I was talking with a fabricator the other day who said something that really stuck with me. After a series of unfortunate circumstances, he and his brothers have rebuilt their family business, and it is a growing success. The fabricator said that if he listened to everyone around him who gave their opinion, the business wouldn’t be what it is today.

The moral of the story is that while advice can be helpful, it is important to follow your instinct and do what you feel is right. In this case, the fabricator took a few risks and has created a customized business for a particular market — and it is working. While it isn’t always easy, it is important in this day and age to develop a niche to make your business stand apart from the rest.

In this issue of Stone World, we take a look at several U.S. stone producers. Among them is Quality Stone Quarries in Stigler, OK. The owner of the quarry has transitioned his business through the years to keep up with market demand. Originally starting out as a masonry company, it then became a hardscape business. Soon owner Danny Ratliff realized it was difficult to obtain material such as sand, concrete and rock that it needed so he decided to open his own distribution center. It got its stone products in Stigler, OK, where there is a small geographical area where quality stone is located. But when the recession of 2008 hit, some of the local quarries closed. It became difficult to obtain the stone, so Ratliff decided to open up Quality Stone Quarries.

Through the years, Ratliff was always thinking ahead and reinventing his business to stay on top. It is important not to get complacent. Those companies that follow the market and continue to maintain a fresh image for their customers are the ones that will thrive.

The fabricator I mentioned earlier told me they are in a good spot right now, and it is easy just to stay there and ride the wave. But he knows down the line, he and his brothers will reach for the next level. While they may encounter challenges along the way, pushing themselves to offer their customers top quality service will be worth it in the end.

As I write this column, I am about to attend StonExpo in Las Vegas — part of The International Surface Event (TISE). While there, I plan to attend the Fabricator Forum and other seminars pertaining to the stone industry. Participating in these sessions is always educational and helps me stay in tune with the latest issues facing fabricators today. Just as it is important for business owners to stay on top by fine-tuning things, as editor of Stone World, I also try to think of new ways to present information that would be of most interest to our readers. It is also important for us to stay fresh and current, too.