Business has taken off since two immigrants bought a Riverside manufacturer of aerospace parts.
At the controls since 2006, Iggy Araujo, 59, Henri Rahmon, 47 and a silent partner, have doubled annual sales, branched into the medical, automotive, computer, defense and dental industries and added state-of-the-art machinery that can make screws as small as a grain of sand or as fine as a strand of hair.
These minuscule components, manufactured from stainless steel, titanium, gold and other materials, wind up in everything from cameras, tooth implants, orthopedic devices, drone antennas and Boeing cockpit panels to Caterpillar joysticks.
Even so, the name Accuturn was a mystery to many locals until last April when the partners attempted to save the cross on Mount Rubidoux. The Riverside City Council had decided to sell the property after a group contended that the 50-year-old cross on public land violated the U.S. Constitution.
Araujo and Rahmon, minority Christians in their homelands, bid for the right to own the 0.43-acre site. However, the partners withdrew their offer to defer to another bidder called Totally Mount Rubidoux, a coalition of three nonprofit groups.
“The day of the auction we decided not to compete against them,” Rahmon said. “Ours were good intentions, to do something for the community, but their intentions were better.”
The co-owners, however, who came to this country with nothing, feel fortunate that they had the means to plunk down a $10,000 deposit.
In fact, business is so good that Accuturn has outgrown its location at 6510 Box Springs Road. Poised to expand its markets in Europe, South America and Canada, the company is customizing a new 17,000-square-foot building that it bought for $900,000 on Old 215 Frontage Road in Riverside. The site isn’t far from the company’s current, 50,000-square-foot property, which will continue production. Many of Accuturn’s 25 employees have been on board for at least 20 years.
Araujo, who’s married and lives in Upland, and Rahmon, who’s divorced and lives in Corona, will only say that annual sales are healthy, but haven’t yet hit $5 million. The co-owners ascribe much of their success to hard work, shrewd investments and economic survival in 2010, when many competitors tanked. Both praise America for allowing them to pursue their dream.
Araujo, a Catholic, left Karachi, Pakistan in 1972 at age17 to escape religious persecution in a Muslim-dominated country. With two suitcases and $100 from his aunt sewn into his underwear, he landed at LAX and rode a Greyhound bus to San Bernardino, where San Bernardino Valley College had accepted him. Araujo knew no one in the U.S., but chose that city because he loved the 1970 hit tribute to that city — misspelled “San Bernadino” — by British rocker Jeff Christie and his band.
Araujo pumped gas and washed windshields at the Gulf station at 2nd and G streets. After community college, he took night classes at Cal State San Bernardino, earning a degree in mechanical engineering. By day, he was a janitor in 1974 at Accuturn, a new avionics company started by three men at 3rd Street and Kansas Avenue in Riverside. In 1982 its owners had built a new structure at Accuturn’s current site where the company relocated.
Araujo wed Lourdes, woman he’d known in Pakistan, fathered four children and thrived at Accuturn. He rose to shop foreman and then, general manager. When Araujo met Rahmon in 1996, the two discovered they were kindred spirits, sharing similar backgrounds, ambitions, values and faiths.
An Arab Catholic born in Haifa, Israel, a minority among Muslims and Jews, Rahmon moved with his family to Toronto in 1976. There he graduated from York University with a degree in economics and moved in 1993 to the Los Angeles area. Unable to find a job, he drove an airport shuttle — often in the wrong direction — and then kept the books for a plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills. “The worst year of my life,” he recalls. As a sideline, Rahmon, an enrolled agent, did tax accounting.
Through mutual friends, Araujo became one of Rahmon’s clients. In January 2006, they bought Accuturn for $3.3 million, with Araujo owning 51 percent, the rest split evenly between Rahmon and the silent partner
“At the time the profit was marginal,” Rahmon said. He and Araujo replaced the obsolete machines with the latest, most efficient equipment. The power of these 24-foot-long, high-tech marvels thunders through the manufacturing floor, turning out thousands of pieces in minutes. Araujo holds up a silver-plated brass washer, destined for a lamp base in the instrumental panel of a cockpit.
Rahmon said they’re pacing themselves, but expect to keep growing in strong, overseas markets. “We have a good name, low production costs and a quick turnaround,” he said. “And we have Iggy. He IS Accuturn.”
ABOUT THE COMPANY
What: Accuturn Corp., manufacturer of precision components, such as screws and washers, for aerospace, medical, dental, computer and other industries
Founded: 1974 at 3rd Street and Kansas Avenue, Riverside
Current site: Since 1982 at 6510 Box Springs Road, Riverside
Owners: Iggy Araujo, Henri Rahmon and a silent partner
What’s new: The company will expand later this year into a 17,000-square-foot building that the owners bought at Old 215 Frontage Road in Riverside.
Credit: The Press-Enterprise