Baer family, Alan Cole raise more than $1 million for City of Hope

Home furnishings industry leaders turn hope and dreams into reality at Spirit of Life fundraising gala

April 7, 2014

LOS ANGELES – The recent Spirit of Life awards dinner honoring two preeminent leaders of the furniture industry– Alan Cole, retired president of Hooker Furniture, and the Baer family of Baer’s Furniture – raised more than $1 million for cancer and diabetes research at City of Hope. The prestigious Spirit of Life award is City of Hope’s highest accolade, presented annually to industry leaders in recognition of their outstanding personal, professional and philanthropic achievements.

2014 Spirit of Life Honorees

From Left: Elaine and Bobby Baer, Baer’s Furniture, Robert Stone, president and CEO of City of Hope, and Patti and Alan Cole, Hooker Furniture.

As a world-renowned biomedical research and treatment center, City of Hope shortens the times from new research idea to new medical treatment in order to quickly bring cures to patients. Its breakthrough research has led to therapies now used by people worldwide.

“We are thrilled with the overwhelming support the Baer family and Alan Cole have championed for City of Hope,” said Brittany De La Torre, director of corporate philanthropy at City of Hope. “The passion exhibited by both honoree teams has been phenomenal – a truly personal drive to make a difference in the future of medicine.”

The gala, held April 6 at Grandover Resort in Greensboro, N.C., honored this year’s award recipients, but previous honorees as well, treating all to a VIP reception followed by the awards dinner.

“It’s a great honor for the Baer family to be recognized by our industry colleagues,” said Bobby Baer, chairman and chief executive of the family-owned business, which has 15 furniture stores throughout Florida. “We are proud to support the remarkable research at City of Hope.”

Added Alan Cole of Hooker Furniture: “City of Hope’s scientists have had a global impact with research that benefits more than 100 million people. Our family is personally grateful for the advances made in cancer treatment at City of Hope.”

In addition to the awards ceremony, the evening’s highlights included a video of the honorees touring City of Hope, where they made wishes of hope and healing for their loved ones on City of Hope’s Wishing Trees. Dinner guests were invited to complete their own wishing tags, to be displayed on City of Hope’s campus in Los Angeles later this week. The appeal asked participants to make a wish and a donation at the same time, raising an additional $30,000 for cancer research at City of Hope.

Also at the event, Linda Malkas, Ph.D., deputy director of research at City of Hope, explained the mission of City of Hope’s translational research and its ability to directly impact patients through life-saving clinical trials. During the VIP reception, City of Hope surprised Russell Bienenstock, editor of Furniture World, with the Volunteer of the Year award.

Chuck Reilly, senior vice president of Sales and Marketing at AICO, chairs the National Home Furnishings Industry group supporting City of Hope, and Kevin O’Connor, chief executive of Samson Marketing, chairs the organization’s Spirit of Life Award Dinner campaign.

Contributions to City of Hope are still accepted. For more information on ways to support City of Hope, contact the NHFI Corporate Philanthropy Office at 800-272-2310 or

About City of Hope
City of Hope is a leading research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases. Designated as a comprehensive cancer center, the highest recognition bestowed by the National Cancer Institute, City of Hope is also a founding member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, with research and treatment protocols that advance care throughout the nation. City of Hope’s main hospital is located in Duarte, Calif., just northeast of Los Angeles, with clinics in Antelope Valley and South Pasadena. It is ranked as one of “America’s Best Hospitals” in cancer by U.S.News & World Report. Founded in 1913, City of Hope is a pioneer in the fields of bone marrow transplantation and genetics. For more information, visit or follow City of Hope on facebook, twitter, youtube or flickr.

Gary Fazio to attend NAHFA’s Lunch with Leaders at High Point Market

April 4, 2014

Gary Fazio, CEO of Serta SimmonsThe NAHFA announced today that Gary Fazio, CEO of Serta Simmons, will attend their Lunch with Leaders event this Sunday, April 6 at the High Point Market, providing Next Generation-NOW members access to one of today’s biggest-name home furnishings executives.

