It started with a woodworking hobby, a side gig selling on eBay, and a single full-time customer care employee working out of a basement office in Janene and David DiSanti’s Pennsylvania home. Now, is a thriving online provider of indoor and outdoor hospitality furniture, with a large office, showroom, production facility, warehouse spaces, and more than 60 employees.
The company’s growth has been quick and impressive, and its success stems in large part from a combination of the owners’ entrepreneurial savviness and their willingness to lean on banking relationships for help and advice at critical points along the way.
From Homegrown Origins to a Nationwide Reach
When David DiSanti first began selling tools and overstock items on eBay, it was only as a creative pursuit. He and his wife Janene both had full-time careers, with David working for a furniture wholesaler and Janene in banking. But as the DiSantis continued to see success with their eBay sales, they realized the potential of exploring an ecommerce approach. They began selling bar and restaurant furniture from manufacturers and importers in the United States, before finally beginning to manufacture, import and sell their own furniture products. Now, East Coast Chair & Barstool imports and produces multiple lines of tables, chairs, barstools, restaurant booths, and other commercial furniture items that are popular with restaurants, bars, resorts, and hospitality businesses nationwide.
It has been a rapid expansion, and, while the business owners have a solid handle on the essential nature of their business, navigating the new horizons has presented a learning curve. “As our company has grown, we continue to find ourselves in new territory,” said David DiSanti. “The relationship managers we’ve worked with at PNC Bank have been good sounding boards along the way to help us identify the next best steps forward, particularly when times are challenging.”
Pandemic as a Turning Point
One such challenging moment occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, which brought major upheaval for bars, restaurants, and industry suppliers. But for East Coast Chair & Barstool, what could have been a period of downturn turned into a window of opportunity. Only a few months before the pandemic, the DiSantis had launched a second business, ECCB Outdoor, focusing on poly lumber outdoor furniture, such as patio tables and chairs. This second company proved to be a lifeline, as the product line became popular not only on the residential front, as consumers looked to upgrade their spaces while confined to their homes, but also among bars and restaurants eager to purchase outdoor furniture in order to leverage government stimulus funding.
The pandemic brought change to East Coast Chair & Barstool in other ways as well, including the need to adapt day-to-day business operations. “At the onset, when we had to shut down the office and work from home, we had to move quickly to figure out how to do administrative tasks like deposit checks and issue payments remotely,” said Janene DiSanti. “PNC was able to help us adopt new ways of doing things so that we could keep the business moving. It’s really just one example of how PNC has helped us thrive in each stage of the company’s life cycle.”
A Growing Banking Relationship
Though the DiSantis both bring distinct skill sets to their company that have driven its success, they also acknowledge that turning to banking advisors with industry expertise has played a pivotal role. Since beginning their initial banking relationship with PNC through a line of credit, to securing a mortgage for their first warehouse, to borrowing for equipment needs as the business has grown, to optimizing treasury operations, East Coast Chair & Barstool has engaged with PNC at every phase of their growth to find the right financial strategy. The consultative expertise PNC provides has also extended to helping manage their personal finances, as they are also relying on relationships with PNC Private Bank to prepare for retirement.
Where we truly find the value in our relationship with PNC is that it’s not a traditional, transactional banking relationship. From the very beginning, we’ve worked closely with people who regularly check in with us and ask questions about how things are going in the business.
— Janene DiSanti, East Coast Chair & Barstool
“Where we truly find the value in our relationship with PNC is that it’s not a traditional, transactional banking relationship,” said Janene DiSanti. “From the very beginning, we’ve worked closely with people who regularly check in with us and ask questions about how things are going in the business. They might suggest a product or service if they think it might meet a particular need, but it’s really more about keeping the lines of communication open so they can have an ear to the ground and keep us informed, based on their own knowledge of what’s going on in the industry.”
Being able to rely on that level of connection is essential for owners of medium-sized businesses looking for growth, according to Head of PNC Commercial Banking Stephanie Novosel. “Listening and proactively identifying challenges and opportunities for business owners is part of our role as financial strategists,” said Novosel. “It’s the only way, we can recommend the right solutions to meet needs and help them prepare for the next stage of their growth.”
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