Diversify or Die

 

not_quartz

I am good for a massive eyeroll or two every time I land on a stone fabricator’s website. Seriously: granite or quartz. That’s it? Oh, but there are 15 different kinds of each, with the most prominent one being oddly named: JoeBob’s Quartz by JoeBob’s Surface Solutions. Guess what JoeBob? That is not a solution. That is a rapid four foot dash in a crowd of lemmings off the cliff that is resistance to change.

This is not a news flash- everyone knows it- but there is little action being taken in the market to do anything about it. Some facts:

  • Everyone has Granite, but designers don’t like to specify it anymore
  • Everyone has Quartz too… but only now is the dirty little secret out:
    •  Cheap, cheap Quartz comes out of China for a fraction of what other non-Chinese manufacturers make it for
  • These are not modern, innovative, or new materials

Why does the industry turn a blind eye to innovation? It is not every company out there, but there are significant numbers of countertop shops who simply resist change and have no interest in “disrupting things” by introducing new technology. In my opinion, this is a huge mistake, especially given the fact that the two “showcase” products – Granite and Quartz – are commodities and are forcing what used to be artisanal shops into a “race to the bottom” – where the only way to differentiate is to knock some cents off a square foot price. I’d like to knock some sense into the businesses that are not looking for a new material, a new technology, a new way to differentiate in the market. It may be a large investment, it may be a small investment, or it may be no investment at all, but don’t sit on your dime-a- dozen laurels waiting to see what happens.

There is hope. There are a few thought leaders who have started to carve out “new materials” sections of their showroom, where Modern Surfaces are prominently displayed. These materials don’t look like everything else, they have adapted to appeal to the designers who are choosing them and have asked for new colorways and palettes, but largely been ignored by the big stone and quartz guys. It is these smaller, innovative companies that can develop new colors and technology quickly to bring better looking, better performing products to market.

And when stuck up Mrs. Pennyworth walks into the shop and wants something that NOBODY else has, at least you have a place to send her. Or if an actual designer walks in, you can show him something besides 14 Quartz colors that look exactly the same but have a different nameplate.

So, I plead with the stone and quartz cling-ons that just can’t imagine a world with anything else to diversify and add new products. Don’t worry about all the lemmings rushing past you, they are headed to the same place. Take note, stop, turn around, and go in a better direction.

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