The Stone Fabricator’s Alliance, more commonly known at the SFA, organizes an annual voyage to Italy. The fortunate members invited are exposed to different parts of the stone industry, including quarries, slab production facilities and machinery/tooling manufacturing plants. Stone World had the privilege of going on the trip this year, and Managing Editor Jason Kamery recounted his trip to Editorial Director Jennifer Richinelli on a recent podcast. Here is a summary of what was discussed.

JK: This year the SFA trip went to Northern Italy and visited quite a few different towns where we saw a bunch of different Italian companies. This is something they've been doing since about 2012, I want to say.

The fabricators they host are from all over the country. This year I think there were 18 of us, including the two SFA leaders, Eric Rolseth and Mike Dean.

It was nice because when I flew out from New Jersey, it was terrible weather, but we landed in Italy and it was phenomenal weather. It was so nice out there most of the time. It doesn't always work like that in Italy, where you get nice weather. And the reason that I bring this up, and its important, is because the very first stop on the trip was at the Henraux factory and quarry, which, if you don't have nice weather, it's kind of a huge bummer. I've been on trips before where it's either cloudy or the mountain has snow on it, and it's just not quite the same. But this year, it was very sunny. Everyone needed sunglasses, because when the sun hits that white marble it’s bright.

JR: Yes, it can be very bright. So it sounds like a beautiful way to start the trip. And it's fun to watch fabricators that have never been there before experience something like that -- to see their reaction.

JK: Yes, a hundred percent.

We then went to a kind of showroom, I guess, for lack of a better word, where slabs were displayed. It was newly built. It was pretty cool to go through and see all the white marbles. They had some other different stone as well, but obviously, the big chunk of it is white marble. So that was fun to see, and then watching the processing part of it. Seeing the giant gangsaws cut through all the blocks is always cool because I think a lot of fabricators haven't really seen that process and understand what it takes. I don't think they realize that for them to cut through a giant block of marble like that, and get a dozen or two dozen slabs, takes six hours. The granite blocks take about eight to 10 hours.

I think a lot of people really appreciated seeing it. It seems like on these trips, Henraux is either the first or last stop. And like I said, for us it was kind of nice it was the first because we got the beautiful weather.


JR: Where did you go next?

JK: We then went to Nicolai. I really liked their facility. It was interesting to walk through and watch how these tools are actually made. We had the opportunity to see polishing pads and different pads for CNC machines being made in front of us. There was somebody there that was taking the material and putting it in the mold and then baking it. And we could see how long the process actually took. It's funny because a lot of fabricators were like, “I'm never complaining about pricing of tools ever again.” We saw how much care and attention goes into the production process. It's not just some automated facility line churning the tools out.


JR: I think it's probably eye opening to a lot of fabricators. You don't realize until you actually see it.

The next day, we went over to Comandulli, which is always great because they also walked us through everything there. I mean, they don't hide anything. The big thing that I think a lot of people didn't realize is Comandulli is essentially a machine shop. Whatever parts are being put into your Comandulli line polishers, they made those parts. They didn't buy it from anywhere else. It wasn't shipped over from somewhere else. They have the tools and machines to literally mill out giant pieces of steel. It's all custom made to their exact specifications.


JR: It sounds like you experienced so much.

JK: We really did. After Comandulli, we were back on the bus. We had a much longer drive -- several hours -- and ended up at GMM, which is always fascinating. We saw where they build all of their machines and then went across the street to a new building they built during the pandemic. Inside the building, they had several of their machines running for demonstrations.

They were running a waterjet, a saw and line polishers. It was cool that we were able to hang out and watch the machines work.

After GMM, we had a couple of hours drive to CMS, who also makes machinery. CMS was a good time because they don't just do stone fabrication. They do stuff for aerospace and have machines to cut metal and I think woodworking too. We could see tools that are being used in different industries.

Many fabricators were asking if the machines could do certain things such as feed in slabs and cut them and then feed them out so the machine can be running nonstop. And they're like, “Yeah, sure, we can do that. That's not a problem.” That was a lot of fun to see. It was a good discussion.

The last stop of the day was at Water Filtration System. They do water filtration systems and a type of air filtration system. They have a bunch of different things that just make your water cleaner and make the air cleaner around you for the health of the fabricators. A lot of their sales goes through Weha.

Discussing the First Half of the SFA Italy Trip

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Jason Kamery of Stone World discusses what was seen on the Stone Fabricator’s Alliance trip to Italy.


Discussing the Second Half of the SFA Italy Trip

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Jason Kamery of Stone World discusses what was seen on the second half of the  Stone Fabricator’s Alliance trip to Italy.