Tag Archives: Coverings

Stone Update Today – April 3, 2013

More stone for Xiamen?

More stone for Xiamen?

China overtakes U.S. as Turkey’s top stone customer; Superabrasives online contest; Coverings for stone fabricators ▸ MORE


Stone Update Today – March 28, 2013

ImageKosovo marble heads to market; DIY quartz countertop from hell?; Granite Gurus on laundry rooms; ISFA invite to Coverings. MORE

Stone Update Today – March 26, 2013

125_privateresididencemasterbathroom1The Week in Stone; SFA on Coverings; NW Stone Symposium ▸ MORE

Stone Update Today – March 19, 2013

200_updateVermont marble strike recalled in NPR interview (audio available); Granite Gurus on kitchen granite makeover; CDC-NIOSH respirator facts; The Week in stone; inaugural NTCA awards at Coverings next month; Eisenhower memorial in D.C. faces halt in federal funding.   MORE


Blame it on my mother, who spent her teens and early 20s in the Great Depression, and then managed a family of six on a blue-collar guy’s wages: I grew up well-schooled in the notions of value.

In other words, I can be cheap. Very cheap.

320_LVbreakfastSometimes, the price of every little thing gets too steep and reduces the value of the sum of the experience. That’s where the headline comes in, as it sums up my feeling about a place that’s becoming the U.S. stone-show capital: Las Vegas.

The sum quoted at the top bought breakfast for two at the Nathan’s Hot Dog Stand within the Luxor Hotel during StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas last month. And, for that, the serving tray groaned with:

• 2 bagels with a small serving of cream cheese;
• 2 small bottles of juice;
• 1 “regular” coffee.

The serving area – the upstairs food court – offered a dark corner of the pyramid, where at least we weren’t charged for the privilege of seating. (I suppose that the birds flying around the indoor area to snatch up any stray morsels could be considered entertainment thrown in for free.) Since this was self-service, we didn’t need to leave a tip, so we “got away” with a bagel, some juice and a bit of coffee for $8.50 each.

I’m not complaining because I’m cheap. I’m sounding off because this is indicative of why, when it comes to shows for the stone trade, Vegas is a place that’s worn out its usefulness.

Unfortunately, when it comes to exhibitions, Las Vegas is one of the most-convenient places for organization and production. Convention centers and hotel ballrooms can accommodate any size of event, with a nice hotel attached. Major companies specializing in decoration – the term for setting up the booths, carpets and services needed for a show – have major operations in Las Vegas.

As someone attending a show, however, Las Vegas doesn’t have a lot to offer, unless you revel in consuming overpriced food and drink and staying in hotels that are quickly becoming shopworn. Nearly every major U.S. metropolitan area has casino gambling – formerly an exclusive draw for Vegas –  within a two-hour drive. High-class entertainment is pretty much down to gilded gymnastics galas and attitude-driven magicians who easily make two Franklins disappear for an 85-minute show.

Yeah, I can hear the basic answer of, “It’s Vegas, baby! Suck it up!” So here’s the response: You paying your own ticket, buddy? Or is somebody else sucking up that expense account?

Las Vegas is a series of resorts-cum-biospheres, where the designs discourage walking out of them (unless you have a lot of time and like having cheap escort flyers shoved in your face) and you’re treated like a captive audience within the boundaries. Add in the incredibly bad traffic that discourages getting in a car, and you’re often stuck with that $16.98 breakfast – and other eating/lodging compromises – being your best option. That’s no value by any measurement.

There’s also the argument of location. Sure, it’s not too hard to find a flight to Las Vegas, but that’s also assuming that the masses of stone fabricators and installers out there have the time and the cash to hop a plane at least halfway across the country – and then ask them to do it again and again. Driving there is not an option, unless you happen to be working Phoenix or Los Angeles (a place where it’s difficult to get people to drive 40 miles for a show, let alone several hundred).

Frankly, many of the same arguments can be made for Orlando, Fla. With both places, the location adds absolutely nothing to the effectiveness of the event, as far as attendees are concerned. And the idea of doing the ol’ show-vacation combo is a tired-and-tattered fantasy of visitor bureaus and travel agents that needs a final retirement.

