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A "Thumbnail" History


therien & co Inc


therien & co

The firm's origins go back to the late fifties when Walter Zolezzi, a native San Franciscan and president of O'brien, Spotorno, Mitchell, a successful wholesale poultry products supplier, established J.F. Howland Associates, Ltd. Named after his interior designer at that time and under his direction, the company established premises on Montgomery Street in Jackson square to retail decorative accessories, antiques and fine arts.



In 1974, Bob Garcia, also a native San Franciscan, joined the firm as a designer/salesperson after returning from New York where he had spent two years working for Mark Hampton at McMillen, Inc. Also working at Howland's at that time was Bruce Tremayne. A California native from Los Angeles, Bruce executed custom furniture under the direction of Jack Howland for use in his design commissions.

20th century

In 1979 Jack Howland retired and Walter Zolezzi having sold his company to Del Monte Foods decided to close the firm and allow Del Monte employees to purchase the inventory at cost. Before doing so however, he offered the company to Howland employees on the same terms...at cost. Along with Bob Garcia, another designer formerly of Gump's and then also at Howland's decided to purchase the company along with two owners of a company related to the design industry. They decided on a name which would not directly reflect any of the four proposed partners and which was the middle name of one of them....Therien. At the very last minute, the two outside participants chose not to pursue negotiations leaving Garcia and his partner to conclude the purchase on their own.



The company struggled and slowly developed a reputation for design and stylish merchandise within the same basic marketing format as Howland's. An additional gallery was opened in the Union Square shopping district of San Francisco catering to the visiting as well as local clientele.

Studio workshop custom furniture

As the Montgomery Street gallery was in the center of the decorative supply area of San Francisco with the Ice House wholesale showrooms in walking distance, Therien & Co. relied increasingly on the design trade for their business. When the Design Center Galleria was developed south of Market and accessibility to Jackson Square increasingly difficult to rationalize, a move of the galleries was made to Vermont Street in the new design district of San Francisco. At the time of the move, Bruce Tremayne, who had left to pursue travel related positions previous to the sale of Howland's, happened in on a visit to San Francisco and re-joined the firm. Although not financially involved with the new company, shortly after selling Howland Associates, Walter Zolezzi became a design client of Therien & Co. with commissions for the interiors of his boat and apartment in San Francisco. Always interested in design and fascinated by the antique furniture business, Walter re-joined the company when Bob's then partner wanted to practice interior design exclusively without the retailing obligations and decided to leave.



Walter purchased his shares in the company thus becoming a principal. Shortly thereafter, Bruce Tremayne became the third partner. In the mid 80's Philip Stites, a recent graduate from Kansas and focused on the decorative arts, joined the firm in sales at the Vermont Street galleries and two years later after closing the Sutter Street/Union Square galleries, he moved to Los Angeles to open the Los Angeles antiques gallery on La Cienega Boulevard.

classic furniture

Within a couple of years, Philip completed the present structure of the company by becoming the fourth and final partner. Under his management, the premises were enlarged several times to include showroom space for the custom furniture division, Studio Workshops Along with the establishment of the Los Angeles showroom, the manufacturing of Studio Workshops products as well as administration was shifted to Southern California to take advantage of the local workforce of skilled craftsmen and industry infrastructure. The growth in sales of Studio was a direct result of establishing Studio Workshops' own freestanding showrooms in both California cities as well as national distribution in multi-line showrooms. At the turn of the 21st century, the interior design field changed drastically due to a shift in taste from elaborate period style interiors to a more modern simplified approach. In keeping with this, Therien & Co. introduced 20th century classic furniture into the mix of period antiques and has thus kept pace with the dynamic world of design.

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