While the snowy weather conditions might have delayed travel, it didn't stop exhibitors and attendees from making it down to Baltimore, MD, for the StonExpo and Marble Institute of America Convention, which was held from December 5 to 7, 2002. Leaders of both organizations report that the trade show and convention was one of the most successful stone industry business and educational events that they have held since the first exhibition in 1987.

In total, 4,051 people participated in the trade show, educational seminars and convention activities - including 1,290 from exhibiting companies and 2,791 attendees. Nearly 200 companies displayed a full range of stone materials, fabricating equipment and accessories, and stone care and installation products.

According to statistics, 49% of the attendees were the owners or president non-owners of their stone companies, and 13% were managers of their businesses. Of all the attendees participating, 73% were authorized to make or specify purchases on behalf of their companies, and 95% found new products or met new suppliers at the trade show.

To further breakdown attendee profiles, 15% said that their primary business was fabricating countertops, 16% focused on the residential stone market, 17% concentrated on the stonework for commercial or institutional markets, 11% on remodeling or renovation and 12% on the stone used in new construction. Additionally, attendees expressed their intent on making the most of their time at the trade show by also taking advantage of a record total of 25 educational seminars that were offered as part of the MIA's Cornerstone Forum.

As testament to the success of the exhibition, pre-show sales of exhibit space for StonExpo 2003 in Atlanta reached 75%, with nearly two-thirds of exhibitor companies reserving their space for the coming year, reported organizers.

MIA business

The Marble Institute of America, Inc. (MIA) held its annual meeting as part of the event. Members of the organization - the world's leading association of natural stone professionals - elected Richard Booms, President of Booms Stone Co. of Redford, MI, as MIA President and named a new Board of Directors. The members also unanimously approved the first dues increase in a decade, and the MIA Board adopted an updated Code of Ethics.

"I am honored to serve MIA in this new role and am excited about the opportunities ahead for increasing MIA's size and influence," Booms stated. "By unanimously approving the dues increase, MIA members have demonstrated their full support for our efforts to more aggressively promote natural stone to consumers and design professionals. Additional funds will also help us to increase the association's visibility and services to members."

Booms lauded the service of Immediate Past President Robert Stasswender of Southwest Marble & Granite Works, Inc. of Austin, TX. "[Stasswender] played a critical role in steering MIA through a year of many changes," Booms said. "Our entire organization is grateful for his vision and leadership."

Other MIA officers are Vice President Paul Vigna of Artisan Tile & Marble in Somerset, NJ; Secretary Scott Lardner of Rocky Mountain Stone Co. in Albuquerque, NM; and Treasurer Kenny Krebs of Tennessee Tile & Marble Co., Inc. in Hermitage, TN.

The Board of Directors is comprised of Nancy Dunn, Clervi Marble Co., San Francisco, CA; Vic Green, VIC International Corp., Knoxville, TN; Jesus Gonzalez, Marble World SA de CV, Garza Garcia, Mexico; Anthony Ieraci, Ciot Imports Co., Ltd., Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Abraham Mekuria, Mitin Pvt. Ltd. Mining Co., Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Jack Seiders, At Large; Mark Shedrofsky, Stone Source, New York, NY; and Mario Venezia, Pisani Brothers S.p.A., Avenza-Carrara, Italy.

A record number of registrants for MIA's Cornerstone Forum seminars presented at StonExpo is further evidence that MIA is the authoritative resource for natural stone education and technical expertise, said MIA Executive Vice President Garis F. Distelhorst. "Forum attendance reached nearly 1,800 this year, up more than 250 from 2001, and included many architects who had the opportunity to earn up to 20 continuing education learning units in health, safety and welfare."

Participants gave high marks to the 25 seminars offered on a variety of industry-related topics including stone design and installation, best stone maintenance practices, and industry growth trends. Distelhorst called the annual meeting and trade show a big success for MIA. "We were also very pleased with the great number of members and StonExpo participants who joined us at our booth to learn more about MIA activities and new publications, such as our new consumer brochure and technical Q&A guide," he said. "We signed up over two dozen new members and succeeded in generating tremendous enthusiasm for MIA's future."

Another high point of the meeting was the presentation of the highly coveted MIA Pinnacle Awards to natural stone professionals whose work demonstrated outstanding design and craftsmanship. Honored this year at a gala luncheon were MIA members whose work included projects as diverse as the reconstruction of the Pentagon, renovation of the New York Public Library, and an upscale kitchen installation in a private residence. A full-length feature on the winning projects appears in the March 2003 issue of Stone World.

The next edition of the trade show and convention is scheduled from December 4 to 6, 2003 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, GA.