Reflecting on some of his biggest projects at Nitty Gritty Furniture Design and Restoration, Dave Ross recalls designing and building pieces for 80 Chapters bookstores across Canada.
“That was a big job,” he said from the studio near Laird Drive and Eglinton Avenue, where he stood in a white lab coat speckled with paint and stain, talking about the “huge — 2,300 pieces of furniture” project that took 2½ years.
The custom furniture business, which is shutting down at the end of this month, has taken him on projects for a Tim Hortons camp, several daycare centres and corporate cafeterias, and even to the kitchens for chairmen of three of the leading Canadian banks. He can track the company’s products to every province, one territory, 15 U.S. states and seven other countries around the globe.
Although Ross cites the people he’s met as the best part of his job, another draw has been being able to work on antique rockers and antique carousels, including the one for Centreville amusement park on Centre Island.
“We restore lots of dining room tables, old secretaries, dressers and all the rest, but the most fun are the carousel animals, because they speak to you and there’s romance and emotion, music and lights,” he said with a smile about the antique horse pieces.
Upon giving notice to clients a few months ago that Nitty Gritty would be closing after 38 years, due to changing and deteriorating markets, Ross said he felt overwhelmed by the responses, which included a bump in furniture orders.
“I’ve been absolutely hammered,” he said. “I was working 14-hour days up until Christmas because we had so much to do and we still have so much to do before we close.”
Ross said he foresees carrying on an extra four to eight weeks to finish all the orders.
“In fact, people are still coming to me right now with final projects.”
Before he left his corporate job in management consulting and sales to become a partner, Ross was a customer of the business, which had made a name for itself in the 1970s through projects for the Royal Ontario Museum,. He fully took over the venture 10 years ago, where he works alongside Pauline Crespillo and Liz Ross.
“Everyone who has come to see us is grounded, relaxed, appreciative, expressive,” Ross said. “They’ve had their own dreams and we’ve shared in those dreams and it’s been a lot of fun. It’s been a great ride.”
About this article: