There are trade shows and conventions throughout the world for dimensional stone. And then there’s Verona.
The official name is Marmomacc (and the subtitle of “The 43rd International Exhibition of Stone Design and Technology” is pretty hefty), but you only need to say the name of the Italian host city. No matter where you’re at – and what language you speak – Verona says it all.
Some of Verona’s particular identity is its size. Some of it lies with its location in a stone-production center. And, there’s always the Italian factor.
For a quick study on what makes Verona unique, consider the official show program. Some large industry shows produce a fairly hefty magazine, but Verona throws the book at you – literally.
At 554 pages, cross-indexed by exhibitor name, types of product offered (with notations in four different languages) and countries represented, it weighs in at three pounds and sets you back a solid €30. It’s the Who’s Who of the international stone trade.
Armed with this tome, you can walk into the show … and be totally lost within ten minutes. Before the end of the day, you’re numb from the sheer overload of stone, machinery, tooling and everything else associated with the industry.
And, of course, that’s just the first day. There are three more to go.
The 800,000+ square feet of exhibition space at the VeronaFiere grounds actually isn’t that overwhelming in terms of size – the main convention complexes in Orlando and Las Vegas are larger. What Verona brings, though, are massive exhibits of what looks to be the biggest and best displays as you walk through a hall.
Then you walk into the next hall, and see even bigger displays. The same thing happens when you walk into the next hall. Then ….
…. Well, then you realize you have eight more halls to go, plus acres of outdoor displays. It’s like taking on the Prado early one morning with idea that you’d like to see a few nice paintings, and going on cultural sensory overload before lunch.
The sheer volume of goods is compounded by the Italian sensibility of style. You don’t slap up a portable display with a vinyl banner in Verona; even the simplest booths look clean and efficient. Stone might be in raw blocks or bundles of slabs, but it’s often displayed for maximum artistic effect.
As a result, few exhibtis are dull and boring enough to ignore. You want to look at all the goods, which hastens the blur effect. Since the stone displays continue outside, it’s hard to get away, so you end up heading to the concessions for yet another expresso, and the caffeine jolt is the last thing you need.
It took me a few years to settle with Verona. In a definite way, Marmomacc is its own city, and I learned the neighborhoods. Exhibitors return year-after-year to the same spots in the same halls, invariably with the same personnel. You gain trust by becoming a regular and more of a citizen than an attendee.
Marmomacc can be intimidating for the first-timer, but it’s something that teaches you a lot about the stone trade. The worldwide nature of the business comes alive, and you’ll be awed, whether it’s with stone with beauty you can’t see in a picture or the sheer size of a gang-saw flywheel.
Plus, you get several days of the culture of the Veneto in the bargain. It’s an experience that always leaves me tired, sore-footed, a bit exasperated – and inspired as well to be in this business. I’ll be back again, and hopefully I’ll see you there someday.