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

People - May 2006

   • Bonsal American names Ferdinand Muniz as international sales manager for international sales expansion for all product lines. The Charlotte, N.C.-based company also promotes Mary Hernandez to area sales manager for Bonsal® Tile Products, covering Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, and the Florida panhandle.
   • DuPre Industries Inc. CEO G.R. Christon has doubled the Dallas-based company’s revenue in his first nine months in the job, and projects this strong growth to continue, possibly tripling revenues by the end of 2006. DuPre, more than 100 employees, 100,000 ft² of facilities and projected $12 million in annualized revenue, provides full-service design, build and installation of cabinetry and countertops in natural stone, exotic wood and quartz. 

Passings: Peter S. Chipouras 

   Peter S. Chipouras, 51, founder of the Leasing Advantages and Sterling Capital Partners financial firms, died April 3 in an automobile accident in Orlando, Fla., while attending Coverings 2006.
   Chipouras, of Somers, Conn., spent most of his career in stone, beginning as a young man as a helper in his grandfather’s brownstone quarry. He also worked in Saudi Arabia as general manager of National Quarries, and at STONA, owned by his father, Stati “Chip” Chipouras. He also founded his own fabrication shop.
   Survivors include his wife, Anne: son Christopher and daughters Dana and Katie; his mother, Eileen Chipouras, of Enfield, Conn.; his sister, Cathy Croall and husband Tom; his brother, Jay Chipouras and wife Laura; and sister Ann Rice and husband Stephen. He is preceded in death by his father.
   Services were held on April 9 in Somers.
   Memorial donations can be made to the Wilson House, P.O. Box 46, East Dorset, VT 05253; or, the American Diabetes Association Memorial Program, P.O. Box 1132, Fairfax, VA 22038.

China Stone Dumping: Taiwan

   Complaints over low-cost stone from China may be standard fare in Europe and North America, but a new set of protests came from much closer to the source in March.
   The China News Agency reported that marble manufacturers in Taiwan are grumbling about cheap Chinese semi-finished marble products, with the low prices putting domestic producers in financial jeopardy.
   The Taiwan Marble Association asked a member of the Taiwanese government to offer a petition on the matter, citing Taiwan’s customs officials in a failure to stop the Chinese imports. Taiwanese law allows importation of rough marble blocks, but bans semi-finished products.
   The Chinese products may be entering Taiwan through third countries, according to the legislator, making detection difficult.

Update: Charges in Quarry Fraud Case

   The Burlington (Vt.) Free Press reported on April 18 that a federal grand jury returned a 57-count indictment against John Byors in an alleged investment fraud involving a marble quarry in Swinton, Vt. The charges accuse Byors of defrauding more than 100 people of $10 million in the 2001-2004 operation of the quarry; the amount of marble actually extracted, as well as the stone’s whereabouts, is unknown.

Stone Sign for Antioch

   ANTIOCH, Calif. – Granite can spruce up almost any kitchen, but will it do the same for a city?
   The Contra Costa Times reported in April that this Northern California community will give stone a try in forging a new identity, specifically with blue granite and steel accents.
   The Antioch City Council voted to approve the design for a large sign on a state highway, followed by other signage at city entry points and the downtown.
   The horizontally oriented marker will replace a sandblasted redwood sign, which, according to a designer working on the city’s image, didn’t fit the character of the community.
   “Antioch wanted to convey a more progressive professional image,” said Bill Englund of Pleasant Hill, Calif.-based Design Works.
   While final locations and costs are yet to be determined, the new design didn’t exactly meet with overwhelming citizen approval. The council considered two designs recommended by a committee; The Times noted that, when Antioch Mayor Donald Freitas did an informal poll of the audience at the council meeting, most of them preferred the design the council didn’t pick.