Sundry: New York Times, Cosentino & the SFA, Pakistan

Wrapping up some loose ends:

• The interest in that New York Times article – “What’s Lurking in Your Countertop” – received plenty of short-term attention from online readers. However, it doesn’t appear that it sustained much traffic after a few days of interest.

The article led off the 30-day most-emailed list of articles in the Times after its print publication on July 24. It stayed at the top of the list, sometimes moving around in the top three spots, for weeks after its publication. (See the blog entry of “What’s Lurking in Your Internet?”)

The article kept its top status on the email-referral list late last week, as it passed the 30-day mark after its print debut. Then it started moving down. Way down, to number 23 on Monday. Yesterday (August 26) it disappeared.

I’ll keep checking the list to see if the article reappears, but it looks like the pass-around time for the article appeared to be short-lived. The long-term effect on consumer interest in granite countertops, however, isn’t likely to dissipate as quickly.

• After more than three decades of working for pay in the journalism trade, I don’t get surprised very often. But I never thought I’d write something even close to the headline I wrote for Stone Business Online yesterday: “Cosentino Cuts BuildClean ties; allies with SFA.”

The backstory, as I’ve learned, isn’t all that surprising after all, considering the Stone Fabricators Alliance. Until recently, the mood on the group’s http://www.stoneadvice.comWebsite went beyond surly with quartz producers on the radon/granite issue; even the idea of drawing-and-quartering seemed kind.

That passion for direct action took another form in the past few weeks; to get some tangible movement on the issue, SFA representatives decided to head to Texas and talk directly to executives at Cosentino® North America. After hours of, as they say in the diplomatic trade, frank discussion, the two sides found plenty of common ground in directing efforts toward consumer safety without whacking away at granite’s reputation.

That led to Cosentino pulling the plug on their support of the BuildClean™ effort, and aligning with the SFA on developing solutions for the mutual benefit of the stone trade and consumers. How this will play with the Marble Institute of America – which also had earlier discussions with Cosentino NA chief Roberto Contreras that came to naught – remains to be seen.

• The mid-July article in the New York Times on the Taliban essentially running a protection racket at a Pakistani marble quarry (“Pakistan Marble Helps Taliban Stay Alive”) likely didn’t help efforts to boost the country’s stone trade. Getting quarrying and processing into high gear continues to be a big topic, especially for the Pakistan Stone Development Co.

The group’s chairman, Ihsanullah Khan, sees a big future, with a capability of producing enough marble, granite and other dimensional stone to rival a export giant like Brazil. He’s also promoting modern extraction methods to reduce waste.

However, in a June 30 interview in the online Pakistan Daily, Khan also answered a question about a remote demonstration quarry in Khuzdar that, in light of the Times article, might need some rethinking:

Q: But isn’t Khuzdar in a tribal area, where there is a law-and-order situation problem? How do you get to work there?

IK: No, we don’t have kind of this problem. The tribes, who are all locals, they don’t bother us. We are creating job opportunities for the local people who would get benefit from our projects.

Emerson Schwartzkopf

You can read up-to-the-minute news on the dimensional-stone trade and search the archives at, where you can also find this blog at the top of the home page under the clever title of “Editor’s Blog.”


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