Skip to content

Bergamo Fabrics is now Donghia, Inc., a Personal Reflection

November 1, 2011

Just about this time of year in 1996, I was the current President of Cowtan & Tout, and a nervous candidate to become President & CEO of a much smaller company- Bergamo Fabrics, Inc, based in Long Island City, Queens. I had interviewed twice, had another interview scheduled around Thanksgiving, and was trying to do my job every day and keep my aspirational hopes for Bergamo to a minimum. I clearly saw the opportunity that existed for Bergamo, and knew I could help Rubelli SpA and Sahco GmbH achieve it if given the chance. To make a long anxious story short, I got the job in December of that year, and started in 1997.  You have all no doubt been in that spot, hoping for one job while maintaining your existing one with a smile.

The opportunity for Bergamo was three-fold. First, to combine the incredible woven textiles of Sahco and Rubelli into one company would make it easily the finest woven luxury textile company in the interiors industry. Second, it was becoming apparent ( I saw this pretty clearly from my perch at C&T/Colefax), that wovens such as these were supplanting printed fabrics as the specification of choice. Third, there was a rapid expansion of luxury hospitality construction and renovation starting, and if one had thousands of luxury woven sku’s (as Bergamo would), and more importantly could”weave them down” oneself (in Rubelli’s fabulous mill) to preserve their design integrity at a lower price, there was a niche to capture in hospitality that paired nicely with the woven niche emerging in residential. Bergamo got both of those right, I am glad to say, and from 1997 through 2007, a 10 year run, our strategy paid off. Thank you to Sahco and Rubelli, and to all of you, whoever and wherever you are if you had a hand in that success. The company became 5 times larger in 10 years, and created an 8 figure non-residential business from what had been a system wherein if Bergamo got an order larger than 100 yards it got a special red folder- and there were less than 10 red folders in 1996! In residential, the company became a major force in luxury interior design, specified by America’s best designers and used in America’s finest homes. In hospitality, Bergamo’s designs were specified into the finest hotels, casinos, ships, restaurants, embassies, you name it.

In 2005, Donghia was acquired by Rubelli, with help from Sahco and a very few other shareholders. Within two years a recession, this recession, loomed, and as of this writing that looming has become the “Stay-Cession” I referred to in an earlier post. It made sense to combine Bergamo and Donghia, and that merger occurred this year little by little, culminating in the closing of the Bergamo Fabrics New York Showroom as Bergamo and Donghia together opened their incredible new combined huge showroom on the 7th floor of the D&D Building.

I have the honor to be President of Donghia, Inc., working closely with Andrea Favaretto Rubelli, our CEO/owner. Bergamo is now in nearly every Donghia showroom as Rubelli and Sahco, and that is as it should be. All three brands (Donghia, Rubelli, & Sahco) are thriving, even amid the gloom and doom, and we have added Hinson to our family on a distribution basis. We have a lot to work on, and our business is complicated, but it is a business that can and will survive, especially with the terrific companies that we represent across this country, and our partners in other countries around the world. I am very grateful for this opportunity to help build the success that we are creating together.

However, at times I miss the purity and simplicity of Bergamo, and am glad to have been a part of it. It still resides physcially within Donghia, and spiritually in my heart and I know in the hearts of all who were involved. Bergamo was an opportunity to “do one thing well”, and I shall always be grateful that, long ago in the fall of 1996, the candidate they chose was me!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Kendra O'Neill permalink
    March 18, 2012 1:26 am

    It was a great pleasure to work for you & this amazing company, although for a short period of time. It was an honor to have played even the smallest part during this transition & I only wish I could have stayed on w/ the company much longer. You were an amazing employer & a wonderful person! Thank you for allowing me to have been part of the Donghia/Bergamo family!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: