Each year, the Natural Stone Institute (NSI) continues to grow in size and initiatives to serve those in the natural stone industry. As part of its efforts to promote the use of natural stone in design, it has been extending its global reach by sending delegations to countries such as Brazil, Italy, China – and most recently Turkey. In collaboration with the Xiamen Stone Fair, a delegation of nearly 40 members travelled to Xiamen, China, to attend the stone exhibition, as well as to participate in a factory tour of the nearby stone region.

This year marked the third consecutive time that NSI brought a delegation to Xiamen, and participants welcomed the opportunity. “Serving on this delegation helped expand my knowledge of stone and the tremendous production capability in China,” said Daniel Wood of Lurvey Landscape, the 2017 Building Stone Institute (BSI) president. “It also allowed me to expand my network and enhance existing relationships.”

A full day was dedicated to the factory tour, which included stops at the facilities of Xiamen Stone Enterprise, Ltd. in Hongtang Industry District, Tongan, Xiamen; Xiamen Ally Stone Industrial Co., Ltd. in Shuitou Town, Quanzhou; and Zongyi Stone Development Co., Ltd. in Nanlian Industrial, Guanqiao, Quanzhou, Fujian.

“Our delegation to Xiamen allows us to introduce our U.S. members to a huge fair and fellow international members that exhibit,” said Jeff Handley, member relations manager for the association. “The delegates become very involved in our mission to promote natural stone, and actively help us seek new members to support the cause. The past two years, we have included a one-day tour of a few of our Chinese member factories and showrooms in the Shuitou region. This year, we visited Xiamen Ally Stone, Xiamen Stone Enterprise and Zongyi Stone Development. After the tours, the delegates attended a networking lunch hosted by our board member in China, Josh Zhang, and his company Jianming Stone Group.”

Stone World was fortunate to be invited to join the group on its tour of the stoneworking region. The first stop on the trip was to Xiamen Stone Enterprise, Ltd., which was founded in 1995. With a staff of more than 200 factory workers and 50 administrative positions, the company operates out of an approximate 2.7 million-square-foot plant.

Initially, Xiamen Stone Enterprise, Ltd. was established as a trading company – importing blocks from all over the world. It was not until 2005 that it built its own stone-processing facility.

An expansive warehouse houses more than 200 varieties of imported granite from numerous nations. The company explained that it has built solid relationships with many quarry owners early on in its business, which allows it to maintain its extensive inventory.

A section of the warehouse is designated for laying out stone projects, which are primarily for the commercial sector. Xiamen Stone Enterprise, Ltd. serves markets worldwide, with U.S., Japan, Singapore and Europe being among its leading business.

Next on the agenda was Xiamen Ally Stone Industrial Co., Ltd. Established in 1994, the company provides one-stop shopping for architects, project managers and builders. While it started off small, through the years the company has continued to grow. Today, it consists of eight divisions.

Xiamen Ally Stone Industrial Co., Ltd. carries a selection of about 30 different types of granite, marble, limestone, slate, sandstone and onyx. Approximately 50% of the factory the group toured produces work for the high-end residential domestic market. According to the company, it fabricates many custom marble pieces for home design.

The final stop on the tour was a visit to Zongyi Stone Development Co., Ltd. The company, which was started in 1990, is a family owned business.

With its number of employees ranging between 600 and 700, Zongyi is as professional stone manufacturer and exporter with a broad range of product offerings. Additionally, the company has its own brand, Casvino, which it sells wholesale to the domestic market.

Members of the group were enthusiastic about the overall experience. “Being a part of the NSI delegation has always been a great experience,” said Karen Roe of NaturalStone Motif. “Meeting new people, catching up with friends over the years, experiencing the culture, learning more about our industry and sharing my knowledge with others are some valuable attributes I take home each year. To be an accredited member of the NSI itself is paramount in our industry, and being surrounded by like professionals is so rewarding.”