For those who have been reading Stone World for a while now, you are aware that each January we publish 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 this provides reliable insight of how the stone industry will perform in the coming year. And judging by this year’s predictions, it seems business will be good for many fabricators in 2018.

In general, most fabricators have high hopes for 2018 and many have plans to invest in machinery, personnel and their facilities. The survey polled fabricators from small-, medium- and large-sized shops throughout the U.S., and three-quarters (75%) of the respondents believe sales revenues will grow next year by an average of 19%.

The entire survey can be found beginning on page 66 of this issue, but for those looking for a brief synopsis, here are a few highlights.

  • A total of 78% believe the market will continue to increase by an average of 16% over the next five or 10 years.
  • Investment in personnel sees a big jump in 2018 — rising from 35% to 56%. Additional breakdown in the percentages of spending include: 39% facilities, 31% marketing, 30% showroom, 18% stock and 18% warehousing. A total of 5% have no plans to invest next year — quite a bit down from last year’s reported 11%.
  • While a total of 57% said they give monetary rewards (down 2% from 2016’s results), 36% offer insurance (compared to 39% in 2016), 25% provide a 401K (up 1% from last year’s survey) and 25% offer non-monetary rewards such as extra vacation time (an increase of 5% from 2016). A total of 14% said they do not offer any incentives to employees, compared to 15% in 2016.
  • When it comes to material, on average, nearly two-thirds of respondents (64%) cut natural stone, while a third (32%) cut quartz surfacing. While compact sintered stone and porcelain products are also gaining popularity in the market, only 2% of the fabricators polled cut those materials.
  • The majority of respondents (73%) expect their gross annual sales to increase in 2018, which is slightly higher from last year’s 71% and a definite rise from the 67% the year before.

This year we added a new question to the survey because we were interested in learning sources fabricators rely on to discover new machinery. The results revealed 61% attend trade shows, 53% read advertisements, 44% receive referrals from other fabricators and 9% have other ways to stay up on the latest technology available to the stone industry.

The intention of the survey is to provide useful information to our readers. 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 2018.