StonExpo 2007 was held from October 18 to 20 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV. The event set records with 333 exhibiting companies in 124,000 net square feet of exhibit space - a collective 21% jump over StonExpo 2006.

StonExpo 2007 was held from October 18 to 20 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV, and although attendance was slightly down from last year, exhibitors reported quality visitors, according to Hanley Wood, the show’s organizer. The show floor was filled with a broad range of exhibits of machinery, tools and accessories, stone displays and stone installation and maintenance products. In addition to the exhibition itself, the event also included an educational program, which offered a number of seminars related to issues specifically relevant to the stone industry.

StonExpo’s Official Sponsors include the Marble Institute of America (MIA) and the 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 more than 1,800 natural stone producers, exporters/importers, distributors/wholesalers, fabricators, finishers, installers and industry suppliers.

The Natural Stone Council is the leader in the stone industry that 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: the American Monument Association, the Canadian Stone Association, the Elberton Granite Association, the National Building Granite Quarries Association and the Northwest Granite Manufacturers Association. StonExpo’s Official Endorsers are Veronafiere/Marmomacc and Milanez & Milaneze/Vitória Stone Fair.

A total of 7,399 industry professionals attended StonExpo, and exhibitors praised the quality of attendance at the event.

The show floor

A total of 7,399 fabricators, installers, distributors, architects, designers, retailers, builders, quarriers, kitchen and bath specialists, manufacturers and suppliers from around the country were present at StonExpo this year - a slight 2% decrease from last year’s show. The buzz on the show floor was that the quality of attendees was solid, and serious buyers were at StonExpo to do business, reports Hanley Wood, adding that more than 93% of surveyed exhibitors said attendee quality at this year’s show met or exceeded their expectations.

“StonExpo 2007 was another excellent show for the Marble Institute,” said Gary Distelhorst, Executive Vice President of the Marble Institute of America (MIA). “We were truly impressed this year with the quality of visitors to the show. We welcomed a number of well-established companies to our exhibit to talk about membership and the many services we offer. These were larger fabricators and companies from other segments of the industry who hadn’t yet joined the MIA, and who were at the show to purchase new machinery. While the show may not have broken attendance records, it certainly had the high-quality, serious attendee who was there for the right reasons.”

Other exhibitors at the show echoed these sentiments:

• “StonExpo 2007 reminded us that our industry remains strong and continues to grow. We were surprised and pleased to collect so much positive information from attendees regarding the present and future of our industry. StonExpo is an unmatched equal opportunity for discussion and discovery for those who go to show as well as those who go to know. This year was a great success for Park Industries.” - Jim Eckberg, Marketing Communications Manager, Park Industries.

• “Before [this year’s] StonExpo, I was concerned about the state of the industry, based on reading news about new home construction. So I was pleasantly surprised to see a very healthy turnout. Our booth was very busy on Thursday, and totally swamped on Friday. We had existing customers and new prospects there from the time the show started until after it closed.” - Harry Hollander, President, Moraware, Inc.

• “StonExpo 2007 was a very good show for VIC International. We feel the attendance was good, and the quality of the attendees was good as well.” - Vic Green, VIC International.

• “The show far exceeded our expectations. StonExpo is a serious show for serious attendees - a must-do event for 2008.” - Doug Mangus, Machinery Sales Manager, Salem Stone.

• “We are very pleased with the results that we received at the StonExpo Las Vegas show for our Robotic Technology. We have turned many leads into sales, and it is by far the most important tradeshow for machinery and fabricators in the stone industry.” - Mike Franco, U.S. Granite Robotics.

StonExpo 2007 set records with 333 exhibiting companies in 124,000 net square feet of exhibit space - a collective 21% jump over StonExpo 2006. More than 100 exhibiting companies at this year’s event were new. This included an increase in the number of natural stone suppliers, which totaled 74 at this year’s show. With these increases, StonExpo has doubled in size since 2004, qualifying it this year by Tradeshow Week as one of the 50 fastest-growing trade shows in North America, according to Hanley Wood.

One of the new features at StonExpo 2007 was the New Product Pavilion. This area, located just outside of the registration area, showcased many of the new products that have been introduced recently to the industry. Attendees found the pavilion to be especially helpful in identifying booths they wanted to check out on the show floor.

