There’s an easy, informal way to test the health of an industry – by observing its trade shows. Judging from the participation at this year’s StonExpo / Tise, the stone industry is doing well.
Moraware stopped getting a booth at large events about three years ago (our sales demo/ discussion actually works a lot better over the phone), but we still like to attend and observe when our travel schedules align. This year, it aligned for Harry, Ted, and myself.
Since we didn’t have a booth, we decided to support MIA + BSI‘s booth – they always have chairs and smart people, so their booth is a great “home base” when you’re visiting a big show like this. We sponsored an “ice cream social” at their booth this year, which was fun.
As usual, the saw manufacturers all had impressive displays, as did the template tool providers (Laser Products throws a fun after party, so you probably want to stop by their booth next time and ask when/where it is). The granite purveyors themselves seem to focus more on Coverings … if you want to see a sea of material, be sure to attend that show in April.
MIA + BSI also always hosts a member reception, and this year was no exception (we’re one of the sponsors of that reception as well). In fact, they outgrew the room they used the last couple of years. Judging from the size and tone of that reception, our industry is rocking. Everyone we spoke with had a good year last year and is optimistic about the year ahead. It was nice to see.
Trade shows like StoneExpo and Coverings are a great way to gauge the overall health of the industry, connect with other fabricators, and get some useful classroom-style education. If you’re shopping for new equipment, attending a trade show is essential, because you can talk with lots of manufacturers in one place.
That said, don’t overlook regional events from the likes of MIA+BSI and ISFA. These smaller events typically don’t have full exhibit floors (they’re often hosted by a single distributor or manufacturer, in fact). They’re typically attended by 25-50 fabricators, and because they’re more specific to the stone industry, it’s easier to connect with your peers. That’s why we like small, regional events even better than the large trade shows, and we attend them whenever we can. Check out our events page from time to time to see where we’ll be attending next – and be sure to carve out time yourself to connect with your peers.