On July 14th, I had the pleasure of going to Birmingham and attending my first event put on by the MIA + BSI together with Stone World at Pacific Shore Stones. The day flew by, and I learned about the industry, much of which you can’t pick up from a textbook!
- The MIA + BSI announced that they have created an online university. Soon, they’ll be offering 60 free online safety classes! People who take the classes get a transcript that will show that they’ve taken and passed the 30 minute modules. In addition, they’re finalizing 44 Toolbox Talks, providing relevant information to shop managers so they can facilitate shop meetings with their teams.
- Silica Safety (marble-institute.com/silica) – To address OSHA’s new Silica Rule that went into effect in June, the association is creating a template for a safety plan that all shops can use. This should help shops to keep focused and save time by not needing to create a plan from scratch.
GK Naquin, founder of Stone Interiors, independently owned fabrication companies in the Southeast, moderated the day. In the morning, he engaged the group, about 50 fabricators from 25 or so shops throughout the South. The talk covered numerous areas and among the variety of topics, a few things I learned were:
- Profit margins in the countertop fabrication industry are slim. A 3% profit margin is considered really good. Typical job costs are $1/sq. ft. for Templates, $3.50 for Fabrication and about $4 for Installation, that’s all before overhead. Wow, and when you add in all of the overhead in material, equipment, and people, that really surprised me.
- The use of marble in kitchens is growing fast. While many granites are becoming increasingly commoditized, marble is where the opportunity for nice profits can exist. The use of nano-sealants has addressed the issue of staining. And, using some processes and smart finishing, the durability issue can be addressed to a large extent.
- Add-on’s is where the profit is. While big box stores can (and do) quote miniscule square foot prices, it’s the edge finishes, cutouts, etc. that drive up price and also profitability.
- Just because it’s called Granite (or Quartzite, or Marble, etc.) doesn’t mean it all behaves the same. Absolute Black can’t be installed around a pool, Cosmic Black fades in sunlight, Fantasy Brown is Dolomite. Tensile strengths are different, reactions to light vary, heat tolerances aren’t the same. You really need to know your material.
Of course, no industry event is complete without the chance to get together and meet with suppliers and network together. Based on the amount (and volume) of conversation, it’s great to see how passionate participants are about the countertop fabrication industry.
I’m looking forward to attending this event again in a new city, where I’m sure I’ll continue to learn! Check out the 2016 Sone Industry Education calendar for upcoming events near you: http://www.stoneindustryeducation.com/