As sales agent for the West Coast, Chris Zappala leads the company’s presence in California, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Oregon and Washington, within the contract market, marine aftermarket and the automotive aftermarket.
How long have you been with Morbern and what is your experience in coated fabrics?
I have been with Morbern since March 2018. I began my career with coated fabrics in 2009 with Naugahyde.
You previously worked with the venerable Uniroyal brand. What were you doing for them?
I was a Senior Account Representative at Uniroyal, working in the Contract, Industrial OEM, Mass Transportation, Vac Form, and Distributor markets segments.
You have a lot of experience working in/with Central & South. America. Can you tell us about that? How did that come about? Do you have a particular interest in this part of the world?
When I was in college, my then-girlfriend was from Costa Rica, and I visited there on spring break and immediately fell in love with the country. After college, I had the opportunity to move there and study medicine for two years, before pursuing a career in business. I continued to live in Costa Rica for the next six years. During that time, I became “encantado” with Latin culture, and had incredible experiences with friends across many different countries.
If my research is correct, you hold a degree in biochemistry. How did you go from science to sales?
When I graduated from Tufts University, the objective was always to go to medical school, but I also worked at a big pharma/life sciences company before moving to Costa Rica. After studying medicine for 2 years, I had an opportunity to open an import/export business on my own, and my heart followed in my father’s footsteps – he was a businessman and salesman.
Why work for Morbern? What makes them stand out?
As with any successful company, Morbern puts innovation first. This focus on Innovation allows me to bring solutions to my customers, rather than just another roll of vinyl. Without innovation, you become just a commodity product with no way to stand out.
How are Morbern’s vinyls superior to other products in the marketplace?
Again, I will say innovation. Look at Allante FRee – we were one of the first on the market to make a product with no additional FR additives, which became a hot topic when California passed AB2998 requiring seating material (as an example) to comply by not having FR additives. Morbern continues to perform at a high level in the marketplace because of their focus on innovation.
What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t be afraid of failure. Too many times, people’s fear of failing prevents them from even trying. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t take steps forward even when I was afraid of failing.
What are you currently reading?
“Good to Great” by Jim Collins.
Do you have any quotes that guide you in business or in life?
Treat others the way you would like to be treated.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I am a huge country music fan! My favorite artist is Garth Brooks and in particular his song, “Unanswered Prayers”.
What can we find you doing when you’re not at work?
My evenings are filled with dinner around the table with my wife and daughter. We talk about our day–the highs and lows–and then I usually walk our dog. The weekends are spent with family, oftentimes at a cousin’s house, filled with homemade Mexican food.
What do you consider your greatest business accomplishment?
Learning from all my past failures to successfully launch EMZ Contract Sales in 2018 with Morbern as my sole line.
What habits have you purposefully developed (in business or in life) that have served you well?
The answer is very simple: I remind myself to say please and thank you. Showing gratitude can soften the hardest of hearts.