In the past several years, the annual survey has been showing more positive signs of recovery, and last year's results were the most optimistic in a long time -- until the 2015 report. This year's survey offers even more hopeful comments from fabricators, and the numbers surpass the previous year.
When asked to compare overall industry business conditions today to those of a year ago, 65% said that conditions had improved, while 27% said they remained stable and 9% said they were worse. The survey also pointed out that equipment purchases will be on the rise in 2015, with 68% of respondents planning to invest. The purchases will range from CNC stoneworking centers (28%) to digital/electronic templating (19%) and hand tools, which continue to be the most popular purchase (52%).
In a couple of weeks, I will be headed to StonExpo -- part of The International Surface Event (TISE) West. This will be the first test to see if fabricators' intentions to invest will come true. I am interested to see how much activity will be on the show floor and how many "sold" signs I will see on machines. Only time will tell; but according to the survey results, as well as what I have personally heard when speaking with some fabricators, the future is definitely looking bright for the stone industry. I will be sure to report back what I saw in Las Vegas in the coming weeks.
While I will be attending seminars, visiting booths and watching demonstrations, you can also find me at Stone World's booth (#B956). Stop by to say hello or let me know if you have a project or product you would like us to cover. I am also always looking to meet new fabricators, who we can profile as a Fabricator Case Study in an upcoming issue.
Stone World will also be presenting its "Fabricator of the Year" award on Thursday, January 22 at 4 p.m. at our booth. Chosen by a panel of industry veterans, this award has been presented since 1987, and it honors fabricators for:
- 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 technical progress through association work.
Make sure to come by to see who this year's winner will be. The event will be part of a "Stone Pavilion Block Party" hosted by the Natural Stone Council (NSC) and several supporting stone associations from 3:30 to 5 p.m. at their booths.