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Amachris Corporation: a leap of faith

Posted on Wednesday September 05, 2018

Franco Pignotti, Founder, Owner and Managing Director of Amachris Corporation works with leading North American clients to build custom retail interiors across Canada. His roster of clients includes Sephora International, Saks Fifth Avenue, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and many more. Pignotti’s office space at 110 Parr Blvd. in Bolton is where the ideas take shape and sketches become structures. 

We chatted with Franco, his wife Rosa (Business Manager) and son Christian Pignotti (Project Manager) to learn more about their work, experiences and vision for Amachris:

How did you start Amachris Corporation?

I started Amachris Corporation in 2004 as a custom interior contracting company. The idea materialized out of a discussion with my wife Rosa who suggested I start my own business.

The precursor to starting a business was my involvement with retail store fixture and construction companies. I graduated from Ryerson University where I had studied Architecture. Right after school I started working as a junior designer and later I worked as a Vice President of Business Development Canada/ International at Ontario Store Fixtures. At idX Corporation in Vaughan, I was exposed to business right from ground level, as a Project Manager and Vice President of Client Services.

The initial stages of starting a business were difficult, but the outcome of that conversation with Rosa was that if I don’t do it now I won’t do it ever. It was a leap of faith and encouragement.

Are the majority of your clients from Canada or do you work with international retailers too?

Majority of clients are American based retailers. The reason is that a strong contingent of American retailers builds stores in Canada, coast to coast. Building retail spaces was a natural progression for me because I had a number of acquaintances from across the border and that helped me navigate my way.

It must be difficult to pick a favourite but is there a particular design you are proud of?

That is a difficult question! But I would say there are two: a Canadian based retailer called Urban Barn and Sephora International. We are very proud of Urban Barn because we have been involved with the design iterations for 13 years. Today, when I walk into an Urban Barn store I look at it as partially mine [laughs].

In 2016 Sephora came to us with the goal to build seven flagship stores at the same time, within a six-month period. They called it the Toronto Takeover. We gave them a half-day presentation and the next day we were awarded the entire program. I am very proud of Sephora retail spaces because we are their exclusive builders in Canada.

Do you have creative freedom when you work with retailers?

It depends, for example, with Sephora, we have no creative freedom because we are general contractors and project managers. They work with external design teams but look to us for the execution of the entire build-out process. And then there are clients who give us complete creative freedom. With Canadian retailers we tend to have more of a design impact.

Why did you choose Caledon as a place to establish your business?

When we were looking for a place I wanted it to have the ‘right feel’. And I have always loved the small-town feel. I also like that when we commute we are driving away from traffic. As owner occupiers, we wanted to build a beautiful building, not just for investment; we wanted to build something special. In many ways, it was a great decision to create an office space in Caledon.

What are your future plans and vision for Amachris?

Amachris is unique in the market because we are still a small company with a great amount of experience with retailers. My goal is to build the business up, bring in more North American businesses and expand in Canada. In terms of physical expansion, we aim to grow to 15 to 20 employees that will help us reach our sales target.

As a custom retail build specialist, my vision is to have a great company that continues to have business associations with the best retailers in the world such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Abercrombie and Fitch and Saks Fifth Avenue. 

If you work in a great environment and share the philosophy [of your clients], it shows. The final outcome is to have a medium-sized company that’s regarded as a leader in the industry. 


Amachris Corporation works with leading North American clients to build custom retail interiors across Canada. Their offices are located at 110 Parr Blvd., Bolton.

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