The Association launched Lunch with Leaders at the Las Vegas Market in January 2014, with the simple goal of offering young industry professionals quality face time with leaders and influencers in the industry.

Jeff Child, RC Willey; Lori Kelley, Palliser Furniture; Toby Konetzny, Coaster Fine Furniture; Kerry Lebensburger, Ashley Furniture Industries; Robert Maricich, International Market Centers; and Chuck Reilly, AICO/Amini Innovation Corp were the leaders who met with 35 Next Gen NOW members at the January Las Vegas Market.

Based on positive reception from both Next Gen NOW members and the leaders at the inaugural event, the Association rolled out the same program for this market, opening up appointments with the following furniture execs:

Kevin Castellani, President, Furniture Today

Kurt Darrow, President, La-Z-Boy Intl.

Kim Knopf, Owner, Innovative Mattress Solutions

Keith Koenig, President, City Furniture

Marty Melcher, Group Vice President of Sales, Serta

and now, Gary Fazio, CEO, Serta Simmons Holdings.

The NAHFA is accepting sign-ups up until the event begins Sunday at 11:30 a.m.

Appointment times vary between the hours of 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. and are subject to availability.

Interested? Learn more and sign up at

Getting to Know the Next Gen: Stephanie Smith

March 1, 2014

The furniture industry gets younger every year. In order to embrace the new generation of retailers and welcome them into the business, RetailerNOW features a different member of the Next Generation NOW social network in every issue. Next Generation NOW is the premiere social scene for the new era of furniture professionals. Join the conversation at!

For this month’s spotlight, we introduce 21-year-old Stephanie Smith of Chariho Furniture in Richmond, Rhode Island.

RetailerNOW: Tell me about your industry history.

Stephanie: My dad opened the furniture store before I was born with their wedding money, so I was always around furniture. I wasn’t encouraged or discouraged to get involved; however, in the past two years I’ve taken an interest to interior design, so my dad took me down to the High Point Market. I’ve gotten more and more involved in the past couple years.


RetailerNOW: Are you aiming to be an interior designer?

Stephanie: I’m graduating in May with my psychology degree and I am going to try and put that towards here. I’d also like to go for an interior design degree. However, my grandmother will be retiring in May so I will be taking her spot. So as time permits, I would like to get my certification. I guess we’ll see!


RetailerNOW: Does your store sell sustainable products?

Stephanie: Yes. We actually carry quite a few upholstery lines that are very eco-friendly, and we carry 20 Amish brands. Simply Amish is one of them. That one company has more than 6,000 items so we’ve got quite a variety. We’ve got everything from reproductions to contemporary American leather, but it’s all American-made.


RetailerNOW: Why do you think it’s important to stock both American-made and sustainable products?

Stephanie: My dad has always been a firm believer in American-made, and I’ve just been brought up that way, supporting our jobs and supporting ourselves, creating more jobs for people in America. It’s hard if you actually think about trying to find stuff that is American made, like clothes and everything, and eco-friendly, too. Green is just the right thing to do.


RetailerNOW: How do you convey the value of those products to your customers?

Stephanie: We do have customers who have been to other furniture stores and the frame of the sofa will break or it’ll have rips in it, something like that. We have a lifetime warranty on all of our frames. We flip over chairs. We do what we have to do to show the customer that what we carry is good. We carry Harden Furniture, and we’ve had people come back after 30 years and say they still have their sofa from Harden. I think it’s more a lesson learned, and when they do come in here, it’s a little bit of sticker shock. But you get what you pay for and I think people realize that after experiencing it.


RetailerNOW: How have you seen the industry change throughout your life?

Stephanie: It definitely has improved in the past couple years. I listen a lot to Jerry Epperson. I didn’t think quality was always such a big thing, and I think now, if you can afford to buy quality, people are realizing that’s a better way to go. I think the economy definitely seems like it’s getting better.


