It only took me 23 years, but I finally made it out to visit the Indiana Limestone Belt. I’d have to say it was long overdue. A big “thank you” goes to my friend Todd Schnatzmeyer at the Indiana Limestone Institute who made my excursion possible, along with all of the companies that graciously welcomed me into their quarries and mills.

Over the years, Todd and I have often spoken about an article on Indiana limestone and “The Stone Belt,” as it is lovingly referred to. I appreciate that after talking with him again this year at StonExpo in Las Vegas, he set the wheels into motion, which has resulted in the feature you will find beginning on page 38 of this issue. In total, there is a brief story on each of the 14 different companies that I visited. They represent about half of the active quarriers and fabricators in the region. I wish there was more space to elaborate on each of these companies, because every one of them possesses a unique quality – whether in their products, processing techniques or business strategy. But the one point I can’t stress enough is that they all were so friendly and happy to share their story with our Stone World readers.

Galloy & Van Etten is our Fabricator Case Study this month (page 28), and although they are based in Chicago, they are a member of the Indiana Limestone Institute and part of our Indiana limestone focus. What is so amazing about this company is that it has been in operation for 120 years. And while it has evolved for more than a century, it still has a shop that exclusively cuts limestone.

Another interesting feature that highlights the Indiana limestone region is on the Indiana Limestone Symposium, which starts on page 60. The timing of my trip was actually coordinated with the dates of the Symposium. It was a pleasure to meet Amy Brier and the carvers attending the workshop. I enjoyed watching true craftsman at work, who were either honing their technique or those who came to learn a new skill.

Overall, my trip to Indiana reinforced what I love about my job. It’s so nice to get out and meet members of the stone industry who enjoy what they are doing. I left knowing I have new friends that I will now see at industry events. And it reinforced to me that making these special bonds mean a lot. When I saw Brenda Edwards of TexaCon Cut Stone and TexaStone Quarries on my trip, I said to her that I was happy that our schedules worked out to be in Indiana at the same time. She responded by saying that when she heard I was coming to the area she and Joe DellaCroce (of TexaCon Cut Stone and Connecticut Stone) made sure they would be there. That says it all. I value my friendships and relationships in the stone industry – they are the best.

As I write this column, I am in Knoxville, TN, for the Natural Stone Institute Study Tour. Once again, I am fortunate to see old friends and meet new ones. Look for a full story on my latest adventure in an upcoming issue.