Elran Furniture makes room for Ukrainian talent
A furniture maker in Pointe-Claire, Quebec, is taking a humanitarian approach to workforce development. Over the past year, Elran Furniture has opened its shop to numerous Ukrainian refugees who have come to Canada in search of safety and respite from the Russian invasion.
“We were inspired to hire Ukrainian refugees because how could we sit back and not help those who are suffering,” says Jesse Lubin, sales manager for Elran. “For the most part, they left their entire lives behind and had to start over. Giving them a job helps them get back on their feet.”
The move has made national attention. And in an interview with Global News, Eric Abecassis, Elran Furniture president, says it has been a win-win for all: “[We wanted] to make them feel at home, protected, comfortable … And they’re giving us back a devoted, motivated skill.”
Nearly 75 Ukrainian refugees have been hired to Elran Furniture since the war began last February. At last check, over 40 of which have stayed with the company.
This influx of new employees prompted the company to add a new production line to its Pointe-Claire operations.
“The new production line is like most of our 14 lines at Elran,” notes Lubin. “However, it is comprised of 100% Ukrainians as we want them to feel comfortable and confident by working with people they know and are going through the same experience.”
Maryna Hrynkovska is among Elran’s international recruits. A former hairdresser with no prior furniture manufacturing experience, she – like many other Ukrainians – was forced to leave the country once the invasion began. Upon coming to Montreal in December 2022, she posted a resume on Facebook which caught the attention of Ukrainian Oksana Hanachivska, a seamstress with Elran who had been working with the company for several years and had heard of new arrivals coming to Canada in need of work through her local volunteer position. She approached Elran’s management to ask if the company could find positions for some of these newcomers, and the company agreed, asking Hanachivska to help with the required translating.
“We are very lucky to have a woman who had already been working for us from Ukraine,” says Lubin. “[Hanachivska] was instrumental in recruiting them as they went to the same church. She made the process run smoothly by communicating with her fellow countrymen.”
In addition to providing employment, the company has gone above and beyond to provide the newcomers with support in finding a place to live, obtaining winter clothing, and taking French classes.
According to Elran, the ability to provide opportunities for newcomers like Hrynkovska while adding hard-working members to has been well worth the investment.
“The benefit to Elran is getting a group of reliable people who, after what they went through, have a deep appreciation for being in Canada,” shares Lubin. “It also filled a void left by the pandemic of labour shortage. It really is a great situation for everyone.”
Elran furniture was founded in 1967 by Irving Lubin and began life as a specialist in reclining furniture. Today, it is a prominent manufacturer of upholstered recliners and stationary furniture that operates out of its 235,000 sq. ft in Pointe-Claire.
Matt Bradford is a writer, editor, and longtime contributor at MediaEdge, publishers of Wood Industry e-digest and magazine. He has spent years reporting on the wood and construction industries and values the opportunity to provide insights into the secondary wood manufacturing community’s successes, challenges, and opportunities.