RetailerNOW: What challenges have you personally had to face as a female part of the next generation?

Stephanie: It’s definitely tough going to Market and meeting with reps and stuff. They have a lot of respect for my dad and they want his opinions. They talk to him. I feel like I’ve kind of been introduced but, not that I’m not taken seriously because I’m a young female new to the industry, I’m still trying to figure out how to get that attention and to make people notice that I am serious about this and I do have a lot of passion for what I’m doing.


RetailerNOW: What are the biggest challenges store owners face today?

Stephanie: I think it’s tough to find a good and honest team to work for the company. We definitely have a good, trustworthy team here. I don’t know how other family businesses are run, but it’s also a challenge living with someone and working with someone. Trying to balance whether you bring this home or you don’t bring this home is interesting.


RetailerNOW: What advice do you have for other family businesses?

Stephanie: Have patience. My dad has an eye for all sorts of things and since I’ve been working here we’ve brought on many more contemporary lines. I’m learning from him and he’s learning from me. I definitely think patience is necessary.


RetailerNOW: What do you think the industry needs to do to adapt to changing technology?

Stephanie: I see more and more online purchases, and I think that’s kind of tough. We show all of our brands online but it’s kind of hard to show all of the pieces. I don’t think it’s hurting the furniture business, but seeing a sofa on the computer screen and actually sitting in it… Buying is an emotional thing, so when you get to sit in something and feel something, it’s totally different from looking at it on a computer screen.


RetailerNOW: Do you think the industry is moving more towards online business?

Stephanie: I hope not! But I think it depends on the age group, also. You usually don’t see 50- and 60-year-old people wanting to buy something online. I have had a customer in her early 30s who bought something online and they delivered it and she absolutely hated it. I hope it’s not going towards more purchases online, but it is still good to see what’s out there and what you can get.


RetailerNOW: What advice do you have for new retailers?

Stephanie: It’s overwhelming at first. The hardest challenge for me was that this table can come in 20 different finishes, six different leg styles, and each company is different. There are a lot of different things you need to know. At first, I thought I would never remember it, there’s too much to study—but it comes to you after a while and you get more and more enthusiastic about your product if you’re proud of what you’re selling. You start knowing the facts after you’ve been exposed to it for a little while.


RetailerNOW: What advice do you have for retailers that have been in the business for awhile?

Stephanie: Not that I want to seem stereotypical, but it would be nice for the next generation coming in if you give us opportunities and take us seriously. It’s hard to come by opportunities that people are passionate about. When you have someone who’s been in the business for so long, someone fresh and new coming in might be a little scary. But I think everyone should have the chance to prove that they are worthy.


RetailerNOW: What benefits do you see in belonging to a group like Next Generation NOW?

Stephanie: I was down at the High Point Market in October and I went to the Surya party and there was someone passing out buttons for Next Generation NOW. I didn’t really know anything about it so I went to the website. I thought it was interesting and nice to know that there are other people your age coming into the industry. I’ve been meeting some people on there, getting to know the ropes a little bit. I think it’s great to get to know people your age, and I do like the videos they do online. I’m still trying to learn how to use the website. Knowing that there are other people out there going through the same things and being able to connect to them and ask questions if you need guidance with anything is great.


Next Generation NOW (NGN or Next Gen NOW) is a community of young, passionate and engaged home furnishings professionals. Next Gen NOW seeks to give a voice to the unique needs of future generations entering the workforce to educate the industry on how to attract and keep young talent. Connect with members online at or on twitter @ngnow.

WithIt Takes 2014 Professional Conference to Atlanta

February 19, 2014

GREENSBORO, N.C. — WithIt, the home and furnishings industries’ leadership development network for women, has set the focus for its 2014 Professional Conference, slated August 11-13 in Atlanta.

