Michele Farry

This month and next month in my “women in stone” series I will be writing about sales. 

The role of a sales person is a potential power position within a company large or small, and with the demand for experienced sales people in the tile and stone industry it can be challenging for employers to fill these specialized roles In a saturated market, it is especially difficult for companies to compete for the best, most experienced sales teams. To be successful in a competitive market, you need a sales team that stands out and can successfully meet their customer’s demands. Not only can the rigor of finding a strong sales team be exhausting for owners and human resources, but it is also critical to creating revenues and profitability.

A job description of the necessary qualities for a good sales person should include: must be adaptable, with good communication skills; an effective educator about products or services; patient, a problem solver who works well independently and on a team; and excellent at multi-tasking – and those are just the basic, must-have skills. I have crossed paths with some amazing women working in stone who embody these skills and so much more. 

Megan McNally, IGM Sales

Megan McNally, IGM Sales

For this month’s article I reached out to International Granite and Marble in Connecticut, also known as IGM. I wanted to look closely at how IGM has developed and cultivated an influential sales team, including Megan McNally, who has helped make IGM a leader in the New England tile and stone distribution and marketplace.

Putting Megan’s role into context I wanted to know a little more about IGM and their history in the industry. I asked Megan to give me the background. She said, “IGM is a family company which started business in the United States in 1948, and is now spanning a fourth generation of the Weiss family.

The company has six locations: one each in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Georgia, two Texas locations, and our corporate location is in North Bergen, New Jersey. IGM offers slab materials, tile and granite, marble, limestone, travertine and soapstone. In recent years, IGM has also taken on lines of manufactured quartz, currently featuring Polar Stone, to keep pace with its popularity and demand. IGM works closely with fabricators in assisting their customers in slab selection for residential projects, and also with designers, architects and contractors for large-scale commercial projects.”

I asked Megan how long she been with IGM, and her role there. She responded, “I have been with IGM for over ten years as a salesperson. I began in the office, helping assist with other sales personnel and was promoted to work inside sales. This includes assisting in the selection of materials for homeowners, designers, and kitchen and bath contractors. Additionally, I now handle some outside sales by maintaining relationships with stone fabricators throughout Connecticut and Massachusetts. I assess and address what they need to complete projects in a timely fashion for their customers. This includes coordinating deliveries of materials, assessing the needs of fabricators stock materials on site, expediting quicker turnarounds for customers looking to complete projects on time-sensitive deadlines, and addressing and overcoming any challenges that may arise. 

IGM has locations in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Georgia, with a corporate office located in New Jersey.
IGM has locations in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Georgia, with a corporate office located in New Jersey.

IGM has locations in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Georgia, with a corporate office located in New Jersey.

IGM has locations in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Georgia, with a corporate office located in New Jersey.
IGM has locations in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Georgia, with a corporate office located in New Jersey.

“I came into the stone industry completely green when I started at IGM in May of 2007, as I was returning to the workforce after several years of being home with my children. I knew little about stone, the stone industry or the larger building/construction business. Throughout the years I have been able to learn more about the industry – from my colleagues – both at IGM and the fabricators we work with, how (the industry) has continued to change and innovate with styles, and tastes an ever-changing consumer base demands.”

Megan brought up a good point of how the tile and stone industry has gone through a lot of changes. I asked her to describe more about her experience with sales coming into the market when she did. 

“When I began in 2007, most of the business was focused on larger companies, developers building larger sub-developments and builders putting up multiple houses. Homeowners were most often referred to us through their builder and were working on a new construction project. 

“With the collapse of the housing market, everything changed in the building industry and IGM was not untouched.
Anyone involved in any aspect of the construction/building industry, especially those of us involved in material supply, felt the strain. New construction ground to a screeching halt. However, we saw a new trend emerge; if people couldn’t sell they were going to renovate, if they couldn’t buy a new dream home they would make their current home into their dream home. Homeowners were now turning to contractors, kitchen and bath dealers and interior designers for direction and guidance for improving existing homes, rather than builders and developers to build a new home. This trend caused us at IGM to shift our focus as well, and create new relationships with the growing base of kitchen and bath (renovation) industry.”

We discussed more about her experience of being a woman in stone, and asked her to describe her journey. She said. “In the building industry, being a woman has been a challenge in a landscape traditionally dominated by men. It is especially important to be able to speak with confidence and understanding of not just stone distribution, but it’s fabrication as well. Being knowledgeable about not only your product, but also how it’s mined, how it’s transported and how it’s fabricated is important for anyone in the stone industry, but maybe I have felt the pressure just a little bit more than my male colleagues. 

“Being able to understand the ways that our materials are manufactured, treated, cut and installed and the methods that are used help any salesperson work with their customers, however, it is sometimes even more important for the women in this industry so as to not be dismissed in their understanding of “how things work.” Unfortunately, I think most women in the building industry have come up against some of this, and learning as much as we are able about the industry and speaking from a place of knowledge and confidence is the best way to overcome those prejudices.”

I asked Megan where does she see the tile and stone industry moving forward. “The stone industry needs to remain flexible and innovative moving forward. Just as we had to switch gears when the housing markets changed, when our core customer base shifted, when new materials gained popularity, we need to be poised to respond to any changes the future brings.”

Megan McNally from IGM is very engaging speaker and a powerful advocate for women in the stone industry, and I look forward to bringing you next month’s article where I’ll look further at sales, and the experiences and perspectives of women in stone. Have a great month!