Russia’s invasion of Ukraine comes straight out of the playbook from the last century. Ukraine is a rich prize indeed, with substantial resources, a strong industry sector, and of course human capital. There are many grim possibilities for future outcomes, but Ukraine and the closest allies are interested in ensuring that the country has a robust, free future. It seems nothing will stop Ukrainians from continuing their businesses as an elite group of Ukrainian furniture manufactures and home décor companies will travel to Las Vegas, Nevada for the semi-annual furnishing tradeshow on January 29th to the February 2nd hosted by the Las Vegas Market located at 475 South Grand Central Parkway. The furniture manufacturer Tivoli is organizing the mission of Ukrainian furniture manufacturers and is helping to aid these companies to ensure they can all continue their businesses even as the war rages on.

With vital support from USAID  and USAID Competitive Economy Program in Ukraine to assist these small and medium sized Ukrainian furniture manufacturers they are set up for success. 

USAID CEP aims to support competitive Ukrainian industries with growth potential in its efforts and initiatives to promote export and trade development, among which is furniture manufacturing and wood processing in Ukraine.

Since its inception USAID CEP has been supporting Ukrainian manufacturers of furniture in boosting competitiveness due to innovative equipment, providing access to training aimed at optimizing manufacturing processes,”- says Olesya Zaluska, USAID CEP Chief of Party.

As we come up to the one-year mark since the war began, these companies are facing challenges created by the war, including a serious decline in the workforce, recurring black outs, and a fall in domestic demand.

However, companies still find a way to produce high quality furniture for a fair price and even find a way to ship it out of the war-torn country. Ukrainian businesses are adjusting to the new reality and are contributing to the nascent economic recovery of the country. It is difficult to talk about businesses moving forward in the country 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 links to the messages of hope and the necessity to keep fighting for freedom in Ukraine.

Currently, the furniture industry is facing challenges caused by war, such as decreased demand on the domestic market. Thus, USAID CEP encourages furniture manufacturers to enter international markets and scale up globally. In October 2022, fifty Ukrainian companies that manufacture furniture and home goods presented their products at the world’s largest consumer market “High Point Market” in the USA. Currently, the preparation for the Winter Las Vegas market trade show is underway. These initiatives will not only help Ukrainian businesses leverage their competitive advantages and enter new markets but will also contribute to the recovery of Ukraine and development of export sales,” Olesya Zaluska states.

For 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 include furniture companies:

U-MA: Upholstery / Sofas

Tivoli: Chairs

Garant: Home and Commercial Furnishing

Mebus: Home and Commercial Furnishing

Sofro: Home Furnishing

Shtayer: Bedding and Homeware

Wood Mood: Wooden Candles

Lumina Art: Artwork

Enjoy The Wood: Wood Puzzles

Co Honey: Beeswax Candles

Nakol Art: Wall Textiles, Independent Artist, Natalia Kolpokova

Woodsoft: Home Furnishing

Cassone: Home and Commercial Furnishing

Favoris: Home Furnishing

InStyle: Home Furnishing 

The group of Ukrainian Furniture Makers and Home Décor companies is led by Jeff Michels an industry veteran with over 20 years of experience in hospitality. He was introduced to Ukraine when he was living in Kyiv from 2019 to 2022. He owns two hotels in Northern California outside of Yosemite National Park in Sonora, Tuolumne County. He decided prior to the war to utilize the talent in Ukraine to remodel his motel with all Ukrainian partners from Balbek Architecture Studio to even the in-room furniture and landscaping. The renovation was a huge success, and he has doubled his average daily rate utilizing Ukrainian partners. 

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,” says Jeff Michels, Furniture and Export Expert and Hotel Owner.

Given Michels background in working with furnishing and manufactures 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. 

Jeff Michels recently traveled to Ukraine to visit the manufacturing industry 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,” Jeff Michels states. “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,” Jeff Michels says. 

Many addressed the recovery effort since day one of Russian full-scale invasion even if perfect solutions and full recovery will take time to achieve. The work for Ukraine should include building capacity to manage and implement recovery. 

Many can hope that it is darkest before dawn, that soon the violence will cease, and that Ukraine will continue to exist as an independent and democratic nation embarking on an inspiring and effective national recovery and international exportation presence.