After years of waiting for a sustained rebound to the economy, we may have turned the corner. In one of the best trade show performances in years,StonExpo/Marmomacc Americassaw solid activity on its show floor, and many exhibitors and fabricators indicated that theindustryis headed for a sustained rebound.


The event took place from January 28 to 31 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV, and show organizers saw a 4.3% increase in attendance over 2012. The show is co-located with Surfaces, a long-time floor covering event. In all, the combined event has more than 340,000 square feet of exhibit space and 699 exhibitors. This included 204 new companies exhibiting, with 38 of those in the StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas area.

“We are very optimistic about the state of the industries we serve after Surfaces | StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas 2013,” said Dana Teague, Group Director for Surfaces | StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas. “There was a new and energetic buzz on the show floor that consumed both attendees and exhibitors throughout the duration of the show. We are confident that everyone who was in attendance will find rejuvenated success in 2013.”

“We sold booth space until the latest possible deadline on Monday, the day before the show started,” said Amie Gilmore, Associate Show Director of Surfaces | StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas. “Companies understand the significance of being in the show and how it can impact the future of their business. It is necessary to be at S2 to stay competitive.”

The show is also becoming an international event, attracting attendees from 78 countries and more than 100 exhibiting companies from nations such as Italy, Germany, Spain and Taiwan. 

Success on the show floor

As usual, StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas showcased the full spectrum of products for stone fabrication, including the latest bridge saws, polishers, CNCs, waterjets, material handling equipment and more. In addition, new innovations in tooling, accessories, material handling, digital templating and care/maintenance products could also be found through the exhibition.

“We are very pleased with the results of Surfaces | StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas 2013,” said Ted Skaff, Director of Marketing for Pearl Abrasives Company and GranQuartz. “The energy on the show floor was beyond our expectations. It was a great selling show for us and the traffic on the show floor was phenomenal. We had quality leads and look forward to seeing what the year will bring us as a result of our attendance at the show.”

Exhibitors of accessories as well as machinery expressed optimism at the show and in the days that followed, and several equipment manufacturers reported selling multiple big-ticket items at the show, including CNC bridge saws, waterjets and CNC routers.

“The buzz and traffic at StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas was the best I’ve seen since 2007,” said Alex Bachrach, Publisher of Stone World, TILE Magazineand Contemporary Stone & Tile Design. “Everyone seemed to be so enthusiastic and it’s a great sign for this industry overall.”

Education Program

The current roster of winners of the Stone World Fabricator of the Year Award is as follows:  

2012 — Mike Yates, Counter Solutions
2011 — Stuart Young, The Granite Shop
2010 — Matt Lansing, Stone Innovations
2009 — Scott McGourley, Kasco Stone
2008 — Paul Menninger, Capitol Granite & Marble
2007 — Ron Hannah, Cadenza Granite & Marble
2006 — Dick Laliberte, Ripano Stoneworks
2005 — G.K. Naquin, Stone Interiors
2004 — Tim and Scott Buechel, Buechel Stone Corp.
2003 — Kip Cameron, Granite-Tops
2002 — George Fox, Luck Stone Corp.
2001 — Fred Becker, Becker & Becker Stone Co.
2000 — Connie and Brenda Edwards, TexaStone Quarries
1999 — Walter Dusenbery, Johnson-Atelier School, Sculpture
1998 — Harold Stobbe, Owen Sound Ledgerock
1996 — Willard Vetter, Vetter Stone Co.
1995 — Chuck Monson, Dakota Granite Co.
1994 — Linus Dingman, Cold Spring Granite Co.
1993 — David Teitelbaum, Cathedral Stoneworks
1991 — Wilbur Bybee, Bybee Stone Co.
1989 — Tony Ramos, New England Stone Industries
1988 — Jim Stengel, Dakota Granite Co.
1987 — David Elliott, Elliott Stone Co.

This year’s Education Program was packed with in-depth information and proven strategies to benefit floor covering and stone professionals. With a 20% increase in session attendance, many of the 70+ education sessions were filled to capacity with attendees serious about learning the latest information in business, sales/marketing, flooring installation, tile installation, building design and trends, care/maintenance/restoration, sustainability, and stone fabrication/installation.

Top attended sessions in the stone sector included “Grade Your Shop’s Performance and Change Its Future,” presented by Robert Bromley and Jeff Brekhus.

The event also included two 90-minute open forums, where stone fabricators of all sizes presented their issues to a panel of experts. The sessions included one for fabrication, moderated by Stone World Editor Michael Reis, and another for countertop installation. Both were extremely well attended, and they covered a broad range of issues.

Surfaces | StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas continued to offer the S² Masters Certification program for the second year, allowing education program participants to qualify for a “Master” status in any of the eight tracks offered in the program. Attendees were required to take a minimum of eight hours to receive the certification, which includes a certificate, mention on the show Web site and a ribbon to attach to their badge at next year’s show.

Show floor highlights and special events

StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas added new show floor features to enhance attendees’ overall show experience. Among them were the New Product Marketplace, Cleaning and Restoration Pavilion, The Cage, and StoneLIVE Stadium.

The New Product Marketplace returned with a new location in the Bayside Lobby and featured a sampling of the newest products for attendees to browse through before making their way to the manufacturers’ booths for additional information. Floor Trends, TILE Magazine and Stone World sponsored the New Product Marketplace. A new voting process was introduced in 2013, allowing attendees to cast their vote via text message. StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas’ Best New Product of 2013 was awarded to Omni Cubed for its product, the Pro-Cart AT2 All-Terrain Countertop Installation Cart.

