Giuse Yen Viet Mai, owner of numerous furniture stores in Los Angeles county, including Urban Habitat Furniture in Burbank, died on May 15. He was 72.
Mai was born on Oct. 10, 1933, in Vietnam. He was an officer in the Vietnamese army and a music conductor for the military band.
After migrating with his family from Vietnam to the United States in 1975, Mai settled in Burbank and ventured into the furniture business.
Mai started his furniture business in 1982 and opened his first store on Sunset Boulevard.
"He came empty-handed with a family of eight kids," son Khanh "Mike" Mai said of his father. "He got the whole family working."
The Mai Family was one of 10 Vietnamese refugee families who were sponsored by members of St. Finbar's and St. Francis Xavier churches in Burbank, Khanh Mai said.
Before his success in the furniture business, Mai worked odd jobs to support his wife and eight children. In 1987, Mai started a mattress factory in the city of Vernon. About two years later, he opened up a sofa factory in the same city.
"My father was making mattresses and sofas from scratch," son Khanh Mai said. "My father and I brought in three workers. When he got into the business, we brought an additional 15 workers within that same year."
Khanh Mai started Urban Habitat Furniture with his father in 1999.
Mai is survived by his daughters Nghia, Thu, Chi "Kim," Nhung "Nina" and Hong; sons Khanh "Mike," Khai, Thuan "Tom;" mother-in-law Vuong Vu; 17 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Funeral services are at 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Finbar's Church, 2010 W. Olive Ave., Burbank.