Women in Industry 2018 Spotlight — Tonya Martin
To coincide with our annual Women in Industry issue, Supply House Times will spotlight a new PHCP-PVF supply chain female executive each day during the work week in the month of March. If you would like to be included or know of someone who should be included in our 2019 presentation, email Chief Editor Mike Miazga at firstname.lastname@example.org
Company: ProSource (Greenville, South Carolina)
Position: Director of Showrooms and Advertising/Owner (22 years)
How did you get into the industry?
I lived in Hillsdale, Michigan until I was 12 years old. This is where Alsons Corp., was based. My father worked for Alsons, later moving to the wholesale side. I had been around the plumbing industry but never really knew much about it. If anyone would ask what my father did I would tell them that he sold pipe and things. After I began working in the mid-1980s in an offsite showroom during my last year in college, I fell in love with the industry. I met my husband, Grover Martin, in the business. We both share a passion for the industry. In 1996, we decided to take a huge chance and start our own company. Now, 22 years later, we have five locations and 118 employees.
What do you like the most about your job/company you work for?
My role has changed since the very beginning of ProSource. But, what still makes my day is when I have a homeowner come into the showroom and make selections. They have no idea what they want or if they can afford what they want. Then, after listening and thinking outside the box, I find a fit that meets their style and budget. They may have come in the showroom discouraged, but when they leave they are so happy they found what they needed and wanted. I have a new friend for life. Our industry is all about relationships.
How important do you feel it is to attract young professionals into this industry?
So much of our industry right now is comprised of baby-boomer men. They are all about the same age; meaning they will be retiring about the same time. This is such a huge opportunity for young people, both men and women. Our industry is not one that is discussed in college as a career field. No one knows anything about our industry unless you know someone in it. But, there are unlimited opportunities for anyone who is willing to work. The industry is becoming more sophisticated and needs bright minds.
How important do you feel it is to attract women into the industry?
Our industry as well as other building-related industries would benefit from a woman’s perceptive. Why? Generally speaking, females are more detail-oriented, more analytical and have great follow-through. All of these qualities are a necessity when dealing with homeowners, contractors and designers. The importance of relationship building ranks high with females. And, again, our industry is relationship driven.
I still clearly remember one of my older plumbers saying to me while I was behind the plumbing counter that I needed to “Go home and have babies like I am supposed to.” Of course, being a young female, I cried (but not in front of him). But, I was determined to win him over. Fast forward a few years, whenever he had a plumbing question or issue, I was the first person he called. Unfortunately, Mr. Edwards has passed. But, I was right there with the family at his funeral with warm hearts from his family to mine.