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Confindustria Marmomacchine: New Head, Newer Developments

ConfindustriaAs a technical and promotional organization open to the entire stone and allied sectors, Confindustria Marmomacchine (Italian Marmomacchine Association) currently has about 300 members among producers of marble, granite and other ornamental stones and makers of machines, tools and equipment to work them. It is especially committed to technical standardization, product qualification and sector promotion worldwide. During the Marmomacc 2014 in Verona team STI interacted with
Mr. Stefano Ghiradi, President, Confindustria Marmomacchine who gave us insights of his new role in the company and also, views on the importance of technology; customization and views on Indian market, here are some excerpts from the interview…
Stone and Tile in India: Tell us about your association, Confindustria Marmomacchine.

Mr. Stefano Ghiradi: Confindustria Marmomacchine provides a platform for the machine producers or the associated industries for exchange of tools and interactions between the users and the producers of natural stone. Normally, trade shows are very much specialized but on the contrary, we encompass everything from machines to laboratories to end user’s applications which has resulted into growing international relations. We have developed co-operations with major developers worldwide. We are even supporting exportation and promotion of Italian stone factories in co-operation with Italian Traders’ Agency. As a global company, we keep on surveying and also attend the major trade shows all over the world so as to develop international relations between Confindustria Marmomacchine and other international organizations.

STI: What changes and developments have you witnessed over the years in your association?

SG: Ever since I joined the board as the vice-president in the year 2002, I had seen a major change which reflects the flexibility and capability of the Italian stone industry that is it can adapt to global changes. I however had expectations that there would be wider awareness on the importance of a national organization which can be leading organization in the world. Here, image building and branding are very powerful tools, for an instance, we can hire actors, players who will represent us on a global level. In the past few years we have seen very big changes. Italy has been consistent enough to be the leading country for four decades now. We have made our presence in markets of India, China and Brazil, Turkey, Italy which are among the five leading nations in stone industry. Changes are reoccurring thus we need to study and develop high-tech technologies and have a good set of services in the association. Like, stone fabrication either before or after selling has helped the Italian industry to face the challenges in difficult times and retain itself as an important player in the world’s stone community.

STI: Tell us about the membership in Confindustria Marmomacchine.

SG: We are a national association, therefore we represent the Italian industry and the small-medium enterprises. Here, I will cite an example; the average dimension of the Italian stone factory is about 9 to 10 units per organization. We have a typical network of family run businesses with a high amount of exportation. In total, we represent around 300 organizations of which, few are leading in the Italian stone industry. The membership can be divided into two greater halves, one half of which is of stone fabricators and quarry owners and other half consists of machinery related companies. We have maintained a balanced distribution of these two major areas of Italian stone industry.

STI: As the new president of Confindustria Marmomacchine, what kind of trends do you see in the global stone industry?

SG: I have been appointed as the president last June, for tenure of two years. Prior, I served as the executive vice president in Marmomacchine for twelve years thus; I have seen many changes taking place in the organization. As we know, Marmomacchine represents major players in our industry. There are new markets which may not have had strong histories, but has good opportunities at present. We should realize there is a big demand for specialized education as far as stone is concerned because stone is a much appreciative material, but there is still much to be understood and to be shared. For example, I consider that sharing information is a key to success rather than keeping it within an organization itself which is of no benefit for a larger number of users or potential customers.

Another thing, though Italy has capacity and experience in traditional materials which has been tested throughout the years, but in my personal view, there must be wider awareness about conserving the environment and I am glad that our industry is very environmental friendly. We are not producing any wastage, but by-products. In terms of heating and cooling benefits, our industry can provide major energy saving machinery at a very low cost. In the Italian industry, the cost of energy is very important, but the amount of consumed energy is less compared to the building materials industries. I can sum it up by adding that the use of natural stones in first place is a competitive material compared to other building materials and Italian materials, marble and granites guarantees a longer life because they are the materials that have been tested and has high endurance and promises to be hazard-free for years after installation.

STI: Being the magazine on the Indian stone industry, we would like to know your views on the Indian stone industry and what kind of connect do you find with the Indian industry?

SG: India and Italy are long term partners in granites and marbles. In my opinion, we have indentified two major markets in the Indian stone industry. We intend to expand our business relations with India but due to certain tariff policies, free-flow business is sometimes hampered. There is always a regular importation which has been further developed from blocks to slabs. Although, I think Indian market has potential for further growth in the semi-finished products in slabs. Basically, we are talking about random slabs with high finishing contents in terms of processing, polishing and offering a longer durability to the material.

STI: Lastly, what do you think the global stone industry needs today?

SG: “Education and Information” is the key to be able to grab new buyers, new customers. And, I consider it an important opportunity to reinforce the relation between the stone producers and the designers and the architects. With all due respect, I have to state that our industry is a limited industry because if we evaluate in numbers, it is not a huge industry. But, I know we still have good opportunities and services to offer to the whole stone community.

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