Andrea (Andi) Carlson Claus is a senior account representative at Mont Surfaces in Grand Rapids, MI, and recipient of a 2021 Women in Stone Empowerment Scholarship. Fairly new to the stone industry, Claus has not wasted time diving in to learn all she can and to get involved.
SW: How did you get your start in the stone industry?
AC: Three and a half years ago, I was managing an Edible Arrangements franchise and looking for a change. I had spent most of my formative years studying art and art history, and was a licensed cosmetologist in my twenties.
I was hired by Mont's Grand Rapids, MI, division as a Customer Service Specialist with absolutely zero knowledge of the industry. I feel like fate stepped in to bring me this role, because I almost immediately fell in love with the magic of natural stone and its incomparable unique beauty.
SW: Tell us a little about your role at Mont Surfaces.
AC: After working for two years as a CSR at Mont, I was promoted to the Senior Account Representative position. This is not a direct sales role, but more of a company and product representative position. I spend my days developing and growing relationships with kitchen designers and builders in order to promote our products. Part of my job includes participating in local professional associations to gain brand awareness locally for our company. I am actively involved with our local Home Builders Association and Professional Women In Building Council (PWB), having been honored as Person of the Year for 2021 by my peers in the PWB. I also am the Membership Chair on the Board of Directors for my local chapter of the National Kitchen and Bath Association.
SW: What were some reasons why you joined Women In Stone?
AC: Shortly after I began working at Mont, I learned about the Natural Stone Institute (NSI). I had a drive to learn about granite, quartzite, marble and more, so I began utilizing Mont's membership in NSI to gather knowledge about stone. I was so excited when I learned that there was a Women In Stone (WIS) group that I could join! Only a few months into this career, I joined to develop relationships with other women who understood my experiences, and who could help guide me as they had paved the path in front of me.
SW: How would you say your membership in that group has benefitted you?
AC: I have loved being involved with WIS. The Mentorship program was my first real participation after having hovered for a while. Being paired with a mentor who could really help me work to advance myself was such a life-changing experience for me.
Of course, I cannot deny that a huge benefit has been winning the WIS Empowerment Scholarship and with that my trip to The International Surface Event (TISE) in February. I was so humbled to stand with women who have really dedicated themselves to the mission of WIS to recruit, retain and advance women in the stone industry. I was able to have some mentoring sessions with women that inspired me to grow in my career and personally, and just met some of the coolest chicks I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.
Truthfully though, the most profound benefit to me has been the opportunity to continue to meet and develop relationships with other women who can relate to the very specific challenges and struggles that we can face and who show up to boost each other and be cheerleaders for each other.
SW: What advice would you share with other women in the industry who are considering joining WIS?
AC: Like Nike says, JUST DO IT! There are no downsides to joining the group. You get out of it what you put into it. If you want to join and just kind of sit back and watch for a while, that's ok. If you want to join and dive in feet first to joining committees and such, more power to you.
SW: What do you enjoy most about working in the stone industry?
AC: I am genuinely blown away on a daily basis by Mother Earth's exquisite artwork! Walking through our slab warehouse feels just like walking through a gallery.
SW: How do you enjoy spending your time when you are not working?
AC: I am an avid home cook, and enjoy preparing fresh from-scratch meals nightly with my husband, who happens to be a professional chef. I like to take off for weekends into the great outdoors of Northern Michigan in my 1957 Avalon canned ham camper with the hubs and our hairless Chinese Crested dog. I devour novels like the cookie monster with a bag of Chips Ahoy.
Women Spotlight: Read more about the leading women in the stone industry.