Information for, about, and of interest to the stone trade, including items previously featured in Latest News.

Countertop Swing In China

   CLEVELAND – Demand for residential kitchen and bath countertops in China will increase 7.3-percent annually to 92.2 million m² (992.4 million ft²), according to a new study – but the material picking up most of the slack is surprising.
   The report, from Cleveland-based The Fredonia Group, values the 2010 Chinese countertop market at ¥26.7 billion ($3.39 billion), with growth fueled by new housing completions and kitchen- and bath-remodeling expenditures. The ongoing trend toward larger kitchens and more bathrooms in new construction will further contribute to gains.
   The hot material – somewhat surprisingly – for the Chinese market is solid surface, according to the study. In 2000, solid surface materials represented only three percent of all newly installed residential countertops in China; by 2010, demand for solid surface will account for nearly half the total.
   Solid-surface gains will come with declining prices, coupled with the perception of durability, renewability, attractive appearance and minimal maintenance requirements.
   Engineered stone, introduced into the Chinese market in 2002, will also gain, although not as quickly, according to the study. Quartz-surface prices are dropping quickly enough to make it an attractive option.
   In terms of volume, natural stone – the second-largest segment in 2010 – will advance less than two percent per year, and laminates will grow less than three percent per year. Demand for tile will remain flat at 14 million m² (150.6 million ft²). All of these materials will lose market share to the more-popular solid-surface and engineered-stone materials.
   Most countertops in China are installed in connection with the construction of new housing, with this market segment accounting for more than 70 percent of volume in 2005. However, demand will continue to grow faster in the Chinese remodeling market, advancing more than 10 percent per year and exceeding 30 million m² (322.9 million ²)in 2010.

IMM Sets 2007 Goals

   CARRARA, ItalyInternazionale Marmi e Macchine (IMM) will step up promotion of Italian marble worldwide and support research projects during the next year.
   The marble trade group will participate in the development of the Interregional project (Inter-Reg) in conjunction with the Italian Trade Commission (ICE) and seven Italian Regions. In addition, IMM will develop workshops for the stone companies in the United States, Canada, Kuwait, Russia, Turkey, Iran, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania and India
   IMM will also participate in stone events in Russia, Dubai and Qatar, as well as the organization of missions of U.S. stone dealers to the CarraraMarmotec expo in May.
   Promotional campaigns will cover overseas missions as well as visits of architects and operators, technical workshops, high-level training courses, developed either alone or in conjunction with Toscana Promozione, ICE, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Italian and foreign trade associations.
   IMM will also support the Tra.S.L.A. project (Network for Technology Transfer in the Apuan Stone Industry), working with universities, research centers and companies seeking innovation in quarrying and processing processes.
   IMM will also back the effort of Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Carrara and the Chamber of Commerce of Massa Carrara to develop the micro-structural mapping of the marble fields of Carrara.
   “It is a challenge that the local companies must face by working on several fronts: from process and product innovation to the promotion of local raw materials through a marketing strategy inspired by a proper use of the “Carrara” trade mark,” says Giancarlo Tonini, IMM president.
   “They need measures that cannot come up of their own accord, but must be carefully developed so that they can be fitted into a broader plan, with a view to a higher industrialisation of the stone sector, with investments that many companies are already bravely making,” he adds. “That’s the only way for us to innovate and respond to competition.”
    “Our aim is to give a substantial contribution to the development of a broader plan, aimed at helping the productive system of the Apuan Alps and Versilia find a new position on the global markets,” says Paris Mazzant, IMM CEO.

Marblelife® Gets NTC

   LAKE MONROE, Fla. – Marblelife Inc. acquired the assets of the National Training Center for Stone and Masonry Trades (NTC) in late October. Terms of the deal weren’t announced.
   NTC’s operations will move from Asheville, N.C., to Marblelife’s new training facility in the Orlando-area community of Lake Monroe. According to a news release from Marblelife, the acquisition makes it the largest hands-on trainer of stone craftsmanship in North America.  
   The move gives Marblelife the  NTC’s training course portfolio, training and safety manuals, books and videos
   Fred Hueston, NTC’s founder, will continue to oversee training and development of educational products, new fabrication and restoration techniques and education services for NTC.  Hueston will continue to be available as an expert witness and consultant under his new venture, Hueston & Associates.

Trade Missions Set for India, China

   CLEVELAND -- The Hudson Economics Group Ltd. will be taking two chaperoned groups to Asia – India and China – in early 2007.
   The first Industry Trade Mission will head for Jaipur, India, for Stone Mart 2007, leaving on Jan. 29 and returning Feb. 6. The second will leave on Feb. 27 for Beijing and Stone Tech 2007, Asia’s largest stone show, with the return on March 6.
   The missions are an opportunity to meet directly with potential suppliers and look at new technology, as well as an exploration of local scenery and culture. Participants will have the opportunity to talk with other attendees, trade representatives from the host country and representatives from the host country’s trade associations and organizations.
   The missions will include multilingual professionals and include airfare, ground transportation and hotel accommodations.

Global Consolidates Ownership

   ST. LOUIS – David Havens and Christian Condit obtained full ownership of Global Granite and Marble in early November.
   Details of the transaction weren’t released.
   Havens and Condit bought 100-percent ownership of St. Louis-based Global, acquiring all the outstanding shares from partners Elliot Uchitelle, Mike Pontello and Alex Habr.
   The deal was reached amicably after months of negotiations, Havens noted. He’ll continue as president of the company’s St. Louis operations, while Condit will remain as president of Global’s location in Louisville, Ky.
   “We've become an industry source for fabricators, architects, designers and builders,” says Havens. “It all starts at the Global locations where we have several million dollars worth of merchandise in stock. We can help customers select and source the material they need for their home or business. I believe it's our close working relationship with our overseas suppliers and American designers and fabricators that has made us an industry leader.”
   Global, which employs 71 people, imports and sells stone and fabrication equipment, with locations in St. Louis, Louisville, Nixa, Mo., and Peoria, Ill. The company's Global Architectural Products division offers consulting services to architects, interior designers, design-build firms, masons, general contractors and custom homebuilders.