For more than a decade, the Stone Fabricator’s Alliance (SFA) has brought a group of member fabricators on an intensive, informative, eye-opening and unforgettable journey throughout Italy. For those lucky ones who have been selected, it has often been referred to as the “golden ticket.” While each year the route may change, it always makes stops at machinery and tooling manufacturers, as well as stone producers, and other industry-related locations. 

Not only does the trip allow participants to view the latest in technology and historic sites, but it provides an opportunity to connect with leading industry professionals, as well as their peers from across the country. It also opens the eyes of the group to the culture, cuisine and beauty of Italy. 

This year, the road trip will begin in Rome on May 4, 2024, and end in Milan on May 12th.  Stone World always appreciates its invitation to join the SFA on this memorable experience. There will be a great deal to report on when we return, but here is a preview of what participants can expect. Joey Marcella, stone industry veteran and former SFA executive director, as well as Stone World’s 2018 Fabricator of the Year, shared some insight with us on the history of this excursion and what to expect on this year’s trip.   

SW: Tell us a little about the SFA trip to Italy for those who might not know about it. 

JM: The Italy tour was started in the late 2000’s by Ron Hannah and Tenax. Since then, we have taken over 160 fabricators on the tour. We visit a variety of machinery companies, material processors, tooling companies and quarries.

SW: How do you determine the itinerary each year, regarding who you are going to visit? 

JM: It is a difficult balancing act of trying to visit our various sponsors along a pre-determined path, all within a week. We try to alter it each year so we can accommodate a variety of host companies. 

SW: The trip is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many fabricators. How does the selection process work? 

JM: There is an application process where members can apply, but also the Board of Directors is always on the lookout for candidates that contribute positively to the SFA -- whether on the website forum, Facebook page or at workshops.

SW: How has the trip evolved over the years? 

JM: We have just gotten much better at it. It really runs like clockwork. The attendees need only just enjoy themselves, everything is handled for them.

SW: What would you say are some key takeaways from a trip like this? 

JM: Pay attention to the people you meet and keep their business cards! These are relationships you are building but may not act on it for months or even years later. You will want to remember who you met in Italy when the time comes.

SW: What do you look most forward to each year?  

JM: Networking, and of course, the gelato!

SW: For those who are about to embark on the trip, what advice do you have for them?  

JM: Read the ‘What to Expect” letter we provide. It offers everything they need to know, and then some.