It’s time again for another employee spotlight!

As our thanks for his excellence in customer service, Sorrentino Mariani has decided to do a spotlight on Josh Settles, our excellent employee mentioned in our last blog regarding customer service.

An incredibly charismatic person, it really is no surprise how easy Josh is to talk to. When I asked him how old he was, his instant response was, “Too old,” despite the fact that he is only 25. Born and raised in Norfolk, he has been working off and on for Sorrentino Mariani for the last 3 years. Josh holds a very important, albeit occasionally overlooked as such, position at the warehouse doing shipping and receiving. His position affords him the ability to work at his own pace, which may start off a bit slower in the morning but builds progressively until he gets into full swing.

Having a very analytical mind, Josh’s desires are to become an astrophysicist. “If you’re going to try to figure things out,” he said, “it may as well be the biggest stuff you know about.” His favorite book is The Pleasure of Finding Things Out by Richard Feynman and he enjoys watching documentaries, including a show called “The Universe” in his free time. If he won the lottery he would use it to buy a house and go to college. If he could travel anywhere it would be Europa, which is a moon that orbits Saturn and is said to be the most likely place other life exists in our universe.

Our aspiring Scientist would also be interested in having the ability to stop time as a super power, primarily to pull off pranks and shenanigans.

Josh can be seen in this Military Club ad, driving the forklift.


What is the difference between good customer service and superior customer service? This is a question most companies struggle with, especially in the hospitality industry. Good customer service takes your needs into account as your business is being handled. Superior customer service tries to anticipate your needs and expedites solutions on any problems that may arise. If good customer service is a turn down service, superior customer service is a chocolate on your hypoallergenic pillow.

Sorrentino Mariani recently completed a sample job for the West Street Hotel inBar Harbor,Maine. The furniture was exquisite. A few teaser photographs will be posted at the bottom of this blog as most are still in editing for the website.

The order was received with a relatively short lead time, especially considering the metal order for three pieces. We went above and beyond with our first time customers at Atlantic Purchasing and Ocean Properties to get everything out as quickly as possible while still maintaining the Sorrentino Mariani standard of quality. When it came time to deliver, we hit a bit of a snag.

Our customer’s need came with little time to schedule a truck, and the cost was exorbitant because of the distance and the holiday season. What it all boils down to is that the need was dire. After a lengthy problem solving discussion our course of action was settled. Or should I say, Settles. Josh Settles: The man who drove a Penske truck all the way fromNorfolk,VirginiatoBar Harbor,Mainein three days. More about him will come later as he will be our next Employee Spotlight.

With such a great need on our customers end, we rented a truck and drove the West Street Hotel sample room furniture to it’s destination during the holiday season. Battling through traffic and a heavy downpour, Josh made the drive from Tuesday December 20, 2011 and arrived early morning Thursday December 22, then drove all the way back, making it home just in time for Christmas.

This is an example of superior customer service. When a customer has a dire need, superior customer service goes above and beyond what is normally expected of a supplier. Could we have told them “Too bad, so sad?” Yes. That would have been poor customer service. Could we have scheduled a truck that would have arrived after the date it was needed? Yes. That would have been average customer service. The goal at Sorrentino Mariani is to impress on all our customers that they are important to us, because they are. If they aren’t happy, we aren’t happy. That’s how we run our business, and that is how we show superior customer service.

While Felicia (Vice President in charge of Sales), Rodger (our National Sales Manager) and I were inTennesseefor or 2011 Healthcare Design Conference, we got the pleasure of seeing on our past orders inside its intended Hotel: The Union Station hotel in Nashville, Tennessee.

As we were driving to our destination in downtown Nashville, I could see the old clock tower from the highway as we circumvented the center of town. As soon as I saw it I knew I wanted to see that building – I have always loved old architecture. It was a pleasant surprise for me as we pulled up to the valet that it was the very building we had come to see. My love of architecture and old buildings was not disappointed.

