A-Z of the Natural Stone Industry in 2014

ARAB WORLD. With the ARAB world in turmoil, one of the most important region for demand for natural stone (and of production), many stone companies from all over the world with presence there, have been seriously affected. Libya and Iraq markets almost collapsed, and Saudi Arabia is showing all the signs of a saturated and over supplied market.

BURN OUT.  After a tense, high pressure year for most of the industry, many people are now burnt out.
CHINA. The big development of the stone industry this year was the big drop in demand for blocks from China due to slowdown in construction in that country, creating serious problems for the quarry owners who were depending mainly on that market.
DOLLAR. After several years when the US Dollar seemed to be relatively weak against the the Euro, this year, at last, (reflecting economic fundamentals?), the US Dollar started strengthening against the Euro and other currencies.
EXPORTS. The magic word for most big size companies in the stone industry has always been- export !  The distant markets always look so attractive- and limitless. Problem- the competitor across the road is already there with lower prices!
FAIRS. Industry trade fairs, generally speaking, have been attracting less visitors. A sign of a tough market situation. (And also the effect of the Internet ?)
GREY. The color that is in fashion now, both in limestone and in granite- for projects or decoration.
HOTELS (CHEAP). So how many nights did you spend this year in cheap hotels this year when travelling on business? How many cheap flights did you take ? How often did you eat in cheap joints? Tell all this to your boss-if not now, when?
IMITATIONS. Call  them  what you will, the imitations of natural stone are growing more and more.  Moreover, they often sell at a higher price than the original natural product!
JUNE. This is the month when half the year is over but in most of the world business activity is at its peak. So businessmen tend to be most optimistic around this time. ( And, if they are based in Europe and USA, they tend to forget that during the next 6 months, the real working time left are only 4 months ).
KLEENEX. For years it was the factory owners who needed Kleenex to dry their tears, in 2014  it was the quarry owners whose requirement for Kleenex  increased.
LIBYA. A small country but a relatively big market for stone due to the oil money, the political chaos in the country finally led to a serious decline in construction activity and problems for its mainly Egyptian and Turkish Stone suppliers.
MARGINS. One common complaint everywhere- the margins in the industry have been under pressure everywhere.
NEW.  So what are the NEW markets, where do we go where my competitor has not yet gone, or the NEW clients still untouched by the competition? The questions every businessman asks every day, even during 2014 (as if we are all on a new planet).
OBJECTIVES.  Did you complete the objectives for the year?  This is that time of the year when this question is asked before moving on to 2015.
PRICES.  All over the world if there is one common complaint is that prices are lower (and all costs are going up).
QUEUE.  The sales people face this phenomenon frequently. When they visit a customer, they often find they are kept waiting in a QUEUE while the potential buyer attends to others who have arrived earlier. (And the queue gets longer year after year).
RISK.  With so much uncertainty in the business environment, people hesitate to make big investments aware that the level of RISK is very high.
SPARE PARTS. With the machines in the stone industry now quite old and relatively few new machines being purchased, the demand for spare parts is growing of time.
TIME. The great contradiction in our lives- we are always complaining of lack of time. And when there is too much TIME available, we complain even more, because usually it means business is down!
USA. The one major market for natural stone that finally seemed to recover strongly after the severe crisis of the last few years, and promises to be even better in 2015.
VICTORY.  When is VICTORY declared? The salesman declares it when he gets the order. The finance people declare it when they collect the payments. And for the company owner, when the competition has finally closed doors. (Unfortunately, another one soon appears).
WELCOME.  If you are a buyer, WELCOME !!!  You are here to sell? Wait…
XXXL. The order size everyone dreams of in the stone industry (but not when buying new clothes).
YUAN- The strengthening Chinese currency had been the news for some years changing calculations for everyone- but it now seems to have stabilized in 2014.
ZIG ZAG.  The market demand, frustratingly, just did not seem to move clearly ahead in 2014 but moved from side to side with no clarity.