On a crisp fall evening, Tressa Samdal gets out of her car, opens her trunk, and reaches for her axe. Wearing a dress and four-inch heels, she glides across the parking lot toward one of her favorite hangouts in Lexington, Ky.: Battle Axes.
Samdal is a regular here. No one raises an eyebrow at a woman throwing axes in heels. With confidence, she eyes the target, puts a foot forward, swings the axe, and releases it. She hits the target with precision.
“My life these days is about hitting targets, whether at work or play,” says Samdal, who is part of an axe-throwing league. She says she picked up the sport as stress relief and a way to get to know people after she moved to the Bluegrass State in 2017.
As director of marketing and product development at Florida Tile, she was tasked with reinventing the company’s brand strategy. Samdal makes hitting those targets look effortless.
After just one year, a new brand personality launched with fresh collateral and digital messaging.
“Florida Tile was momentarily stagnated and needed to reevaluate a lot of marketing and product strategy,” she said. “We are just getting started, but I think we are moving in the right direction.”
Samdal leads a team of 10, overseeing the product development and marketing of every collection, along with a plethora of other projects. She and her team overhauled the website architecture and content to create a positive user experience to improve conversion and bounce rates. They increased Florida Tile’s social media presence by launching product videos and national trade show promotions, and they introduced a new merchandising lifecycle strategy that cut product sampling costs and reduced out-of-date inventory. The list goes on.
“I get inspired by creating something beautiful and lasting,” she said. “Leaving a mark on the world. There is a story behind every product…. the centuries-old stone that leads to a graphic or the customer that was struggling with a certain problem. I get excited when challenged with finding those solutions.”
Finding those solutions takes a bold approach, convincing leadership to take risks.
“My designers may tell you that my main job is to tell them ‘no’,” she says. “It is easy to get lost in design. You want everything to be beautiful and interesting. However, my job is to also understand what the return on that investment will be.”
Her introduction to the world of color and interior products began after accepting a position within Colwell North America in 2003. It was in this role, she said she found her passion for color and design, creating point-of-purchase collateral for paint and window treatments.
In 2005, Samdal moved to Johnson City, Tenn., working for Mullican Flooring.
“I was fortunate enough to work with some highly intelligent people who have allowed me to learn from their mistakes and triumphs,” she said. “I am proud that over my nine years at Mullican Flooring, I contributed to moving Mullican to the industry forefront, through oversight of market research and strategy planning, hands-on development of product and merchandising design, website development and marketing materials.”
In 2014, she was presented with an opportunity to join IVC US to learn from some of the brightest minds in resilient flooring. There, she created the inspiring stories behind the products and the products themselves, working closely with the manufacturing process to create products that are not only beautiful but also practical — fulfilling the needs and trends of different market segments.
Samdal says she learned a few things along the way.
“Too often, women try to compete on the same level, when we should really elevate the field,” she said. “We have strengths and insights that men sometimes cannot bring to the table.”
One of those strengths for Samdal is her ability to connect with her team.
“Tressa completely changed the atmosphere when she came to Florida Tile,” said Sandra Bunn, event and communications coordinator. “Our team motto had always been #WorkHardPlayHard, but now there are more smiles, jokes, and hugs as we tackle challenging projects. And she is right in the mix with us, rolling up her sleeves, working late, and getting dirty to make the magic happen.”