Starting out in the stone industry working public relations for Majestic Stone, Natalie Martin is now chief technology officer of StoneLoads, a business platform enabling natural stone suppliers to showcase their products online to a national audience. Read more about Martin and her journey with StoneLoads and the stone industry.
SW: Tell us a little about yourself.
NM: Goodness, where to start?! I am Natalie Martin, and I have been in marketing/PR for my entire career. I run a public relations business called Heed Public Relations alongside my husband, David, and we are about to celebrate our business’s fifth anniversary. We are lucky to serve some really incredible people doing noteworthy things personally and professionally.
SW: How did you get your start in the stone industry?
NM: Majestic Stone, a quarry in Southeast Tennessee, was one of our first clients in the early days of Heed PR. We worked with Patrick Wells (StoneLoads CEO, also the CEO of Majestic Stone) on boosting Majestic’s public-facing persona through a successful PR program, so when he came up with the idea for StoneLoads, he reached out. We really enjoyed the partnership we had with Majestic, so as we started talking about what it would take to make StoneLoads successful. We knew we wanted to be a part of it by being not just vendors but as partners.
SW: StoneLoads has really taken off in the past year, which as a founding member you must be very excited about. Explain your role in the company.
NM: StoneLoads was (and still is!) such a good idea. But I think we can attribute a great deal of our success to the commitment Patrick made early on to building upon the existing structure of the industry, rather than trying to completely disrupt it. Patrick and John Bryant (StoneLoads COO) both got their chops in the stone industry through roles at Majestic Stone, so they had firsthand experience with the challenges and nuances of the industry — but they didn’t have a great deal of experience building technology.
In our earliest conversations, I remember one of the things Patrick and I talked about a lot was that the platform is our product. If it was not super easy to use, we would have essentially nothing. Although our mission at StoneLoads is to make it easy to buy and sell natural stone, the platform itself is a pretty sophisticated and highly custom piece of technology. Its success hinges upon its ability to accurately calculate prices based on varying units of measure, to properly disburse funds to sellers, to organize products inside of loads in a user-friendly way, and so on… Basically, there is just a lot going on behind the scenes. I would say my role as CTO (chief technology officer) has been most critical in those earliest stages when we were looking for a development team we could trust and really charting the course that has led us to where we are today.
SW: What do you like most about your job and/or working in the stone industry?
NM: My favorite thing about our work with StoneLoads has been simply having the chance to build something new. No matter how much expertise or knowledge you have in a particular area, building an entirely new product is going to be a unique experience. We set out to build an MVP (minimum viable product), and I can confidently say that it was more impressive as an “MVP” at launch than many products ever become at much later stages in their life cycles. The industry was so ready for this evolution, and it has been an honor to watch StoneLoads continue to gain momentum.
SW: When you are not working, how do you like to spend your free time?
NM: I love to eat really good food, which means I love learning about how to make really good food. I also enjoy hiking with my pup, Junior, and taking great trips that my husband enjoys planning.
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