Although the latest reports show a slight economic downturn and a bit of a slowdown in construction in the second quarter, last year was a banner year for housing starts and completions, renovations and home sales. It is much too soon to begin worrying over the latest data, which states that the economy dropped by about 3 percent in the last quarter, because growth is still above what it was this time last year. In addition, while activity has decreased a little, forecasters had already predicted that this would occur and will be followed by slower, yet steady, growth through 2018.
New construction and a booming residential housing market have provided an unforeseen benefit other than an increase in sales for countertop fabricators, installers and suppliers. It has also prompted new countertop programming, expanded informational outlets and additional training events that are taking place across the country.
This year, IWF is not only featuring a full-day Countertop Symposium on August 19, one day before the regular show begins, but running throughout the course of IWF, August 20 - 23, is the Countertop Pavilion. The Countertop Symposium will include several CEU presentations and an annual industry forecast from ISFA while the Countertop Pavilion will offer networking events and access to industry vendors. Additionally, several educational sessions have been developed specifically for the countertop industry.
Also of note is the fact that StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas is bringing a new East Coast version of the trade show to Miami Beach, Fla., October 19 - 22. Like its West Coast predecessor, this event will also feature demos, new products and the latest information about trends from key manufacturers and suppliers in the industry, and the event will also feature several educational and networking opportunities.
Another great offering that recently began is the StoneTalk podcast, the first of its kind, produced by Moraware and hosted by the countertop software company's newest team member Patrick Foley. StoneTalk is already on its fifth episode, and guests have included Aaron Crowley of Crowley's Granite Concepts, Ted Sherritt of FLOFORM Countertops and Russ Berry, president of ASST and past ISFA president.
You'll be able to listen to each episode of StoneTalk on the show's dedicated website, through the Moraware blog and you can now also find them on the CountertopResource.com website.
So here's to all that is going on. I hope you take advantage of the opportunities.