The two-day program offers industry professionals at all stages of their careers the opportunity to grow both personally and professionally, develop leadership skills and connect with industry peers. Titled “The Art and Science of Leadership,” the 2014 event will present accomplished leaders from a variety of industries to inspire and educate attendees.

“Our program will help attendees identify and cultivate leadership attributes that are more of an art – like building rapport, influencing others and learning to ‘listen to your gut’ – as well as those leadership attributes that are more of a science – such as learning effective techniques for networking, managing time and priorities, and negotiating effectively,” explains 2014 Professional Conference Chair Carol Gregg, president of Red Egg.

The 2014 Professional Conference will be held at the Atlanta Marriott Buckhead Hotel & Conference Center, centrally located in the heart of the Buckhead business, shopping and entertainment district. The hotel is within walking distance of the MARTA-Lenox Station, steps away from Lenox Square Mall, and convenient to many of the area’s major attractions.

“The 2014 conference will empower our attendees to return to their companies throughout the home industries with new skills and knowledge to perform their jobs better,” states Violette Forman, WithIt’s 2014 president and general manager of Haverty’s in Monroe, La.

Conference registration is $300 for WithIt members and $425 for non-members. Students may attend for $150. A discounted group rate of $159 a night (single or double) has been negotiated for attendees at the Marriott Buckhead. Registration and a link to the hotel are available on the WithIt website,


WithIt was formed in 1997 to encourage and develop leadership, mentoring, education and networking opportunities for professional women in the home and furnishings industries. It is based in High Point, N.C.

For more information, contact:

Sara Lyke, 336-880-2188

Top Furniture Retailer HD Buttercup Goes Live on STORIS Vision9

Mt. Arlington, NJ – February 2014

STORIS, a leading supplier of Retail Solutions and Services, is proud to announce that Top Furniture Retailer, HD Buttercup, is now live on STORIS’ hosted Vision9 Cloud Solution.

With a mission to deliver an outstanding selection with zero compromise on style and value, HD Buttercup strives to create a memorable shopping experience. Offering high-end furniture and home furnishings accessories, which are displayed in innovative ways, this retailer is no ordinary furniture store. This retailer has two unique store locations which are Brick & Mortar Emporiums that are merchandised with an ever evolving mix of vintage, modern, and antique collections. The first location is in the historic Helms Bakery Building in Los Angeles, CA. The second destination, which is the largest furnishing store in the Bay Area, is in the Soma District in San Francisco, CA.

As an industry-leading furniture retailer, HD Buttercup will benefit from Vision9’s fully integrated platform from advanced analytics to exceptional point of sale and inventory management. “STORIS’ Vision9 business intelligence suite and real-time inventory system will enable HD Buttercup to not only continue our history of success but also bring all aspects of retail under one roof” states Nestor Navarro, HD Buttercup’s Vice President of Finance. In today’s omni-channel retail environment, STORIS’ V9 provides scalable tools for businesses to reach their customers through multiple touch points in retail—ecommerce on the web, mobile technology and the traditional brick and mortar store.

HD Buttercup will utilize Business Intelligence applications, such as Executive Vision, EIS, and FGII for analytics. Additionally companion products including STORIS Accounting, Warranties with Service Tracking, and Wireless Handheld Bar Coding, will be implemented to streamline their operations. For sales opportunities and customer relationship management, store locations will have Vision9′s CRM software, InTouch with the Up System.

We are proud to enter a business partnership with this prestigious retailer and have built our company by forging long-lasting working relationships with industry leaders like Evan Cole, Owner of HD Buttercup. We look forward to supporting HD Buttercup as they depart from a traditional system and exploit the V9 technology platform that will optimize their successful business,” concludes, Tim O’Neill, Senior Business Development at STORIS.

For 25 years, STORIS continues to be the leader in providing Solutions and World-Class Service to Big Ticket retailers of ALL sizes.

