Notes from the MIA Leadership Workshop, pt. 1

Oct 21, 2010 | Business

We were a sponsor of the Marble Institute Leadership workshop in Dallas, TX and I had the pleasure of attending, too.  I found the speakers interesting, and there was a wide cross-section of attendees from the industry.  In addition to countertop fabricators, there were also stone distributors, and a few representatives from quarries, too.  It was really cool to have conversations with people across the whole range of the industry.

Monday night was a reception hosted by Walker Zanger, a national distributor of tile and stone.  Their Dallas showroom was impeccably decorated and maintained, and as a bonus they served a great assortment of Mexican food and drinks.

Tuesday was the all-day seminar with four speakers – Stephanie Vierra, Frank Anton, Mark Fernandes, and Marty Gould.  Each one addressed a different topic, but each one surprised me with some information about the industry.

Here’s my one-sentence summary of each speaker, followed by my more in-depth notes:

  1. Stephanie Vierra: Selling environmentally friendly products can enhance your business.
  2. Frank Anton: The housing and remodeling markets will get better…eventually.
  3. Mark Fernandes:  If a company that crushes stone can have style, anyone can.
  4. Marty Gould: Your business is unique and interesting, and you should exploit that.

VierraStephanie Vierra is a consultant and policymaker in the field of sustainable design, and talked about positioning natural stone as a green product.  She discussed the salability of stone on it’s lifetime value.  When you consider that stone can easily last 50-150 years, the initial purchase is insignificant compared to other, less durable, materials.

In general, there is a trend of younger, more educated consumers seeking out sustainable materials. But, Stephanie emphasized that continuing to educate consumers, architects, and designers about the value of stone as an natural building product with great properties of strength and utility is essential.

I was surprised when she mentioned that buildings are the largest sources of pollution, and account for 40% of material and energy use in the world.  Figuring out some ways to reduce that huge percentage seems like a good goal for the entire building industry.

As I started writing, it got too long, so I’ll continue my notes in the next blog post.  (see part 2, here)