It’s time to meet more Moda reps and this time we’re focusing on teams, and in particular, married couples who both rep for Moda.
First up are David Evanciew and Debbie Holmes, who live in upstate New York, in a beautiful mid-century modern home they’ve remodeled themselves.
They’ve been with Moda for five years and fabric reps for 19 years. Their territory, which they took over from their daughter when she moved to Dallas, covers all of New York (including New York City), and rural parts of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Debbie notes that they serve some of the biggest cities in the world and some of the most rural areas, including the Adirondack Mountains. “Most people think of New York as New York City, but it is a beautiful state full of lakes, hills, farms, and forests. And our winters are very, very cold and very, very snowy.” (Those winters add an extra challenge to visiting shops—that lump in the photo below is a car.)
Debbie grew up in the fabric industry—she owned a shop with her mom from 1969 (when Debbie was a kid) til 2008 and has attended more than 100 fabric and quilt trade shows. From the 1980s til 2005, they also focused on weddings, shipping bridal fabrics and laces by mail order. David joined Debbie on the road about three years after she started repping. “It’s more fun when someone is with you,” she says.
While David and Debbie are both reps, they drive separate cars and visit different shops. They drive long distances, typically visiting two shops per day, and spend about 120 nights a year in hotels. Though they drive alone they stay in the same hotels—they even have a “secret knock” they use when one arrives before the other. They eat dinner together, trying to dine on healthy fare when possible, and then spend an hour or two in the evening on emails and orders. (That’s David schlepping his suitcases filled with fabric samples along city streets in the photo below.)
What do you listen to in the car while you drive?
Debbie passes the time talking to her daughters. “Both are sales reps—it runs in the family—so they’re in their cars a lot, too. One sells eyeglass frames and the other sells toilets—we call her potty-trained. I listen to Sirius radio, music, and talk shows.
David listens to Howard Stern, podcasts, music, and comedians from all eras.
Share a tip for life on the road.
We have waterproof placemats we put over our laps and tuck under the cross strap of the seatbelt so we don’t get coffee all over us. We drink a lot of coffee. You don’t want to know how much we spend a year at Starbucks!
Tell us about a memorable event on the road.
Debbie:We used to have small regional shows with one other rep and we were overnighting in a hotel as the show was the next day. My daughter was very sick and I needed to head home—a two-hour drive. I hastily threw my clothes into the suitcase and headed out. It was winter, cold and snowy. The next morning David was at the hotel, getting ready for the show. He called me at home and said, “Have you seen my pants?” I had taken his only pair of pants home with me… Luckily he had a long winter topcoat. He put on his boots, pulled his socks up as far as they’d go, and headed across the street to Walmart to find himself a pair of pants, and then off he went to work the fabric show! [Don’t you wish we had a picture of this?]
What do you do when you’re not on the road?
We like to dance. Latin dancing (salsa) is our favorite, but we also like West Coast Swing and other varieties. We take lots of lessons and have made many friends. David loves to cook and right now is obsessed with making ice cream.
I (Debbie) like to garden and am addicted to unusual perennials and buy them greenhouses in our territory. Sometimes I buy so many I can’t see out of the windows driving home. David loves to cook and right now is obsessed with making ice cream.
What do you enjoy about the work you do?
Moda is the most organized, nicest, most generous, customer-friendly company on the planet! Our customers are great and we try to be as helpful as we can as we consider ourselves part of their “team” for success.
Also, the drives are beautiful. And, we have met celebrities, seen fantastic bands, and danced in major cities in the US. We’ve attended concerts, including Titio Puente, Jr. this June, been to Broadway shows in NY, eaten at restaurants featured on TV shows, and visited wonderful museums, zoos, and landmarks. Best of all, we have made friends wherever we are.
Next up are Kathy Skomp and Mark Skomp. Kathy has been a Moda rep for ten years and Mark for five years.
Together they cover most of Tennessee and Alabama, half of Georgia, and a part of Kentucky and Mississippi. They don’t travel together and are often in different states—they are on the road a lot! But Kathy says that with both of them working together and sharing the load, they are able to have some family time at home.
Typical days for the Skomps start early and they are usually on the road for three to four days at a time and there are many miles between appointments. Meeting with two shops a day is their ideal, so that they can focus on the shop and not be rushed. Mark has a “bad habit” of not eating until dinner and Kathy’s “bad habit” is grabbing food from a drive-thru and eating lunch in the car. At dinnertime, they typically want something quick and easy, but Kathy says they try to “sit down somewhere” or make it home to eat. “We are both proficient at eating alone in a restaurant.”
Although they don’t travel together, they do discuss work and life every day. They’ve been married for 25 years and have worked together in some way for most of that time. “It’s pretty nice to know you are working with someone you know, who has your back,” says Kathy. “And we laugh every day, usually at ourselves.”
The Skomps owned a quilt shop in the past and still have their pattern design company, Lavender Lime. “We have been on just about every side of the table in this industry,” says Kathy. “It’s a wonderful industry that we have been a part of for many years, and hope to have more years to come.”
Keep reading for more about the Skomps.
Share a tip for staying organized on the road.
Carry an extra set of clothes, just in case. Ketchup is not pretty on your top (it happens). Kathy always has a Yeti cooler filled with Diet Coke (and says it should be water), likes a newer car, and has no idea what she is paying for gas. Mark snacks on Combos, is more frugal and looks for cheap gas. He’ll even buy just a few gallons if he thinks it’s too expensive. And he drives Honda CRV that looks like new but has 350,000 miles on it!
What do you listen to while you drive?
Mark: He loves to listen to CDs, still buys CDs, and even put a new CD player in his car.
Kathy: She listens to Audible or Sirius and just finished most of Erin Hilderband’s books and she and Mark are now planning a trip to Nantucket. She also enjoys talking on the phone (hands-free, of course) and says both she and Mark spend time in prayer and purposeful thought. “A silent car and lots of driving time is a great place for that,” she says.
Tell us about a memorable experience.
Kathy shared two:
Mark went into a shop for a visit and was in there for about three hours. When he came out he wondered what that noise was near his car. He had left his car running the entire time!
Another time a shop owner in a small town wanted to pay off her shop mortgage and have a celebration in the town square. She had a barbecue and a band and burned her mortgage note during the ceremony. She introduced us to the crowd like we were celebrities. The amazing part? She took out the note and bought the building and opened the shop in her 70s and paid it off at age 85! She was very proud.
What do you do for fun when you’re not on the road?
We prioritize anything that involves a grandchild. Kathy once drove four hours home from an appointment to go trick-or-treating, knowing she had to turn around and go right back the next day. She wasn’t going to miss that opportunity! Mark has done similar things. They also love to travel together and to spend time in their home together. Kathy loves doing home projects and says Mark cringes when she says, “I know! Let’s paint this weekend!”
What do you enjoy about your job?
Kathy: The best and hardest part of this business is those relationships you have built. Shop owners and employees become great friends. You get to know their families. And that is awesome. But then sometimes those shops go out of business and owners and their families that you feel you know so well pass on. It is a hard part of the business.
I enjoy that I work with Moda, which I feel has the best reputation and business in this industry. I am proud to work with Moda.
Have you worked with any of these reps and have a story to tell? We’d love to hear it! And stayed tuned for more Meet the Reps stories in future posts!