Fairs: Strength under one global roof

At the World Stone Congress 2009 in Xiamen. Photo: Confindustria Marmomacchine(May 2009) The idea is not new but has been discussed time and again. This time dream-wishes of a global stone organization may come one step closer to becoming reality. A representative of the Indian national trade organization at the World Stone Congress (WSC) held in Xiamen in March 2009 named good reasons to bring such an organization to life, and, for the first time, proponents convened at informal meetings.

R. Veeramani, founder of the trade organization AIGSA and head of the Gem Granite Group, spoke of an „absolute necessity to have a common global body“. He drew attention to the hype around the purported radon problem of granite, which the stone branch was able to fend off successfully in a concerted action lead by the Marble Institute of America, but pointed to child labour and ecology as sensitive issues open to possible future attacks.

Veeramani also underlined the potential of such an organization in big style marketing citing forerunners in the steel, textile and ceramic industries.

However these branches have a system of modern business models in common – an atmosphere in which competitors may be willing to cooperate. The seminal idea originates from Henry Ford’s wise words loosely quoted „what’s good for the automobile, is good for Ford“ spoken as car manufacturers were pressing for a viable network of roads. Admittedly we are unable to cite the source of the quote, which, in fact, exists in many variations. But it hits the nail on the head regarding the required attitude for the successful launch of an umbrella organization.

Nuno Henriques, journalist from the Portuguese trade journal Rochas e Equipamentos (in Portuguese), has kept a watchful eye on the topic for quite some time now and his observations indicate that the stone branch is more than the literal stone throw away from Henry Ford’s insight. „There were some prior efforts to bring the branch together“ he reports, but „in Xiamen this year it looked as if the granite companies wanted to go their own way, but even so these ideas are positive because they may open a door for all those who want to participate“.

It was, however, agreed that there would be another meeting of proponents in Verona in September/October.

Professor Dr. Peter Zec.In an effort to introduce practical examples from other branches in the discussion, BusinessStone.com got together with the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (Icsid) interviewing one of its ex-presidents, Professor Dr. Peter Zec (pdf).