Industry Report on the Recent Orlando Trade Show

Peter J. Marcucci

Special Correspondent

Coverings 2012 entrance hallEVERYONE of us who participate in the month to month creation of the Slippery Rock Gazette take our jobs seriously, but I must confess, when it’s trade show time, I’m like a little kid in a toy store appraisingly touching all the great products—and truthfully, what better way is there to get “hands-on” experience of new stone selections, machinery and related products, while rubbing elbows with the movers and shakers of our industry?

That being said, the Coverings 2012 Orlando, Florida show at the Orange County Convention Center was a magnificent machine and stone fashion show featuring over 800 exhibitors from around the globe, displaying their latest designs, colors and technology. Oh—and there were spectators—lots of spectators browsing and salivating over many of the products, proof that the natural stone industry is alive and well.

But truth be told, it wasn’t just a glitz and glamour event. There were a multitude of educational opportunities available for the taking, on topics ranging from business and design, to fabrication and installation, and everything in between. These classes were not just an hour’s worth of sleep-inducing “how-to-do-it” talk, they were presented by very dynamic speakers with very solid information.

Yours truly attended a class given by speaker Kim Bernard of Walker Zanger. Kim’s presentation “Selling To The Senses” was a highly inspiring one-hour lecture from her educated and experienced perspective. Kim is a credit to her company and to our industry. Great info. Well done!

Prior to show time, while waiting for the doors to open, one couldn’t help notice the entourages of exhibitors swiftly streaming in. Row after row, these groups consisted of women dressed to attract, and men dressed to impress; many wore faces from other lands— all were ready to do business—serious business.


Coverings 2012

Entering from the south end when the clock hit ten, I was immediately attracted by the many slab suppliers displaying their finest. On hand, bringing local color to the event were names like MS International, Inc., Luigi Antolini, Vermont Quarries Corp., and Henraux to name a few, with each featuring dazzling eye-candy and priming all who walked near to take a closer look at the high-end scale of dazzling, sublime colors available by some of the finest stone suppliers in the world.

As I excitedly moved through the rows of exotics, touching (like that kid in a toy store) and visually sifting through each vignette, senses still enthused by the collage of colors, my toy store journey continued moving ever closer toward the Big Boy’s Toys with names like Breton, Park, Brembana, Northwood and Intermac appearing on the horizon, attracting me and others from every direction like a huge magnet.

Within minutes of reaching this toy nirvana, fixated evaluation of these marvels of technology revealed a few important things: these machines are not your father’s CNCs; they are the new, fast and furious breed that are quieter and much more efficient, and this smorgasbord of cutting-edge shaping machines easily inspires an “adrenaline moment” for any tech-loving stone fabricator–me included.

People, Facts and Rumors

After settling down to a more leisurely state of mind, I began to take notice of other things like nods and handshakes and pats on the back, business groups in conference and people walking from vendor to vendor carrying papers with numbers, and copious amounts of buyer/seller sit-down meetings with strong, serious eye contact and deals being penned...and then sometimes, there was just plain old schmoozing.

Coverings 2012 While finally taking the time to mix and mingle with vendors, the general mood of the exhibitors seemed to be best described as “speculative in nature” and most were sipping a drink of “moderate optimism” from a glass “half full,” such as Mr. Gianluca Boschi of Henraux. When asked about client buying trends, Mr. Gianluca confidently replied by saying, “Standard and premium slab sales are stable, and the demand for exotics are on an upswing.”

I also cajoled Mr. Jorge Hernandez of Kertiles for his take on the current business climate, and he mirrored the general consensus of many of the other exhibitors I spoke with by saying, “Volume has been increasing mostly due to an expanded client base that we’ve been building.” So it’s no wonder when looking below the chiseled surface of these quotes that the business environment continues to evolve to the positive, and it’s no surprise that suppliers of all types are gearing up to service “full spectrum” new entrants into fabrication as well as the old guard that has survived the last few years.

Most Impressive Products

This is a tough one. With so many impressive high-dollar machines on hand to choose from, one might think CNC or edge machine, right? Nope! What really impressed me were the economical and practical solutions for the everyday problems that fabricators face in shops large and small, such as Laser Products Industries digital templater. Dan Louis, President of the company, gave me a test drive of this neat product and allowed me to touch and feel this tripod-based laser to my hearts content. It’s an impressively cool tool.

I then walked up to the RYE-Corp. booth and was introduced to the Fab King fabrication center by Mr. Rod York. In detail, Rod, whose motto is “keep it simple,” easily explained how this no-frills tool can enhance the production speed of any shop for the reasonable price of under 20 grand. Easy to set up and maintain, The Fab King is a worthwhile investment and sure to give years of service.

I was also fortunate to have had an extended conversation with Dan Fedrigon, Vice President of Beckart Environmental, Inc. Dan and his people really take the old saying, “no water—no shop” seriously and offer a sized-to-your-needs wastewater treatment system second to none.

But honestly, the pitch of the excitement was raised whenever a presenter flipped the switch of the Edgemate/Sinkmate Bandit, Chopper, and Tracker, or the Tomahawk stone tools at the Braxton-Bragg booth. I couldn’t believe the amount of people that flocked in droves to be part of these demos, and I watched in amazement how these low-cost solutions stole the show, time after time.

Upon leaving this extravaganza, fully charged with two days of impressions, sights and sensations, I returned home with the finest examples of slab colors painted onto my retinas and the best in technology indelibly etched in my mind, and if optimism is contagious, I fully expected all who attended to return to their places of business, energized and eager to pass it on.

Yes, it’s still a rough and tumble business environment with many deals hanging heavily on price, but that being said, if the excitement and energy of the Coverings 2012 Orlando, Florida show is a bellwether of the future of our industry, then I’m quite sure that the next few years for all of us are going to be very good.

Coverings 2013 will be in Atlanta, Georgia April 29 to May 2. Will you be there?



Peter J. Marcucci has over 25 years of fabrication experience in the stone industry. Send any comments to