Letters: A Genuine Concern

    My name is Lee M. Wiston, chief operations officer for Valley Marble and Slate Corp. in New Milford, Conn. I’m a third-generation natural-stone professional. I learned my trade from my father, Mark Wiston, my uncle, Michael E. Wiston, and my grandfather Eugene J. Wiston, who started our company over 40 years ago. I’ve used their knowledge in order to continue to make strides and overcome hurdles in this industry, all the while keeping the traditions and know how of people who have come before me.
    My uncle Michael not only was president of StonExpo, but also helped in writing the first Marble Institute of America’s Design Manual for dimensional stone. These standards are ones that, over the years, have started to change.  These changes – some good, some not so good – and the growing number of problems in the industry today, are the reasons I feel I need to voice my growing concern for this beloved industry.
     It seems as if, in today’s society, the words professionalism, morality, honesty, and quality are ones that not only aren’t used very often, but are not upheld.  A large majority of people and businesses are looking for the fast buck. Instead of trying to make their jobs easier, they have succeeded in cutting corners to get a job done the wrong way, rather than inventing ways to be more-proficient. The corners they cut are being taught to others, and are now becoming a standard in the business.
    Just because a number of people are doing something the wrong way does not mean that we, as an industry, should accept this as a new standard. My grandfather would be rolling in his grave if he saw some of these practices that are now being used.
    What ever happened to having pride in your work, and giving the end customer the product they not only deserve, but the product they pay good, hard-earned money to get? These so-called fabricators are hurting this industry in many ways that seem to be going unnoticed. Not only are they giving end customers finished work that is sub- par and unacceptable, but they also hurt the legitimate, quality fabricators with their bargain-basement pricing.
    The only true way of fixing these problems, if there is a way to fix what has gotten out of hand, is to have quality members of the industry stand together and not necessarily rewrite what we will accept , but go back and use the traditions and standards that our forefathers used.
    Don’t get me wrong – a lot of the new technology, environmental issues and safety aspects of the business have made great strides and achievements that cannot be overlooked. The fact of the matter is that we, as an industry, have come to accept and use a lower standard of quality that would never have passed in an age where people took pride in their work.
    Maybe it is just wishful thinking, and these are just different times, but I know personally I will continue to use the teachings and know-how  of a generation that taught me about  excellence and high standards, and being able to take pride in your work and have an end product that I’m proud to put my name on.
    My hope is that this will find the eyes of people that share my view of this beloved industry, and are striving to make it better. And for those that seem to be doing things the easy way; if you only take one thing from this, let this be that nothing in life comes easy, and start taking a little pride in what you do. You will not only help yourself, but you will be helping the entire stone industry as well.
    Lee M. Wiston
    Chief Operations Officer  
    Valley Marble and Slate Corp