LAS VEGAS – An elite group of Ukrainian furniture manufacturers and home decor companies will depart their besieged country and travel to Las Vegas, Nevada to appear at the Winter Las Vegas Market Trade Show, which takes place from Sunday, January 29 through Thursday, February 2. The furniture manufacturer Tivoli, an 110-year-old chair company based in western Ukraine, has organized the trip and is aiding these fellow companies to ensure they can all continue their businesses even as the war rages on.
As the first anniversary of the Russian invasion approaches, these companies are facing challenges created by the war, including a serious decline in the workforce, recurring blackouts and a fall in domestic demand.
Nonetheless, they have still managed to produce high-quality furniture for fair prices and found ways to ship it out of the war-torn nation. Ukrainian businesses are adjusting to the new reality and are contributing to a nascent economic recovery. It is difficult to talk about businesses moving forward in Ukraine while civilians are still under daily attack, while hospitals are being bombed and where cities with millions of residents have lost power and water. But thinking about what trade means is to envision a post-conflict future, which undergirds messages of hope and the necessity to keep fighting for freedom in Ukraine.
For Ukrainian manufacturers, the consequences are clear and severe. Having first acted swiftly to protect their people and factories working in the region, they now face the enormous task of finding new ways to power their production facilities, manage their supply network and deliver their products. And they must do so at a time of unprecedented customer expectations around price, personalization and service.
The Ukrainian manufacturers that will show their creations in Las Vegas include the following:
U-MA: Upholstery and Sofas
Garant: Home and Commercial Furnishings
Mebus: Home and Commercial Furnishings
Sofro: Home Furnishing
Shtayer: Bedding and Homewares
Wood Mood: Wooden Candles
Lumina Art: Artwork
Enjoy The Wood: Wood Puzzles
Co Honey: Beeswax Candles
Nakol Art: Wall Textiles By Independent Artist Natalia Kolpokova
Woodsoft: Home Furnishings
Cassone: Home and Commercial Furnishings
Favoris: Home Furnishings
InStyle: Home Furnishings
The group of Ukrainian furniture makers and home decor companies is led by Jeff Michels, an industry veteran with more than 20 years of experience in hospitality. He was introduced to Ukraine when he was living in Kyiv from 2019 to 2022, and he owns two hotels in Northern California outside of Yosemite National Park. He decided prior to the war to recruit talent in Ukraine to remodel his motel with all-Ukrainian partners from Balbek Architecture Studio, from the in-room furniture down to the landscaping. The renovation was a huge success.
“I took a chance as I saw the opportunity to work with this extremely talented industry in Ukraine. The furniture was shipped on time and the team of Cassone came to Sonora, California from Ukraine to ensure a smooth assembly. It was a seamless process and their hands-on approach made my hotel stand out from others throughout the California coastline,” said Michels.
Given Michels’ background in working with furnishing manufacturers and the hospitality sector, USAID CEP in Ukraine has hired him to assess the potential of Ukrainian furniture manufacturers for export to the USA. He is also charged with providing recommendations on product adaptation to the market and assisting in determining effective sales channels and potential buyers and partners to facilitate contracts.
Michels recently traveled to Ukraine to assess how the manufacturing industry is faring during the war. “I felt I needed to see what the businesses were up against and if they were still able to produce product with the electricity constraints. I was impressed to see all the businesses keeping up with production and are still employing so many talented individuals,” he said, adding, “It was incredible to see this level of professionalism and the drive to continue moving forward. There is a strong energy by the Ukrainians in the factories and in the production facilities. You would never know a war is happening when visiting their businesses.”