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Meet Max Dell of Antiqued Mirrors Company in Arleta

Today we’d like to introduce you to Max Dell.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Max. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I graduated at UCLA with a theater degree. I had a summer job working at Universal Studios as Frankenstein and Bullwinkle. My grandfather, who opened this business in 1966, needed a hand as both his sons had gone in different directions. My father was never in the picture, so it was the only family business opportunity. My grandfather had to step quickly away from the business as he had some emergency family dealings. He had a guy name Sam who was already working there. He was picked up as a day laborer from Home Depot. I had to come in and have this guy be my quote unquote boss and he didn’t speak English so well and was kind of awkward. We worked it out to where this day we have a mutual respect for each other. It took me many years to feel comfortable making antiqued mirror. I was more book smart as opposed to being an artisan. We supply a specialty product and all jobs are custom. It took me four years to pay my grandfather for the business. Eventually I bought a commercial space for the business which was super important. He had been renting for many years from a man who was consistently mentally unstable and put the business stability at risk. I’ve developed the business in many ways from getting a spray booth to developing our techniques. Of course, raising prices from the old days didn’t hurt either.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The main problem was is I was a kid who is coming out of college and never really worked with my hands. It was very difficult coming into a situation where the business was dirty with paint, chemicals, etc. I had to become accustomed to working with my hands and at the same time running a business. There were many years where I had a lot of stressful weeks and anxieties of the upcoming Mondays because I just didn’t feel comfortable going into this line of work. It wasn’t until I bought a commercial space and started to make the product my own where I became more comfortable over the years. It will never be as comfortable as it was for my grandfather but that’s because he was a world class artisan. There were customers who came in and told me they knew there were certain jobs done by my grandfather because the work was so quality. The irony of it all is that on one hand he only had a pinky finger. The rest of his fingers were completely gone. His father was a kosher butcher. When he was just about a year old or so, he had stuck his right hand in a meat grinder. His joke was that his father was struggling so he was just trying to make more product to sell. I’m more of a businessman and I’m OK with that.

Please tell us about Antiqued Mirrors Company.
We specialize in making antiqued mirror. It is a design product for high-end hotels, restaurants, homes, movies, etc. We work with a lot of designers and glass companies. We also do lots of breakaway mirror. When you see someone’s head get smashed into a mirror in a movie, we make the fake glass into mirror so the actor or stuntman won’t get cut when it breaks. We also do all kinds of little jobs different repairs. small home projects. We silver all types of glass: tempered, molded, colored. We can also take old mirrors that are done on specialty glass and re-silver them. We make them look like new again. The funny thing is we sell mirrors where people want them to look old and then we make old mirrors look new. I am very happy with the fact that we have a niche product. We can make a design team is no other company can. We have been featured in many big movies and that’s been pretty cool to see our product on the big screen. Tom Cruise looked at his reflection in a couple of different films without product. Britney Spears came crashing through one of our breakaway mirrors on Saturday night live. There are countless other entertainment things over the years. My grandfather’s first film job in 1966 when he opened the business was in the film The Graduate. It was a gold vein mirror on the headboard when she was trying to seduce Dustin Hoffman. I am very proud that we can do really cool art projects and design things wit in a very good lead time. Most companies will take 3 to 4 weeks where we can do a lot of jobs within a week. I am also very proud that we really don’t advertise to our customer base. We are basically word-of-mouth and hard to find. Like a diamond in the rough.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I have thought about this question many many times. I feel I would have just found my own path as I am good with people and good in business. I’ve always enjoyed theater and acting, which I still do to this day. I feel I would have hopped from one job to another with bigger firms and found my way up the corporate ladder. I don’t know that I would’ve started my own business but maybe who knows. I think my biggest question if I had to start over is would it have been better just to doing my own thing and create my own path as opposed to fighting the stress and anxiety over becoming comfortable with the path I did choose.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 12970 Branford St. Unit L Arleta, CA 91331
  • Phone: 818 522 9654
  • Email: antiquedmirrors@yahoo.com

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