Carving Out Your Share in the Marketplace

    Sergio Montolfo, general manager of Phillips & King, shares what businesses and their leaders can do to grow their presence and customer base in a competitive market.


    What has been the biggest challenge in expanding Phillips & King?
    How and when to expand your business are key decisions that every company must face eventually. Making the claim that we are a “one-stop shop” is a bold statement because you had better be able to back that up. The largest challenge we have had at Phillips & King is being able to adapt and maintain tax and compliance for all of the local state and city ordinances throughout the entire country.

    Traditional retail across all industries is struggling in the modern commerce environment. Our customers are at risk—that applies to small and medium businesses. We have the pleasure of being able to collaborate with local business owners in every state to identify ways to create sustainable strategies. We must help them create memorable in-store experiences that are irreplaceable by passive consumer online purchasing.

    During your tenure at Phillips & King, what’s the leading factor to which you would attribute your successes?
    Perhaps the most important of the success factors is character. Self-discipline combined with honesty will open countless doors. Trust is the foundation of all relationships. When people know you and believe in you and are convinced that they can trust you to keep your word and do what you say you will do, they will feel that they are far more likely to get the things they want through you—to get the things they want, faster, sooner, easier and with greater certainty.

    How have your thoughts on running a successful business and being a leader evolved over the years?
    Keep looking ahead. Where do we see the company in five, 10, 20 years? Is what we are doing now in the interest of those goals? In addition, your people are your greatest asset—employees, customers and vendors. They are invaluable resources of information and ideas.

    How can businesses stay ahead of the curve and jump on something valuable before it becomes a trend?
    Put yourself in the right environment and around the right people [by] attending various trade shows globally, such as the TPE (Tobacco Plus Expo) coming up in January of 2018. These trade shows are great venues to discover upcoming products and trends, and [they’re] a place to build relationships with people that are on the front lines. TB

    Interview by Ben Stimpson

    This story first appeared in the September/October 2017 issue of Tobacco Business magazine. Members of the tobacco industry are eligible for a complimentary subscription to our magazine. Click here for details.