The Cleaning and Restoration Pavilion was another hot spot on the floor, as The Experience hosted several daily demonstrations on the cleaning and restoration of both hard and soft-surface flooring.

The Cage, presented by Stone Fabricators Alliance, featured hands-on testing of products for stone fabrication. Additionally, multiple demonstrations of hand fabrication methods were presented daily.

StoneLIVE Stadium, presented by GranQuartz, was a StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas show floor favorite. Attendees were able to grab a drink and take a seat on the bleachers while watching all of The Cage’s demos streamed live on big-screen televisions.

“Designing with Natural Stone,” a day of continuing education for building design professionals, hosted by Marmomacc, educated architects and designers about the use of natural stone in building projects. The day included a tour of the Smith Center for the Performing Arts, educational sessions and a guided walking tour of the show floor.

The Mobile App, sponsored by FCA Network, received a positive response for the second year from exhibitors and attendees. The free app allowed attendees to quickly find exhibitors, seminars, speaker information and more from iPhones, iPads, Androids and Blackberry devices. Users were also able to connect to Facebook and Twitter feeds, hotel/transportation options, local restaurants and more.

Planning for Surfaces | StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas 2014 has already begun, and the event will take place January 27 to 30, again at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas.


Best of StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas Winners

Among the many programs at StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas, which took place in Las Vegas, NV, the “Best of StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas” program acknowledged some of the top products on display. The program was sponsored by Stone World Magazine, and the winners were as follows:

Best Booth Design: MS International
MS International’s booth featured a wealth of stone from around the world in a variety of formats, and it also included strategically placed large-screen televisions where attendees could gain more information. The use of flags to represent the origins of many of the stone materials added a sense of international flair to the overall design.

Sustainability: Polycor’s KarmaStone
Mixing sustainability with style and design, KarmaStone is a precast slab material made of 70% recycled natural stone and 30% Portland cement binder. Thus, KarmaStone contains 100% recycled stone waste generated by stone manufacturing. KarmaStone is considered a cement or concrete surface with similar durability to granite.

Innovation: Omni Cubed’s Pro-Cart
AT2 All-Terrain Installation Cart
The Pro-Cart AT2 is Omni Cubed’s new generation all-terrain countertop installation cart. The AT2 features collapsible clamp uprights, an innovative adjustable wheel base for stairs, and folds down for easy storage. The AT2 has a rated weight capacity of 1,000 pounds, and still weighs in at less than 65 pounds.

Technology: Zenesis Technology - Zenesis Black
Zenesis Black is the third generation diamond bridge saw blade from Zenesis. Thanks to the advanced, patented pattern diamond technology, Zenesis Black is up to 20% faster than the previous generation bridge saw blade, while still providing long tool life and smooth cutting.


Mike Yates is Named Stone World Fabricator Of The Year 

The 2013 Nominating Committee for Stone World magazine has named Mike Yates of Counter Solutions in Jackson, TN, as Fabricator of the Year. The award was presented at StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas 2013 in Las Vegas, NV.

Criteria for the award is as follows:
— cooperation in sharing technology with the industry
— willingness to pioneer in the use of new technology
— fostering educational programs for the training of stoneworkers in industry methods
— promoting technological progress through association work

The nomination for Mike Yates reads as follows:
With a modest start-up in 1992 and now comprising 15 people, Counter Solutions is a fully digital shop, employing the most advanced technology available in the stone industry today. One of the early fabricators/distributors of Silestone, Mike Yates and his team at Counter Solutions expanded into natural stone 10 years ago and quickly moved to the forefront of the industry. In May of 2010, disaster struck at Counter Solutions as employees arrived early to find their shop, offices and showroom under more than 5 feet of muddy water -- courtesy of the Tennessee floods. It took more than three days for the waters to subside before the crew was able to begin clean up and salvage operations. Their recently remodeled showroom was a total loss and had to be demolished right down to the concrete and studs. Despite losing two CNC Routers, two waterjets and countless other pieces of fabrication equipment and electronics, Mike Yates still saw the positive and rebuilt his operation.

The following April, the rains came again, and Counter Solutions got the worst of it one more time. While this time better prepared, and only flooded with 24 inches of muddy water, Mike Yates lost less equipment, but again the showroom required complete demolition and rebuild. Undaunted, Mike Yates never lost his sense of humor, commenting, “I’m beginning to believe that maybe God doesn’t think I should be in the stone business.”

Many years ago, Mike Yates partnered with Northwood Machine, agreeing to purchase their first stone machine, Northwood’s CNC Stone Router No. 001. He repeated the exercise years later, buying their first stone-cutting waterjet. Whether it be material, manpower, tooling, expertise or moral or ethical advice, Mike Yates’ sharing attitude is without boundaries.

Mike Yates has also donated his time and skill to several Stone Fabricators Alliance events, sharing both his knowledge and his award-winning BBQ abilities.

The recent economic downturn has generated numerous bankruptcy auctions, and Mike Yates attends many to find good equipment at good prices. However, rather than purchasing for himself, he is generally on the lookout for a piece of equipment he knows will help out a fellow fabricator.

Mike Yates is considered to be the “Elder Statesman” and “Patriarch” of the organization.