TileLetter logo
president's letter
What I have learned from women in tile
There are many extraordinary women in the tile industry. Many of these amazing women I have never met, and the ones I do know are far too many to name. What I do want to share are skills that I have learned in the tile business from the women in my life. These skills should be used by every tile contractor or installer and are key components to achieving success.
Aunt Marla (Marla Martinho) taught me communications skills, customer service, tile design, and sales. Aunt Marla is our Showroom Manager and during my two years of working in the showroom as a salesperson, she taught me how to help meet our customer needs. Instead of pushing a sale she taught me how to help customers make a purchase by listening to what they want and asking questions to help them find the right product, colors or designs. She taught me that it was more important to find the right products for the customers’ needs rather than to sell them something that they didn’t need or wouldn’t be happy with later because it was not the right product for the application. Customer service is a top priority and achieving a high level of customer service is simply meeting your customers’ needs and managing their expectations. After 36 years, she continues to work in the tile business as Showroom Manager.
Aunt Diane (Diane Martinho-Ramirez) was our Warehouse Manager when I was in my teenage years. She managed inventory, received products, packed orders, made deliveries to job sites and many other warehouse tasks. She taught me the importance of paying attention to the details. When shipments of tile and materials were received, she performed her own check-in of the products by recounting, verifying and documenting everything received by recording quantity, size, color, shade and caliber. Not only did this give a record for future needs, but it also verified that we received what a vendor would bill us for and we paid for what we received. She taught me that we never relied on a vendor’s shipping invoice to be correct. It also verified that we were shipped the right product and then installed the right product, since installing a product that was shipped to us wrong would be our liability as the tile contractor. She taught me the importance and detail of packing a job pallet properly by stacking tile boxes by standing them up so tiles didn’t lay flat, which can lead to breakage. This included stacking the boxes centered and balanced on the pallet, stacking thinset and grouts on top, and keeping everything square to protect the tile and material on the pallet. These details are extremely important as they minimized tile problems that cost time and replacement cost. After 34 years she continues to work in the tile business as Purchasing Manager.
From my mom, Karen (Karen Martinho-Acquafresca), I learned business processes and the most important process of job costing. In the 80s, Karen implemented processes to track all of the expenses of our projects, also known as job costing. This was one of the most important tools that led to our company being a successful and profitable business. Job costing gave us information that helped with our decision making for operations and helped us implement processes to meet our goals. Up until then, we had no way of knowing how profitable we were or if we were losing money on projects. When projects were complete, we compared our actual expenses to our estimate to determine if we met our budgets and made profits on the project. We used this information to either bid differently or be more efficient with our expenses and the time it took to complete a job. After 45 years, she continues in the tile business as CFO.
The women in Sam Bruce’s family who positively impacted the business and customer relationships (l.to r.): Karen Martinho-Acquafresca; Diane Martinho-Ramirez; Marla Martinho.
These are just a few of the things that I have learned in the tile business from the different women in my life. Details are so important! If you don’t do any of these things I would recommend you adopt them, as these are tools that will lead to your success!