Ready for another Q&A? Our next interview is with Lorenzo Marquez, ’17 & ’18 NKBA chairman.
Q. We know you as the ’17 & ’18 NKBA chairman but briefly describe your professional background.
A. I started my career in the kitchen and bath industry over 15 years ago as I was having lunch with a college friend of mine and her boss. I had been in the field of retail merchandising and was a recent graduate of the University of Houston with a degree in Marketing and Entrepreneurship. During this lunch, Isabel Martinez-Cosentino, my friend’s boss, was very interested in my background and told me about an opportunity she had in her team to develop a natural stone line and expand the Silestone presence in the United States. Without a doubt, I joined her team and became fascinated with all things surfacing.
I still remember the first KBIS I attended in Chicago, a few months after starting at Cosentino. I was fascinated with the industry, the products, the energy behind this massive show and thought, “this is home.” As I expanded my knowledge in the industry, I held several positions at Cosentino, including account manager for Home Depot, general manager of a facility in Orange County, California, and ultimately VP of Marketing for the last nine years. Through my further involvement in the industry and KBIS, I was lucky enough to be chosen to serve on committees for the NKBA and ultimately serve as BOD Chair for two consecutive years, something that had not taken place since the 1970s.
Two years ago I opened Marqet Group, a full-service marketing agency to support at-home-service and manufacturing companies in the kitchen and bath space. Our focus is to develop fully integrated marketing campaigns to help connect businesses with consumers and trade customers through branding, web, social media, public relations, advertising and events. Since, we’ve grown our engagement in the industry and helped dozens of companies develop strategic campaigns both in the print and digital space.
Q. We hear you are a family man. Tell us a little about you as a person.
A. Yes, big family man. To me family is everything. I am a proud husband and father of five kids under the age of eight. When I tell people this they say, “how do you do it?” and my response is “how do you not?”. Both my wife and I have very strong bonds with our families and we grew up in a very family-focus environment. We try to stretch out each minute of the day to do as best as we can and keep our businesses going.
Q. The last two years have been big for you. Give us a snapshot.
A. I have been riding the most exhilarating rollercoaster of my life and I don’t want it to stop. From opening and running up a business to dealing with personal adversity with the flood, growing a family and ramping up my volunteer time with NKBA, my life hasn’t been short of emotion and adrenaline. I have been very blessed to have people in my life that have made a significant difference and have been great stewards of my efforts.
Less than two years ago, I had an idea and a business plan. Twenty-two months later, I am proud to say that we have a solid reputation in the industry, a growing team and a strong customer base that has become an extended part of our business.
Q. Hurricane Harvey and running a new business at the same time? How did you get through it?
A. I didn’t have a choice, nor did I want one. I had my family and my team’s family to get through it all. My team has been extremely supportive through the overall process and I wasn’t going to let them down. I had a choice, either drown, literally, or use it as a stepping stone in my life and my career, and that is exactly what we did. I had a commitment to my family, my team and my customers that I was not going to let them down. Has it been easy, not a single day. Has it been worth it, yes! Do it all over again? Bring it!
Q. You’re always evolving but what’s been your biggest lesson learned or “word for the wise” as an entrepreneur thus far?
A. Stay humble, and that applies to corporate and small business employees as well as entrepreneurs. Humility allows you to know who you should surround yourself with, read through people’s intensions, and know when to ask for help or help others. It’s the greatest business acumen you should have and expect from others.
Q. You served on the board for the NKBA for quite some time. Tell us about your experience. For people who aren’t a part of an industry organization, what’s your insight on the benefits of being involved?
A. My experience with the NKBA has been nothing but extraordinary. Over the course of the last six years, I have seen an evolution in the efforts of the association, from the way the Board is composed and operates to the effects that come out as a result in the industry. I have been given an opportunity to understand all aspects of the industry and not look at things not only from a manufacturer’s perspective or from a media company angle, but as a whole overall. The knowledge, friendships, and connections I have built from being involved will last me for a lifetime.
Q. Now that it’s 2019, where do you see the industry changing?
A. I struggle with this one a little bit because my vision of it is a little conflicting, and here’s why: Technology is becoming a more important factor of how we operate; it is essentially the way by which new generations are being conditioned to operate by. We have cross-generational differences that make it difficult for one manufacturer or business to build a connection with their audience but we know technology is essential and a must. We have different generations living under the same household, with different needs and outlooks in life. So technology will continue to increase, with smart-home solutions getting “smarter and smarter” every day. But I strongly believe that relationships and human touch are starting to become much more important than technological evolution. I see the industry focusing more back on selling “one-job” versus a full track of homes. I see grass-roots marketing efforts taking higher effect than broad marketing campaigns, and that’s because they’re fostered by the human touch and personal relationships.
Q. What design trend(s) are you excited about for 2019? Are any going into your new home?
A. I’m excited about the way porcelain is playing a higher role in the kitchen. Porcelain countertops are giving consumers the ability to have traditional natural stone designs that don’t necessarily cost the same or require the same maintenance. I am also very happy to see the break away from solid monotone kitchens (the white kitchen) to seeing more pops of color in the kitchen space and having two-tone kitchen design.
For the bath, it’s all about the glam bathroom space. Wide open spaces designed with marble tones and bold plumbing fixtures is what I see as a favorite these days. And yes, both the kitchen and bathroom trends I see will be used in our home.