50 Years of Andreu World by Anatxu Zabalbeascoa
The start of this company goes back half a century to 1955, when a forwardlooking 17-year-old with countless hours already clocked in as a cabinetmaker with his father, inherited a problem:
the loss of the family's wood furniture factory. Francisco Andreu converted this problem into a motivation for starting all over again. “We started from scratch. But I had already known the factory since I was 10. And I liked it.”
There were years that were “very tough for the economy, but much easier for businessmen. The market was waiting to be served, and competition was scarce. Today, it would be much more difficult to start a company from scratch and launch it onto a highly competitive market,” says Francisco Andreu, a businessman who grew up in his factories, and is therefore familiar with each and every one of the manufacturing processes for chairs, from locating lumber in the forest, selecting the wood, sawing the trunks, all the way through to sanding, varnishing and upholstering seats. It was in the family home in Alacuás, a satellite town of Valencia, with no power supply, where they started to manufacture components in bentwood, assembling and varnishing chairs following historic models.
It was the early 1950s, and most of the work was done outside normal working hours, being outsourced to small artisan workshops loaned to them by altruistic friends. The chairs were transported in carts and sold in local furniture shops, and through a few travelling salesmen. The beginnings were hard; work never stopped. Growth was the only solution. After a few years of precarious subsistence, the company began to grow. Electricity arrived, and with it came saws, a polisher, a drill and a few other tools, all in a new 32m2 workshop. At the age of 23, Francisco Andreu had already evaluated the potential of the business, come to agreements with salesmen, and opened what was to become the third headquarters for the growing company: a 200m2 factory bay, still located at the back of the family home. The factory grew and the chair trade started to look more stable. Models 72 (1957) and 123 (1963) evoked the simplicity of the Nordic style so popular in the 1950s, which Andreu got to know well on visits to the Milan trade fair and by tuning into public tastes. “Travelling at that time was not easy. You had to get bank guarantees, and sleep in a van, but leaving Spain opened up my eyes. I had dreamed about manufacturing avant-garde models.” One decade later, with the arrival of the 60s, this ambition bore fruit, but only thanks to another major setback. An accident in the machinery area of the factory caused the destruction of the entire bay. A neighbour from the workers’ cooperative offered them an 800m2 factory nearby. They looked at the figures and decided to go ahead. And that was how Curvados Andreu was born.