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Mission Bell specializes in high-end, custom millworking

Company produces quality furniture for companies such as Google, Facebook, Apple and LinkedIn

Published in the Sept. 3- 16, 2014 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By Robert Airoldi

Fifty-five years ago, Mark Scianna’s dad was working for a millworking company when it went out of business. So, he and a few friends started the Morgan Hill Millwork company. Today, that company produces high-end furniture and cabinets for billion-dollar companies.

Business profile:  Mission Bell

Business profile:
Mission Bell

Mission Bell specializes in quality architectural woodwork, millwork and custom casework for Silicon Valley companies such as Google, Apple, Facebook and LinkedIn. Everything they build is custom-designed and custom-made.

“It’s whatever an architect can dream of we fulfill those dreams, that’s what makes it exciting, it’s never the same thing,” said Mark Scianna, whose father Leonard Scianna along with his wife Marjorie and two other business partners started the company in 1959. ”Each architect wants his idea to be unique. It makes for an interesting workplace.”

Many of these items combine unique materials and require exacting standards. Large lobby features in office buildings are often unique and challenging due to their size and placement.

The Mission Bell workplace consists of about 190 employees who own 49 percent of the company, which strives to one day make it a 100 percent employee-owned company, according to Scianna.

“We would like this entity to continue on and so starting the employee stock ownership plan and giving it back to the employees who built it into what it is today and carry it on into the future was very appealing,” Scianna said.

When they needed to expand, they moved to a site in Santa Clara but grew out of that location and moved back to Morgan Hill where there were more opportunities for growth with number of buildings that suited their needs.

They worked closely with city hall and found it to be responsive and helpful, CEO and President Glenn Ripley said.

“The community is small enough that they can get to know us and come out and understand our line of work and our business,” he said. “They were motivated to work with us to help us solve our business problems and meet our business needs.”

And after moving here they quickly found out Morgan Hill is a community that allows them to service their market in the Bay Area and throughout Northern California and “yet provide a lifestyle to our employees that appeals to them and maintain a work force that we want to have,” Ripley said. “Morgan Hill is a great place to live and work. You don’t have to worry about the kinds of commutes that many folks face. It provides the type of environment conducive to our business.”

And that $40 million business has access to its market and its commercial clients throughout the Bay Area.

“Morgan Hill is positioned well to serve that market and at the same time it provides our employees access to affordable housing and the quality of life and lifestyle that appeals to many of our employees,” Ripley said.

And many of those employees – and the company itself – give back to the community. They are involved with local churches, the Boy Scouts, local schools, and they encourage their employees to become involved.

“One of our corporate values is contribution,” Ripley said. “We encourage our employees to be involved not only in life of the business but the life of the community.”

The nature of the work keeps the workforce motivated and excited, he said.

“We produce a product you can touch and see with some pretty high-tech automated machines and somehow it all blends together that I think employees can related to,” he said. And those employee are compensated well. The company pays union wages in and out of shop, so it needs to stay a step ahead of the competition, most of whom are out of state.

“In order to be competitive we need to be more efficient than the competition,” Scianna said.

That need to work together as a team keeps everyone working toward the same goal.

“Whether we’re related by blood or not, each member of our team is an important part of the Mission Bell family,” Ripley said.