Entrepreneurs and COVID-19 - Interview with Roseanne Braniski of Jirehstone Vancouver (Port Coquitlam)

 Please share a bit about yourself as an entrepreneur and what your business entails - brick and mortar store, online, product, etc.

Thank you for including Ted, myself and Jireh Stone Ltd in your view of this pandemic and how it has affected so many. My name is Rosanne Braniski. I am business partners with Ted Braniski. We have been life and business partners for 30 years. We distribute product called Stonetile. Stonetile is a man-made stone product made from crushed limestone that mirrors exquisite stone and mouldings.

Before the COVID-19 crisis, how did you work with your regular clients and reach out to new ones. What type of marketing worked best for you?

We have owned and operated our Exterior Facade business in Port Coquitlam for 6 years. For 21 years prior, we worked for the founding company Stonetile Canada, who helped and enabled us to open our own distributorship in Port Coquitlam. 

We have a beautiful showroom, bustling warehouse and thriving offices located 500-1515 Broadway Street, Port Coquitlam and have built our business mostly by word of mouth and honest hardworking ethics. All our products are eco-friendly and completely biodegradable. We have marketed our product several ways including: sponsorship of events (including some celebrities advocating eco-friendly products), TV advertisement, talk shows and Greensheet Construction Data. However, to date, word of mouth has been our top marketing tool. 

How has the social isolation required to combat the spread of COVID-19 affected your business? What about this has been hardest for you personally?

In the month of March, our wheels came to a grinding halt. Due to the pandemic and its infectious nature, both of which were destructive physically and financially, we had no choice but to lay off all our office staff and re-direct our way of sales. 

We have gone to online and telephone sales. Quotations are done by email and almost every transaction is virtual. We have had to adjust to the quiet workplace and all the empty chairs. The personalities that filled our days are now quieted. 

Have you found new ways to interact with your customer? Have you developed any new products or services as a way to help your clients through this time, or to fill a new need you see?
Until COVID19, we were a successful, thriving exterior facade company, extending employment to many people. Those people in turn, have people that they have to take care of. Throw a rock in a pond and watch the ripples spread and widen. Some of those people were our own family.

What type of marketing seems to be working best for you in this time of social isolation?

We are taking this "new normal" one day at a time. We do not dwell on the "what if's". We talk in the positive now and positive future. Marketing remains much the same as before. We have incorporated cold calling which has broadened the playing field. In this virtual and digital day and age, along with self isolation, a phone call has become a great way to reach out and make connections. 

Anything you'd like readers to know about you and your business? Any last words of encouragement you'd like to share with everyone?

This time of change has been both very hard to face, but also very good in the sense of valuing what we have. We loved our family and friends but now, we LOVE our family and friends. We do not take anything for granted, nothing. 

If I can encourage any one during these times or give a thought, it would be, " gratitude" for what we have. For those of you who have had the "rug pulled out from under you," know that tomorrow could be the best day of your life. You just have to get there. 

The hardest part of all of this was to realize what freedoms we had that we took for granted. Going forward now is the focus. 


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