Proud of your work? You should be. You know how good it is. But how do you demonstrate that to customers? There’s nothing more convincing than a national prize like a Natural Stone Award. You have put your work up there to be seen against the work of your peers and it has been judged the best. What can say more about the skills in your company or practice than that?
Some people say it is always the leading companies that win. Well, that speaks volumes. They are leading companies because their work is capable of winning awards. And they understand the value of winning prestigious titles like a Stone Award. Just as important, they understand the value of telling customers about their successes. As Lord Digby Jones, the business champion who presented the Awards in 2014, says: it is time industry started wearing its successes on its sleeves for everyone to see.
As Lord Jones says, industry pays for everything – either through taxes, or through dividends to shareholders, or through wages to employees. And sometimes it is a good idea to remind society of the benefits of the contributions of companies and entrepreneurs. That’s especially true when the industry is something like stone, which is also making a major contribution to the aesthetic of every aspect of the built environment, from roofs to pavements and a lot of the horizontal, vertical and sometimes even oblique surfaces in between.
Interior and exteriors walls, pavements and floors, worktops and wetrooms, in new build and renovation… there’s hardly an aspect of construction that the stone industry does not touch, and there are categories in the Natural Stone Awards to recognise the use of dimensional stone in all its diversity.
The benefits of the awards are not even just to the winners. The whole industry gains from raising its profile and spurring others on to greater achievements. The Awards highlight innovative and imaginative uses of materials from which others learn. They inform the whole conversation about the use of stone, inspiring architects, developers, clients and the industry itself to strive for excellence. Even projects that do not win are among the best examples of stonework in the country, which is why they have been entered. And that makes winning even more prestigious – the very best of the best.
Any part of the team involved in a project can enter the Natural Stone Awards – the client, the architect, the engineer, or any of the links in the stone supply chain, from the quarry, to the stonemason or processor, to the stone contractor or fixer. The whole team is recognised in the Award citation including (unusually) the stone itself. Identifying the particular stone or stones used on a project helps raise awareness of the great diversity of materials on offer from the stone industry in the UK and worldwide. It can be an eye-opener even to the audiences in the prestigious London venues where the Awards are presented by guest celebrities like Lord Jones and the 2016 presenter, Michael Portillo.
It might not be fashionable to participate in anything just because it benefits a wider community, but don’t forget you are part of the wider community that is benefitting, so there are no losers. And there is no doubt that if you are one of the winners there will be very specific benefits for you to call upon to promote your business and elevate it in PQQs and getting on tender lists.
So why not make 2018 the year you put one (or more) of your projects forward for a Natural Stone Award.
The awards are run by Stone Federation Great Britain, which introduced them nearly 40 years ago. They are presented every other year at a prestigious venue in London with an appropriate celebrity guest who gives a speech, both inspirational and amusing. The presentation lunch is a highlight of the stone industry calendar.
Entry to the Natural Stone Awards is NOT restricted to Federation members. The judges, who are architects advised by a working stone specialist on the finer points of stonemasonry, processing and fixing, do not know whether entries are from Federation members or not.
A separate entry form is required for each project entered. Forms are available from Stone Federation Great Britain or can be downloaded from the Federation website at bit.ly/2018AwardsEntry. Downloaded forms can be printed off and filled in with a pen or filled in on a computer and emailed back to [email protected] with supporting photographs or drawings. If the files are large, entries can be sent to [email protected] via services such as DropBox or WeTransfer.