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

New Caesarstone® Incentive Program

   SUN VALLEY, Calif.Caesarstone USA introduced its Advantage Program earlier this summer, providing certified fabricators and installers of the quartz-surfacing material with numerous promotions, discounts, training, and reward points.
   The Caesarstone program allows fabricators to collect Advantage Points that can be used to purchase tools, supplies, trips and more. Each Caesarstone slab purchased will earn members 10 Advantage Points, which are automatically added to the purchaser’s Caesarstone Advantage membership account.
   The Advantage Program will also provide a membership kit, with identification of Caesarstone certified fabricator or installer status; training through live seminars from local distributors, technical representatives or computer-based instruction, as well as seminars offered by preferred partners such as Regent Stone Products and Hard Rock Tools; and technical support from a Caesarstone technical representative, who can answer job specific questions or help to solve fabrication/installation problems.
   The program also offers tools discounts from various manufacturers and distributors; contests and promotions; a quarterly newsletter with timely information about the quartz industry, new products and promotions, and recognition of outstanding Caesarstone Advantage members; and points accumulation for warranty registration.
   “The CaesarStone Advantage Program is just another example of CaesarStone’s originality and innovation as a company,” said Greg Bassett, Caesarstone Advantage Manager. “The program will provide added value and benefits to our customers, which go over and beyond the scope of what is necessary.”

Tureks Adds TR Stone

   FAIRFAX, Va. – Wholesale supplier TR Stone is now part of the Tureks organization, as of May 1.
   TR Stone, based in Pompano, Fla., is now merged into Marble Systems, a Tureks division. TR brings its leadership in the sourcing and supply of natural travertine and stone pavers.
   "We are proud and excited to bring TR Stone and its customer base into the Marble Systems wholesale distribution network,” says Munir Turunc, Marble Systems president. “The addition of the Pompano location, its management and employees will further enhance our services and reach customers in the U.S. and the Caribbean.”
   Dennis Hasse, TR Stone general manager, says that, “The team here at TR is thrilled to have the width and depth of the Marble Systems arsenal of products, merchandising and sales support to offer our customers.”
   Afyon, Turkey-based Tureks operates on five continents, employing more than 400 people with its network of 12 Turkish quarries, buying offices worldwide and its U.S. operations based in Fairfax. The company also has U.S. locations in Los Angeles, Miami, New York and Washington, in addition to its new Pompano location.

Pakistani Leaders Back Stone Industry Growth

   RAWALPINDI, Pakistan – This country’s top government leaders –  President General Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz – made it a point here on June 24 to commit Pakistan to developing marble and granite reserves and provide economic stimulation to underdeveloped areas.
   The Associated Press of Pakistan reported that, at a meeting on developing those reserves, Musharraf said the government would encourage exploitation of these resources for the benefit of the local people.  
   Pakistan's annual exports of marble and granite stand at $21 million.
Musharraf noted that development of these resources would not only add to the volume of annual exports, but also help people economically at the grass-roots level as they acquired skills for better jobs in the marble industry.
   Aziz said that the government “is resolved to bringing the people of far-flung areas” into the mainstream of economic development.
“The government has set up Pakistan Stone Development Company as an affiliate of Pakistan Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC), which has been tasked to establish five marble cities and warehouses, and to train the local people for proper utilization of these reserves,” Aziz added.
Jahangir Khan Tareen, minister for industries and special initiatives, said the Pakistani federal government and the provinces would collaborate to ensure ownership of the projects at local level.

CNC Execs Charged

   LOS ANGELES – Federal prosecutors here charged several current and former executives of Oxnard, Calif.-based Haas Automation – including the company’s owner – on tax-fraud charges in late June.
   In a 52-page indictment, the government accuses Gene Haas, along with Denis Dupuis, a former general manager, and Robert Cable, a former salesman, of running an invoicing scheme to create false tax deductions. Prosecutors allege that the operation resulted in an underpayment of $12.5 million in Haas’ personal income taxes and $7.7 million in corporate federal taxes in 2000 and 2001
   A statement from Haas Automation said that Haas is not guilty of the charges. Federal agents arrested Haas on June 19.
   Prosecutors argued that Haas would be a flight risk and asked for bail to be denied. However, a federal judge released Haas on $10 million bond on June 23.
   The indictment has no effect on the company, according to the statement from Haas Automation.

MIA Honing Accreditation Program

   CLEVELAND – The accreditation program for the natural-stone industry, spearheaded by the Marble Institute of America (MIA), is moving towards implementation early next year.
   In the latest step in the two-year effort to develop accreditation, the industry trade group will conduct a survey focusing on content to be included on the final examination, 10 standards for accredited companies and a proposed fee structure for taking part in the accreditation process.
   “We have turned to the industry for input at several stages of the process,” said Ken Krebs, 2005-06 MIA president. “The input provided by industry professionals in this third round of surveys will provide the necessary feedback we need to complete the process.”
   Krebs said the goal is a formal report to the MIA board of directors and general membership at StonExpo 2006 in Las Vegas this November. The official launch would be early in 2007.
   In the past 20+ months, a special task force created a mission statement for the program, formulated accreditation standards, developed a content outline for a written examination, and created the program application. It also determined that, at the start, the program would offer two accreditation options: Residential Natural Stone Fabricator and Natural Stone Commercial Contractor.
   The work ahead includes outlining details for a site visit for each applicant facility; completing the written exam; developing a marketing plan to promote accredited companies to architects, designers and the kitchen/bath communities; and creating a program budget.
     Krebs noted that much of the program development is rooted in feedback received from stone-industry professionals, as well as major stakeholders such as architects and kitchen and bath professionals.
   “At each stage of development there has been strong support for the development of an accreditation program,” he said.