MAFCO to GRK
GRK Manufacturing came into being in May of 1988 when Gary R. Kilday and family formed a corporation to purchase the assets of the Manual Arts Furniture Company. Manual Arts – or MAFCO as it was known – had a long history starting in 1915 as the only piano bench maker for the Baldwin Piano Company of downtown Cincinnati. Baldwin was a major provider of pianos in the United States and it turned to two “shop” teachers – manual arts teachers – to be their makers of piano benches. MAFCO provided Baldwin’s benches for almost 50 years.
One a dreary Monday morning May 23, 1988, the MAFCO workers arrived at their workplace and found the doors locked. Mr. Kilday purchased the company on that day. The company was primarily still a maker of piano benches, with a small number of outside wood contracts. They sold mirror frames for the Nutone Company in Cincinnatai and solid oak tables for a small company in North Carolina. What became GRK housed one seamstress for a two-day week.
In the spring of 1992, Gary negotiated with the now-defunct Horn Lumber Company for GRK’s current facility in Hamilton, Ohio. GRK took on added non-music-related business, which aided in its survival. In addition to GRK’s now substantial business crafting piano covers and bench cushions, the woodshop provided a variety of products along the way, from doors, retail and grocery store fixtures, mirror frames, and components for tripods used in agriculture to name a few. They offer imported piano benches and dollies to music customers.
At the beginning of this year, 2023, former Operations Manager Rob Vicena purchased the company’s assets. The sewing division has grown from a two-day to full-time facility, from one seamstress to three. Our woodworking team continually accepts new challenges. All parts of the business continue to grow and change.