I strongly encourage you to read the full report on page 58, but here are some highlights:
• A total of 56% of fabricators saw their business grow during 2011. In 2010, only 30% said they saw growth. Meanwhile, 25% of respondents said that business held steady in 2011, and only 19% of those polled said that business declined for the year.
• A total of 51% of respondents said the stone market will increase in 2012; 43% said it would stay the same; and only 6% said there would be further declines.
• The vast majority of fabricators (83%) predicted that the market for stone will increase over the next five to 10 years, with another 17% stating that it would remain stable. Almost no one (1%) predicted a decline.
• A total of one in four fabricators (25%) said that they did not make any spending cuts in 2011 (in 2010, that figure was 16%). Whether it was personnel, equipment, stock or facilities, cuts in 2011 were significantly down from the previous year.
• More than half of the fabricators we polled (56%) said they would be spending on equipment this year.
• More than one out of six fabricators (17%) said that they would be investing in a CNC stoneworking center this year, and they expect to be spending a mean dollar amount of $175,000.
• Perhaps considering the increased emphasis on shop safety, 37.7% of respondents said they would be investing in material handling technology this year, with a mean value of $24,630.
Now, fabricators saying that they will invest in technology is not the same as them actually buying it. But considering the other positive factors — business growth in 2011, short-term and long-term optimism, etc. — I have a strong feeling there will be more spending among stone fabricators in 2012. Hopefully that starts at StonExpo later this month. See you there!