Taking place from November 9 to 11 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, StonExpo 2006 had a record-setting event in terms of attendance and exhibitors.

Coming off of an exceptionally successful 2005 show, the industry once again committed to StonExpo in 2006 this past November. The result was a sold-out exhibit floor and record attendance at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

StonExpo 2006, which took place from November 9 to 11 in Las Vegas, drew a record total attendance of 7,556, a 20% increase over the record-setting 2005 event. The event drew stone fabricators from around the country and abroad, as well as installers, architects, designers, distributors, builders, retailers and kitchen & bath specialists.

Taking place from November 9 to 11 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, StonExpo 2006 had a record-setting event in terms of attendance and exhibitors.

The show floor also increased by 25%, and offered 102,200 net square feet of exhibition space. Companies participating in StonExpo showcased the latest stone products, stoneworking machinery, tools, electronic and digital technology, stone maintenance products and more. A record 264 exhibiting companies participated in the show. Very often, these companies use StonExpo as a platform for new product introductions, and this year was no exception - as firms supplying stone materials, fabricating technology and maintenance products all unveiled new items at the 2006 event.

StonExpo drew a record total attendance of 7,556, a 20% increase over the record-setting 2005 event.

 “The Marble Institute had a fantastic trade show experience and the best member reception ever at StonExpo 2006 in Las Vegas,” said Gary Distelhorst, Executive Director of the Marble Institute of America (MIA). “With hundreds of MIA members in attendance and a few thousand potential members at the show, we were busy in our booth almost every minute the trade show was open.

“The neat things that distinguish StonExpo from other shows are that it is a stone-only show and that it attracts high-quality attendees,” Distelhorst continued. “The serious players are at StonExpo because of the quality of the exhibits, the quality of the education and the quality of attendees to network with.”

Among exhibitors of stone products, the Italian Trade Commission had an expansive booth showcasing the natural stones of Italy.

Providing industry education

The stone industry has also confirmed the need for quality education, which is a major component of StonExpo’s program. A total of 3,897 sessions were attended in this year’s Conference Program - a 13% increase over 2005. Stone professionals were able to choose from 36 expert-led courses in five targeted tracks - Business Management, Design/Marketing Trends, Fabrication/Installation, Sales/Marketing and Care/Maintenance/Restoration.

Exhibitors of stoneworking machinery and accessories also saw strong activity during StonExpo 2006.

“The seminars at StonExpo 2006 were better than any other conference I have attended,” said Don Halvorson of Forensic Tile Consultants in Thousand Oaks, CA. “They were also even better attended than previous shows. A lot of times the courses on countertops are the most popular, but at StonExpo there was a great interest in all educational presentations.”

StonExpo’s conference program was well attended, with a total of 3,897 people attending 36 different sessions in five tracks. Among them was “CNC - Research Before You Buy,” which was presented by Mark Lauzon of Stoneworks in Hubbard, OR, and moderated by Michael Reis of Stone World.

The Stone Live! educational sessions on the show floor were also a huge hit. Fabricators, installers, designers, architects and others received up-close instruction on challenging applications such as installing large mosaic medallions, sealing natural stone floors and installing and maintaining countertops. Many of the demonstrations were standing room only.

“The introduction of Stone Live! is great because it allows fabricators to see how things should be done,” said Ronald Hannah of Cadenza Granite & Marble in Concord, NC, a member of the Stone Fabricators Alliance. “This will help elevate the quality of the work they do in the industry.”

The Stone Fabricators Alliance exhibited as an organization for the first time at StonExpo 2006, sharing practical knowledge with attendees.

Social/networking activities

In addition to the exhibition and educational sessions, the organizers and participating companies at StonExpo offered ample opportunity for networking during the three days of the event.

Towards the end of the event’s opening day, November 9,Stone Worldhosted a cocktail hour in conjunction with its presentation of the “Fabricator of the Year” Award, which was given to Dick Laliberte of Ripano Stoneworks in Nashua, NH (see “Stone Worldpresents “Fabricator of the Year” Award,” page 176).

