Now that we’re in the middle of “Trade Show Season” - with StonExpo and Coverings taking place within a span of two months - I find myself continually writing about the various seminar programs for the stone industry. Each year, the lineup of education programs includes sessions that are not only specific to the stone trade, but are also tailored to fit today’s current market situation.

This was evident as I previewed the sessions for this year’s Coverings seminar program. Taking place from March 14 to 17, there are sessions geared towards helping fabricators weather the economic crisis, others to teach stone suppliers how to use the Internet and social media to boost sales, and still others to educate stoneworking on using the latest technology in the marketplace. And that’s just a sampling of the many stone-specific seminars on the schedule. Moreover, open forums at Coverings will offer a “Town Hall” format, where attendees can discuss any number of current issues they are facing in the field. In order to keep the content as relevant as possible for attendees, there are separate open forums for fabricators and distributors at Coverings.

In looking at the lineup of seminars at Coverings as well as StonExpo, it occurred to me that there isn’t really a trade conference for trade journalists like me. I mean, there are various events out there for media professionals, but nothing as targeted as the programs being offered to the stone industry at events like StonExpo and Coverings. It would be great to be able to sit in a room and share ideas with 100 other people who do exactly what I do for a living, and that’s exactly what is out there for stone industry professionals. There are solid educational offerings during all four days of Coverings in Las Vegas, and better yet, they are all free (as long as you stay away from the tables in the casino).

If you didn’t make it out to StonExpo or Coverings, there is still an excellent opportunity for stone industry members to learn and exchange ideas with their colleagues. The successful Marble Institute of America/Stone World “Stone Industry Education” program kicks off this month, and there will be nine sessions taking place across North America this year. I have had the chance to attend several of these events in the past, and the thing that struck me was the dialogue between the speakers (all of whom are fabrication professionals) and the audience. No matter what the topic of the session - and there are a range of topics covered - there was a free exchange of ideas among the presenters and the attendees. On top of this, these events have provided a terrific platform for fabricators and stone suppliers to network with one another and share ideas. The 2011 lineup of Marble Institute of America/Stone World “Stone Industry Education” sessions is as follows:

• February 16: Anaheim, CA

• March 30: Atlanta, GA

• April 14: Houston, TX

• May 19: Denver, CO

• June 16: Boston, MA

• June 23: Toronto, ON (Canada)

• July 28: Seattle, WA

• September 14: Baltimore/Washington, DC

• November 2: Phoenix, AZ

To sign up for any of these seminars, please visit or I personally plan on attending many of the sessions outlined above as well as those at Coverings, and I hope to see you there.

Michael Reis, Editor/Associate Publisher