CONTINUING EDUCATION- - CRITICAL AT ALL LEVELS
No matter how long you’ve been in the stone industry, or what areas of expertise you have developed, you can always benefit from continuing and advancing your education. Fortunately, there is no shortage of high-quality educational opportunities within the stone industry. One prime example of this can be found at StonExpo, which takes place from October 18 to 20 this month in Las Vegas, NV. In fact, an extra day of seminars - with longer, more in-depth sessions - is set for October 17, the day before the exposition opens. This year’s lineup of seminars at StonExpo is one of the best yet, and topics include some of the popular standards (high-volume production, shop layout, CNC technology, stone trends, etc.), as well as several new offerings. Some of the other sessions that caught my eye - and would particularly appeal to experienced industry members - include the following: • Expanding and Transitioning Your Shop • Implementing an Apprenticeship Program • Family-Owned Business Management/Succession Planning • Sustainable Design and Natural Stone • Countertop Installation Failures and How to Avoid • Pricing Strategies for Countertops - Understanding Your Cost You can find more information on each seminar - as well as the time, date and location - in our StonExpo preview, which begins on page 94. Of course, I have always found the less structured “forums” to be an invaluable source of information on stone fabrication. These sessions - which include forums on stone fabrication as well as separate forums on installation - offer attendees the chance to explore industry topics with their peers. The best sessions are the ones where audience members are able to bring up specific issues (“Our shop is having trouble with …”), and these topics are then discussed by fabricators who have faced the same challenges. In these forums, information is shared not only by a panel of industry experts, but also through the experiences of the audience members. I always make an extra effort to sit in on these forums, and when I go, I typically see a broad range of industry veterans in the audience. The chance to gain insight from their experiences is particularly valuable, as you get to tap the brains of a congregation of fabrication “professors” in one sitting. I often walk away from these forums with several ideas for technical articles, and I would think it is even more valuable for the fabricators out there. Speaking on the topic of stone industry veterans, I should note that a lot of the savvy ones continue to rely on industry education during the advanced stages of their careers. New technology, methods and trends are commonplace, and simply put, no one is a master at everything. Looking beyond StonExpo, another educational opportunity can be found at the Stone World Stone Fabrication Workshops, which take place in the Northeastern U.S. in early November. A new course curriculum was developed for the 2007 Stone Fabrication Workshops, and it was based on specific issues raised by North American stone fabricators. Of note, the Stone World Fabrication Workshops were well received by experienced fabricators with decades of experience as well as relatively new stoneworking professionals. In filling out the attendee survey, most participants awarded the Workshop with the highest possible marks. “The workshop added much knowledge to my base,” stated one attendee at the Seattle Workshop, who reported having 10 years of experience in the trade. Also of note, the presentation on buying and implementing CNC technology was praised by a range of industry veterans, including specific stone fabricators with 15, 18 and 23 years of experience, among others. Dates for the Northeast Workshops will be : • November 5 - Washington, DC • November 6 - Newark, NJ • November 8 - Boston, MA Registration for the Workshops, which includes a continental breakfast, lunch, cocktail/networking reception and course materials, is $195. For more information on the Stone Fabrication Workshops, visit www.stoneworld.com/fabworkshops or call 1-888-530-6714.