By: Pat Sheehan
This is the most interesting industry and sport because it is small enough that you get to know the most interesting and fascinating people who are the major factors yet large enough that the best can become successful. As a manufacturer of tables and a master of the service end, people ask me who are my competitors. I enjoy telling them that I don't have any competition in this industry just a lot of friends that do the same things I do. One of those friends is Don Brostoski. You might not know his name, but his company Golden West is known and respected throughout the world. Yet whenever I need something Don Brostoski is the first person I call and he never lets me down.
I first met Don in Los Angeles in the early 70's. Les Lystad from American Games and myself were at a convention in Anaheim and everyone told us that we had to go to his shop. Don met us at the door and gave us a complete tour. He didn't give us any kind of a pitch because his product was good enough to speak for itself. He was producing very high quality reproductions of the tables that made the Brunswick Balke Collander Co famous in the late 19th century. Golden West did a copy of the Monarch with cast lion head legs and my favorite, the Popular. Both Les and I carried many other reproductions but the workmanship and structure of Don's tables were so far ahead of everyone else that they were an easy sell. I was building a copy of the Brunswick Wilmington which was a good seller but Golden West had the style and finish for the upper end of my clientele.
Golden West is always a step ahead and surely a step above everyone else in the industry which has made them the success they are. Don does most of the design work himself and has a real flair for the dramatic. I go into the factory quite often and go through the showroom to get to Don's office and have to say "Wow" to myself. Golden West has the machinery and talent to make Don's dreams on paper a reality going out the door. In 1975 Golden West added a state of the art carving machine that turns out 24 carved pieces at a time. At that time there were very few carving machines and it took forever to get them for what you sold. They have lathes, saws, planers, sanders and every woodworking tool that make a tool junkie like myself drool, but the finishing area is what separates the men of Golden West from the rest of the boys in the industry.
Don decided to move his plant from the LA area to Portland to continue using lacquer finish which was being outlawed in that area. Of course, anyone knows what life and work are line in LA. Besides the cost and seemingly overwhelming logistics of moving a plant of its size one thousand miles, Don had to look at leaving behind the contacts with the movie and entertainment folks. CBS, NBC and Universal Studios were regular customers. His Valencia table was designed for the set of Tom Selics "Magnum P I" and was in almost every show. He did tables for Mary Tyler Moore, Michael Jackson, Gordy from MoTown and all the exec's of MCA Records. The list of Golden West owners was a "Who's Who" from the Hollywood area and now that section of buyers remains with several of the more than 100 dealers throughout the world.
You have to imagine that the move to Portland and setting up a state of the art plant was a terrific drain on a small business, but he brought all of his long term employees with him and took care of their relocating but the plan worked and now Don is on the board to relocate other companies to Oregon. Golden West's business has boomed here in Oregon and has risen to the top of their field producing over 5,000 tables per year each one a masterpiece. They have continued to add machinery to keep that step ahead of the rest of the industry. Rudy Lianozo continues to operate the carving machine. If Golden West needs a unique leg they can design and produce it and 24 copies before their competitors can call China to place an order. Frank C operates the lathe but the key to the future of Golden West is Robert Brostoski, Don's son. Robby is 30 years old and can run every piece of machinery in the plant. He is really the man under the gun. As factory operations manager it is his responsibility to get Don's dream built, finished and out the door. Knowing what a task it is to get one table planned, built and delivered I have to respect the guy who gets 5,000 out the door and still have time to pull a set of slate for me. Rob has never let me down.
If you are thinking about buying or only want to dream a little about a pool table see their ad on page 2. Golden West will be glad to send a brochure or take you on a tour of the plant. Everyone of their tables is a thing of beauty that will play right, bring years of compliments for your furniture choice and stay in your family for generations. They build a unit that defies the laws of gravity, that wants to pull the slate back into the ground from where it came (see "From the Work Bench" page 12), most other manufacturers overlook the long braces down the center of the table. Golden West and I always support the center of the tables that we build.
Don has never been obsessed with the bottom line or pinched every penny to make the most out of a table and overlook the longevity and lasting quality of the product. That has been the success of adding dealers who can see the strong parts and give them the selling point beyond price. Golden West tables hold their value. They are a great company to do business with and treat their customers right.
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