I have been on many boards and committees during my years at Stone World, and while they have all been important, and I feel like we achieved some worthwhile goals, no group has the potential to do as much good for the stone industry as the Natural Stone Council (NSC). The NSC is set to launch some exciting programs this year, and we are working on more that will be taking off in the coming years. Since the NSC promotes all varieties of natural stone, it has been the first time that I have seen associations and organizations representing such a diverse group of industry members come together. They are working in unison to achieve one common goal: promote the virtues of natural stone and spread awareness and education about our products.
At the recent board meeting of the NSC, we approved a three-year strategic plan that will allow us to do some great things for the stone industry, but we will need the industry’s support and help. When we launched our initial fundraising campaign, the industry’s generosity surprised everyone. I remember opening an envelope mailed to Stone World that had a hand-written note from a fabricator with a check for $100, saying “I can’t give much, but I wanted to help out because I believe in the cause.” Now we are getting ready to begin another fundraising campaign, and we will again need to count on everyone in every part of the stone industry.
Some of the major points of our three-year strategic plan are:
- The branding program is already in motion and will be gearing up for more exciting work this year. A talented marketing firm has been hired to undertake this project and, so far, everyone involved is very enthusiastic about the possibilities. The branding strategy will include a national advertising and public relations campaign to promote stone’s beauty and versatility as a building material to consumers as well as the architecture and design communities. A "Genuine Stone" logo has been designed that will be utilized in marketing and advertising campaigns, and a comprehensive NSC Web site will be developed to disseminate information about natural stone, making it easier for people to learn more about the material and ultimately choose natural stone for their home or commercial project.
- Positioning stone as a "green"/sustainable building product is one of the most important things we can for the future of the stone industry. One key aspect of this effort is increasing importance of natural stone within the LEED program for architecture and construction professionals, which awards points for utilizing sustainable building products and maximizing energy efficiency. In this initiative, it is essential that the positive virtues of stone as a sustainable building material are emphasized to the architects and designers choosing products with LEED in mind. The NSC has a committee dedicated to positioning natural stone as a green product, and we are working with the U.S. Green Building Council (developers of the LEED program) as well as academic researchers and an advisory council made up of architects who are passionate about stone, to build a case for stone as a sustainable building product.
- The NSC will be launching a significant fundraising campaign very soon, and it is investigating other industry-supported, revenue-generating programs, with a goal of raising a minimum of $500,000 per year for three years. Before even launching the fundraising campaign, we have already raised an incredible amount of money, in the form of annual pledges for the next three years of almost $150,000 (as of press time). These commitments came from some very generous members of our board on behalf of the companies they run.
The stone industry has a chance to accomplish some very exciting things in the coming years. But we need everyone involved, from all segments of the industry, to give back to an industry that has provided steady growth and a strong market. Look for more information about the NSC and what we are doing in the coming months, and don’t be shy – join in. If you’re interested in learning more, call 603-465-2616.