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Back to Store has a burning desire to succeed

Store has a burning desire to succeed March 17, 2010 Tamara Baluja When Jacqueline Glass needs a fireplace for her interior design clients, there is only one place she will go to buy it – small Mississauga-based Hearth Manor. "If there is an emergency or a pressing deadline, I can just pick up the phone – whatever time it is – and they'll just come and get the job done," Glass said. That quality of customer service, in addition to knowledge and experience, is why Glass, an interior designer who has made TV appearances on CityLine, recommends Hearth Manor. "When I recommend a company, I don't want to get a complaint from a client. I want to recommend a place that establishes credibility," she said. "It's hardly surprising but they always make the sale." Liz and Hans Martin, who started Hearth Manor in 1978, accept the praise modestly. And they credit their success on being specialists in their line of work.

Jessica Jean Martin, left, and Mom Liz relax with the family dog in their homey Mississauga store. The family has run Hearth Manor for over 30 years and because of their loyal, return customers have been able to weather a lot of economic storms. RENE JOHNSTON/TORONTO STAR

"We have loyal customers, repeat customers, because they know we serve them well. We have the research to deliver everything they want and more," said Liz Martin. The Martin's daughter, Jessica Jean, has also joined the 32-year-old company, which was founded around the time of her birth. Jessica Jean literally grew into the business and the family has seen Hearth Manor through a lot of economic downturns, including the one we now appear to be emerging from. The key to the Martins' longtime success is repeat business – many of their clients have been coming into their tidy shop in the Mississauga Home and Design Centre for decades. "In some cases, it's families who move into new homes. Other times, it's their kids. We have generations of customers," said Jessica Jean. "In tough economic times like these, people do their homework. So when they come to us, they expect informed decision," said the youngest of the Martin clan. "People are very cautious and careful with the money, and so are we, because we are part of that team reinvesting in their homes." The Martins believe because they are a small business, Hearth Manor has the capacity to adapt quickly to economic change, while not compromising customer service. "Business has always been up and down, but because we are a small, family-based company, we can make a quick change without having to deal with a huge bureaucratic process like bigger companies would have to contend with," said Liz Martin. The Martins' theory for the success appears to be corroborated by a small business report released by CIBC in October 2009. The report titled "Bruised but not battered," suggested that small businesses are more recession-proof than larger firms.


"Against all odds, Canadian small- and medium-sized enterprises were not only able to endure the recent recession with less damage than in any other postwar recessions, but also to outperform their larger, more established, peers," the report stated. The report also said that small businesses are needed by society for employment and as an alternative career. "Home renovation can be really stressful, but (the Martins) never lose their cool," Glass said. "They just get the job done." The Martins were one of the original tenants of the Mississauga Home and Design Centre, located off Dundas St. W., near Winston Churchill Blvd., which is how Glass met them in her then capacity of general manager at the centre. "We've seen so many of the original tenants at the centre come-and-go," said Liz Martin. "So I think us staying here really says something about our longevity... it's something to be proud of."


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