After 37 years in the stone industry, and nearly 30 years with the Elberton Granite Association (EGA), Thomas A. Robinson announced his retirement as Executive Vice President of the organization, which is based in Elberton, GA.

“I have been working in the stone business since 1972,” Robinson said. “I joined the Elberton Granite Association in 1980, and in 1990, I was offered the position as Executive Vice President. During this time, the ‘diamond revolution’ was well on its way to changing the way we saw, grind and even polish. Diamonds began showing up in just about every step of production. This allowed natural stone to once again be competitive with other building materials.”

According to Robinson, it was this development that helped the stone industry advance to new heights. “In my opinion, the revolution of the man-made diamond and its application to various pieces of production equipment jump-started the stone industry into the 21st century,” he explained.

Speaking on the current state of the industry, Robinson said that international competition remains a constant challenge. “Today, more than ever, the industry is operating in a global market,” he said. “Foreign suppliers prefer to set up their own distributors rather than allowing just anyone to represent their stone. In my opinion, the marketplace has become more competitive. New automated machinery must be developed so that U.S. producers can create an advantage for their products and services.”

Looking back on his tenure with the EGA, Robinson pointed to the growth of products coming out of the Elberton region as particularly rewarding. “One of the most satisfying events for the Elberton producers has been their willingness to manufacture a variety of stones,” he said. “We want to establish Elberton as the ‘stone source.’ We are more than gray granite. The industry is moving in that direction, and that can only mean good things for the area.”