The Stone Live! educational sessions on the show floor were also a huge hit. Fabricators, installers, designers, architects and others received up-close instruction on challenging applications.

This was followed by the MIA Member Gala Reception, which featured a lively appearance by “Big Elvis,” a Las Vegas institution who has received several awards for his performances in the city. MIA members also received a range of valuable prizes and MIA memorabilia as part of a drawing at the close of the reception.

On Friday evening, November 10, after two busy days at StonExpo, attendees and exhibitors were able to take part in the show’s official “Welcome Reception,” which took place on the exhibit floor. Sponsors provided beverages and snacks to attendees while they continued to cover the show floor and network with exhibitors and peers. Attendees stopped by the booths of the following reception sponsors to see their latest products and services while they enjoyed food and drinks: EuroStone Machine/Pyramid Supply, Hard Rock Tool, Hiab, Inc., Matrix Stone Products, Park Industries, Regent Stone Products, Sommer & Maca, Water Treatment Technologies and Z. Bavelloni.

Towards the end of the event’s opening day, November 9, Stone World hosted a cocktail hour in conjunction with its presentation of the “Fabricator of the Year” Award.

Additionally, Hard Rock Tool held its own customer appreciation party after exhibition hours. Appropriately, it was held within the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

Not to be outdone, the Stone Fabricators Alliance (SFA) held an energetic party for its sponsors and members on Friday evening. The Stone Fabricators Alliance was created as an organization for stoneworking professionals to share information and technical details among the trade. Attendees at the event were treated to food and beverages, as well as a raffle of stoneworking tools and accessories.

In addition to creating the “Club Hard Rock” exhibition at StonExpo, where attendees could receive refreshments, the company hosted a customer appreciation party after exhibition hours - appropriately located at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

MIA Events

Among the Marble Institute of America (MIA) initiatives, the organization held its annual Awards Luncheon in Las Vegas, NV, on November 10 during StonExpo. This included the prestigious 2006 Pinnacle Awards competition, which recognizes excellence in commercial, residential and restoration of natural stone projects worldwide.

Additionally, eight “Rocky” Awards and seven “Rocky” Certificates were awarded as part of the second annual MIA Advertising Awards competition. This year’s competition was sponsored by Salem Stone of Winston-Salem, NC.

“When MIA and sponsor, Salem Stone, launched the awards program in 2005, there were two goals,” said Distelhorst. “First, of course, was to recognize the best advertising and collateral material produced by MIA companies around the world, and second, was to raise the overall quality of advertising and promotion in the industry. Both goals are being achieved.”

Top finishers in each category received a coveted Rocky Award, designed especially for the MIA competition. Other notable category entries were awarded handsome Rocky certificates.

The MIA Member Gala Reception featured a lively appearance by “Big Elvis,” a Las Vegas institution who has received several awards for his performances in the city.

Serving as judges this year were Stephanie Hurt, Liggett Stashower; Kathleen R. Knapik, Liggett Stashower; and Susan Myers, Clear Blue Sky Design. Winners were as follows:
  • Print Advertising: Newspaper - Black & White
    Rocky Award: Mystic Granite & Marble, Orlando, FL
  • Print Advertising: Magazine - Color
    Rocky Award: Rock of Ages, Barre, VT
    Rocky Certificate of Merit: Cactus Stone, Phoenix, AZ
  • Collateral Material: Brochure
    Rocky Award: déBros Marble Works, Ashbourne County, Meath Ireland
    Rocky Certificate of Merit: Rock of Ages, Barre, VT
    Rocky Certificate of Merit: Luck Stone Corp., Richmond, VA
  • Collateral Material: Poster
    Rocky Award: Cactus Stone, Phoenix, AZ
    Rocky Certificate of Merit: Cactus Stone, Phoenix, AZ
  • Collateral Mail: Direct Mail Piece or Campaign
    Rocky Award: Luck Stone Corp., Richmond, VA
    Rocky Certificate of Merit: G & L Marble, Inc., Norcross, GA

