Armando Barbon was born on the family vineyard in Treviso, Italy. After starting a successful plumbing business in the town of Spresiano, he had the opportunity to emigrate from Italy to Canada. At the age of 27 he arrived in Victoria, B.C. His wife and two small children followed 5 months later.

He worked hard in many trades, studied English, and finally achieved his electrician's certificate. In order to get ahead, a few years later, his wife Yole began to work at North Douglas Delicatessen. When the business came up for sale the family decided to take a huge leap and traded their modest home for the Deli.

After years of struggling to keep the Deli afloat, Armando realized there was a market need for a gourmet wholesaler (a few local restaurateurs came to the Deli in search of specialty items). He decided to focus all his energy on this idea and the rest is history. North Douglas Distributors grew to a large, successful company with 250 employees. After more than 28 years in the business, Armando decided he "didn't want to die in the office". The company was sold in the year 2000 to Sysco Food Services of Houston, Texas.

During a trip to Italy where he had set out to study voice, Armando had a fateful experience. He couldn't take his lessons due to a throat problem and found himself wandering around Florence. The sculptures intrigued him and an old dream resurfaced...could he create? He went straight to the Academy of Art in Florence and met the resident sculptor and professor, Romano Lucacchini. Although the professor had never taken on a private student, Armando convinced him to take him on. Aside from sleeping and eating, Armando devoted himself to his studies for several months. After that, he was hooked.

He returned 4 times to Pietrasanta, the world center of sculpture, to study and work with various artists. However, being away from the family for months at a time was very difficult. Armando thus began his studio back in Victoria. Studio 37 is now well equipped to proceed with his creations both in bronze and marble. Expert "Artists in residence" visit his studio to help create Armando's visions. Gabriele Vicari is one such Maestro with whom he currently collaborates.

Armando's other interests include wine making, travel, poetry, singing and "grand-fathering". His passion for life and the arts has inspired living legacies, not only through his sculptures, but also through his generous support of the Victoria Conservatory of Music, the Pacific Opera, the Victoria Symphony and the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.

"Like the wave shows the strength of the wind, business success shows the strength of the entrepreneur." - Armando Barbon