The Stone Experts: Introducing a new blog series featuring Polycor’s experts in design, architecture, fabrication, sales, marketing and geology .
What is your role in the company?
I'm the Slabs Sales Manager for eastern Canada, mainly the province of Quebec and Ontario. I support slabs sales, nurture relationships with existing customers as well as develop the sales network in my territory.
Who do you work with in the field?
I meet with a variety of passionate and wonderful people. Our processing plants are in Quebec so we are able to service the market directly. Most of the time I meet with the fabricator, shop owner or principal. I’m also in contact with kitchen and bath dealers where I connect with their internal sales consultants and designers. When I go to Ontario, where we have distributor networks, I meet with the buyer or sales directors.
How do you help these contacts? Is there a special skill or experience you offer?
Mostly I educate them and help them see that a stone is more than just its physical characteristics alone. Yes there are still the basic considerations like color, thickness, density, texture and finish selection but there is also the client’s emotional response to the stone. I want them to fall in love with our stone!
I help them understand how to promote each stone with a variety of marketing collateral, but I also participate in design and inspiration discussions to support them in answering about a design trend or a specific customer’s taste.
Can you give me an example?
A customer asked me to give a presentation on Polycor's stone and kitchen and bath trends to his designer. Currently, we hear a lot about the rustic chic trend. So when designers want to contrast barn wood with a chic stone, I talk to them about Polycor’s Cambrian Black Granite in leather finish, or honed Alberene Soapstone. I love to help them get inspired. Though they are leading the overall design trends, I think they appreciate knowing that I’m not just a seller. I contribute to the creative discussion and share with them how Polycor is offering products that are on-trend and exciting. We’re ever evolving like people’s design tastes.
What part of your work do you like best? What gets you excited?
Building relationships, and feeling that I’ve helped my customers. My customers are mostly small businesses and communication is key. I love helping them to discover new materials and solve their problems. There is so much Polycor and I can offer them in terms of creativity, technical advice and material. I’m a passionate person and I work for a passionate company. Sharing that enthusiasm is fulfilling.
What makes Polycor unique in the industry?
I’m lucky to work as a rep in the local market. Many of our products are from Quebec / Canada and that’s a great asset here. Not only does it resonate with the move toward buying local, it positively impacts our level of service – because we’re so close to our customers, we offer faster turnaround times. Our team make us unique as well! We are young and passionate people working together and the industry can feel it.
You’re also a photographer, tell me how your art influences your work with designers?
I have been a wedding photographer for five years now, but have always been into art. It’s a passion of mine. I also love everything that is natural. (Being outdoors is my therapy.) I’m never looking for perfection, which is why I love working with natural stone as opposed to a manmade material like quartz. Manmade materials can be beautiful, but naturally occurring beauty – with all its variations and inclusion – is what captures our emotions. I have that eye for what is harmonious – the quest for natural beauty. On that point, this is how I connect with design lovers. What we see as beautiful brings out emotions, and emotion sells!
Tell me about a memorable project.
I had the chance to meet Arnaud Marchand, Chef propriétaire at Bistro Boreal in Quebec City. I love to support entrepreneurs and Arnaud is one of them. He fell in love with our Alberene Soapstone from Virginia and wanted it for his chateau kitchen. His designer had an eye for natural beauty and uniquely mixed wood and stone in a modern kitchen setting. This kitchen is gorgeous. I knew Chef Marchand would be a great ambassador for this product in my local market and be an example of someone who cooks and appreciates the look and resiliency of soapstone.
What’s your advice for clients when choosing stone?
Ask for more than the prices and physical characteristics from your sales rep. Stone is more than the sum of its characteristics. It's has a life and an energy. Just like art, it’s important to know its history in order to appreciate its authenticity. A gorgeous piece of stone will also spark conversations when guests visit and they’ll always ask questions.
To create a relationship with a material, you need to give your customer an emotional connection to the stone, and to do that you must educate yourself. Find out where the stone was quarried, and learn about the geological process that produces it and its unique characteristics.
Soapstone, for example, is a metamorphic rock that’s been altered by heat and/or pressure occurring millions of years ago. Polycor quarries it in the hills of Virginia in the US and we love it for its moody tonality and creamy veining. It’s practical for hardworking kitchens, but it’s the stone’s smooth, velvety texture and deep color that made Chef Marchand fall in love with it.
Choose the stone you fall in love with. Guaranteed you’ll design your room around it.