For more information, contact:
Kaitlin Surdoval
(973) 601-8285

Accellos Recognized on Forbes America’s Top 100 Most Promising Companies of 2014 List

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado – February 11, 2014 – Accellos, a leading provider of supply chain execution software solutions, has been named as one of Forbes America’s Top 100 Most Promising Companies. Accellos received recognition as number 88 on the Top 100 list published by Forbes. This is the first time that Accellos has been named on the prestigious list.

Accellos announced their acquisition of PROFITsystems, which provides SaaS, consulting and performance groups for small and medium-sized home goods retailers, in mid-November of last year.

READ MORE: Accellos Acquires PROFITsystems

Accellos qualified for list placement by excelling in the following areas:

  • Founding history
  • Industry profile
  • Employee and revenue growth
  • Operating margins
  • Executive team experience
  • Partner and customer relationships
  • Competitor comparison

Forbes’ third annual list of America’s Most Promising Companies recognizes 100 privately-held, high-growth companies. Companies that made the cut boast compelling business models, strong management teams, as well as notable customers and investors.

Forbes strove for a holistic gauge of young, privately-held businesses, attempting to pin down their trajectories by taking a range of variables into account. Over the course of four months Forbes reviewed hundreds of applications. The final assessment is based on growth (both in sales and hiring), quality of management teams and investors, margins, market size and key partnerships. After verifying sales numbers, speaking with each company and debating their merits and blemishes, Forbes produces a final ranking.

The full list of companies is available online at

“Being included in the Forbes America’s Top 100 Most Promising Companies list is an honor,” said Michael Cornell, CEO, Accellos. “It provides great visibility for our company and is indicative of the positive momentum being felt throughout the company.”

About Accellos
Accellos is a global provider of software solutions specifically designed for the unique needs of logistics service providers and midsized businesses. Over 3,000 companies trust Accellos to be the technology backbone of their global supply chains. Accellos provides solutions for warehouse management systems (WMS), third party logistics (3PL), fleet management, transportation management systems (TMS), trading partner integration (EDI), automated barcode data collection, parcel shipping, transportation optimization and supply chain business intelligence. Accellos solutions are built on the AccellosOne platform, a modern technology platform featuring a user-friendly interface and simplified technical administration. For more information, email or visit

All products are either registered trademarks or trademarks of their respective companies in the United States and/or other countries.


For more information, contact:
Ashley Saunders
Marketing Communications Manager, Accellos, Inc.
T: 888.509.5304

High Point Market Names the Style Spotters Team for Year 2014

High Point, NC, February 3, 2014 — The High Point Market Authority (HPMA) is pleased to announce the 2014 Style Spotters Team, as follows -

  • Michelle Jennings Wiebe, ASID (FL), Year 2013 Style Spotter “Emeritus”, Studio M, @StudioM_
  • Shay Geyer (TX), Fall 2013 Runner-Up, IBB Design Fine Furnishings, @designerShay
  • Mitzi Beach, ASID, CAPS (KS), Mitzi Beach Interiors, @mitzi_beach
  • Jeanne Chung (CA), Cozy•Stylish•Chic, @CozyStylishChic
  • Nicole Gibbons (NY), Nicole Gibbons Studio LLC, @NicoleGibbons
  • Haskell Harris (SC) Haskell Harris Creative, @haskellharris81
  • Meredith Heron (Canada), Meredith Heron Design Inc., @meredithheron
  • Gary Inman (VA), Glave & Holmes, @GaryInman2
  • Denise McGaha (TX), Denise McGaha Interiors, @DeniseMcGaha
  • Michelle Workman (GA), Michelle Workman Interiors, @interioricon

Style Spotters, launched during the Fall 2011 Market, are home fashion trendsetters that showcase their favorite products and top trends from Market exhibitors on Pinterest, a website that lets users organize and share photos on virtual pinboards. The HPMA put the 2014 team together by using a combination of self-identified and well-known candidates, with an impartial vetting and selection committee, and sought a diverse and geographically balanced group. We would like to thank both Julia Noran Johnston (The Editor at Large) and Kelli Ellis (Design Camp) for their help in assisting the selection committee.

