The Tufenkian Group Of Companies And Humanitarian Initiatives Timeline and Scope
Few companies genuinely bridge the divide between entrepreneurialism and corporate social responsibility. James Tufenkian began his first business in 1986 with steadfast dedication to keep this one goal in mind. What started as a vision to revive the art of Tibetan rug weaving has, over two decades, expanded to include boutique hotels, artisan foods and a foundation of charitable projects. 1986 James Tufenkian founds Tufenkian Artisan Carpets in New York, revitalizing the ancient art of Tibetan carpet weaving in Nepal with 100 workers.
1988 Tufenkian initiates Worker Welfare Programs to benefit Nepalese employees; endeavors include providing a water purification system, food and housing assistance and Montessori schools for workers’ children.
1993 Tufenkian expands the business to Armenia, reviving the art of carpet weaving in his ancestral country.
1995 Tufenkian opens a medical complex in Nepal providing Eastern and Western medicine services to Tufenkian employees and the community.
1996 Tufenkian launches Designers’ Reserve, a collection of carpets available exclusively to the design trade, featuring designs from leading design icons Barbara Barry, Kevin Walz, Vicente Wolf and William Georgis, as well as James Tufenkian.
1999 The Tufenkian Foundation is established, creating more than 25 sustainable charitable projects. While the majority of programs focus on Armenia, a number benefit Nepal as well. The Foundation supports three missions, with several activities going on in each at any one time.
2001 James Tufenkian introduces the first Tufenkian Heritage Hotel, Avan Villa, Armenia’s first luxury boutique hotel collection, in the capital city of Yerevan. Tufenkian opens the boutique hotels to help further restore the Armenian economy through tourism. Two more hotels are opened shortly after: Avan Marak Tsapatagh and Avan Dzoraget.
2001 The Tufenkian Foundation starts the “Our Duty to Live” project for single parents and orphaned families; financial and psychological help provided along with clothing and job placement assistance. More than 140 families aided with 95 children attending project education centers in Armenia.
2002 Tufenkian “heads west” and opens two new showrooms in Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon.
2002 The Tufenkian Foundation launches “Armenian Forests” NGO to stop the destruction of forests and promote reforestation.
2003 Armenian Forests NGO initiates its Armenia’s first community forest planting 125,000 trees and other forest restoration on 250 acres of land with local villagers.
2006 - 2007 James Tufenkian co-founds Harvest Song, a purveyor of fine preserves made with hand-picked, Armenian-grown fruit. The National Association for the Specialty Food Trade (NASFT) awards Harvest Song with two consecutive first prize awards in their category two years running. The line of preserves establishes distribution in high-end restaurants and retail locations.
2006 - 2007 Tufenkian expands its showroom network, adding Dallas, Texas, as well as Chicago, Illinois, to the existing showrooms in New York City, Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon.
2007 - 2008 Tufenkian’s first retail location opens in Los Angeles. The Tufenkian Archive store offers a variety of classics, samples and special purchases from around the world at tremendous savings. Tufenkian’s second Archive Store is located in Portland, Oregon.
2008 Tufenkian collaborates with textile designer Mark Pollack for Tufenkian’s Designers’ Reserve collection. Pollack is the first designer to join the Designers’ Reserve collection since 2001.
- 2008-2009 Expected completion dates of four additional Tufenkian Heritage Hotels and Spas in Armenia.
Today, Tufenkian employs more than 4,000 people in Armenia and 5,000 in Nepal. Over 400 children now attend the Montessori schools established by the company. The Tufenkian Foundation has recently extended its activities to post-war resettlement in the Nagorno-Karabagh region, providing housing for displaced families while it also contributes to the development of the local infrastructure and agricultural and social services among vulnerable populations.
Doing Well By Doing Good
Tufenkian’s business philosophy of giving back has become the foundation of all of James Tufenkian’s business ventures and is based upon a self-sustaining cycle: skilled labor improves manufacturing, which creates a higher quality product, which in turn produces more profits, which can be used to fund education, which continues to add to the skilled labor pool. Contrary to the traditional approach to handmade carpet manufacturing overseas (demand for lower prices has typically had manufacturers reducing material quality and increasing the use of child labor), the Tufenkian business is based upon social conscience. Special training, higher wages, work places with modern amenities, health programs and schools for local communities and a ban on child labor are all hallmarks of the Tufenkian way of doing business.
And the wisdom of this unique philosophy is clearly evident in its success. Tufenkian is recognized as the innovative and quality leader of handmade Tibetan and Armenian rugs with showrooms in Chicago, Dallas, New York, Los Angeles, and Portland, OR, and 150+ dealers across the U.S. More than just a resource to sophisticated designers and consumers alike, Tufenkian has staked its claim as the yardstick by which excellence in carpet design is measured.