Natural stone fabrication in the U.S. has been enjoying explosive growth over the past decade -- primarily in the area of kitchen countertops. In all regions of the country, there are new stone fabricators who have equipped their shops with some of the latest stoneworking technology, as well as long-established firms who have continually upgraded their facilites and techniques.

In this issue of Stone World, we take a look at six different stone producers in a series of “Fabricator Case Studies.” These stone fabricators are based in locations around the U.S., and each case is unique. Whether it is their diverse origins, different machinery or simply a new approach to doing business, there is something to be learned from all of the companies featured in this issue.

Our cover story features GranTops of Frederick, MD, which has a very structured approach to business -- from shop procedures to customer satisfaction surveys (page 120). Every aspect of the business has a set of procedures, which ultimately increase the quality of the installed product.

This focus on quality is evident at all of the fabrication shops that we covered in this issue. Whether it is a smaller shop with seven workers, or a large-scale facility with 50 employees, the craftsmanship is evident, and these practices serve to boost the stone industry as a whole. Even though there are more players in stone fabrication than ever, there certainly seems to be enough work to go around, and placing an emphasis on quality will ensure that natural stone retains its reputation as a first-class building material.

The expansion of the stone industry -- and its growing market share in the field -- depends on a great deal of cooperation among its members. Many of the fabricators interviewed in this issue said they received excellent advice and guidance from industry veterans -- not only suppliers of machinery and tooling, but also from other fabricators. This is not surprising, because there has always seemed to be a spirit of cooperation among stone fabricators, but it is always encouraging to see.

Additionally, credit should be given to all of the companies who cooperated in the production of this issue. These firms opened their doors to our reporters and camera, and their willingness to share information is commendable.