Anil Taneja firstname.lastname@example.org
Today we talk of the urgent need for a new business model in the natural stone industry.
It is the last week of April 2020 and there is still no clarity at all as to the magnitude of the damage to the stone industry, let alone when the recovery will begin, and what kind of recovery it will be.
Yes, there will be severe cash problems and, yes, many companies will probably not survive this unprecedented crisis.
But do remember this:
The natural stone industry was already struggling and had become significantly smaller in many countries in recent years, in part due to the competition from the new hard surfaces.
And the 'new normal' , whatever it may be, is unlikely to be a benevolent environment for a period impossible to define.
Also, do consider that well before the 'Coronavirus' crisis there was already an urgent need for most companies to rethink their business model.
So, perhaps, you could ask yourself:
- Do you think the new porcelain materials will disappear from the market?
The answer is very clearly No. Even after the worst of the crisis is over, these new materials will try to continue to take away market share from natural stone in applications such as countertops, and also in decoration and facades, etc. Perhaps at a lower entrance price point in a tougher market, only adding to the immense price pressure.
- What can be done with natural stone that cannot be done with artificial stone?
- More specifically, what commercial products that one can make with natural stone of thickness of 3 cm onwards that have mass market potential?
- What commercial products with mass potential can one make with small sized blocks ? Currently most of these small sized blocks are considered waste in the quarries. Hundreds and thousands of blocks.
- For around 4 decades now, as an industry we have been obsessed with big gangsaw / blockcutter / multiwire sized blocks. In fact, it is these sized blocks that have become the de-facto starting point of our industry, the first stage from where most applications derive after further processing
- Natural stone allows for an infinite variety of finishes and textures. As an industry we have really not gone beyond marketing just a few of them, is it not time to experiment and market many more new finishes and textures? As we all know, a different texture and finish gives a totally new look to a particular stone.
- How did we ever fall into the trap of looking for 'uniformity' as a desired virtue in natural stone? By now we all should have realised that the very use of the very term “uniformity” is totally incompatible with the very nature of natural stone. Our virtue is 'Uniqueness', it was always so.
These days are also a time for serious reflection. To rethink every aspect of daily business, of course, but to also go beyond the normal lineal thinking and try to do some out of the box creative thinking.
It will be a very different world we will all be going back to. But with new thinking, by being more innovative, it can also be a very different stone industry too, in a positive way, of growth, not just survival.