The Union Station Hotel was originally a train station from the glory days of train travel.  The train tracks underneath are still in use to this day, in fact. Many of the original features of the old train station are staples of this hotel, which is an historic landmark, as of 1977. I have seen similar buildings in other metropolitan areas, including Richmond, but never had I been inside one. The imposing Gothic exterior I saw as I looked upon this former train station married with the gentle, ornate dressings of the interior in a way that made me want to cry. The gorgeous barrel-vaulted ceiling is decorated with exquisite reliefs beneath and 100-year-old stained glass windows. The marble floors and oak doors create the perfect ambiance to make you believe you really are in a train station. You can even exit through the back of the lobby (to the left if you come in from the Valet) and stand on the observation platform overlooking the train tracks. Being inside gives you the feeling of being transported to the point where you can almost see Al Capone get escorted through the lobby on his way to a Georgia penitentiary, which actually happened!

The reason for our visit was to see how well our furniture had been holding up to the everyday hustle and bustle of such an historic hotel. When the Union Station was renovated in 2007, Sorrentino Mariani was lucky enough to win the contract to make the furniture. True to manager’s words as he greeted us, the furniture had held up quite well, with only the average wear of everyday use. Each chest and nightstand was perfectly functional, there was no tearing in the upholstered headboards, and each piece seemed to belong in their one-of-a-kind rooms. Even though it is the same product you can see online, viewing this furniture in its intended environment makes the design and craftsmanship of this line, named after this historic hotel, even more magical and stunning.

Sorrentino Mariani makes furniture to last, and the Union Station hotel is a prime example of what that really means. If you are ever in Nashville, I highly recommend you visit the hotel, and even stay in one of the many unique rooms.

Union Station Headboard and Nightstand

Union Station Nightstand

Felicia and Rodger examining the Union Station TV Console with AV Platform

Things have been a bit hectic since Felicia and I returned from our trade show, but here it is, the Trade Show blog I promised

On November 13, 2011, I boarded the plane to Nashville, Tennessee for my first real trade show, the 2011 Healthcare Design Conference at the Gaylord Opryland. It was spectacular. The show floor was enormous. The hotel was beautiful and it was all just wonderful.

Let’s start with the hotel. Being inside the Gaylord Opryland is like being in a small European city. You are surrounded by guestrooms reaching five stories high, at least. There were about 20 different places to eat, a multitude of shops and even a small waterway inside the hotel. It was spectacularly lovely. I was lucky enough to get to have breakfast at the Cascades American Café one morning, only to receive the greatest breakfast ever! The best fresh fruit I have ever had, delicious yogurt with perfect granola, sourdough toast! I would eat breakfast there any and every day if I could. Not to mention the view from my seat, which seemed to be in a shallow cave along the fringes, was stunning. There was natural sunlight throughout the resort that came in through the glass ceilings. It was so beautiful. Every day we made the walk from the front entrance to the exhibit hall going through the Cascades and Delta Island. This is the kind of resort that all resorts should aspire to be like. Everything inside was immaculate, and they made it clear that the happiness of the customer was the top priority.

The Convention Hall was constantly bustling with excited conference goers. The exhibit hall especially was full to the brim with fellow exhibitors and attendees hungry to learn and know more about the healthcare vendors. We were back in the 900s section but we seemed to be getting rather a lot of traffic. While this conference seemed to be geared more towards acute care (hospitals) we were consistently bombarded by people who were extremely excited to see our traditional wooden furnishings, and interested in learning more about what we could do to suit their needs. In fact, we were the only manufacturer of wooden furniture present.

