As I sit down to write this column, I am looking out the window and it’s a beautiful day here in Jersey. The sun is shining brightly and there is a slight breeze – the perfect summer weather. It has a calming effect and I feel I can finally exhale after what seems like a whirlwind of the first half of the year. 

2018 has definitely been busy so far. I have traveled everywhere from Vegas to Xiamen to Atlanta to our parent company’s headquarters in Michigan. In the last few weeks I have checked two more states off my list to visit – Ohio and Wisconsin. This included a trip to the Natural Stone Institute’s office in Oberlin, OH, and one of our workshops, which was held in Milwaukee, WI.  

Although it has been seemingly non-stop — on top of putting the content for Stone Worldtogether each month even when on the road – I look back and think about how fortunate I am to have had these experiences. On each trip, I met new people, formed new connections that will ultimately lead to new content for the magazine, and most importantly, learned something new. 

And what really stands out is the technology. While walking the machine area during Coverings, it was apparent robotics is the way of the future. More and more manufacturers are developing their own robot to meet the demands of today’s fabricator. In addition to offering increased speed and efficiency, I have also heard some manufacturers say how they believe robots will help solve the labor issues. With it continually being said that it is becoming more difficult to find good and reliable help these days, the capability of robotic technology will compensate for less workers in the shop. 

During my trip to our corporate office, which is just outside of Detroit, MI, I had the opportunity to spend the day with Baca Systems. Their facility was quite impressive, and I also witnessed customer service at its best – a training class was taking place onsite. Another group was touring the factory and watching the robot in action. Obviously, with advances in technology comes a learning curve, and it is good to see that Baca, as well as other machine manufacturers, are providing guidance and that elevated level of customer service to their clients. 

While in Michigan, I also had the chance to visit two fabricating shops. (You will learn more about them soon in upcoming Fabricator Case Studies.) One of the fabricators that I visited had recently purchased their second robot. The shop was state-of-the-art and high volume, and a prime example of how thinking outside the box and investing in technology leads to a successful business.

So now that the summer is here, I have a chance to catch up on things and process all I have learned. This in turn will result in hopefully what you find to be interesting articles. Look to read about the fabricators I have visited and new products I have learned about in the pages of Stone World soon.