Last month, I made the long journey to China to attend the Xiamen Stone Fair. My adventure began on a Friday at noon (EST) and I arrived in Xiamen a little before 11 p.m. the next day (10 a.m. Saturday EST). Although exhausted, I was excited. While I had been to Shanghai many years ago, this was my first time in Xiamen. Over the years, I have heard more and more about the stone show, and I was interested to experience it first-hand.

My first reaction was the size of the fair. Even at the start of the first day there was a buzz on the show floor, and not long after the doors opened, the aisles filled with attendees. Once the exhibition was in full swing, it was often difficult to maneuver through the crowd.

Our sales representative, Steve Smith, was with me on this trip, and he had attended once before — about eight years ago. He was surprised how much the show had grown since his last visit. He explained how what is now the main exhibition area wasn’t even built back then.

Steve wasn’t the only one to compare past impressions of the exhibition to the 2017 edition. Throughout my visit, I spoke with a number of exhibitors, as well as attendees, and overall I received the same positive reaction. Industry members are impressed and encouraged by the continuous growth of the Xiamen Stone Fair. Many also believe the quality of visitors has improved too — making the exhibition a true contender among the must-attend annual industry events.

And in addition to the exhibition itself, the Xiamen Stone Fair has devoted time and energy to building a reputable World Stone Congress — offering attendees an extensive educational program. For the past two years, MIA+BSI has participated in the conference program — sharing its expertise, particularly on issues relating to working and selling stone in the U.S.

This year, MIA+BSI brought a delegation of 41 members to Xiamen. The group was unified in its efforts to visit exhibiting member companies, as well as recruiting new ones. The delegation also spent a day touring several of the leading stone processing plants in the area. I was fortunate to have been invited to be a part of the trip. Many of us agreed the facilities we visited were impressive. For starters, they had massive warehouses filled with an abundance of stone slabs in seemingly endless varieties. They also had large efficient fabrication operations. Most of the companies we visited do business in the U.S.

Beginning on page 72 of this issue of Stone World, you can learn more about this year’s edition of the Xiamen Stone Fair. Additionally, our June issue will include a Report from China — featuring the factories I visited while in the Xiamen area, as well as other reputable Chinese stone businesses.