While other furniture manufacturers present were laminate and melamine, or just too modern for what many representatives in attendance were looking for, our booth stood out from the crowd as something unique and comforting. It had the appearance of a home away from home with all the conveniences common to the most recent trends in Senior Living environments. With our booth partners, Pamela Stobart, and Ronna Farris of Inspire (a company just starting up that will provide furnishings and design solutions on a piece by piece basis from case goods to seating), and Matt Craghan of Bassett Furniture our homey booth dazzled many. Comfortable seating provided by Pamela, Ronna and Matt as well as a few tables and lovely accent pieces filled the left side of the booth under the Inspire Banner. Beneath the sky blue SMCO banner sat our Lake Highland collection: a 5-drawer chest, 2-drawer nightstand, a rich coco-bala desk and a headboard and footboard mounted to electronically controlled patient care bed. We handed out bags, catalogs and business cards aplenty.

The best thing about the conference was that it was a great learning experience for all of us. While I was there, I learned a lot about the healthcare industry. I was completely unaware of the many different facets of Healthcare and what the market is hungry for in ours. Our market would be “Environments for Aging,” also referred to as Senior Living, and is continuously growing and evolving. (Just a tip: the term “nursing home” is obsolete.) It was different for me to get out of the office and directly into the view of potential buyers, but once I got into the swing of things, telling visitors what our company was all about was as easy as pie. As I watched and listened to Felicia and Rodger I was able to pick out key points that all customers were excited to hear, such as our ability to customize, our adherence to ada standards and the fact that our furniture is just as functional as it is beautiful. I also learned that our product is one that people have had a great desire for. That information alone is priceless. This show may not have been precisely the type of healthcare show we needed to be attending, but for our first toe dip in the water it was a great learning experience about the market we want to break into.

Another thing that just can’t go unmentioned is all the free food. Oh the food. The show floor was littered (figuratively) with desserts and appetizers galore. There was one small chocolate dessert with a little creamy sauce that just melted in the mouth. This seemingly simple dessert summed up the delicious decadence of the entire experience, for the taste buds and the brain. I could go on, but I won’t. It was just too amazing.

But all-in-all, I was glad to board the plane ride home. It’s nice to go away sometimes, but I am rather fond of my desk in the front office with my phone and my trusty work computer confirming new jobs, which there will hopefully be more of.

The View from our little cave in the Cascades American Cafe with Mary Jo Cotner (with Healthcare Design Magazine) and Pamela Stobart of Stonegate Properties, the designer of our Lake Highland and Tulsa lines as well as our booth partner.

Rodger and Felicia chatting with a visitor at our booth

Our Booth at the 2011 Trade Show

As a company that prides itself on our workforce, we have decided to do a series of employee highlights. When I say “employees” I don’t mean our managers, the Mariani’s or myself (which would be a very long article because I have a lot to say about myself, but I digress). The employees that will be interviewed in this blog are going to be the people who put together and hand touch every piece of wood that becomes your furniture. These are the people who make our furniture the best it could possibly be, and these are the people who deserve your praise.

Our first spotlight was with Tony Walton. Tony is 57 years old and has been with us for six and half years. Every drawer box that leaves this factory goes through his hand as the sole maker of drawer boxes here at Sorrentino Mariani.

“It’s a very interesting story. I was working a temp job across the street at the cemetery,” he said when I asked him about how he came by our company. A friend of his was working here with us and he asked her about getting a job here. As luck would have it, our Human Resources manager at the time was early that day. Tony put in his application and within hours received a call asking if he was willing to come in that day, because at the time we had a night shift as well as a day shift. He was more than happy to come in and he’s been with us ever since.

Recognizing the importance of his job, Tony creates superior drawer boxes. Every dovetail is perfectly in place, which is why we occasionally take some close-ups for our website as well as our new Senior Living catalogue which is in the works right now.

He is most proud of his character, and counts being a good person as his greatest achievement in life. Tony can always be seen reading. His favorite book is the Bible, from which he has learned how to be a truly hard-working and righteous person. In his spare time he likes to read, watch football, play around on the computer, and travel. If he could travel anywhere, Tony would venture to Europe, having always been fascinated with France, Spain and the United Kingdom. In fact, if he won the lottery, his first order of business would be to travel to as many places as possible, sending his friends and family gifts from his various locations. Like many worldwide, his favorite movie is the Godfather, Pt. 1.

