Stand Your Ground

Meet the minds behind Allan Rug Company, the 61-year-old Toronto institution.

There’s something endearing about a family-run business that’s lasted beyond a generation—it’s an impressive entrepreneurial feat, there’s no doubt about that, but it also shows the strength of family bonds and the importance of a loyal clientele.

Eli Montekio started the Allan Rug Company 61 years ago; it was 1958. He worked for a good 30 years, building his flooring empire, before handing the reins over to his sons, Alan and Robert Montekio, the president and co-director, respectively. Starting as a supply-and-install company, back in the early 1960s it was just Eli and an installer who kept the store afloat, offering clients top-notch customer service and durable, stylish products. Eli grew the business by word of mouth—referrals and repeat customers became the company’s bread and butter, and he enthusiastically sold beautiful wall-to-wall broadloom to his patrons. “We have shoppers today who are the children and grandchildren of my father’s customers. We’ve serviced three generations of families. It’s common for customers to
come in and say our father sold carpet to their parents,” says Alan. “We’ve had families stick with us for more than 60 years.”

Yesterday’s Allan Rug Co. was about supplying wall-to-wall carpeting, but the offerings soon grew to gorgeous area rugs—everything from hand-knotted vintage Persians to super-modern pieces with a plethora of texture and colour. The business, in the Castlefield
Design District, still caters to clients who want broadloom (wool and sisal are popular these days), but they also offer an impressive collection of custom rugs, shags, animal hides, hardwood (wide planks in natural and bleached colours are in demand) and vinyl.

What’s truly inspiring, though, is that the company is still very much run in the same style Eli ran it. “It’s 60 years later but we have great customer service. We also have a wonderful selection, but it’s really the service that keeps our clients coming back.” After six decades in the carpet business, the Montekios are looking to the next generation of their family, wondering if they’ll get to pass the torch. “My son is 18 and in business school,
and he’s still undecided as to whether he’d like to join the company,” says Alan. “That said, both mine and my brother’s kids come in during the summers and work. It’s a real family atmosphere.”

As for the older generation, Eli is now 94 and he’s still in the rug game. That is, he’s a frequent visitor to Allan Rug Co. “He usually comes into the store two or three times a week and chats with customers,” Alan says. “It’s always great to have him here.”