At the StonExpo trade fair in Las Vegas, an international joint stand named “Stone Pavilion” was initiated as the first action of the new “Natural Stone Strategic Alliance“

Der Stone Pavilion auf der StonExpo 2023.Hallenplan mit Stone Pavilion (rot).

The national associations of the USA, Brazil, Italy, Greece, and Portugal were involved

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Something ground-breaking is underway for the stone sector. We are talking about the “Stone Pavilion“ at the TISE/StonExpo trade show (January 31 – February 02, 2023): at the show in Las Vegas, the national natural stone associations of 5 countries presented themselves together in a hall with this name. They came from the USA, Brazil, Italy, Greece and Portugal.

Mind you, they were fierce competitors who had their member companies appear there side by side. The USA played a special role.

It was clear what the goal of the action was: the stone people wanted to appear at this fair with concentrated power, because companies for ceramics or other materials also present themselves there.

There was also a joint supporting program: in the Stone Pavilion there was a place for technical lectures under the title “Stone Theater“ based on the model of Marmomac; the Greek association brought a sculptor from the island of Thassos who created a sculpture in white marble; there was also a raffle where one could win a test drive in a Lamborghini and/or win cash prizes to benefit the Natural Stone Foundation.

Stone Pavilion: Stand Brasiliens.

Such an international joint stand has so much potential that we want to tell the prehistory in detail and speculate a little about the future.

For years, there has been a discussion at trade fairs in the USA about how the natural stone sector can present itself better there. It’s not just an issue for overseas suppliers looking to grab a piece of the world’s largest market for natural stone end products; domestic producers, fabricators and installers are facing increasing competition from Artificial Stones and Ceramics.

At the April 2022 Coverings, the time was apparently ripe for an idea: to launch a “Natural Stone Strategic Alliance.“

Then, in June 2022, the association representatives from Brazil (Centrorochas), Italy (Confindustria Marmomacchine), Portugal (Assimagra), Greece (Greek Marble Association) and Turkey (IMIB) met to put the idea into practice.

Of course, the Natural Stone Institute from the USA was also involved, not only as an expert on the state of affairs in its home market. The NSI is also considered to be the organization that the sector believes acts disinterestedly for the benefit of all.

Stone Pavilion: Geführter Rundgang am griechischen Stand mit Bildhauer.

The NSI not only has members from North America, but also over 2000 from all over the world and has made a name for itself for many years with standardization or further training. One of it’s two predecessor institutions, the Marble Institute of America (MIA), which averted immeasurable damage to the industry worldwide with its unprecedented fight against false radon accusations, is still particularly well remembered.

Stone Pavilion: Natural Stone Theatre.

We want to point out that the international joint appearance realized in 2023 was then set up within the few remaining months. The Brazilian association Centrorochas, which – like the NSI itself – brought more than 20 companies to Las Vegas, had its booth elaborately designed by the designer Araciene Pessin.

This draws attention to one of the strengths of such a Stone Pavilion: associations can, much better than a trade fair company, persuade exhibitors/members to participate in such a joint presentation.

In turn, the companies then bring special presentations (see Greece).

Stone Pavilion: Führung mit Jim Hieb (NSI) in Action.

Finally: The more presence, the more effect – the Stone Pavilion was awarded Best Exhibition Stand by the jury in Las Vegas.

So win-win in many ways and for all involved.

In the meantime, the associations of Egypt and Finland are also interested in participating in the Natural Stone Strategic Alliance.

Turkey, by the way, continues to participate – it was involved in the planning meeting, but did not take part in Las Vegas because it was unable to organize government sponsorship.

Among the participants in the Alliance, there is now a Memorandum of Understanding in which the initial goals are formulated in concrete terms.

We summarize these goals figuratively in one sentence: the aim is to turn the many hitherto toothless mice into a big tiger that will put the fear of God into the competition.

For example, a Stone Pavilion could be organized for markets other than just the U.S., such as construction shows like the Big5s in the Gulf States or a design show like the Salone del Mobile in Milan.

Jim Hieb, the Natural Stone Institute’s CEO, cites the Hardscape North America trade show in Louisville, Kentucky, for which they are planning a pavilion, as a current example. “In addition, a series of natural stone classes will be unveiled.“

The abstract version of a pavilion could also conceivably serve as a worldwide discussion forum for current issues facing the stone industry around the globe. Jim Hieb cites “power in working together as a vision“: “Imagine if we were working more closely on sustainability, promotion and other key initiatives.“

Currently, the focus is on popularizing the idea within associations. “We are in the process of informing our members about the possibilities of such joint stands,“ says Fabio Cruz of Brazil’s Centrorochas.

Photos: Informa

Awards for best exhibition stand for Stone Pavilion.

(06.03.2023, USA: 03.06.2023)