New in 2006 was a category designated to honor Web site design, functionality and the promotion of natural stone on the Web. The winners in the Web site design are:
  • Web Site: Business to Business
    Rocky: KEPCO+, Salt Lake City, UT
    Rocky Certificate of Merit: Rock of Ages, Barre, VT
    Rocky - Special Award for Creative Design: Cactus Stone, Phoenix, AZ
  • Web Site: Business to Consumer
    Rocky Award: Luck Stone Corp., Richmond, VA
    Rocky Certificate of Merit: Hartzstone, Sandy Hook, CT

Pictured from left: Gary Distelhorst of the MIA, Alex Bachrach of Stone World and Bob Campo of Rock of Ages helped raffle off prizes to guests at the MIA Gala Reception.

Additionally, Bernard (Bernie) J. Polak, a veteran of more than 50 years in the natural stone business, was awarded the 2006 Migliore Award for Lifetime Achievement by the MIA.

Polak started in the stone industry in 1955 as a 20-year-old marble finisher. Over the years, Polak said there is almost nothing involving marble and granite that he has not done.

In 1977, when the owner of the Denver Mantle and Tile Co., his long-time employer, decided to retire, Polak took over the reigns as its proprietor and renamed the firm, the Denver Marble Co. Polak has worked with architects, designers and contractors to create some of Denver’s most memorable structures, including the Denver Airport, the Denver Art Museum, the United Bank Building and many others. The company is also renowned for its residential work in the resort areas of Colorado, and high-end residential projects in Wyoming, Montana and Ohio.

Polak and Denver Marble joined MIA in 1982 and 10 years later became its president. Polak generously shared his love and knowledge of the stone business with many others, including several persons who now operate their own successful stone businesses. His sons, Mark, Greg and Scott are now involved in the Denver Marble Co.

Polak is the fourth recipient of the Migliore Award, established in honor of the late Vincent R. Migliore, MIA’s long-time Technical Director. Migliore received the award posthumously in 2003. The 2004 award went to Joe Kapcheck of J. Kapcheck and Company, and Malcolm Cohen of Domestic Marble and Miller Druck Specialty Contracting of New York received the award last year.

The Stone Fabricators Alliance held an energetic party for its sponsors and members on Friday evening. Attendees at the event were treated to food and beverages, as well as a raffle of stoneworking tools and accessories.

StonExpo’s Official Sponsors are the Marble Institute of America (MIA) and Natural Stone Council. The mission of the MIA is to promote the use of natural stone and to be the world’s most authoritative natural stone information resource. Membership in the association is worldwide and includes nearly 1,500 natural stone producers, exporters/importers, distributors/wholesalers, fabricators, finishers, installers and industry suppliers.

The Natural Stone Council represents the major associations who are committed to promotion and education of the industry and general public of the value and benefits of natural stone. Additional sponsors include: American Monument Association, Canadian Stone Association, Elberton Granite Association, National Building Granite Quarries Association and Northwest Granite Manufacturers Association.

StonExpo’s Official Endorsers are Veronafiere/Marmomacc, Milanez & Milaneze/Vitória Stone Fair and Allied Stone Industries.

StonExpo is owned by Hanley Wood, LLC, a leading media company serving the housing and construction industry. Hanley Wood Exhibitions conducts 17 trade shows, including World of Concrete, one of the top 20 trade show events in the country.

For details on exhibiting at or attending the 2007 show, call 866-550-6808 or 972-536-6440 or visitwww.StonExpo.com.

Dick Laliberte (left) was presented with the 2006 “Fabricator of the Year” Award by Stone World Editor Michael Reis.

