Keeping in Fashion Helped Sklar Grow
The following is an article from Whitby Free Press, Wednesday, September 23, 1987.
In 1946, when the four Sklar brothers moved their furniture operation to Oshawa from Toronto, they had 10 employees. Twenty-five years later, after a merger with the well-established Peppler furniture company that was accompanied by a merger of old and new ideas, Sklar Peppler now has a total workforce of 1,400, half of them at the two. Whitby plants on Victoria St. E. and Consumer Drive. Harry, Sam and Joe Peppler started a small furniture manufacturing operation on College St. in Toronto just after World War II. They later moved to the former Williams Piano building in Oshawa where, in 1953, Lou joined his three brothers. "The company prospered," says Lou Sklar, noting how the operation expanded to include most of the Williams building as well as other buildings in the city.
"We all seemed to gain an expertise in different functions of the business so that we could complement each other effectively," he says of the brother combination. While Harry and Sam have retired, Joe is still active as senior vice president and is still known as one of Canada's leading designers of furniture. The expertise of Lou, now president and chief executive officer of Sklar Peppler, was in the manufacturing and finance aspect. The merger with Peppler, a wood furniture manufacturing company since the early 1900s, took place in 1966. Ed Peppler, a third-generation member of the Peppler family, remains as a product manager and he, too, remains a highly regarded figure in the furniture industry. In 1982, Sklar-Peppler was purchased by PCL Industries Ltd., based in Toronto. ) "We weren't burdened with some of the old-fashioned ideas about the way furniture should be designed and produced," says Lou Sklar of the company's growth over the years. "At all times were committed to high quality. Early on, we became recognized as quality leaders." He says Sklar-Peppler was also "aggressive" in the fashion aspect of the business. "This is a fashion industry," says Sklar, comparing it to a woman buying a dress in a store. "It's the same with furniture...you look for style and appearance." Sales manager Doug Dobbyn says Sklar Peppler offers a wide product range, with more than 100 different designs and 400 different fabrics for those designs.
The Whitby plants manufacture the upholstered stationery products such as sofas and chairs, The Toronto plant makes the upholstered '1/2motion" products such as recliners and sofa beds. The plant in Hanover, formerly the Peppler factory, produces the case goods such as bedroom and dining room furniture of solid wood and veneer. Sklar says the new direction" taken by the company enabled it to remain healthy in an industry susceptible to changes in the economy. We took the old-time concept of skilled craftsmen and introduced modern techniques. It gave us a leg up on the competition."
Pictured: One of the assembly lines as the Victoria st. E. main Whitby plant which manufactures the company's stationary upholstered products such as chairs and loveseats.