The Style Spotter team for 2014 will work through both Markets (April and October) which affords continuity and expanded marketing possibilities for the HPMA. Style Spotters will continue to post their favorite products and top trends to the Market Pinterest board (Style Spotters will present exhibitors with signs that highlight their name with a QR code and URL) and will contribute to the two Trend Reports (April and October) that the HPMA produces.

High Point Market has received international recognition as one of the top brands using Pinterest. Social media and branding experts have touted the Market’s Style Spotters program as a unique way to take advantage of brand building on Pinterest. To discover more about the Style Spotters, go to

About the High Point Market Authority

The High Point Market Authority,, is the official sponsor and organizer of the High Point Market in High Point, N.C. Featuring an extensive selection of exhibitors spanning every category, style, and price point, and attracting tens of thousands of visitors from more than 100 countries twice each year, the High Point Market is the driving force of the home furnishings industry. Find the High Point Market anywhere online, and follow on Twitter using the hashtag #hpmkt.

Lynch Sales Company Celebrates 100 Years of Integrity and Results

Grand Rapids, Michigan (January 15, 2014) — One hundred years ago, Joseph P. Lynch had a dream – to become the best merchandising furniture salesmen in the country. Today the third generation, family-owned and operated business has made that dream come true. But not just in this country – countless repeat clients and new customers would say the world.

What makes Lynch Sales Company so different from its competitors? Why is this organization considered to be the leader in furniture liquidation and promotional sales? Throughout its history Lynch Sales Company has remained focused on its core values: integrity, respect for its clients and their businesses, and achieving superior results for those clients. Over the years these principles have resulted in hundreds of repeat clients, many of whom are internationally based.

Although the Joseph P. Lynch Sales Company is credited with inventing the furniture sales promotion business as we know it today, the Daniel Lynch Sales Company, led by Daniel L. Lynch, Sr. from 1945 – 1980, experienced tremendous growth as the furniture industry evolved in response to changing consumer tastes and other economic factors. Currently Chairman Emeritus of the company, Dan Lynch has relied upon his father’s advice over the past several decades: “Respect your customer,” he said. “Work with your customer and earn your customers the highest possible result.”

Today the co-chief executive officers of Lynch Sales Company, Judson Lynch and Chris Lynch, are following in their father’s and grandfather’s footsteps. They have perfected copyrighted sales plans that address the entire spectrum of promotional events designed to generate cash, expand or change location, remodel and refurbish stores or update inventory. In addition they work diligently with their staff of professionals to manage and direct retirement and complete close-out sales.

According to Chris Lynch, their sales professionals are one of the keys to a successful business. “We are fortunate to have many dedicated professionals on our team. These are fine people who have made their careers at Lynch Sales Company. Everyone from our office personnel, to our sales conductors and sales personnel has a sense of loyalty and passion to always do what is right and best for the team.”

Jud Lynch agreed and expanded on that idea. “We hold our commitment to our clients and the furniture industry in high esteem as we grow in diversity and sophistication. While our customers are located in many parts of the world we pride ourselves in providing personalized,

superior service while creating and delivering the best possible return on their investments,” he stated. “Retailers depend on us, in many cases, to help them stay in business with one of our Promotional Sales, which we prefer. This allows us to work with that retailer again someday when they have other reasons for large, storewide sales.

As a matter of fact, we’re celebrating the success of our customers as well as our company by observing our 100 year anniversary in a way that we hope will thank them for their loyalty over the years.”

According to the Lynch brothers, the year-long celebration kicked off at the beginning of this year, and will feature centennial and commemorative gifts as well as an opportunity to win a grand prize of a week-long trip to Ireland for one of their clients. “Any retailer who inquires about holding a Lynch ‘Sale of the Century’ in 2014 will receive a limited edition 100th Anniversary gift,” they said. “And if a retailer meets with a Lynch sales professional resulting in scheduling a sale to be held during 2014, they will not only receive an additional high-end commemorative gift but will be entered into the drawing for the grand prize. At the end of the year we’ll randomly select a retailer’s name and notify them that they have won the trip to Ireland.”