My final question to him was if he could choose any super power, what would it be and why? His answer to me was that his faith in god was its own super power. Truly a man of virtue, I don’t think anyone could really argue with that.

The Boars Head Inn in Charlottesville, VA is a prime example of what it is to be a truly classic hotel with all the modern conveniences. Sitting on 573 acres, the Boar’s Head Inn has everything you really need for a proper vacation, equipped with a spa, an 18-hole golf course, a sports club and four on-site restaurants in an historic area in one of America’s first states, home to several presidents. In fact, this hotel is within close proximity to the historic homes of our third, fourth and fifth presidents. It is also a great place to stay near the University of Virginia, whether you are there to tour the facilities or attend a game. The Boar’s Head Inn also features a comprehensive Green Initiative and is Virginia Green certified.

The history of this hotel is extensive; dating back to the 18th century when it was just a place for traveler’s to spend the evening. Formerly called “The Ordinary” back in America’s infancy, this inn has been around since 1730. By the early 20th century, The Ordinary had been all but forgotten, and was instead the Virginia inn. In 1988 the Virginia Inn was purchased by the University of Virginia Foundation, which has since funneled $20 million into renovations and upgrades. These renovations have been going smoothly since, and now it is Sorrentino Mariani’s chance to be a part of this historic hotel.

Renovations were recently done on two model rooms at the Boar’s Head Inn, and from the looks of it, they have been extensive. The final touch of remodeling any room is new furnishings, and the Boar’s Head chose us. It is a great honor for our company to have our furniture in such a prestigious hotel. Here are a few images so you can see just what it is like.

King Sample Room View 1

King Sample Room View 2

Double Sample Room

As a growing business, Sorrentino Mariani is always aiming to break into new markets. We have been fortunate enough to make a successful break into the Healthcare Design industry. In light of our recent success, we are unveiling our brand new Senior Living logo, designed for us by the great Larry Peak of Norfolk, Virginia.

Although it may be small, our Senior Living collection certainly stands out from the crowd. Completely customizable and extremely stylish, this furniture is deserving of recognition. So my boss and I are taking a collection on the road to attend the Healthcare Design Trade Show in Nashville, Tennessee this November to show it off.

Personally, I have never been away from home without my parents. Never a vacation out of town, never a weekend away. With the exception of an evening trip up to Washington DC for a concert (where I spent the night with a family friend) I’ve never been farther than Richmond by myself or with friends. With that knowledge, I’m sure you’ll understand how excited I am to get away for a week, all expenses paid AND I’m getting paid to go. It may only be a state away, but I know that this is only a start for me. My boss is training me to step into her trade show shoes and take over that area of the business. There may even be a trade show in Vegas in my near future.

This conference is held by Healthcare Design Magazine and will take place at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. If you don’t know anything about Gaylord Hotels, let me just say, they are all gorgeous. They’re practically castles! They all have individually designed glass atriums with restaurants and gardens, looking like tiny little villages inside these grand hotels. I’m not sure it can really get fancier than that this side of the Atlantic. I am going to get to stay there. Me! I never imagined it to be true, but it’s really happening! Two months from now I will be clearing out of a swanky hotel, fresh from exhibiting in a conference recognized nationwide, rubbing elbows with accomplished designers. If it is possible to get more excited, I am afraid of what that looks like.

The exhibitors list is massive. On top of that, there are a ton of educational sessions, facility tours and students studying to be a part of the healthcare industry can even earn credit for going to it! The networking possibilities are endless. After the reverse trade show I went to last week, I feel prepared and ready to take it all on for a full four days instead of a mere 5 hours.

Now that I’ve rambled on and gushed over the Healthcare Design 2011 Trade Show, behold, our brand new Senior Living logo:

Because we care.