If a designer can draw it, Eugene Silva can make it. Building a custom furniture business from the ground up has been his passion over the past 31 years. Today, with the help of his family, the hands-on owner of Silva Custom Furniture continues to grow his business. Silva recently held an open house for designers and retailers at its Toronto showroom. I walked through the factory with Eugene while he recalled how it all began.FURNITURE DESIGNER/MANUFACTURER: Eugene Silva
You won’t find Eugene wearing a suit or sitting behind a desk. He’s president of the company, but his wife Marie is CEO and runs the administrative side of the business.
When you’re making custom furniture, the details matter. That’s one of the reasons Eugene spends so much of his time working on the factory floor. He loves the business and he doesn’t want to lose touch with the reason he started the company.
One of the company’s latest sofa styles
When he was 16 years old, Eugene started sweeping floors at a furniture factory. Soon after, he asked to learn about upholstery. He found he had a real knack for it.
On his weekends and evenings, with the help of his wife Marie, he would recover furniture from a workshop in his garage. As word of his business grew, he quit his full-time job and Silva was officially launched.
Early on, Eugene realized if he was going to produce a high quality product, he needed to control all aspects of production. That meant building his own frames using top grade kiln dried hardwood. This prevents warping and each frame is glued and screwed together to create strong joints.
When a retailer or designer brings a client into the showroom, they can choose any fill for their furniture. The company uses web and coil construction and each frame is completely padded. The seat cushions are filled with high density foam, which is wrapped with a layer of dacron. Eugene says, “We have the frame shop here, so any piece can be modified to suit a client’s need.”
Designers specify the colour of legs and each piece makes its way through various departments in the Silva plant. Both of Eugene’s sons also work in the business. He laughs,”Well, I planted the farm and it’s here for them.” Matt runs the frame shop and Devon, Matt’s wife takes care of all the retailers across Canada. Jon does purchasing, maintenance and tracks all orders.
Eugene’s real passion is designing new pieces which he often does with his son Matt –using drawings and creating a computerized program for the CNC machine. The company makes both traditional and contemporary styles and produces private label lines for Canadian interior designers Sarah Richardson, Brian Gluckstein and a host of others.
You can see Sarah’s furniture line here.
Eugene and my sales rep Shari Elson, have both been featured in a handful of episodes of Sarah’s show Design Inc. Eugene has also appeared in television segments with Steven Sabados and Chris Hyndman of the Sabados Group Inc. It’s one of the perks of being an entrepreneur and he clearly enjoys it.
To learn more about Silva Custom Furniture, check out the company website here.