Despite the pandemic, Stone World maintains tradition with the announcement of its 2020 Fabricator of the Year. Sandya Dandamudi, second-generation owner of GI Stone in Chicago, IL, joins the list of the other well-deserving winners, who date back to Jim Stengel of Dakota Granite Co. when he was honored in 1988.

Each outstanding industry member who has received the award was recognized for their leadership, dedication and innovation. They are all a shining example by their willingness to educate and share ideas and experiences with their peers for the better of the stone industry.

The voting polls were open from mid-November to mid-December of 2020 on Stone World's website -- allowing readers to cast their vote for the nominee of their choice. Criteria for the award includes:

  • Cooperation in sharing technology with the industry.
  • Willingness to pioneer in the use of new technology.
  • Fostering educational programs for the training of stoneworkers in industry methods.
  • Promoting technological progress through association work.


In addition to Dandamudi, the roster of nominees included:

  • Duan Coqui, Stone World of Tennessee
  • Chris Hildebrand, Affordable Quality Marble & Granite
  • Mike Hyer, Rocktops Granite & Stone Fabrication
  • Rob Riegler of Lakeside Surfaces in
  • Eric Rolseth, Astonia Stone Artisans
  • Mario Sardo, Fordham Marble Co., Inc.




SW: What do you enjoy most about working in the stone industry?

SD: Being able to create beautiful results that have a long-lasting and practical impact.


SW: What has your experience been working in the stone industry as a woman?

SD: I have always been very focused on my job and delivering the best product. Any nonsensical reactions I receive, such as a dismissive look or a condescending attitude, go away quickly once the professional teamwork required to achieve the desired outcome takes over.


SW: What advice would you give a young woman starting out today in the stone business?

SD: Everyone has obstacles to overcome – do not let them get in the way and be a distraction. Put in the work, do your job, always be professional, and you will win.


SW: What would you say is one of your most memorable experiences of working in the stone industry?

SD: There are too many to count, but they all involve meeting some amazing, creative and professional people that are solving problems and building some great spaces. Some of my best friends are from the industry.


SW: Has there been a particular obstacle or challenge that you worked to overcome that you would like to share?

SD: Learning not to over-explain!


SW: When you are not working, what are some ways you like to spend your free time?

SD: Playing with my amazing dog Chance the Puppy, hanging out with friends over wine and debating current events, which naturally leads to solving all the world’s problems!


SW: If someone were to come visit you in Chicago, what would be a must-see?

SD: Take the architectural cruise – nothing compares!