the American market had decidedly increased for the first quarter of 2010.
Over the past few months, my travels to international trade shows have given me the opportunity to sit down with some of the world’s major stone producers to gauge the current market conditions. Not surprisingly, many of these suppliers are based in Brazil. And for the first time in awhile, their mood is upbeat.
Each May, Stone World publishes the year-end summary of all stone imports into the U.S., which are recorded by the U.S. Department of Commerce. For comparative purposes, we also publish the year-end statistics from a year before.
Each and every year, the number of deaths and serious injuries caused by improper slab handling is at a point where I am compelled to dedicate an entire column to the subject. Frankly, one death per year is too many, but it has been far more than that, and it appears that this is a subject that continually requires revisiting.
In this issue of Stone World, read more about the new Silica Rule, which was recently announced by the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) and scheduled to go into effect on June 23, 2016.