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Beauty in metal

Savio Mendonca’s decision to introduce metal furnishings in Goa paid rich dividends for him. Today his company Metpro Industries in Pilerne manufactures custom-made products that has a wide range of applications, writes MICHAEL FISHER

Upon reaching his zenith as marine chief engineer after 14 years of sea service, Savio Mendonca gave it a thought to either migrate to a new environment or go back to his roots and set up a business in Goa. There are a lot of reasons to leave home and country behind in search of greener pastures, he says, but picking where to go can be an overwhelming decision. And at the same time there are a lot of conflicting factors such as job opportunities, salary consideration, quality of life, safety, and childcare. Savio’s decision was final – stay put in Goa.

So in 1996, he ventured into powder-coated wrought iron metal products. Savio established Metpro Industries in Pilerne Industrial Estate on a 250 sq mt factory he took on lease and pioneered the manufacture and design of metal furnishings in Goa in every form. Fastidious customers who visualised some crazy designs would approach Savio.

Sodder Leasing and Holdings, which owns a chain of hotels, was one of Savio’s first clients to furnish their rooms with metal furniture, and what followed were villas and bungalows, schools and cafeterias. Blended best with modern deco, Metpro’s range includes tables, chairs, bed frames, breakfast bars, desks, lamps and candleholders and fancy wall frames. With cheap wooden furniture losing its demand because of durability, the current fashion for metal trend leans towards stainless steel and polished iron.

His son Raoul, who overlooks the marketing aspect, says that consumers prefer metal furnishings because it is durable and designed with smooth, sculpted lines that add to a room’s architectural appeal. They also like the way it fits into a variety of decorating schemes – be it traditional, contemporary or eclectic – and it also blends well with wood and fabric. Finishes can be shiny and smooth, brushed, rough or slightly rusty and dull, for a distressed look.

The concept of metal furnishing was born when Savio visited South Africa and took note of all the metal furnishing products in hospitals to villas to hotels and public places. His interest grew in the manufacturing of ornamental metal products. These products are being manufactured with imported stainless and wrought machines.

Goa is a nascent market with huge potential for metal, steel products and its accessories, so a figure can’t be placed, but as for Metpro it is growing at 10 per cent. Starred hotels like Taj in Kerala, Marriot, among others are its clients. Even schools and canteens are approaching the company for making steel benches.

The sleek and fancy stainless steel chairs at Navtara, the popular vegetarian restaurant, are made by Metpro. Stainless steel glass rails at Margao-based Commonwealth Developers’ latest project ‘Jade Blue’ has been manufactured by Metpro. Another iconic property is ‘Sonata’ in Miramar that has Metpro’s stamp all over it. Many of Metpro’s gates are installed with remote sensors for opening and closing.

Today big houses, bungalows and villas, and even clubs and corporates want medium to large-scale kitchen ovens, two counter Bain Marie, sinks, soiled dish table with chute  and dishwashers, etc, that make a statement, and offer exotic features that blend into the sleek facades of Western-style kitchens. Clients are willing to pay the price for all this.

Bespoke commercial kitchen equipments orders started to trickle in 1997. Realising its growth potential, Savio set up a specialised manufacturing division – Sapphire commercial kitchen equipment. From 250 sq mt, he expanded the unit to 740 sq mt. A whole range of fancy looking cooking ovens, service counters and other orders poured in. Leading hotels in Goa are their major clients for commercial kitchen equipments.

“Unlike the unreliable product from Kolhapur and other places, we use the superior quality 304 grade stainless steel materials with 16 and 18 gauge for making Sapphire commercial kitchen products,” he emphasises.

People prefer traditional designs with more sophistication blending metal along with wood furniture. Raoul says solid metal furniture is more durable than furniture made from metal piping, and generally the heavier the metal, the sturdier the object, is his opinion.

“Our finished products are powder-coated at our in-house powder coating plant. We advice customers not to let an unfinished metal base come in contact with water because it will lead to rusting. Instead, clean the finished or unfinished metal with a soft, dry cloth. Occasional cleaning with a damp cloth is suitable for finished objects,” he adds.

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