This quote was said to me last week by a fabricator in Austin, TX, where I attended a gathering of the Artisan Group, a group of independent North American countertop professionals. Here's the really cool part: he wasn't the only person who said something like that to me. Virtually everyone I spoke with at the event said that they have been enjoying sustained success in 2013, and most of them are making investments in their operations.

The folks that I spoke with in Austin represent shops across North America, and they are all accomplished professionals. Out of the 34 member companies in the Artisan Group, I've probably covered around half of them over the years, and my goal for this trip was to nail down articles on some of that other half. Overall, I would say I was successful, and you will certainly see articles on many of these fabricators over the next few months. However, I must admit that I ran into some roadblocks in scheduling some of these stories, but for a reason that is an excellent sign for our industry and its suppliers. Several of the fabricators that I approached to do an article asked me if I could wait a few months, as they are in the middle of expanding their operations.

Some of them told me that they were revamping their showroom. Others said they were taking delivery of a new machine. Yet another told me that they were doing so much equipment investment that the entire layout of their shop was about to change. All of this tells me that these fabricators are not just seeing a positive week or month -- they are seeing significant growth in their fabrication business, and they are confident that this growth will remain over the course of this year and beyond. I've said it before, and it bears mentioning now -- no one thinks that we have time-traveled back to 2006. Those days are over, and perhaps that is a good thing. The fabricators who have come out the other side of this sustained recession are smarter and more businesssavvy than ever before, and I know that we as an industry are more prepared for "market fluctuations" (that term is an understatement, I admit) than we were seven years ago.

As I write this piece, I am looking at the next trip on my calendar -- Coverings in Atlanta, GA, where I will continue to get an up-close and personal look at our current market conditions. Let's hope that the vibe continues to remain positive.