In this job, I spend a lot of time talking to stone industry members. These days, of course, much of the discussion is about the economy, and how soon it will be until we really see a difference out there. It is a tedious, but necessary chore - sort of like brushing your teeth. You do it every day because you need to, but it’s not all that remarkable.

A refreshing break from this activity is when we get to work one-on-one with stone industry members and see what is actually happening in the field. Despite how difficult times are for this industry, there are some intriguing developments that can be found in terms of stone processing and applications, and some examples can be found in this issue of Stone World.

We begin with a look at two fabricators, both of which have embraced modern stoneworking technology. The first “Fabricator Case Study” showcases Myrtle Beach Granite and Marble Inc. of Myrtle Beach, CA, (page 34), and it not only shows the company’s latest technology investments, but also the complex finished work that the shop is able to produce - including a one-of-a-kind project combining glass with two varieties of granite.

Our next “Fabricator Case Study” focuses on Marble Tech Inc. of Crystal Lake, IL, which serves as a prime example of a shop that blends advanced stoneworking machinery in the shop with digital technology in the office and on the jobsite. The company’s equipment selection includes modern robotic cutting technology that was still on the drawing boards a few years ago.

Of course, advanced technology is not limited to high-volume operations, and this is illustrated in the “Microshop” feature on page 72. Showing real-life examples of parts being processed in his shop, veteran fabricator Scott McGourley demonstrates how the latest generation of stoneworking technology can be effectively utilized while averaging a production rate of 200 to 500 square feet.

Our opportunities to see the accomplishments of the stone industry here at Stone World go beyond the fabrication shop, as evidenced by the features on two completed institutional projects - the New Mexico Court of Appeals in Albuquerque, NM (page 78) and the Museum of Liverpool in the U.K. (page 84). Both projects utilize modern stone installation systems, with the New Mexico Court of Appeals exemplifying the use of stone in an adhered veneer system.

Meanwhile, at the Museum of Liverpool - where construction is ongoing - computer modeling and an innovative stone assembly/installation system have allowed for a truly unique project where stone panels angle outward from the building, creating a three-dimensional pattern. The stone was precisely processed by Vereinigte Marmorwerke (V.M.) Kaldorf GmbH of Germany, and the museum serves as an example of the innovations that can be accomplished through the collaboration of the architects, contractors and stoneworking professionals.

At a time when our industry is still reeling from the effects of a multi-year recession, it is particularly gratifying to sit back and review some of the success stories developing across our industry. I invite you to do the same.