The Darafeev Tradition Timeline
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.
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.
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 February of 1953, 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 December of 1953. Their second son Paul would be born 15 months later.
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. Before long he was running the entire woodworking shop.
Mikhail now had 3 children, George, Paul, and Katherine.
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.
An influx of recent Russian immigrants from Argentina provided him with an exceptional quality work force.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
By the early 1980s, the company had set up permanent furniture showrooms in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Atlanta, High Point, NC, and Troy, MI. The category caught on with retailers and designers and sales of the DARAFEEV brand grew across the US.
In 1982, DARAFEEV attended the 2nd annual BCA (Billiard Congress of America) trade show in Fort Worth, TX. The company quickly established itself as a primary supplier of luxury products to the billiard industry, and supported many sports venues, and sponsored pro players.
George and Paul along with other family members continued the tradition that their dad had started, but by 1996 the company could no longer keep up with the demand for its products and needed additional manufacturing capability. Supplementary space had to be leased in a nearby warehouse to accommodate the swelling production. Then, in 1998 Darafeev saw big changes with the expansion of much of its operations into a new building in Chino. While the woodworking operations remained in Baldwin Park, where they continued to produce the frames, all of the upholstery, finishing, and distribution, as well as the corporate headquarters, moved into the new much larger facility that they are still occupying today. With 80,000 square feet, George designed and oversaw the set up of one of the most state-of-the-art factories in the industry, that is fully automated and designed to produce highly customized products efficiently while ensuring the highest standard of quality. With its increased capabilities Darafeev began diversifying its business into not only residential but the commercial and contract sector as well.
Throughout the years, following Mikhail’s passing, Antonina held the title of president and faithfully came to work daily. She always kept a watchful eye on the operations, making sure everything met with her approval before any important decisions were made. This continued until 2016 when, at the age of 85, she passed away from complications stemming from a previous battle with colon cancer.
In 2018, after the passing of their mother, the decision was made to sell the Baldwin Park factory and consolidate the operations into one facility. This made for much more cohesive production. A building behind the main shop was modified to accommodate all the rough mill equipment. This assured that the area used for finishing remained clean and dust-free, providing a great environment for a perfect finish. Now it was just Paul and George overseeing the company, but after just a few more years, tragedy struck once again, and George passed away very unexpectedly.
Today, in 2021, the legacy continues, with the ownership having passed completely to Paul and his wife Leslie. As retirement is on the horizon, their children and grandchildren have now started taking up the mantle, moving the company into the future. The plan is for the business to one day, pass on to the next two generations, ensuring that DARAFEEV continues far into the future.