Baltimore Stone Summit

Baltimore Stone Summit

Last week, I attended another MIA+BSI “stone summit” event at the MS International outside of Baltimore. As I’ve mentioned before, I love these regional events, because they get a bunch of fabricators in a room together and just let ’em talk.

As a bonus, I arrived early enough that I was able to drop in on a couple of fabricators. I’ll share separate posts about each of those visits soon, because both were quite interesting.

The MIA folks have settled into a groove with these events – get a very experienced fabricator as a speaker in the morning and then break into groups for guided discussion after lunch. GK Naquin was the speaker today, and he kept everybody on their toes (I always enjoy his sense of humor).

It’s impossible to boil down an entire day’s worth of learning into a couple of paragraphs, but GK made a few specific points that I particularly liked. I even posted these on Facebook during the event (which reminds me, you should probably Like our page). My favorites:

  • Upselling your customer into material that they like is good for them (because they’re happier) and good for you (because you’ll make more money). Even with sales that originate from big box stores – don’t be afraid to continue selling to the customer!
  • You have to set boundaries – if you don’t, you’ll waste time and lose money. For example, do you require farm sinks to be installed before you measure? If not, you really should – there’s no way to get the measure right if you don’t. If you don’t make sure that’s done before you go out to measure, you’ve just wasted a trip and lost money. Always¬†notice issues like that and always work to improve your processes to account for them.

The after-lunch discussions were really interesting as well. We divided into groups of owners, sellers, and the guys/gals who do the actual fabricating. I listened to some of the owner conversation. A couple of topics surprised me a bit:

  • Marketing is moving more and more to social media, Facebook in particular.
  • Making sure you get paid is always a concern. One fabricator mentioned that their company routinely placed a lien on each customer’s house until the work was paid in full. That was a novel approach to many.

Again, for more details – go to these types of events when they happen near you! Just visit www.stoneindustryeducation.com for the schedule.

As a super extra fun bonus, I managed to invite myself to a Baltimore Orioles baseball game at Camden Yards! That outing was organized by Buddy Ontra from Ontra Stone. Buddy’s an MIA board member and a big baseball fan, so if there’s baseball worth seeing near an MIA event, you might check to see if Buddy wants to go (and btw, he knows a lot about fabricating, too). I had never been to Camden Yards before, and I loved it – easily one of the top 3 ballparks in baseball – it was absolutely beautiful night to see a game (and the Orioles beat the Yankees 10-4).

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