In terms of educational opportunities on the show floor, Stone LIVE! was just as popular as ever. Attendees gathered to see demonstrations on countertop measuring and installation, sealing tile and natural stone, countertop edging and using waterjet technology for countertop and flooring installation. This feature on the show floor is free to all StonExpo attendees and a huge draw for more up-close, personal instruction.

Manufacturers of stoneworking equipment often rely on StonExpo to introduce brand new equipment models to the marketplace.

Educational program

In addition to touring the exhibition hall, stone professionals also came to the show for its educational program. This year’s conference program offered 44 sessions in five targeted tracks, which included Business Management, Building/Design, Fabrication/Installation, Sales/Marketing and Care/Maintenance/Restoration.

Additionally, the 2007 program provided the opportunity for conference attendees to participate in roundtable discussions where they could “talk shop” with peers and key industry leaders. Roundtable sessions proved to provide an ideal forum for exchanging ideas, discussing problems and finding solutions for businesses.

“I was very satisfied with the new conference courses that pertained to commercial stone installations at StonExpo 2007,” said Tom Palmer, senior project manager of Grazzini Brothers and Co., a residential and commercial stone fabricator/install company in Eagan, MN. “These conferences will help our company continue to provide quality installations for the commercial buildings we work on.”

As always, the MIA had a full slate of activities at StonExpo. This included a gala reception on the opening night as well as several awards programs.

MIA happenings

As always, the MIA had a full slate of activities at StonExpo. This included a gala reception on the opening night as well as several awards programs.

J. Vic Green, a veteran of more than five decades in the natural stone industry, was awarded the 2007 Migliore Award for Lifetime Achievement by the MIA. Green accepted the award at the annual MIA Awards Luncheon on October 19. For Green, the award caps a 50-year stone industry career. He started VIC International in 1978, with a $500 bank loan. It is now one of the largest independently-owned companies serving the stone industry.

Green’s many achievements include pioneering a host of the “standards” used today in the stone industry. He was instrumental in establishing StonExpo as a major tradeshow, and served as the president of its board of directors for two terms. He has been a member of MIA for more than two decades and currently serves on its board. He has also served on the board of the Building Stone Institute.

Green published the first stone industry newspaper and catalog, pioneered the introduction and technical development of natural stone “after care” and created a multi-million dollar business. Additionally, he designed and developed the original pre-shaped diamond tooling for use on routers. Among his many other firsts is the design and development of a manual bowl hole machine, design of the original jobsite rail saw to be sold in the U.S. and introduction of the first manual-edge profiling system.

Green is the fifth 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 Co., Malcolm Cohen of Domestic Marble and Miller Druck Specialty Contracting received the award in 2005, and Bernard Polak of Denver Marble Co. received the award last year.

Additionally, seven “Rocky” Awards and three “Rocky” Certificates were awarded for the third annual MIA Rocky Advertising Awards competition. KEPCO+ of Salt Lake City won four awards to take top honors in this year’s competition.

“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 a handsome Rocky certificate.

Serving as judges this year were Judith Yates, Atomic Imagination; Bill Hudgins, Hanesbrands, Inc.; Mark Strand, WXII-TV; and Susan Myers, Clear Blue Sky Design.

The 2007 MIA Rocky Advertising Awards competition recognizes the best advertising created by MIA members. The winners, as chosen by a panel of advertising and graphic design professionals, are:

Print Advertising:

• Rocky Award: Mystic Granite & Marble, Orlando, FL

• Rocky Award: KEPCO+, Salt Lake City, UT

• Rocky Certificate: KEPCO+, Salt Lake City, UT

Collateral Material: Brochure

• Rocky Award: Cathedral Marble & Granite, Inc., Whitestown, IN

• Rocky Award: Johnson Granite, Inc., Mount Airy, NC

• Rocky Certificate: U.S. Marble and Granite Corp., Westlake, OH

Collateral Material: Direct Mail

• Rocky Award: Rock of Ages, Barre, VT

• Rocky Certificate: KEPCO+, Salt Lake City, UT

Collateral Material: Television

• Rocky Award: Granite and Marble Works, Inc., Wilton, NY

Point-of-Purchase: Display

• Rocky Award: KEPCO+, Salt Lake City, UT

In yet another program, the MIA announced that the winner of its Natural Stone Scholarship Award is Alberto Garcia, a maintenance mechanic and fabricator for Castle Rock Marble and Granite, Inc. of the Bronx, NY.

