Avanti Furniture celebrates 56 years of business
In the world of high-end interior design, Farmingdale doesn’t exactly jump out as a place where you would expect to find a business that caters to this particular industry. But that’s exactly the case with Avanti Furniture, a community mainstay that is celebrating its 56th year. Founded by late patriarch Frank Bagnasco, who moved his wife and five children out to Long Island from Valentine Avenue in the Bronx, the family-run bespoke furniture business is currently run by his sons, brothers Kevin and Thomas.
Ever since the elder Bagnasco, a descendant of a long line of furniture craftsmen and designers, rented the original building on 497 Main St. as a showroom/workshop in 1965 and later bought the building, Avanti has planed deep roots in Farmingdale.
“We’ve done a lot of work in Farmingdale, which is our home,” Kevin Bagnasco said. “Our company and family has been involved in the community. My brother has coached baseball, lacrosse and football. Both his kids grew up and went to Farmingdale High School. I’ve been involved with civic organizations like Rotary and the Chamber of Commerce. When the clock was dedicated across from Moby Drugs, I was involved with its dedication. So we have a civic presence as well.”
As one of Long Island’s only soup-to-nuts furniture manufacturers that does finishing, upholstering and woodworking on site, Avanti Furniture Corp. works with numerous wholesalers, designers and architects. Luxury hotels make up a considerable portion of the Avanti customer base and recent New York City-based projects include manufacturing 550 chairs for the Waldorf Astoria, doing woodwork for the new Grand Hyatt at 157 57th St. and creating banquettes for the Carnegie Hall cafeteria. It’s a long way from when Bagnasco’s father, a descendant of a long line of furniture craftsmen and designers, returned from a family Christmas vacation to find he’d been forced out as a partner in his former Bronx business, Customized Décor. Reeling from that unexpected setback, Frank Bagnasco took a huge leap of faith and moved out to the suburbs.
“My father getting squeezed out was the best thing that happened,” Kevin Bagnasco said. “He put a deposit on this building with an option to buy and always said he started with a roll of cotton and one chair to work on in the back of the building. There were times that were so tough that he pawned my mother’s engagement ring and borrowed money from his mother-in-law to start the business. My father was a hustler and salesperson who wound up getting a lot of the craftsmen that were working at Customized Décor to go with him. He set up beautiful vignettes and he was working with great designers.”
According to Bagnasco, his father “…had that nice Italian dream to have all his kids work in the family business—for better or worse,” he said with laugh. The late patriarch’s wish came true as all five of his children put in time at Avanti Furniture at some point. Son Kevin, for one, would go on the road selling, trying to drum up business on a wholesale basis in Ohio and Florida during summer break from earning his CPA degree at Boston College. By 1982, he was working in the family business full-time. With fortunes ebbing and flowing over the decades, among the out-of-state ventures Avanti became involved with was opening a showroom in Dallas after sister Clarice moved to Texas and buying up the inventory from a prominent furniture company that was going out of business in High Point, NC and setting up a showroom in the Tar Heel State for about eight years.
Through it all, Avanti maintained its Farmingdale home base, expanding enough to purchase a 5,000-square foot warehouse at 130 Verdi St. The company’s reputation for the quality and uniqueness of its custom furniture led to a client base that included Aretha Franklin, Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Governor Bill Clinton and two Bahranian princes. For Bagnasco, his company’s devotion to quality and a penchant to not make just one sale, but instead land a customer for life, has been key to Avanti’s longevity and success.
“Detail is important to us and we will not sacrifice dollars for quality,” Kevin Bagnasco said. “We’ve always been fair with customers, both on sale price and delivery. We put a lot more into our product than other people do. There are upholsters out there who won’t even strip a chair and will just go right over the fabric. We stand behind our work and while we haven’t been overly financially successful at this, we’ve made some beautiful products over the years. We’ve made 25-foot dining room tables, gorgeous armoires, hand-carved pieces from scratch and replicated many types of pieces for a very discerning clientele.”
Bagnasco’s parents have both passed, his father in 1997 and mother in 2018. When sister Clarice passed away last July, the company decided to sell the Main Street property and move to its Verdi Street warehouse, which added a mini showroom to the workshop/storage functionality of the building. Inventory is being sold off with the March 31 move-out date rapidly approaching. Excited about this latest chapter for Avanti Furniture, Bagnasco lights up discussing his love for the industry his family has made their name in.
“Having people satisfied is something I enjoy,” he said. “We are creating environments so when you walk through your home, you want to feel good about it. You want to feel like you’ve got beautiful surroundings and you’re comfortable. You are creating somebody’s environment and it can make them really happy to really enjoy where they live, so that’s what we try and do.”
For more information about Avanti Furniture, call 516-293-8220, or go to @avantifurniturecorp to visit their Instagram and Facebook pages.