Brazilian by birth, entrepreneur and wholesaling industry executive Marcia Tiago spent her formative years in her home country learning the finer points of business, commerce, and management.
After completing her post-secondary education and graduating with a degree in Business Administration, Marcia entered the professional world by accepting a position with Cummings Diesel Engine, a renowned international company dealing in heavy machinery. Recognizing her talent and hard work, Cummings Diesel Engine relocated her to their regional headquarters in Miami, Florida. Marcia spent the next five years in the company’s marketing division. During this time, while fulfilling her duties as a marketing official, Marcia Tiago simultaneously studied for her Master’s degree in International Business, which she earned from the University of Phoenix.
However, as time passed, Marcia felt the draw of entrepreneurship more and more, believing herself destined to form a company of her own. Together with her husband, she created a DVD and CD wholesaling business, Alaska Inc., in 2005. Some years later, when CDs and DVDs began to decline in sales, the company successfully transitioned its efforts into selling cell phones, smartphones, and all manner of phone accessories. Based in Miami, Alaska Inc. currently boasts customers all over the world, but focuses primarily on Latin American markets.
Now, having accumulated more than 19 years of business experience, Marcia Tiago has established herself as a force in the international trade community. When not running Alaska Inc., she enjoys volunteering her time with the Just Love Foundation, a nonprofit humanitarian organization that provides material and financial assistance for African orphans.
What do you currently do at Alaska Inc.?
My husband and I are the founders of the company, and we take a very hands-on approach to running its day-to-day operations. We oversee everything from client relations to project management to marketing. It’s an incredibly rewarding experience to build a small business from the ground up and guide it into becoming a profitable and powerful entity, highly regarded within its industry. Although it takes a lot of hard work, foresight, and planning, in the end, it’s more than worth it.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
I began my career as a project manager and marketing executive with a heavy machinery company called Cummings Diesel Engine, and I excelled in those roles. However, after some long conversations with my husband and intense soul-searching, I decided I wanted to take the leap into entrepreneurship. I’d always harbored a dream of one day owning my own business, so I set my mind to achieving that goal. The first step I took was to earn a Master’s degree in International Business, which I did after moving to the United States but while still working for Cummings Diesel Engine. Next, my husband and I turned our efforts to developing a business plan, obtaining the necessary startup capital, and when we were finally ready, launching the company. Although there were some challenges early on, it met with a good deal of success as well, largely because of our careful organization and planning, I think.
As to the company’s name, we settled on Alaska Inc. because it’s unique and easy to remember. Also, the word ‘Alaska’ is pronounced the same throughout all the territories we operate in, so we thought that might be helpful when conducting business. And it has been. It prevents a lot of confusion.
What defines your way of doing business?
Alaska Inc. is guided by a few core principles. First, we don’t promise anything we can’t deliver. Second, we uphold our agreements to the letter, all the while providing excellent customer service. Third, and perhaps most importantly, we offer premium products at a fair price.
What keys to being productive can you share?
Personally, I’ve always found that responding immediately to important inquiries from clients, colleagues, and co-workers pays great dividends. This practice increases my productivity by facilitating a quicker exchange of information between all concerned parties and can sometimes have a real impact on shortening timelines.
Tell us one long-term goal in your career.
My major long-term career goal is to continue to develop Alaska Inc., expanding our product offerings, growing our profits, and breaking into new territories.
What would you tell your younger self?
If I could go back in time and have a conversation with my younger self, I would tell her to practice greater discipline. I would say, “Try to control your more counterproductive impulses and avoid indulging in youthful indiscretions. Doing so will greatly help you later in life.”
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned through the course of your career?
I’ve found that it’s important to set clear goals and put them in writing. That way, if I’m ever feeling a bit overwhelmed by work or unclear about what sort of action to take next, I have a document written in my own words to consult for inspiration and motivation. It works really well!
What are some of your favorite things to do outside of work?
I spend a good deal of my time volunteering with the Just Love Foundation. It’s a fantastic nonprofit organization that does some genuine good in the world. In particular, it concentrates on easing the suffering of kids in Africa who’ve lost their parents by providing them with material and financial aid.
How would your colleagues describe you?
I like to think my colleagues would describe me as determined, tenacious, organized, and open-minded.
What is an influential book you’ve read that you’d recommend?
I thoroughly enjoyed Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. This book is really engaging, and helps the reader visualize new and positive ways of leading their life.
What advice would you give to aspiring to succeed in your field?
There are a few nuggets of advice that I think would be helpful to anyone considering launching a new business in the wholesale sector. One, set clear goals. Two, put your clients first. Three, don’t hesitate to adapt to changing situations. And four, have faith in yourself and your abilities at all times.
Getting to Know You: Marcia Tiago, Founder of Alaska Inc.