Welcome first time visitors!

Many of you are probably shopping for countertops and looking for illusive answers. Others of you are likely from the industry seeing what this blog is all about. Whether you are a shopper or a product producer or a countertop retailer, you should find this journal beneficial. For your convenience, I strongly suggest you look down the left column and find the "Must Read Entries" section. Starting there first, then picking up the latest news and information will serve you best. Happy hunting!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

"Get Going" with The Rock Pit

If you are familiar with the book "The Art of the Start", by Guy Kawasaki (a successful businessman, author, speaker and one of the keys to the success of the Apple Macintosh computer), you would recognize my post title as one of the most important things an entrepreneur must accomplish. As a self-diagnosed ADD sufferer and entrepreneur, I value Guy's advice and approach very much and intend to follow it. So why should you care?

For you to be here in "the rock pit" means that you have some interest in stone countertops. You are seeking information. It may be that you are thinking about adding granite vanities to your master bathroom and you want to know what's the best approach to buying stone countertops. Or you may be an industry insider and curious what information may be available, maybe market data or news on a new company offering, something that will help your business. Either way, you want information. The mission of this web destination is to provide you, whether a consumer or a member of the industry, with all the information you need and then some. That's ambitious. If you consider for a second how broad that audience is, you may wonder how anyone can accomplish this with one blog site. That thought almost shut me down...

But that's where Guy comes in. I realized that it would be critical to the success of this site for all interested person's to come into one "portal". Both ends of the supply chain, the buyer of the end product and the quarrier of the stone, drive each other. One wants to know what color and quality the other is offering and where it might be purchased, while the other wants to know how desirable his product is and if there's interest in buying it. It makes perfect sense for everyone to be here. So, like Guy recommended, just Get Going. And I have.


So what will you find in The Rock Pit? I'm not completely sure of the full array of things visitors will eventually find here. But I know initially the focus will be on providing "consumer education". I'll feel successful if enough information can be provided to consumers for them to be able to purchase their stone countertops with confidence, knowing the product was of high quality and worth the purchase price. A basic understanding of the supply chain will be provided, showing the path from the stone quarry or product manufacturer all the way to the retailer selling the fabricated and installed countertop, such as Home Depot. I'll also identify all the possible places to purchase countertops and my view of the pros and cons of each. Then there are the detailed areas of knowledge that will be presented in many posts, including the quality factors of stone slabs and how to select the best; the fabricator and how equipment, size of organization and experience effect the end product; the installation of the product and how to measure a successful install; and how to maintain and care for stone countertops.

Another area that I will focus a lot of attention on is color selection of natural stone. Although there are many 100's of colors being quarried all around the world, most consumers are presented with a palette of 20 or so, especially if you shop at one of the big box stores. A little awareness and introduction to some colors outside the commodity colors will improve the buying experience greatly. This leads to profiling quarries around the world, introducing their fantastic products to the market and identifying the distributors where they may be purchased. As you probably can figure, this demand creation will lead to more opportunity for distributors and quarries. That's a key reason for them to be present in The Rock Pit.

So consumers can choose knowledgeably between natural stone, like granite and marble, and engineered stone, such as Cambria or Zodiaq, I'll provide details on how the products are made, what their special features are and why you would want them.

Outside of these areas of knowledge mentioned, I'll be closely listening to comments received and follow the path set by those that seek information. So if you want to know something, ask.

Thanks for coming to The Rock Pit. Let me know if it was of use to you.

Understanding The Supply Chain

Whether you are a consumer or producer, it is beneficial to understand the supply chain, or the steps a stone goes through to eventually end up in a consumer's home. This post provides a basic and generalized understanding of this supply chain.

For a stone countertop to be delivered and installed in a house, there are several companies directly involved from the point of taking the stone from the ground, in the case of natural stone, or manufacturering the raw material slabs for engineered stone, to the installer who finally puts it in a home. The following diagram represents the companies involved in the producing and selling and installing the final product.

In the future, each of the producers and sellers will be the focus of a new post. Examples of each will be provided and analyzed. One of the goals of this blog is to create as many company profiles as possible, highlighting their role in the supply chain.

Messge to producers: If you disagree with the supply chain diagram or would like to provide more detail about the quarry/processing step or the international distribution step (which was not included in the diagram) I would very much appreciate your input. I'm also identifying companies to profile in future posts. If you would like your company to be included, please comment on this post or email me.