Stone Column

Emphasizing the Positives

January 23, 2009
In the “Forum” section of this issue (page 106), I had the unfortunate task of recapping the distressing events surrounding the closure of Rock Tops, a Michigan firm with multiple operations in several states. Although it is bad news to hear of any event that leaves stoneworking professionals out of a job, the closure of Rock Tops is at once a “worst case scenario” and a cautionary tale.
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Fabricators Assess the Future

January 7, 2009
Every year, Stone World’s parent company, BNP Media, conducts an in-depth survey among U.S. stone fabricators. This survey gauges their short-term and long-term market predictions and their capital outlay and purchasing plans for the future.
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Notes from StonExpo

November 1, 2008
Last month, I made my annual trip to the StonExpo trade show in Las Vegas, NV. And while I don’t think that trade shows provide a tell-all barometer on the state of a particular industry, I was curious to gauge the feelings and concerns of those in attendance.
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A Field Trip Worth Taking

October 2, 2008
Like many stone industry professionals today, I find myself facing difficult financial times for the first time in my career. Over the past 15-plus years, my professional day-to-day life has grown in unison with the growth of the stone industry, and this has been particularly evident in my robust travel schedule.
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What's lurking in our Industry?

September 2, 2008
When I opened up my paper of choice, The New York Times, two weeks ago, I saw a headline in the Home Section entitled, “What’s Lurking in Your Countertop?” By now, we all probably know much of what happened as a result of this article. Subsequently, other major news outlets - including radio and network television - have picked up the story. On YouTube, videos appeared showing people holding a Geiger counter against a granite slab - dramatic scenes with jumping needles and lots of noise indicating that something is seriously awry. Stone distributors and fabricators started receiving way too many calls from concerned homeowners - some hysterical; some reasonable but worried.

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Walking the line

August 1, 2008
With American stone industry companies fighting harder than ever before to turn a profit, we are seeing a number of approaches to offsetting the decline in sales these days. Some firms are lowering prices in an attempt to draw more business - although this seems rare among established stone fabricators. Other have changed their target client base, and they are aggressively going after new markets in an attempt to regain some lost business (i.e. remodeling work rather than new construction). Unfortunately, though, no matter what sales and marketing strategy is in place, the majority of U.S. stone fabrication shops will not do the same volume of business that they did a year ago (or even two years ago).
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Supporting the truth about granite

July 1, 2008
For those of you who don’t already know, the “scare tactics” regarding granite and radon are out there once again. Basically, it’s the same old re-run from years ago: “Are granite countertops killing innocent families? We don’t know, but we’re looking into it. In the meantime, why don’t you try this alternative material?”
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Brazil digs in

June 1, 2008
Ever since the Vitória Stone Fair began taking place in the stoneworking region of Vitória, Brazil, in 2002, the show’s growth and energy has mirrored the explosive growth of Brazil’s stone industry. This past edition, however, took place at a time when the nation’s industry is facing its first real challenges since becoming a major player in the international stone industry. Because Brazil relies heavily on the U.S. as an importer of its finished stone products - particularly granite slabs - the downturn in the U.S. housing market has had a noticeable impact on the Brazilian stone industry.
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A new era in Carrara

May 8, 2008
For many stone industry purists, the stoneworking region of Carrara, Italy, is the heart of our industry. As the home of Carrara White marble - Michelangelo’s material of choice - it has a built-in history in stone. More importantly, it has been home to generations of stoneworking professionals who are passionate about stone and its place in architecture, art and culture. I’ve been traveling to this region for over 10 years, and every time I visit, I am reminded that this dedication to the artistry of stone remains alive and well today.
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A slice of Americana

April 1, 2008
In this issue of Stone World Magazine, our “Re-Emerging U.S. Stone Industry” subject is the Cold Spring Granite Co.’s Carnelian granite quarry, which is located in Milbank, SD (page 38). This quarry has made a name for itself by supplying material for prestigious projects across the country, perhaps most notably the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, DC, which utilized 6,000 tons of Carnelian granite. This fact alone entrenches Carnelian granite’s place among the historic materials of our nation.

 


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As usual, stone suppliers from Italy and around the world relied on the Marmomacc fair to showcase some of the latest stone materials to the international marketplace. The following is a look at just some of the stone materials on display in Verona.

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