- Associated Press - Sunday, November 4, 2018

HIGH POINT, N.C. (AP) - The furniture produced on his factory floor won’t bear his company name, but that’s fine with Anthony Pennisi.

The owner of Domenick’s Furniture Manufacturer in High Point, Pennisi’s workers assemble the sofa frames, foam and upholstery sent to them by hospitality and health care furniture firms into finished products that they ship to medical offices, hotels and other customers.

As an “in-demand” contract manufacturer, his factory builds and services products for other furniture brands and private label companies that need help filling orders or customizing their goods.

It’s a business model fine-tuned by Pennisi, who is part of a furniture family with roots in Italy.

“We have a complete factory that make frames and sells them, and we have a finishing room and cutting and sewing department,” Pennisi said. “It’s like a service provider for other manufacturers in town that are busy and need our help. It’s a pretty unique niche.”

He credits his family members and others in the furniture business with helping him land on his feet after a tumultuous few years that saw the end of one of his family businesses and the relocation of another.

His Italian parents, Domenick and Maria, came to High Point in the early 1970s, by way of New York, where they sold chairs made in Sicily.

“He and his brothers learned from his father and grandfather how to do wood carving,” Pennisi recalled about his father. “They ended up doing carving models for companies in High Point. They made the leg models and apron models for the manufacturers here in High Point to put chairs and tables on.”

Domenick Pennisi and his brother, Andrew, opened Pennisi Originals, a full-scale furniture manufacturer in High Point.

“They were doing some things that weren’t all that common in High Point at the time,” Anthony Pennisi said. “They did machine carving and a lot of intricate veneering and finishing.”

His father opened PAMA Furniture in 1984, importing specialized frames from Italy that he would stock and sell to local companies that fashioned them into chairs and tables.

“He started selling to the manufacturers. It kind of got embedded into us that that was our customer base. He focused on that instead of retailers,” Pennisi said. “He also set up a woodshop at PAMA and we started building frames for Edward Ferrell. That was our first big customer in town. I worked in the shop during the summers, and that’s how I learned to manufacture furniture.”

PAMA closed in 2012 and Pennisi started Domenick‘s, reaching out to old customers who needed help building furniture frames.

Within a couple of years, he had woodworking, finishing and upholstery operations going in a rented space in south High Point, where he was awash with business from other companies that needed help filling orders.

“Our business model was set: We can be a service provider to help these guys that are overwhelmed,” he said. “If the hospitality industry was not booming, I would not have a business. If they don’t have work, we don’t have work. All these companies in town needed help.”

But a challenge presented itself last spring when his landlord sold the building where Domenick’s was based. Pennisi scrambled to find a new location, which he did over the summer, repurposing an old building on Tate Street.

“We had our best month ever in August. We have been extremely busy, because once we made the move, people got confidence: ‘Give it to Anthony, he’ll get those 400 pieces done,’” Pennisi said.

He’s used his connections, including networking through the N.C. Furniture Institute, to drum up business and find the skilled craftsmen he needs to meet the demand for the work.

“I think that’s based on my family’s history in High Point,” he said. “Our reputation was very high-end. When you said the Pennisi family, you thought of great craftsmanship. So I have to give props to my mom and dad for establishing such a good reputation.”

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Information from: High Point Enterprise, http://www.hpenews.com


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