Back in January,Stone World published its annual “Fabricator Market Forecast,” a survey conducted byBNP Media(Stone World’s parent company) that is sent to thousands of fabricators across the America. The responses that we received were extremely upbeat — especially considering how difficult the last five or six years have been. In fact, a total of 51% of those polled said that they were planning to invest in
machinery in 2013.

To be perfectly honest, this is not the first time that we saw optimism for the future, but the fabricators we polled also had specific reasons for their responses. More than half of the fabricators participating in the survey said that business grew in 2012 (53%), and 68% of them expected growth this year.

Those expecting to invest in machinery were not only looking at hand tools and portable routers. Nearly one in five of those polled (18%) said they would be purchasing a new bridge saw in 2013, and they expected to spend a mean total of $80,000, which would make sense considering the increasing sophistication of bridge saws in today’s marketplace. Meanwhile, around one in eight fabricators (12%) said they would be purchasing CNC stoneworking centers in 2013.

As I wrote about these bold plans a couple of months ago, I said that the vibe at StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas at the end of January would give us some perspective on just how serious these fabricators were. Well, if everyone I spoke with during and after the show was being truthful with me — and I have no reason to believe they weren’t — then we are going to be seeing a lot more shiny machines being delivered this year.

I’ve gotten feedback from dozens of exhibitors at the event, and all of them were extremely positive. Fabricators were buying machinery, accessories and stone, and it was easily the best American trade show that I have seen in several years. People were committing to major equipment purchases directly on the show floor, with one exhibitor telling me that his firm sold eight large-scale machines during the three-day event. The show floor was even busy in its final hours — something you rarely saw even during the good times of this industry.

Beyond the exhibit hall itself, I was present at both open “Fabricator Forums” at StonExpo, and both had excellent attendance; better than I have seen in years. Even the one that started at 8 a.m. had a nice crowd on hand — and I’m talking about Vegas here.

The positive vibe continued after everyone came home from StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas. One of my colleagues recently told me how his correspondence with a stoneworking professional who said he spent nearly a quarter-million dollars in technology since the show. From my own perspective, I can say that multiple fabricators have recently asked me to delay case studies on them because they are waiting on new equipment to installed.

Of course, it is still early in the year, but these are excellent signs for 2013 and beyond. You can count on the Stone World staff to continue its travels to bring you the latest developments and progress in our industry.