We had a chance to speak with Christina Marra, Executive Vice President at Roma Fence, about Roma Fence’s humble beginnings, how the company has expanded in its 52-year history, and her pride in manufacturing in Ontario.
What is Roma Fence all about?
“Roma Fence has been supplying and installing fence products and accessories to the Greater Toronto Area and surrounding regions for over 5 decades. We have been proud manufacturers of fence and wire products since 1995.”
“We manufacture, distribute, and install chain link fence, ornamental iron, agricultural products and other fence and related accessories. We have a full line of posts, fittings, and installation tools. We install on residential, commercial, and institutional sites.”
What is the history of Roma Fence?
“At the young age of 18, my father opened Roma Fence. With the influx of Italo-Canadians in his local community, he was able to work and communicate fluently with the other Italian immigrants, like his parents, who did not yet have full command of the English language.”
“Before long, my Nonna was answering the phones for him while he was in school during the day. In the evenings and on the weekends, he was selling and installing fence. He purchased his materials locally and after school, his father and my uncles helped him install the fence at night.”
“In 1972 my father leased his first commercial location for his fence business. Not too long after, he had a staff of 5 people. A few years later , he purchased 2 acres at Highway 50 and Major Mackenzie Road, in Brampton, Ontario, that had a weld shop, outside storage space, and office.”
“Fast forward to 1984, Roma Fence had grown exponentially and we moved to a new building in Brampton. For years our main office operated from this location. That was until March of 2015 when our head office moved into our larger and better suited manufacturing facility, in Bolton, ON. [We have Roma Fence locations in Stouffville and Milton as well]. From our humble beginnings, I am proud to say that the Roma Fence Group of Companies is now over 85 people strong.”
What is the experience of growing up in a family business?
“Very unique to say the least. My father worked every Saturday, so we worked every Saturday. When my friends went away for the weekend, my father used to say, “I go to work every Saturday, you go to work every Saturday.” And I did. I’m grateful in hindsight for the incredible leadership, discipline, and dedication that he modeled for myself and my siblings.”
“I remember when I was 16 I begged our commercial printer to make me business cards that read ‘Future President.’ He made me 20. I handed them out to all of the sales reps. My father was not amused to say the least. I think at least one of those reps still has one. And he still works with me today!”
“Here I am 29 years later and I am honoured to be able to continue working alongside my father.”
“There is something to be said about being raised in a family business. There is a unique work ethic that is ingrained in you; a deep appreciation for customer service. Everyone matters. Every sale matters.”
What is something that you’re proud of?
“At Roma Fence, there is always an owner on site. There is always someone who can make a final call on a problem or an issue. There is always someone to review a price or lend an extra hand. I think a lot of family businesses in Ontario have and experience that luxury.”
“Not only am I proud of our customer service, being in Ontario and operating in Ontario has been a privilege of ours. We are proud to be part of Ontario Made – a program that is helping to strengthen our very own community. We are Ontario Proud and Ontario Strong.”
Article by Ontario Made. Nov. 20.2020