By Robert Nieminen | Photography courtesy of ISA International
If you’re looking for “typical” when it comes to furniture, ISA International probably isn’t the right fit. But if inspired design solutions, functionality, quality crafts- manship, and value appeal to you, then you’ve come to
the right place.
“My model is very simple—just introduce a constant flow
of relevant design,” said Kevin Sandler, president of ISA and
son of founder Art Sandler. Often working in partnership with
some of the top architects and designers in North America,
Sandler said the company is constantly being challenged to
bring innovative and intelligent solutions to the table, which is
in part how ISA has stayed in business for the past 40 years.
The family owned and operated company has evolved
from a tiny Toronto-based furniture supplier into a multimillion dollar global operation across multiple locations.
“The beginning of the company was very modest, to say
the least,” Sandler recalled. “It was basically [my father], our
kitchen table at our house, and his car.”
In the early days, Sandler said, his father aligned himself
with outside sources, such as upholsterers, finishers, and
distributors until the company grew large enough to bring
those services in-house. However, ISA’s growth didn’t really
take off until the mid-1990s after breaking into the U.S. market,
which today accounts for 65 percent of the company’s sales,
according to Sandler.
While the company has grown and changed over the
past four decades (as the timeline below illustrates), what
remains the same is ISA’s commitment to family, to its
customers, to the environment, and to constant improvement
by looking to the future.
ISA is officially incorporated. Art Sandler
runs ISA from his household kitchen table
and car. All work is subcontracted out.
Sandler is responsible for servicing all
customers and suppliers.
First showroom located in
basement of industrial unit
ISA relocates to 6,000-square-foot
showroom and plant located in Toronto.
The company orders its first container
of chairs from Italy. Sales are primarily
in Toronto, and goods shipped outside
Ontario are largely for locally based
companies with locations abroad.
ISA hires its first