Each January, we share the results of a fabricator purchasing plan survey, which is compiled by the research department at BNP Media, Stone World’s parent company. We believe it is a good indicator of how the stone industry will fair during the coming year.

Overall, it seems fabricators are confident for 2017 and many have plans to make some large investments.

The survey polled fabricators from small-, medium- and large-sized shops located across the U.S., and 76% of the respondents believe sales revenues will grow next year by an average of 17%. This in fact is a 10% drop from the 86% last year who anticipated growth, but it is still a hopeful sign that 2017 will see positive results.

The entire survey begins on page 60 of this issue, but I thought I’d outline some of the high points.

  • A total of 83% believe the market will continue to increase by an average of 19%, while only 78% of last year’s respondents said it would increase. A total of 17% said the stone market will stay the same during the next five to 10 years, and nobody believes they won’t see any expansion, as opposed to the 6% of last year’s respondents.
  • A total of 73% of respondents said that they will be buying new machinery for their fabrication shop, which is a 4% jump from last year.
  • Following investments in equipment, personnel remains a high priority for fabricators, with 35% planning to invest in their staff. Marketing and the actual fabrication facilities themselves also ranks high, with 32% of respondents planning to invest in each.
  • The majority of respondents (71%) expect their gross annual sales to increase in 2017, which is a noticeable increase from the 67% in 2016.

Throughout 2016, the subject of hiring and retaining quality employees continually surfaced during educational sessions I had attended. This brought the idea for us to include a new question this year. We asked fabricators if they offer performance-related incentives to their employees, and the response was an overwhelming 85% who do. While a total of 59% said they give monetary rewards, 39% offer insurance, 24% provide a 401K and 20% offer non-monetary rewards such as extra vacation time. A response such as this shows me there are many of you out there who truly invest in their staff and care about their future.

Now of course a survey such as this is not presenting hard facts, but rather meant to serve as a guide for the coming year. We hope you find the information we provide useful. If for the future, there are other statistics you are curious to find out, please don’t hesitate to let me know. Perhaps we can include it in next year’s questionnaire. With that said, I’d like to wish everyone a Happy New Year and all the best for your businesses in 2017.