It was 2018 and Susan Pilato’s firm PC&A Business Environments was hit with a challenge when the company that manufactured its solid wood desks and case goods suddenly went out of business.
“We knew we had to fill that void,” said Pilato. The Virginia-based firm already had contacts within the Amish artisan community so when disaster hit, “Thankfully we had a great relationship with our Mennonite friends and their Amish workshops to create our next venture called, Mantra Inspired Furniture. We immediately were able to replace the same quality of furniture that our client had enjoyed, and we began to create our own designs.”
The company’s name is inspired by mantras that Pilato’s late father, John Clayborne Compton, Jr., passed down to her: 1) Do it now. 2) Be cheerful and optimistic. 3) Say something nice to everyone you meet. 4) Enthusiasm. 5) Organization and appearance. 6) Moderation. 7) Drive carefully. 8) Keep on trying. “My father gave the best advice through the meaning of his codes, which to me is summed by living your life by principles you believe in and hold to them. This belief has allowed me the courage needed to make the tough decisions to always go high even when others are reaching for the low.”
Mantra IF has achieved much in just a short time, including winning at its first show the Best of NeoCon Gold award for the Ellis Collection, and this year earning the Best of NeoCon Award for Sustainability. Mantra IF is becoming renowned for showcasing American-sourced and made sustainable furniture, including its latest products, EarthPly, a tabletop alternative to laminate, as well as a height-adjustable table option.
“With education and marketing, our goal is to bring our message of American-made products with a mission of true sustainability to as many architects and designers as possible in the next months ahead. This will then educate end users to make their best decisions for their facilities,” she noted.
The company and Pilato also have been recognized for charitable endeavors. “We believe it is imperative to serve the community that we live in, and we stand by that in the non-profit involvement through serving on the board of Envision Lead Grow, The Vine Experience Podcast, working with a local violence interrupter to create a board for his organization called Give Back 2 Da Block, and several other community organizations.”
Away from work, Pilato enjoys being with friends and family, and the outdoors, “water sports or snowboarding especially — but just hanging out with loved ones fills the soul always. Also, I love rocking in a chair outside reading a good book.”
- Education: BS Interior Design, Virginia Tech
- Number of years at the company: 32
- Number of years in the industry: 36
- Word that best describes you: Driven
- Business mantra: Mantra Inspired Furniture is named for a mantra passed down to me by my father: 1) Do it now. 2) Be cheerful and optimistic. 3) Say something nice to everyone you meet. 4) Enthusiasm. 5) Organization and appearance. 6) Moderation. 7) Drive carefully. 8) Keep on trying.
- Best advice: My father gave the best advice through the meaning of his codes, which to me is summed by living your life by principles you believe in and hold to them.
- Who have you tried to emulate: My father. He taught me that beyond anything else in life your strength in principle will guide you towards living a balanced life.
About the Wood Industry Market Leaders: This marks the 15th year Woodworking Network has paid tribute to outstanding men and women that have made an impact, not only at their companies, but within the various wood products industries. Since 2009, 100 industry professionals have shared their influencers, insights and strategies. Read more about the 2023 Market Leaders and past honorees at WoodworkingNetwork.com/Market-Leaders.
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