29 Feb Abrillo Furniture – Cagayan de Oro and Northern Mindanao’s Premier Wood Furniture Manufacturer for Uncompromising Top Quality
Abrillo Furniture is a family furniture industry business that has become fairly popular not only in Cagayan de Oro City but throughout Northern Mindanao. They have even expanded to Cebu and Davao. They are the now at the forefront of the wood furniture industry in the region while introducing newer designs and concepts in furniture yet unheard of in Cagayan de Oro. However, the struggle to become a premier furniture business was not easy.
How It Started
Long before the Abrillo family had even touched furniture wood and a hammer, the family business was the Bricktown Boutique in Divisoria at the corner of Gomez and Tiano Brothers Streets. When the malls started coming to Cagayan de Oro, they rode the band wagon and set up Toby’s Sports and ACA Video Rentals. However, with the rise of modern technology, a lot of businesses headed to decline; Divisoria no longer became the center of CDO and VHS/CD/VCD rentals was overtaken by the DVD/Blu Ray and internet downloads.
While the family was in a struggling and trying period with their businesses, they accidentally stumbled onto the furniture business. One day, their father got hold of a lot of free lumber from a friend, so he decided to have a center table made from a carpenter acquaintance of his.
During a get-together party at their home, relatives and friends were amazed by the center table and asked where they could have the same design made or where they could order it. From that day on, the father decided to dabble into the family business, in spite of the fact that there was no carpenter or furniture designer in the family. They even decided to hit the upper class echelon market because they wanted to create really high quality furniture.
With the remaining pieces of lumber, as well as purchasing new lumber, and after hiring a couple of carpenters and finishers, the furniture business began in the Abrillo home. Due to certain circumstances, the family decided to move the furniture manufacturing area to an area along the Fr. Masterson Highway near the Chinese cemetery. Naturally, at first, since nobody knew about Abrillo Furniture, they had a hard time marketing their furniture and their name. Their Bricktown store in Divisoria was slowly transformed from the original boutique to a furniture and décor showcase.
Slowly, but surely, the business picked up, with several combinations of choosing the right carpenters and finishers, talking and marketing the right people so word of mouth can spread, and taking advantage of mall exhibits. Again, slowly, the big breaks began to arrive, and the Abrillo’s began to earn the trust of many Kagay-anons in the furniture industry. All of this started in 2007. Nine years later and with more than 30 employees, the furniture business is certainly looking up for the Abrillo family.
Their Furniture Truly Stands Out from the Rest
Unlike other furniture makers, all locally made furniture from Abrillo’s goes through a long process for a near-perfection finish. It all starts when they purchase the lumber; all their wood has to go through a special process of kiln drying for about a month, using a specially made “oven” designed only for this purpose. The finished wood is then used by the carpenters to create the roughly finished furniture piece. The finishing process then usually takes longer than the carpentry stage, going through several stages before the final finished product emerges.
Abrillo Furniture can safely claim that they started the “minimalist” furniture design trend in Cagayan de Oro, at a time when Kagay-anons were still buying furniture designs that were already 20 years outdated.
The family came upon the “minimalist” furniture trend when it was still starting to make and international market by buying and browsing through numerous international furniture magazines.
When we say “minimalist”, it means simple/no carvings and was mixed up with flat finish.
No single piece of furniture from Abrillo’s will compromise quality, and the family never bows down to making cheap and rough finish furniture for mass distribution because they believe to sticking to their niche market. They only use two types of wood, Mahogany and Teak, all locally grown and purchased.
They forego Gmelina because this type of wood is commonly used for cheap furniture. The family believes that it is the quality that carried their business forward so quality will never be compromised.
Just last year, the family decided to import teak furniture from Bali, Indonesia so that there would be a wider array of choices aside from the locally made minimalist furniture designs.
Another factor that makes them stand out from the others is that they accommodate custom-made wood furniture based on the customer’s design and specifications. Abrillo is the only furniture manufacturer in the city with an “after service” factor. Since all their furniture carries a one-year warranty for retouching, repairing, or replacing, this is another factor that makes them stand out from the rest.
Although their main thrust is still towards the upper class residential furniture niche, they are slowly sending feelers to establishments, especially those that ask for furniture quotations. They usually offer discounts if an establishment purchases a set number of pieces. Just to mention a few, they have supplied furniture for La Tegola, Ribs and Bibs, Buffalo Grill, and Uncle Daddy’s Bar ‘N Grill.
Today, Abrillo Furniture retains its first branch at Divisoria, at the corner of Gomez and Tiano Brothers Streets, as well as having a showcase branch at the SM City Mall, and recently expanding to SM City Cebu and Ecoland in Davao.
Abrillo Furniture is a corporation owned by Mr. Henry A. Abrillo, his wife – Ms. Cynthia Neri Abrillo and their sons, Mr. Marco Angelo Neri Abrillo, Mr. Nicolo Neri Abrillo and Mr. Andro Neri Abrillo.
Marco Angelo N. Abrillo first went to Silliman University but moved to Xavier University and took up Business Management. He does make a safe claim that what endeared him to the furniture business was his being a “natural deviant” by character. Also, in any unique business, experience is a better teacher rather than what you have learned in college.
According to Marco, he and his family observed that the furniture industry in Northern Mindanao is one of the most underdeveloped, most people opting to either buy the cheap wood and rough finish or glossy and outdated furniture made by small local manufacturers or from furniture distributors from Manila. Their furniture business is thus, out to prove that Kagay-anons have the ability to take furniture to a whole new level than what people are used to.
Marco also complains about the misconception of “cutting down trees is bad” that often labels loggers and furniture makers as bad. In actual fact, all over the Philippines, the cutting down of trees is a natural process especially for the “lumads” living in mountainous areas because this is a natural livelihood for them; trees are planted so they can be “harvested” some 20 or 30 years later. The loggers come in to cut the trees and pay for the trees. After cutting, the natural process is repeated again by planting new trees.
When government steps in to prevent the cutting of trees, the “lumads” lose their livelihood and resort to kaingin farming instead, which is more destructive. Another problem is when legal and licensed loggers cut down large trees to manufacture as lumber to sell, the real problem is when kaingin farmers take over the logging areas and burn out the remains of the land in order to plant crops. Kaingin farming destroys the seeds and small trees that would have grown years later into full-sized trees.
Pictures from Abrillo Furniture Finishing Area
Team Acadeo was given the privilege to visit Abrillo’s furniture’s finishing and display area near the Chinese cemetery. Here’s a glimpse of what you can see there. Currently, Abrillo has around 50-60 employees in all branches including carpenters and finishers.
Last year the owners decided to test the waters of Ayala Centrio Mall by setting up a temporary 2-month display stall on the ground floor near the BPI mall branch. In the near future Abrillo Furniture might put up a permanent branch at the mall.
For the present, the family is not yet dabbling into exporting their furniture. For now, they want to focus on being a top quality furniture manufacturer in the region. They are looking into newer furniture designs not yet seen in Cagayan de Oro, as well as looking into expanding their carpentry and finishing factories. They are also looking into the possibility of putting up a teak furniture factory in partnership with an Indonesian company. This alone will show us that Abrillo Furniture truly has an eye for only top quality and uncompromising wood furniture.