Garcia’s selection was based on a 500-word essay explaining his commitment to the natural stone industry and why he desires to continue his career in the industry.

The education scholarship covered travel expenses to StonExpo 2007. “There is so much more I can learn,” Garcia wrote in his essay. “I can and want to continue to grow in the natural stone industry, promoting our products and motivating consumers through the sheer beauty of natural stone. I want to participate more and see where this career can take me.”

“Mr. Garcia was one of the first people hired by Castle Rock Marble and Granite,” wrote Tom Okon, company president, in a letter of recommendation. “He is reliable and my go-to man. He is one of my best workers and usually the right man for the job. I give him my recommendation and I promise you will not be disappointed.”

“The Marble Institute of America is excited to recognize Mr. Garcia’s commitment to the natural stone industry,” stated Distelhorst. “The intent of the MIA Natural Stone Scholarship Award is to provide educational opportunities for aspiring natural stone professionals, and the opportunity to expand one’s knowledge.”

Of course, the MIA’s prestigious Pinnacle Awards were also announced at StonExpo 2007. This program annually recognizes excellence in commercial, residential and restoration projects using natural stone worldwide.

The Pinnacle Awards honor projects that demonstrate exceptional beauty, creativity, ingenuity and craftsmanship in the use of granite, marble, travertine, limestone and other natural stones. The competition is open to MIA members around the world.

Serving as judges for the competition were two Nashville, TN, architects: Marion J. Adamson of Gresham Smith and Partners and Wesley Petrouske of Architectural Affiliates. Other judges were Ken Krebs of OHM International and Past President of MIA, and Chuck Muehlbauer, Technical Director of MIA.

The 2007 Pinnacle Awards winners are:

• Commercial Interior Award of Excellence to Carnevale and Lohr of Bell Gardens, CA, for the Creative Artists Agency in Los Angeles.

• Commercial Exterior Awards of Excellence to Intrepid Stone Contractors of Harvey, LA, for the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville, TN, and to Henraux S.p.a. of Querceta (Lucca), Italy, for First Citizens Bank Headquarters in Columbia, SC.

• Renovation/Restoration Award of Excellence to Rugo Stone of Lorton, VA, for the renovation of the Basilica of the Assumption in Baltimore, MD.

• Residential Interior/Exterior Award of Excellence to Millennium Stone Ltd. of Port Chester, NY, for a master bath at the Signorelli home in Port Chester.

• A special Pinnacle Award of Excellence for Craftsmanship was presented to Carrara Marble Company of America of Industry, CA, for its work on a new 12-story office building at 2000 Avenue of the Stars in Los Angeles.

• Two Awards of Merit were presented in the Residential Interior/Exterior category to Columbia Stone of Tualatin, OR, for the Broadway Residence in San Francisco, CA, and to Twin City Tile & Marble Co. of St. Paul, MN, for a private residence in Minnetonka, MN.

• Two Awards of Merit were presented in the Commercial Exterior category for work on the Sacramento Temple in Rancho Cordova, CA. The awards went to Bestview International Co. of Wood Dale, IL, and to KEPCO+ of Salt Lake City, UT.

• One Award of Merit in the Commercial Interior category went to Rugo Stone, LLC of Lorton, VA, for the Dewey Ballantine offices in Washington, DC.

• A Restoration/Renovation Award of Merit was presented to Camarata Masonry Systems of Houston, TX, for its work on the 919 Milam Building Garage Conversion in Houston.

Other highlights of StonExpo 2007 included the Industry Celebration, which was held towards the end of the show’s second day. This event, which was free to all StonExpo attendees, provided visitors an opportunity to relax and mingle with other stone professionals. The MIA also held its annual Gala Reception, which was open to all membership companies.

The next edition of StonExpo is set to take place from October 16 to 18, 2008, with the conference program beginning on Wednesday, October 15. The show will once again be held at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV