Having passed the half mark of 2020, I have taken some time for reflection. It certainly has been a game-changer so far. In January, I started the year off like any other. We had a successful trip to Las Vegas for The International Surface Event (TISE), where we presented the 2019 Stone World Fabricator of the Year Award to James Donaire of Perfection Connection in Carson City, NV. I also was fortunate enough to be invited to Cosentino’s C100 conference in Riveria Maya, Mexico, which was full of enthusiastic industry members. The launch of 2020 seemed bright, but little did I realize that after returning from our first Stone Summit of the year in Little Rock, AR, at the end of February, everything would change. And so began the COVID-19 pandemic.

I have to admit that the months of March through May seemed particularly bleak, especially living in New Jersey, which was one of the “hot spots” at the time. Thankfully, my role at Stone World did not change and I had my work to keep me occupied. It seemed like a lot of fabricators also remained busy – completing jobs that had already been in progress. But for all of us, we had to implement new procedures to ensure that we all remained safe. Fast-forward to now, and virtual is the “new norm.” There are virtual meetings, seminars and trade shows, as well as virtual showrooms and even Happy Hours. We recently held our second virtual Stone Summit with the Natural Stone Institute, and there are several more scheduled through February of 2021.

While definitely different from what we are used to, from those I have spoken with or what I have heard from panel discussions I have tuned in to, we are all managing and continuing to work, share information and learn. But I wouldn’t expect anything different from our industry. You have weathered the recession of 2008 and 2009, and the radon scare. Tough times make us stronger and more resourceful.

This is the time of year when I start the process of setting up voting for our annual Fabricator of the Year Award. As I mentioned earlier, this award is usually presented during StonExpo, which is part of TISE. Since the 2021 dates for the show have been moved to June, we have decided to “go on with our show,” so to speak, by hosting a virtual presentation. We are still working out the details, but stay tuned for when the voting polls will open on our website and when the event will take place.

So as we continue to navigate the uncharted waters of the second half of 2020, let’s try to remain positive and communicate with each other whether it be via virtual events, phone calls, emails, and of course, through Stone World. We are always here as a source of information and welcome your stories to share. Stay safe and healthy.