On June 3 of this year, M+Q Granit AG commemorated 70 years of business in the international stone industry. And over that time, the company has developed a block trading network that literally spans the entire works.

The company was established in 1932 by Hans Suter in Zurich, Switzerland, as Marmor + Quartzit GmbH. Since its foundation, the company has always specialized in the trade of marble and granite, holding initial agreements with companies in France, Norway, Rome, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland and Germany. The company's first markets were Switzerland, Italy, Germany, France and Austria.

At the beginning of the 1960s, M+Q began doing business in South Africa, where Suter became acquainted with the firm, Destag. The company was eventually sold to Destag in 1971, and the name was changed to its current full title, M+Q Granit AG. In 1981, the company established a stockyard for the sale of blocks in Carrara, and it took part in the Marmo Macchine Fair (now CarraraMarmotec) for the first time.

During the 1980s, the company expanded and gained exclusive rights to granite and marble varieties around the world. Its mother company, Destag, purchased quarries and began block production in countries such as Brazil, the U.S., India and others, as well as increasing production in South Africa.

At the end of 1996, Destag sold M+Q to the group who still owns the company today, and the company began its association with Rexgraniti, which is well-known as a distributor of stone blocks.

Within Italy, there are a total of four stockyards. The main facility is in Marina di Massa, near the port, and there are three other stockyards in Pozzallo (Sicily), Tolentino (Marche) and Caprino Veronese (Veneto).

But M+Q's presence goes beyond Italy. Over the past three years, the company has established facilities in Viga, Spain; in Poland and Northern Europe via the port of Antwerp, Belgium; in the ex-Yugoslavia in the ports of Rijeka and Serbia; and in the Czech Republic. The company has also situated themselves in the U.S. (Vermont) and in China (Xiamen). These operations only deal in block trading, and they are established in conjunction with local minority partners.

M+Q stocks 200 different materials, including granite varieties from South Africa, India, Brazil, Norway, Finland, Spain, the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Canada as well as marble from Turkey and Tunisia.

The company maintains its primary stockyard near the port in Marina di Carrara, Italy, with 20,000 cubic meters of material in stock. The total of material stored throughout Italy is 50,000 cubic meters.

M+Q sold a total of 60,000 cubic meters of stone last year, which represents a major increase over five years ago, when annual sales were 12,000 cubic meters. M+Q Branch Manager Claudio Cupisti explained that sales grew steadily as world market demand for stone rose, and even with the current financial uncertainty on the international front, sales are expected to remain at 60,000 cubic meters this year.

As a block trader, Cupisti pointed out that the company faces unique challenges from countries who quarry and fabricate natural stone, particularly granite-producing nations such as India, China and Brazil. "I am by nature an optimist, and I believe that there will always be an economic cycle," Cupisti said. "But Italy is a processing country; not truly a granite quarrier other than white and Sardinian granites."

Looking at the world situation, Cupisti points to the U.S. as a primary target for tile and slab exports. With this in mind, the company sells blocks to a number of different large-scale fabricators who specialize in exporting finished products to the American marketplace.