channels4_bannerQ 1.    Please give our readers an introduction to your business. Include what your business is all about, in which city you are located and if you have offices in multiple locations/ cities.

Ans:    We are the North American Distributors for Fontana Forni.  Fontana Forni is a company that has been making metal wood fired ovens for over 70 years and is the leading manufacturer in Italy.  Fontana Forni USA is located in Florence, SC and distributes all over North America directly to customers and through a dealer network.

Q 2.    Provide a brief description about yourself (it should include your brief educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements).  Our business was simply born out of our love for Italy and quality merchandise.   We had no business experience or business education.  We started our first business, Tuscan Imports, Inc., in 1998.

Ans:    What inspired you to (start a new business venture) or (to make significant changes in an existing business)? How did the idea for your business come about?  My wife is from Florence, Italy and we lived outside of Florence, Italy for almost 8 years.  Having lived in Italy, we have a passion for food and all things Italian.  We immediately built two brick ovens at our house upon our return.   My two oldest sons were considering offering wood fired pizza with a portable oven while in college. We were already importing Italian terracotta from the Florence area and discovered Fontana while looking for a portable wood fired oven for their potential business.  At the time, they were not selling in the US.  We made contact with them, loved their product, saw an opportunity, and the rest is history.

Q 3.    What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Ans:    1. Prepare to work hard
2. Be ready to sacrifice financially
3. Do your research

Q 4.    What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

Ans:    1. Good work ethic
2. Good people skills
3. Willingness to take risks

Q 5.    To what do you most attribute your s

uccess?

Ans:    I would love to take credit, but ultimately I recognize God gives and He can also take away.

Q 6.    How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?

Ans:    We have been successful because we do a better job than most on identifying the customers’ needs and exceeding their expectations in fulfilling those needs.  Our most successful marketing is word of mouth from happy customers.

Q 7.    Where did your organizations funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors for your venture?

Ans:    We basically start with nothing.  The bank gave us a small business loan using our house as collateral.

Q 8.    What is the best way to achieve long-term success?

Ans:    Maintain a good work ethic, maintain integrity, and stay within your means,

Q 9.    Where do you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?

Ans:    It is difficult to predict, but we hope to continue to grow… doing the same thing we are doing now because we love it!

Q 10.    Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?

Ans:    I would probably say Hobby Lobby.  They have a great business with integrity and hold to their values and convictions.

Q 11.    How important have good employees been to your success?

Ans:    We could not operate without great employees.  We all have differing gifts and talents.

Q 12.    How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?

Ans:    We have been probably too risky with some or our ideas, but if it doesn’t work – we stop.

Q 13.    What motivates you?

Ans:    Naturally, I desire to provide for my family.  Ultimately, however, I want our customers to be happy and the Lord to be pleased with all we are doing.

Q 14.    How do you generate new ideas?

Ans:    Analyze opportunities that present themselves by discussing them with the staff.

Q 15.    How do you define success?

Ans:    Pleasing God.

Q 16.    How do you build a successful customer base?

Ans:    Being personable, being honest, treating them the way I would like to be treated….even when it costs us.

Q 17.    What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

Ans:    Seeing direct benefit of what you are doing.

Q 18.    What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

Ans:    Providing for family and others.

Q 19.    What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?

Ans:    Willingness to take risks and being able to live with them

Q 20.    How did you establish this tone and why did you institute this particular type of culture?

Ans:    Relaxed.  I guess it is my nature.

Company detail:

Company : Fontana Forni USA
Contact    : Kirk Laing
Address   : 1305 E Palmetto St
City         : Florence
State        : SC
Zip           : 29506
Phone      : 843-667-9101
Toll Free  : 877-842-9822
Fax          : 803-753-9922
Email       : info@fontanaforniusa.com