Back when I was in college, I saw one of those too-good-to-be-true advertisements for home electronics in the newspaper. It offered a complete stereo system for only $100, but cautioned that there were only a few in stock, so it would be first-come, first-serve. With this in mind, I hustled down to the store the next day before the doors opened, and snatched one of the remaining discount units as soon as I could enter the premises. Proud of my savvy purchasing skills, I boasted of this bargain to a friend, who offered this piece of unsolicited advice: “If you buy a stereo system for $100, you end up with a stereo worth $100.” Chalking up this comment to jealousy (and not totally sure what he even meant), I placed my friend's counsel out of my mind for the next six months -- until the stereo suddenly died and could not be brought back to life. This occurred only a few days after the warranty expired, by the way.

The lesson to be learned here is that when a deal seems too good to be true, it often is. This is not only true in our personal lives, but also in the business world -- perhaps even more so. More than ever before, the stone industry is seeing an influx of new companies who are looking to capitalize on the success of the sector over the past few years. There are many new faces in our industry that weren't there only 10 years ago (or even five years ago).

Now, I've already written at length about the new fabricators in the marketplace, but what about the companies outside the sector who are selling to the stone industry? We are seeing new vendors from around the world -- offering everything from diamond tools to machinery to marketing services. And of course, they are also brokering stone materials. And while many of these vendors are responsible and committed to the industry for the long-term, there are others who may be in it for the quick buck and will not be there during the inevitable recessions and downturns.

With increased competition in the marketplace and subsequent decreased margins, there is a great temptation to look down new avenues for a better deal. This is, in fact, a very good business practice. If a company refuses to progress and evolve with the times, it will inevitably be passed by the competition. A major portion of this “evolution” is developing an efficient supply/vendor network. But it is also important to remember that the best purchasing decisions are based on factors that go beyond the cheapest bottom line. Stone is regarded as a premium building material, and the success of this industry was not built by cutting corners (a statement that can be taken literally).

The stone industry is continuing to develop -- on a global basis and in all sectors of the trade. And by keeping up with these developments -- at trade shows, in magazines and in the field -- industry professionals can keep one step ahead of the competition. But when it comes time to make the purchase, remember that we've all bought into the “$100 stereo system” at one point in our lives. Let's make sure we take the time not to let history repeat itself.

Michael Reis, Editor/Associate Publisher