The Darafeev Tradition Timeline

 

1938

9

Mikhail Ivanovich Darafeev was born in 1928 in Russia. His parents were Ivan and Maria. He had 3 sisters, Vera, Luba and Nadia. His father Ivan was of Cossack descent. They settled in Persia (Iran) in a small village near the Turkish border. Mikhail became a blacksmith at a young age.

His father Ivan suffered from poor health so it was at a very early age that Mikhail took on the responsibility of supporting his family.

1950

9

In 1950, Mikhail and his family were granted permission to come to America. They went to France and then by way of ship, arrived in New York City. It was through Ellis Island that Mikhail and his family began their journey that would land them in Southern California. It would be the Los Angeles area that would become their home.

1952

9

Mikhail would visit San Francisco where there were large numbers of Russian immigrants arriving there from the Philippine Islands and from South America.

There he met Antonina Pustobaeff and in 1952, they got married. They bought a home and settled in East Los Angeles. Mikhail and Antonina had their first son, George who was born in 1953. Their second son Paul would be born 18 months later.

1955

9

Mikhail began building rattan furniture out of his garage with a partner, another Russian immigrant for a couple of years. They had a “parting of the ways”. Mikhail landed a job at Atlantic Quality Furniture, a Los Angeles based manufacturer. He did maintenance work. Basically, he started with a broom.

He observed all aspects of production. His constant curiosity and interest that he showed soon got him operating the equipment. The speed, at which he picked up on whatever he touched, eventually elevated him to Foreman. He ran the entire woodworking shop.

Mikhail now had 3 children, George, Paul, and Kathryn.

1959

9

Unable to speak much English, the young immigrant borrowed $500 to start a chair frame company. In 1959, the same year his son Michael was born, he launched Mikhail Darafeev Company.

He received his first order of 50 chairs from a manufacturer who recognized Mikhail’s unique abilities and ambitions. His entire staff consisted of himself and a few relatives.

Mikhail’s reputation of emphasis on quality, integrity and craftsmanship began to spread along with his customer base.

1960

9

In 1960 Mikhail relocated his company to a larger facility in Montebello, California. His fast growing customer base and their demand for his high quality product forced him to begin to purchase additional equipment and to hire many more workers.

An influx of recent Russian immigrants from Argentina provided him with an exceptional quality work force.

1964

9

By 1964 Mikhail Darafeev Company was producing high quality hardwood frames and exposed wood components for virtually every major furniture manufacturer in Southern California. His largest customer was Beelner & Thomas, a major manufacturer of office and contract furniture.

He moved his company into the same large facility that Beelner & Thomas occupied. He was producing large quantities of product on a daily basis in fulfilling both commercial and government contract orders.

1969

9

In 1969 Darafeev purchased a piece of property in Baldwin Park, California and erected a facility that would allow for the growth that he would require. He purchased all “state of the art” equipment and began to take on other large residential furniture manufacturers such as General Furniture Corporation.

His Customer Resume soon included companies like Benedetti, Sheffield Chair, Milwaukee Chair, Flintridge Furniture, Birchcraft Furniture, Fairchild of California and Crown City Furniture.

With a growing family and sons that would soon begin to participate in the business, Mikhail was realizing the “American Dream”.

1970

9

By 1972 Mikhail was well established as the premier manufacturer and supplier of hardwood frames and exposed chairs and wood components to the industry. His customers referred to him as a “Gentleman of the old school”.

His sons George and Paul began to work in the factory on weekends at an early age. As they became teenagers, their mom would take them to work each day after school. They began to learn all aspects of “hands on” manufacturing, which would soon serve them well and would desperately be needed.

1973

9

Then tragedy struck. Mikhail was taken ill with stomach cancer that had been misdiagnosed and after a 1 year battle passed away in May, 1973. He was 45 years old. George was 19 years old and Paul had just graduated High School. They would now have to step in and run the family business, with no idea what awaited them and the struggles they and their family would face in 1974 and 1975.

1974

9

As 1974 came around, the economy took a down turn. An Arab oil embargo and other economic failures would cause America to fall into a recession. Many of Darafeev’s long time customers began to fail and many were forced to buy cheaper product from Mexico in order to save money during this period. Some even resorted to setting up their own “in house” woodworking operations in hopes of weathering the economic storm.
Darafeev now had no control over its destiny since it did not have a “proprietary product. That would soon begin to change with hard work and sacrifice. The company would begin to develop its new identity in a niche market that would establish it for decades to come.

1979

9

During the late 1970’s the company got away from supplying product for other companies. Instead, they began to develop their own proprietary products. Initially, this consisted of producing high quality occasional tables and wall systems.

Along the way, a single barstool was designed that was unintended for production. Its unique design and features prompted us to apply for and to be granted a design patent. This single item was to become the most sought after game room product in the world and would soon spawn an entire collection of game room related products.

Other related products were to soon follow such as poker tables, combination game tables, poker chairs, club chairs, bridge tables and bars.

Darafeev would soon discontinue most of its products and concentrate on high end game room products exclusively.

1982

9

By the early 1980’s the company had set up permanent furniture showrooms in San Francisco and in High Point, North Carolina. The category caught on and did well, but it was in 1984 that Darafeev decided to attend its first billiard trade show. It attended the 2nd annual BCA (Billiard Congress of America) trade show in Fort Worth, Texas.

The company soon established itself as a primary supplier of luxury products to the billiard industry. Darafeev supported many of the industry sports venues along with player sponsorships.

1996

9

By 1996 the company could no longer keep up with the demand for its product and needed additional manufacturing capability. It purchased a 100,000 square foot facility in Chino, CA. The Baldwin Park facility would become the wood working facility while all of the upholstery, finishing and distribution would be done out of the Chino Facility. It would also serve as the corporate headquarters.

The Facility is a “state of the art” factory that is fully automated. It was designed to produce highly customized product efficiently, while ensuring the highest standard of quality. It is equipped with the latest environmental control technology ensuring the protection of the environment while producing the finest finish possible.

George and Paul along with other family members, continue the tradition that their dad had started. With its increased capabilities Darafeev has begun diversifying its business into the commercial and contract sector.