20 years of Nowy Kamieniarz: “Remember: without you there is no we. You cannot make a magazine for yourself“

Maciej Bzeski & Nowy Kamieniarz.

The Polish journal was founded 2 decades ago by two ambitious students in the city of Poznań

“In October 2002, a young and ambitious student of political science at Adam Mickiewicz University (UAM) had a golden business idea.“ So begins the editorial with which Maciej Brzeski, that very student and today editor-in-chief and publisher of the professional journal “Nowy Kamieniarz,“ celebrates the 20th anniversary of his magazine with plenty of self-irony.

During long stays in the student pubs of the industrial city of Poznań, we add by way of interpretation, this young man had associated the business model of the lifestyle magazines available there with his own ambitions 20 years after the end of communism in Poland: Couldn’t such media also be invented for other sectors of the economy? They would be distributed free of charge, financed by advertisements, but would be different from the pub papers in that their content would be of high quality and tailored to the market players in the respective sector. Fellow student Damian Nowak was enthusiastic about the idea.

The fact that the two started the project in the natural stone sector – Nowy Kamieniarz translates as “The New Stonemason“ – has to do with Brzeski’s family: there was someone who worked with stone.

However, he initially turned them down: as soon as they had the first advertisement for their paper, they should contact him, then they could count on him.

So, acquisition was the order of the day, and after a lot of calls, the two of them actually had someone on the hook who did not turn them away right away.

We add: we know the two of them well, and we know that they can convince, and not only when it comes to not going home too early when visiting a pub, but rather to stop by at the disco at a late hour.

“There was suddenly a need to find a company name, to design a logo and letterheads, to send out offers,“ Brzeski’s editorial continues.

A few years later, we made our appearance in the story: We had just launched Stone-Ideas.com, which would become an international online magazine for the stone sector, and the Poles came in handy. After all, the city of Poznań is only 2.5 hours by train from our base in Berlin.

The most important natural stone magazine in Poland at that time, which has now disappeared from the market, had just turned us down, and so we met with the two of them in their office in the basement of a residential building in Poznań – it’s a pity that back then not every nosy person took photos with their cell phone at every opportunity and put them on the web.

In general: the natural stone world was also different back then, as Brzeski had already written in his editorial on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of his paper: “We started our adventure at a time when Marmomacc in Verona was fighting with Stone+tec in Nuremberg for the title of the world’s largest stone fair. The stones and tools from China represented only a fraction in the import statistics.“

As for the development of technology, he describes the role of the multi gang saws of the time as the forerunner of wire saws and writes: “Do you know at what price you can sell a used gang saw today? If not, you must first weigh such an apparatus and then call a scrap yard…“

Nowy Kamieniarz has also undergone a variety of changes over the 20 years. The hallmark was that they kept trying their hand in new fields beyond the printed magazine and beyond Poland. For example, they founded a paper for the stone industry in neighboring Ukraine; or launched advertising papers in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Lithuania.

In the meantime, partner Damian Nowak had left and continued with his own company in the media industry, also very successfully.

With the “Polish Stone Review,“ Brzeski informed the rest of Europe about sales opportunities and the players on his home stone market. It was published in English, German and Italian.

Of course, the publishing house is now also active on the Internet and has presences in social media as well as an app.

As highlight of his work Brzeski describes the activities in the field of stone design: In cooperation with numerous Polish universities, he had invited students to design saleable everyday products made of stone.

To what does Brzeski attribute the success of his business model? After all, others are also trying out the concept of free media, usually without much success.

It is all about own content and its proximity to the market, he says: the editorial team tries to get to the bottom of what’s currently on the minds of market players and to answer questions in these areas.

In the process, major topics are also touched upon: the anniversary issue deals with inflation and what it means for Poland’s stone companies, while the 15th anniversary issue took a far-sighted look at energy costs and solar cells on roofs as an option.

There are also articles on machinery and tools, stone in history or geology.

At the end of the editorial he adds a thank you to the staff and a request to the readers: “Remember: Without you there is no we. You can’t make a magazine for yourself.“



(23.01.2023, USA: 01.23.2023)