Staying power and resilience distinguish the family-run business of Pilar Martínez-Cosentino – just like their products, which are the bedrock of dreams worldwide. She talks to WERTE.
"The most gratifying aspect for me is that we can foster dreams and fulfil them,” Pilar Martínez- Cosentino says with enthusiasm when asked about her job. For those not deeply involved in the Spanish businesswoman’s company, the materials that go into fulfilling those dreams seem little to do with warmth. After all, family-owned Cosentino uses stone, quartz composite and ceramic materials to produce their rock-solid products, which are among the most resilient on the market. For Martínez-Cosentino, however, they are infused with emotion and sensuality: “We work with textures, colours and styles, designing entire collections – much like a fashion company,” she says.
Silestone, a quartz composite that’s ideal for kitchens, bathrooms, restaurants and hospitals, is the star of the company. In the early 2000s, the composite began its rise to becoming an international best-seller – thanks in no small part to Martínez-Cosentino’s ceaseless dedication. After studying law with a focus on economics, the businesswoman worked for two years at the management consulting firm KPMG. Then came the offer from her father to establish the family-run company’s international business. She’s been at it since 2003 with brilliant success: today, more than 92 percent of sales are generated abroad, and Cosentino products are sold in 116 countries around the world.
The recipe for success comprises many ingredients, but the most important has been passion: “I’m fortunate in that I’m passionate about what I do,” Martínez- Cosentino says. This applies to all the areas she’s responsible for: innovation, marketing and digitalisation. She zips through a list of her strengths: “Teamwork and not being afraid of change. Supporting our employees, our most important asset. Understanding our suppliers and customers. Always learning something new. Maintaining a global vision of the businesses, constantly innovating and remaining flexible.” Achieving all this calls for another crucial ingredient for success, she points out: “We’re a family–run company. This determines the approach we take. Our thinking is always long-term and our planning sustainable.” And, Martínez-Cosentino states emphatically, leaving no doubt: “We will remain a family-run company.” This point is also reflected in Cosentino’s structures: eight out of 13 cousins work at the company. Her father, Francisco, is the president; Martínez-Cosentino and one of her brothers are two of the vice presidents; the third is her husband.
Having self-confidence as a businesswoman in a family-run company has not proved difficult for her: “When I was a kid, my dad would take me and one of my brothers in the jeep on Saturdays to check on things at the quarry – it was a playful start in this world,” she says. “I experienced all of Cosentino’s ups and downs first-hand from an early age. That taught me to be steadfast and to persevere.” Martínez-Cosentino says she also learned a lot from her grandmother Eduarda Justo. “Hard work and reliability, honesty and generosity: that’s what she gave us and that’s what is literally set in stone in Cosentino’s company culture.” Her grandmother ran a small general store in Macael, a small town in Andalusia, a region in southern Spain. Known as far back as the Phoenicians, the marble quarries in the area surrounding Macael provided the coveted stone Eduarda Justo’s husband used to start a small retail business. The couple’s three sons, led by Martínez-Cosentino’s father, carefully expanded the business. What began with just one man now provides a livelihood to 5,300 people.
Of course, sleepless nights occur now and again due to various crises, the vice-president of the family-run business candidly admits. Most recently, this was because of the coronavirus. But, after enduring an initial period of uncertainty, Cosentino embraced the pandemic as a challenge, bringing the same passion to this effort as in all other matters. “We’ve had so many good ideas during the pandemic and worked together to implement them that Cosentino achieved record sales during those two years.”
About Pilar Martínez-Cosentino
At university, she studied law and economics. Before assuming responsibility for the international business of the family-run company Grupo Cosentino, Martínez-Cosentino had worked for KPMG. She draws strength from her family and religion, the businesswoman says. Meditation, running, cooking and reading give her the energy she needs for her job and her family – her three children are between 7 and 13 years old. She is also involved in the Eduarda Justo Foundation, an organisation named after her grandmother that supports young people from socially disadvantaged families.
This article first appeared in WERTE #25, the client magazine of Deutsche Bank Wealth Management.