The last few weeks I have been busy traveling. One of my stops was to the MIA/Stone World Stone Summit in Dulles, VA, which was hosted by MS International at its showroom/ warehouse facility. There was a nice turnout among fabricators, which we always like to see. It is shows that industry members are looking for educational opportunities that will help them better their businesses. It also demonstrates that they are looking to listen and learn from each other.

The afternoon session of these events, which are held at different locations throughout North America throughout the year, is a Fabricator Forum. It includes a panel of experienced industry veterans from the area, but audience participation is strongly encouraged. The objective is for everyone to share some of the specific issues they are facing in their shops and learn how those with similar situations are dealing with them.

Having sat in on several Fabricator Forums recently, it has become apparent that many fabricators are experiencing the same issues -- whether it be how they protect themselves when working with exotics, incentive programs for their employees, how they dispose of waste material and what they do with remnants -- just to name a few. The forums provide an arena where participants can sit together and share ideas. It is great to watch the synergy that transpires during these sessions.

 The bottom line is that the Stone Summits as well as the educational programs at trade shows such as StonExpo and Coverings provide valuable experiences. They allow for an exchange of ideas among fabricators and for great networking opportunities. Even after the Stone Summit in Dulles ended, there were clusters of fabricators scattered throughout the room talking with each other. That is exactly what we hope happens at these events. We want it to be a way for industry members to meet others in their area and be able to learn and help each other. There will be a full report on the Dulles Stone Summit in an upcoming issue of Stone World. Also, a transcript of the Fabricator Forum that was held during Coverings this year will run in the July print edition.