The Italian American Chamber of Commerce Midwest recently hosted a delegation of U.S. stone industry members in Sicily -- introducing them to regional stone materials.
I have to thank the Italian American Chamber of Commerce Midwest for the invitation to be a part of their trip, which also included a contingency from a large U.S. stone and tile distributor and a few stone fabricators.
The primary purpose of the trip was to introduce us to the wealth of Sicilian marble, with the intent that we would then go back and promote it here in the U.S. In particular, Sicilian producers were hoping that the distributors would want to import their materials.
While I have traveled to Italy many times, this was my first time to Sicily. And even though I have visited quarries in the U.S. and around the world, there is always something exciting to see and new to be learned when at a quarry site.
For a few members of our group, it was the first time at a quarry, and their enthusiasm was apparent. Witnessing blocks being extracted and then cut in a factory gives them such a better understanding of the material, which in turn, will help them provide more knowledge to their customers. And for most of us, it was our first introduction to Sicilian marble. For me, it was fun to watch how excited the distributors and fabricators became when seeing these materials for the first time. They made mention of what stones they thought would be most popular in their region of the U.S. or what particular stone would be ideal for a specific project they were working on.
With reactions such as these, I would have to say that the trip was a success. The Italian American Chamber of Commerce and Sicilian stone producers did a thorough job of promoting the region and its beautiful stone -- and hopefully it led to some fruitful business. Trips such as this one provide great educational opportunities for everyone and bring awareness of materials that people otherwise might not be familiar with. Look for a series of articles on factories and quarries I toured while visiting Sicily in an upcoming issue of Contemporary Stone & Tile Design's sister publication, Stone World, this October.