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Natural Stone Paves Industries Path to Success


According to trade sources, industry analysts anticipate the exceptional growth in the natural stone industry to continue. Fuelled by a revival in the need for natural stone in the last ten years or so, the industry has seen quick rises in output manufacture. For the first time in its history, natural stone is everywhere from public structure, public works, like roads parks, to airports, and hotels, offices and private homes. This is manly due to greater than before demand for commercial space and architectural cost efficiency afforded by natural stone, but also, in great measure, due to successful alertness campaigns by the industry.

This high demand is reflected in the greater than before levels of output manufacture, enhanced using difficult quarrying techniques. Higher fabrication and finishing tools have done their bit to provide high quality products and imports from the planet over increase revenues for most operators within the industry.

Today’s stone industry is a far cry from the inadequate one in existence as recently as 25 years ago. Nowadays, stone from Africa, the Middle East, and Asia compete vigorously with North American and European stone. Local producers compete with less costly stones from countries like China and India, due to their cheaper labour costs.

Pushing stone costs down across the board has caused anxiety among some stone companies, who predict radical reduction to their margins, making it unproductive for them to operate their businesses. Most insiders, however, see amplified competition as an opportunity to provide better service to their customers, and enlarge their services across a broader section of area, and in turn, the world. While it is true that increased competition reduces margins, the resulting higher turnover actually increases revenues, allowing the bottom line to remain healthy.

Furthermore, amplified competition generates improvement. Competition is here to stay. It is a fact of our world. It drives us to invent better, more cost valuable methods to counter competition from imports; to discover newer methods, and to combine them with existing ones. Free global trade can help the industry.

For example, there is wonderful market potential in Eastern Europe, in countries like Poland, Hungary, Croatia and Slovenia, where local assets do not meet high demand. European and American markets can compete successfully here due their high-end products and faultless standards of value-added service. But Europe’s demand for stone is in fact higher than its supply, and its increase in production over the last few years does not match world levels. This clears the way, somewhat, for dealers in America to target markets in East Europe and other high-end niche markets in the rest of the world. But the EU is looking at boosting production, while it continues to promote natural stone and develop new standards of testing. It will catch up, sooner or later.

Within America, the ASTM is actively engaged in providing newer definitions and establishing tests for all types of stone available, including imports. Efforts are underway to establish International-testing norms for worth and facilitate end-use. Within the industry, awareness campaigns and new marketing strategies are on the drawing board to compete effectively and globally.

Furthermore, advancing technology leads to newer methods of adapting natural stone to more groundbreaking applications. The evolution of natural stone from its ancient rock beds and quarries is closely entwined with humankind’s zest for innovation – embedded in the history of technology. From granite blocks in the 5000-year-old pyramids to industrial vats storing acids and crushed granite in road construction, natural stone has come a long way.

Technology, environmental consciousness, competitive pricing, high-end markets overseas, and above all, the attractiveness and inherent properties of natural stone all bode well for growth of the stone industry. Industry analysts are hopeful about the future – the growth potential is massive in the next 10- 15 years or so.

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