Stone Column: New Industry Developments
While the year might be winding down, we still have a lot to report here at Stone World. You will notice that this issue is rather diverse, with features varying from the Fabricator Case Study to a roundup on natural stone care and maintenance products to a look at a limestone quarry in Missouri and a beautiful fountain recently built out of basalt in front of the main entrance to the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, which is part of the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, CA. Additionally, we had a chance to speak with Jim Hieb of The Natural Stone Institute about the strides the Use Natural Stone campaign has made since it was launched in 2016.
All around, times seem good for the stone industry. Fabricators report being busy and the Use Natural Stone campaign has expanded its global reach. When I was walking around the machinery halls at Marmomac earlier this fall, I noticed many “sold” signs on equipment. Another telltale sign the industry is prospering.
But there is an issue going on right now that might affect many fabricators and distributors, and that is the new tariff ruling that was recently announced by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), which listed $200 billion worth of Chinese imports that will be subject to additional tariffs, including quartz and a range of natural stone products in both slab and block form, as well as flagstone and monumental building stone. The additional tariffs were put into effect starting September 24, 2018, and initially are in the amount of 10%. Beginning January 1, 2019, the level of the additional tariffs will increase to 25%.
It will be interesting to see how these tariffs will affect those selling quartz surfacing and stone from China. The consumer demand for quartz surfacing continues to rise, so fabricators and distributors will have to strategize as to how not to disrupt the supply chain.
Rupesh Shah of MSI has been vocal about his stance on the tariffs, and he has shared his thoughts with us. Because Stone Worldtries to report on all aspects of the industry and issues that are affecting you, we will continue to post information on this situation as it becomes available. Shah’s comments can be found on the Web Exclusive section of our website. And we would also love to hear from anyone else who would like to share their thoughts, advice, etc., on this subject. Definitely don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
And speaking of quartz surfacing, you will see that this issue contains a focus on the material. Even large stone producers, such as Tab India, are now offering the product to satisfy market demand. The India-based stone producer maintains that it will remain a viable source of natural stone, but it found its customers asking more and more for quartz slabs too.
As with everything, things change with time. What is most important is how we react and adapt to the situations we are faced with. Over the years, the stone industry has overcome many hurdles and this time will be no different. And the best way to work through a situation is to share ideas and advice and continue open discussions, which is what many of you already practice regularly.