There’s a vast part of the country being underserved for a blue-collar (or, since a T-shirt is the garment of choice, no-collar) trade that would relish going to a place within a half-day’s drive where it’s feasible to take several folks from the shop, and the predominant customer service by hotels and restaurants isn’t attaching a vacuum cleaner to your wallet.

Take Collinsville, Ill., where the Stone Fabricators Alliance (SFA) runs its Megaworkshop. It’s not glamorous; you don’t have celebrity-name steakhouses and go-go dancers working a runway between the blackjack tables. You do get a place where thousands of fabricators and installers live within 400 miles, with a major city 15 miles away and a bunch of lodging within walking distance.

And, a Jackson buys a heckuva breakfast for two, tip included.

Emerson Schwartzkopf

You can read up-to-the-minute news on the dimensional-stone trade and search the archives at Stone Business Online.

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Trade Shows 2010, Front-End & Loaded

It’s not too early to think about a U.S. stone-industry trade show this year – because they’ll soon be all done.

Owing to the delay of the next StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas until January 2011, the list of stone events for this year is down to three … and two of them will be over before Valentine’s Day.

Of the trio of 2010 shows, Surfaces rolls out in Las Vegas on Feb. 1. While the floor-centric event isn’t usually a large draw for stone shops, there may be some new interest because of fewer exhibit opportunities for the rest of the year.

Vendors may also keep close tabs on stone-industry attendance to prepare for 2011’s event. Since StonExpo and Surfaces will run concurrently in the same facility (Mandalay Bay) next year, exhibitors will be taking a look at possible crossover opportunities with the shows – and, conversely, be thinking if booths at two shows really would be better than one.

Surfaces is followed quickly – in the next week and in Las Vegas – by the International Countertop Expo, the first trade event from the reformulated International Surface Fabricators Association (ISFA). Starting on Feb. 8, it’s a show that’s noted as inaugural, although it’s also gone through somewhat of a rebirth.

The ISFA – which had “Solid” before “Surface” in its name until late 2008 – used to run its own exhibition until the early 2000s, when it sold the show and its Solid Surface magazine to Cygnus Business Media. Despite the best efforts of some of its staff and a name change to Surface Fabrication, Cygnus’ corporate strategies drove both properties into the ground, with the show vanishing after its final appearance in Orlando, Fla., last March and the magazine ending publication last month.

With ICE, the event is back in the association’s hands, but there’s a difference; while a fair share of seminars and booth space are devoted to solid-surface materials, there’s an effort to include other hard countertop materials. That includes stone, and a number of stone-industry vendors are planting the flag – albeit with a smaller flag and pole, considering the intimate size of the show floor – to see what happens.

The same could be said for Coverings, which returns to its traditional Orlando base in late April after a disappointing event in Chicago last spring. Hitting the Windy City in the depths of the recession led to empty aisles and thousands of square feet of open space from no-show exhibitors, which makes Orlando 2010 an important test to see if Coverings can bounce back.

The event’s exhibitor list shows that many of the major stone players – machinery manufacturers and distributors included – plan to be there, although it’s nowhere as inclusive as, say, the Coverings of 2006. However, for everyone in the trade, it’s literally the last chance for this year; after Coverings closes on April 30, the next U.S. stone event is StonExpo in January 2011.

The front-end collision of shows will intensify in time and location next year. Surfaces and StonExpo will run literally side-by-side in January in Las Vegas, with ICE likely to occur in Sin City in the next month or so after that. Coverings then follows again in April … but in Los Angeles, putting all of 2011’s stone events not only west of the Mississippi River, but west of Arizona.

Emerson Schwartzkopf

You can read up-to-the-minute news on the dimensional-stone trade and search the archives at Stone Business Online, where you can also find this blog at the Main Menu by clicking the button marked, well, “Blogs.”

The advertisements that appear on this page are placed by wordpress.com, and constitute no endorsement of the products or services. And I don’t get a dime from any of them, either.