We’re halfway through 2020, dealing with Covid-19, lockdowns, rioting and political insanity. Just waiting on the swarms of locusts to usher in the official End of Days. There’s not a fabricator among us that wouldn’t welcome a “do over” at this point.

For the Stone Fabricators Alliance (SFA), we’ve shutdown our workshop schedule for the remainder of the year, canceled our annual Tour of Italy, missed out on Coverings and reluctantly opted not to exhibit in Verona this September, due to too much uncertainty. We are pushing this year’s workshop itinerary out to 2021, hoping that things will resemble some sense of normalcy by then.

So what does a fabricator do in this “new normal” (really starting to despise that phrase) to find education and product knowledge? Exactly what you’re doing now — reading Stone World magazine of course! Elsewhere online, many fabricators and machinery manufacturers have been promoting their companies with informal Facebook live videos and Instagram stories, while others have been offering more structured webinars.

Fabricators are hungry for new tools to make their jobs easier, and in the absence of trade shows, I would encourage all industry-related companies to make an extra effort to not only display new products online with their usual marketing campaigns, but demonstrate with video. Partnering up with a fabricator already using your products is an easy way to accomplish this. Fabricators want to see the products in action, and if they can’t put their hands on them at a trade show, video will have to suffice. Many companies have been doing this successfully for years. It’s the ones that haven’t that I worry may not survive if this plays out much longer. Out of sight is really out of mind now, so don’t be shy, make a few posts and stay relevant.

The SFA's Facebook page is fast approaching 10,000 people — a good place as any these days to see and be seen. Yes, it is Facebook, and along with that comes the occasional inappropriate remark or internet troll stirring up trouble, but for the most part it’s real fabricators being themselves, rough edges and all, promoting and buying products — often fiercely defending their favorite brands. There is also the original SFA forum, which will be getting a fresh new look soon.

So for all fabricators and product vendors alike, we’ll have to continue the spirit of the SFA to Learn, Share and Prosper in front of a computer screen for a while, until we can meet again at a workshop or trade show floor.

Until then — stay safe, mind your social distance, wash your hands…you know the drill all too well by now.