Side bar: Stone World presents “Fabricator of the Year” Award

Since 1987, a committee of stone industry veterans has worked together to select the winners of theStone WorldMagazine “Fabricator of the Year” Award (formerly the Technological Achievement Award). The award, which is given to a North American stone producer, is based on the following criteria:
  • cooperativeness in sharing technology with the industry
  • willingness to pioneer the use of new technology
  • fostering educational programs for the training of stoneworkers in industry methods
  • promoting technological progress through association work

This year’s award was given to Dick Laliberte of Ripano Stoneworks in Nashua, NH. In his nomination, a member of the committee stated: “Dick has always practiced forward thinking on new methods of fabrication and installation techniques. Dick travels extensively across North America and the world sourcing stone, techniques and ideas. Ripano Stoneworks has had steady growth in this business for the last 19 years because of his innovation and hard work. Ripano Stoneworks has great employee retention in an industry that does not always enjoy that benefit, again because of Dick’s philosophy on taking care of his associates as well as customers.

They have an open door policy with other fabricators and are always willing to share ideas. This was recently demonstrated when Ripano Stoneworks graciously opened its shop to host the MIA Advanced Fabrication Techniques seminar in August, 2006.

Ripano Stoneworks started out fabricating completely by hand in a 4,000-square-foot facility. Growth led them to move to an 11,000-square-foot shop adding bridge saws and automatic polishers. Recently, another move was made to a 30,000-square-foot shop operating multiple CNC machines, automatic polishers and bridge saws, again employing new technologies such as automated software management and digital templating. Dick is environmentally and safety conscious utilizing a closed loop water filtration system and pro-actively soliciting OSHA inspection in an effort to comply with safety standards.

Ripano Stoneworks also makes significant financial contributions and in-kind donations (in the form of volunteering) to the local community, primarily focusing on high school and college athletics programs.”

The current roster of winners of theStone WorldTechnological Achievement Award is as follows:

2006 - Dick Laliberte, Ripano Stoneworks

2005 - G.K. Naquin, Stone Interiors

2004 - Tim and Scott Buechel, Buechel Stone Corp.

2003 - Kip Cameron, Granite-Tops

2002 - George Fox, Luck Stone Corp.

2001 - Fred Becker, Becker & Becker Stone Co.

2000 - Connie and Brenda Edwards, TexaStone Quarries

1999 - Walter Dusenbery, Johnson-Atelier School, Sculpture

1998 - Harold Stobbe, Owen Sound Ledgerock

1996 - Willard Vetter, Vetter Stone Co.

1995 - Chuck Monson, Dakota Granite Co.

1994 - Linus Dingman, Cold Spring Granite Co.

1993 - David Teitelbaum, Cathedral Stoneworks

1991 - Wilbur Bybee, Bybee Stone Co.

1989 - Tony Ramos, New England Stone Industries

1988 - Jim Stengel, Dakota Granite Co.

1987 - David Elliott, Elliott Stone Co.

Sidebar: Touring the exhibits of StonExpo

The recent edition of StonExpo in Las Vegas, NV, featured a vast range of stone, machinery and accessories, and stone care products. The following is a sampling of the items on display at the event:

(EDITOR’S NOTE: A review of fabrication tools and accessories, including digital templating systems and software, can be found in our two-part Roundup of Fabricating Technology. Part I, focusing on machinery, can be found starting on page 74 of this issue. Part II, focusing on tooling and accessories, handling equipment, diversified shop products, digital templating systems and software, will be published in February 2007.)

Stone Suppliers

Ancor- introduced larger sizes such as 18 x 18 and 24 x 24 inches, as well as a new antique finish
Circle No. 154

Architectural Granite & Marble- a selection of stone from around the world, including India and Brazil; promoted the opening of its new showroom and slab yard in Birmingham, AL
Circle No. 156

BMS-Simonelli- granite slabs with the Venezian® finish, which offers a flat surface with a textured feel; the color line now include Canale, which has a cool gray finish
Circle No. 157

Fratelli Poggi- a collection of Roman travertine from its own quarries in Tivoli, Italy
Circle No. 158

Indiana limestone- introduced new garden wall stones as well as garden steps; displayed examples of its new Vanderbuilt smooth sawn veneer
Circle No. 159

