February 1, 2023
Weaving Through History
Like the rugs they sell, Gertmenian and Sons has a rich tradition. Gostantine “G.A.” Gertmenian emigrated from Turkey to New York in 1896, and opened a modest dry goods store that sold used rugs as part of the inventory. After a move in 1915 to Pasadena, California, the focus turned to importing handmade rugs. By 1925, G.A.’s brother, Constantin, and son, Harold, had joined the business.","decorations
When the company first started out, the Gertmenians were purchasing rugs from local estate sales and reselling them to the European market, but then moved toward purchasing newly manufactured rugs. “My grandfather [Harold] and great-uncle [Constantin] took a ship from New York to Bombay, bought rugs, then stopped in Turkey and bought rugs there,” says Peter Gertmenian, great-grandson of G.A. and current president of Gertmenian. “That was the beginning of making contacts [and] creating relationships with manufacturers in those countries, and bringing rugs into the United States.
In the ’80s, Gertmenian Rugs sold a pallet of handmade rugs to Costco. The rugs sold out in one weekend. That connection to Costco was an important stepping stone, says Gertmenian. “That helped us get a more national presence. We began to sell products to an array of national retailers.” By 1992, the company was focusing exclusively on high-quality rugs that were more affordable.
Until 2010, all of the products they imported were handmade. “Handmade rugs had qualities about them that were superior in terms of durability, color and performance to what was happening in machine-made rugs,” says Gertmenian. But the evolution of loom and yarn technology in the early 2000s improved the quality and designs of machine-made rugs, prompting another look.
With weaving and yarn technology, machine-made rugs started to look more appealing,” Gertmenian continues. “Turkey had become a weaving center for machine-made rugs, so I traveled there to meet with the mills. They were growing quickly, and we found several collections that we thought were viable. That was the next step for our company in going from handmade rugs with limited distribution to machine-made rugs with significant national distribution.
Today, Gertmenian designs and develops rugs in the United States, with offices in China, Arkansas and New York City, and a home office in Los Angeles. Their manufacturing resources are in Turkey, India, Belgium and China.
Throughout, Gertmenian’s focus has been on forward motion—honoring the intricate histories of rugs and rug-makers, meeting the needs of the present and innovating for the future.
“We’ve always taken a long-term view, and we try not to react to peaks and valleys,” says Gertmenian. “One unique thing about our company is the tenure of our employees. About 30% have been with us for 15-plus years. When I started in the business, we had seven people. Now we have about 175 people, but we still operate as a family business."
Some of Gertmenian’s growth can be found in outdoor rug collections, due to the advent of machine-made rugs with advanced yarns that can withstand weather and sunlight. “People want to move their living spaces outdoors, and a rug is a nice component of that,” says Peter Gertmenian. “There has also been viability in making yarn out of recycled materials, from recycled water bottles to textile remnants. We are at the very beginning of that, and are just now introducing collections based on 100% recycled fibers.”
One of Gertmenian’s Outdoor Rugs