This month marks my 21st anniversary with Stone World — how fast the time goes by! And while many aspects of the industry — and even systems for publishing a magazine have changed — it is comforting that many things have also stayed the same.

For starters, I am fortunate to have met many good people in the industry throughout my years here, and I can honestly call a lot of them my friends. What’s particularly fun is I have the opportunity to see them all over the world — whether it be at a trade show here in the U.S or in Italy or China. As an editor of Stone World, I have had the opportunity to participate in group tours with architects, fabricators and distributors — visiting quarries and stone-processing plants worldwide. When spending a week closely tied to people on buses and sharing meals, you are bound to build personal relationships which last.

I graduated with a degree in Mass Communications with a concentration in journalism, and after college I was determined to work for a magazine. Little did I know I would end up writing about stone! But I consider myself lucky that I answered the cryptic ad in one of our daily newspapers for an assistant editor position, because I can honestly say I truly enjoy what I do for a living. I still get excited when I have the chance to tell someone’s interesting story about how they got into the business. And it is rewarding when some of you out there take the time to tell our staff we are doing a good job.

In this issue, we feature two fabrication operations, which I visited. (While I wish I could visit every shop I write about, unfortunately distance and time constraints don’t always make it possible.) Both companies are family owned and have been around for a long time. But each has its own unique story, and I enjoyed spending time and learning about them both.

I stopped by BardenStone, which begins on page 34, soon after landing in Memphis, TN, for a workshop I was attending the next day. The Barden family couldn’t have been more welcoming. It was obvious their southern hospitality was sincere, and evident they make a great effort to give each of their customers their own personal experience. Through the years, the company has transitioned to expand its stone offerings and capabilities, which has allowed it to follow a path of success. Similar to how technology has changed the way some of the processes are done differently in my job, technology has also influenced the direction of BardenStone. But at the root, they remain true to who they are and put the needs of their customers at the forefront.

The second fabrication shop featured in this edition is Rye Marble Inc. of Rye, NY. Only an hour drive from my house, it made sense I talk with Alex and Greg DiPietro in person. Their story is told starting on page 46, but in brief, the brothers are the fourth generation running the shop and recently took steps to make it fully automated. The company was founded as a monument business almost 100 years ago. It slowly evolved into a full-scale countertop operation — taking advantage of its upscale neighborhood. I enjoyed listening to Alex and Greg share their experiences and how they transformed Rye Marble to what it is today.

As I have said many times before, meeting the people in our industry is what I enjoy the most about my job as editor of Stone World. I recently returned from Jefferson City, MO, where I attended a SFA workshop hosted by Carved in Stone. I made a few more friends on that trip. Look for an article soon about the workshops hosted by the SFA this year, as well as a story about Carved in Stone. In the meantime, you can enjoy reading about the SFA’s adventure in Italy this year, beginning on page 88.