Jerusalem Gold- a full line of Jerusalem stone products from Israel, including tiles in a variety of patterns and finishes
Circle No. 160

La Ponte Marmi- new granite varieties from Namibia, including African Beige, Golden Meadow and Odyssey; the materials have a light golden tone, with varying degrees of graining and color
Circle No. 161

Meshoppen Stone- various types of Pennsylvania flagstone and stackstone, appropriate for numerous indoor and outdoor applications, including patio flooring, sidewalks, steps, retaining walls, driveways and fireplaces
Circle No. 162

Mirart- a collection of Stone Switch Plates, which can be custom-made using customers’ own material; included StoniqueTM plates - made using the company’s unique method of crushed stone and resin to simulate the look and feel of travertine and tumbled stone
Circle No. 166

Rock of Ages- now offering slabs of its American stones in cooperation with Rowan Stone and Alpine Stone
Circle No. 167

Walker Zanger- an assortment of high-end stone products, such as its Firenze collection of decorative stone tiles that was inspired by the beauty of Renaissance Florence - featuring hand-painted highly detailed motifs in antique washes of golden ochre, sienna and warm green
Circle No. 169

World Wide Stone Corp.- 4-inch split-face Durango™ tile with thicknesses varying from ¾ to 1 ¼ inches and ledger stone tiles cut ¾ inch thick - both available in random lengths; also a selection of stone mosaics
Circle No. 171

Installation & Maintenance Supplies

Akemi North America- Nano-Effect, a stain repellent with new “nano-effect” technology, for the first time allowing a curing time of only three to five minutes; Akelux Stone Countertop Repair Kit that includes everything necessary for seamless repairs of cracks, chips and edge damage on all natural and engineered stone
Circle No. 172

Aqua Mix- Nano scrub, a powerful abrasive cleaner that increases scrubbing power when added to other Aqua Mix cleaners; Ex-Treme™ industrial strength cleaner that removes hydrocarbon, smoke, soot stains, rust, red dirt, etc.
Circle No. 173

Bellinzoni- Blitz, a two-part component mastic with exceptional strength and fast drying, making bonding, laminating and filling stones easier and more cost effective; a complete line of antiqued brushes manufactured by Master Tre
Circle No. 174

Bonstone- Touchstone™ Express II epoxy laminating system for granite, marble and engineered stone with new fast-setting clear epoxy, a new natural stone repair kit that was developed for the restoration and repair of granite, marble and limestone surfaces
Circle No. 175

Dry Treat- Acid-Proof, a penetrating and breathable sealer that is suitable for marble, limestone and travertine; surfaces become resistant to acid damage while retaining a natural look
Circle No. 176

Fila- Fila StonePlus, a brand new penetrating stone enhancer that enhances the natural color, characteristics and veining of polished and unpolished stone
Circle No. 177

Miracle Sealants- custom packaged care kits for natural stone and ceramic tile that allows a customer to pick stone care products that are best suited for their needs, available products include 511 Impregnator and 511 Porous Plus sealers, 511 Seal & Enhance and Stone Polish color enhancers, cleaners such as Counter Kleen, Miraclean #1, Miracle Disinfectant, Tile & Grout Cleaner and Miracle Wipes, and Water, Ring & Etch Remover
Circle No. 178

Tenax- Ager Tiger, which is used for the edge of exotic resin-treated materials; the product is formulated to cure slowly, thus fitting the needs of exotic materials, so the color of the edge will perfectly match that of the surface
Circle No. 180

Sink Suppliers

Artisan Manufacturing- promoted a heavy gauge stainless steel farm sink with squared corners that sits in a 36-inch cabinet; also offered a full range of sink models, including single and double bowls, offset sinks, bar sinks and sinks with extra-deep bowls
Circle No. 181

Chemcore- a full line of 18-gauge undermount stainless steel sinks; also a range of copper and thermoformed sinks
Circle No. 182