Showrooms were never supposed to be in the cards for Greenville, South Carolina-based ProSource.
Until they were.
ProSource was started by the husband-and-wife duo of Grover and Tonya Martin, who have a combined 69 years of experience in the industry. When the doors opened in 1996, ProSource was a one-location, six-employee PHCP distributor working out of a small 13,000-square-foot warehouse in Greenville.
]“Grover and I met through the industry,” Tonya Martin explains. “We both love this industry and have a passion for what we do. In 1996, we took this passion one step further and created our own company. Originally, there were no plans to have a showroom, but that is where my love is.”
Congratulations to this year’s Showroom of the Year: Greenville, South Carolina-based ProSource!
Martin adds in the beginning she worked counter sales, receiving and accounts payable. “Accounts payable should never be handled by a salesperson,” she says. “I did it and we never missed a discount, but it gave me a headache every day.”
Martin quickly found a way to relieve that head pain. She took several unoccupied offices at ProSource headquarters and used them to hatch the company’s first showroom. “As the reps would come in I would start wheeling and dealing for a few displays,” she recalls.
In 1997, ProSource’s first showroom debuted — all 800 square feet of it. “I made it work,” she says. “The joke was every time Grover would be out of town for business he would come back to a larger showroom. One time I actually sheetrocked over the door going into his office. He walked into work through the showroom to his office. He placed his briefcase on the floor and stared at where his door once was. I did create another door for him. I do like keeping him on his toes.”
Today, ProSource, an American Supply Association member and a member of the Omni buying group and Luxury Products Group, sports five locations (all with showrooms) with a little more than 100 employees. Its Greenville headquarters now operates out of 89,000 square feet of space. For its continued growth and excellence in the showroom arena, ProSource, with locations in Greenville, Spartanburg and Anderson, South Carolina, and Ashville and Hendersonville, North Carolina, is the recipient of the 2018 Supply House Times Showroom of the Year honor.
Tonya Martin doesn’t hesitate to reveal the secret ingredient to ProSource’s showroom success. “The main difference is our people,” she says. “My number-one thing I look for in a salesperson is passion. Passion cannot be taught. You either have it or you don’t and it’s very contagious. When passion is brought into the dynamics of a showroom sale, it spills over to the customer. Many times, the customer comes into a showroom extremely overwhelmed and stressed. Building or remodeling a home should be fun and exciting. At ProSource, we bring the excitement back to the building-selection process. Our consultants have a passion for what they do and we love our customers.”
That is evident from a recent email Jennifer Lopez, ProSource’s top-performing showroom sales consultant who works out of the company’s Greenville location, received from a customer she helped with a bathroom design. “We are so excited — going down the end of next week to enjoy through the month of May,” the customer wrote to Lopez. “Thanks for all your help! I couldn’t have done it without you — you are awesome!”
“We’re not here to sell someone something,” Lopez says. “We are here to build a wonderful space for a home that they will be using every day. When I think of a finished house, I think about the memories they will share in the kitchen using a sink and faucet that came from ProSource and myself. I feel like a piece of my passion will long live in the memory of their home. “
Greenville Showroom Manager Suzanne Hoggard says going above and beyond for its customers is standard operating procedure.
“We go above and beyond to get to know our customers and make them feel comfortable with ProSource,” she says. “Whether we are creating a fun kids bath or that man-cave bar he’s always wanted, we want to personalize with every project. It’s not unusual for us to stay open late or come in on a Saturday to accommodate a customer’s schedule. Our staff makes itself available for onsite visits when necessary.”
The right fit
ProSource makes sure it partners with likeminded vendors. All the company’s main partner vendors are LPG vendor members, including Brizo, DXV, Jason International, Cal Faucets, Americh, Elkay, Blanco, Nikles, Kichler, Icera and Victoria & Albert.
“In the plumbing industry, relationships are everything, including customers, employees, reps as well as manufacturers,” Martin says. “The supplier to manufacturer relationship should be a two-way street in terms of the partnership. The relationship is heightened with connection to a buying group and for us that’s LPG.”
Martin adds her company benefits greatly from LPG membership on a number of fronts, particularly during the buying group’s annual meeting where all showroom members are required to bring a principle and a showroom salesperson.
“The salesperson is able to meet directly with the upper management of the vendor members,” she explains. “It’s invaluable. And all the salespeople who represent all parts of the country are able to brainstorm together with ideas and issues; seeing that they all experience similar showroom situations. They also are able to see they can make a difference in our industry. It’s so true how important the relationship is between the sales staff and the manufacturer. The power of a product sale rests in the hands of the showroom salesperson.”
Hoggard says ProSource focuses on the in-showroom customer experience, as well as making sure each showroom features the latest luxury kitchen-and-bath products on the market. “We have the hottest new finish everybody is raving about such as black-nickel and unlaquered brass or our out-of-the-box elevated dog wash. We want to spark the imagination as our customers shop,” she says.
Hoggard notes ProSource features a state-of-the-art spa room that customers can reserve. “They can relax and experience the luxury of a sauna, steam shower, air masseur and our whirlpool tubs. This can help them make selections for the bathroom they have been dreaming of.”
Director of Builder Sales Heidi Adams says ProSource’s motto is to put the customer above all else. “Our focus is not only on showcasing tried-and-true products, but also the latest trends and newest products,” says Adams, who says one of her favorite aspects about ProSource is working for a locally owned and operated family business. “We constantly are changing and updating so there are fresh choices for our customers. We also have created a team to work together on projects. This gives us the ability to better-serve our clients by having a specialist in each segment of our business. We put a lot of emphasis on training our team to be very knowledgeable on what we sell.”
Like Lopez, Adams loves hearing from customers after they realize their luxury kitchen-and-bath dreams through ProSource. “I enjoy seeing a project from inception to completion and seeing our clients’ excitement about what we help them create,” she says.
And statements like that are why ProSource continues to thrive in the bath-and-kitchen space.