In 1932, Joseph Lynch said, “There have been a good many dishonest furniture sales promoters working in this country. And sometimes when I have announced myself to a store owner I have almost been thrown out before getting a chance to tell my story. Promotion schemes may hurt a store permanently; it is always best for a merchant to take the public into his confidence – if he is overstocked he should say so. That’s good enough reason for putting on a sale.”

Today, after 100 years in the furniture sales promotion business, the Lynch Sales Company continues to build upon its enviable reputation with furniture retailers. And the third generation of the family owned business will continue to value and respect their clients while achieving the highest possible results.


For more information, contact:

Daniel Ledo

Lynch Sales Company

ffice: (305) 444-3939

Cell: (786) 470-6465

Getting to Know the Next Gen: Lael Thompson

January 14, 2014>

The furniture industry gets younger every year. In order to embrace the new generation of retailers and welcome them into the business, RetailerNOW features a different member of the Next Generation NOW social network in every issue. Next Generation NOW is the premiere social scene for the new era of furniture professionals. Join the conversation at!

For this month’s spotlight, we introduce 35-year-old Lael Thompson, Chief Operations Officer at Broyhill Home Collections in Denver, Colorado.

RetailerNOW: Tell me about your industry history.

LT: My parents started the company when I was 5, so pretty much as long as I can remember, I’ve been exposed to the furniture industry. It was everything that accompanies growing up in a family business, from helping assemble and deliver things to cleaning around the store. One of the unique things about our history as a store is that we specialized in unpainted furniture. You could either pick the stains and the materials and complete the project yourself, or we had a finishing department where we would actually finish things for you. It was the original roots of this industry, which was all solid wood, American-made products.

RetailerNOW: How have you seen the industry change throughout your life?

LT: It’s changed tremendously. The industry used to have a very deep passion for influencing peoples’ lives at home, and it focused on the end experience that was facilitated through the product. Over time, especially as things have shifted towards imports, the industry really became more about pushing the commodity. The focus shifted from the end experience that would be delivered through the product to just simply focusing on a product at a price. Now it’s kind of become a race to the bottom to see who can make what the cheapest and the industry has lost sight of the role it plays to the end user.

RetailerNOW: What do you think needs to be done to get the industry back to where it was, knowing it’s relying on foreign products?

LT: We get so focused on the specific details of running our businesses, and I think we need to focus more on that end consumer and the experience we’re providing. In the welcome video for our website, I talk to the public about how when you buy the products, you’re not just simply buying an item to fill a room. These items serve a purpose. Like on Thanksgiving. We’re all going to huddle up around this table. And that table is facilitating these life moments, these lifelong memories. If the industry focused more on the role it plays with the people who are buying the products, then the public would find more value in what we offer.

When you look at the industries that are doing the best or the industries that stayed strong through the recession, they were the industries that had more of a connection to the consumer and what the consumer was going to be rewarded with experience-wise for having bought that product. We have to get back to delivering and showing the customer what it is we’re doing to improve their lives, and then they’ll look at us as a worthy place to spend that dollar.

RetailerNOW: Do you think that the furnishings industry is headed back in that direction?

LT: I don’t see the industry as a whole moving that way. The industry, at this point, is still finding its way to race to the bottom. In High Point, Jerry Epperson went through analytical data that showed we’re selling furniture at its highest value proposition than we ever have. We walked backwards in pricing. Our industry defies inflation. So the numbers tell us that we’re not focusing on any other aspect than trying to do it cheaper and cheaper and cheaper. But look at how many retailers it’s put out of business. There are only a certain number of retailers who can survive at such razor-thin margins. So that race to the bottom has actually done a significant amount of damage to the livelihood and value of this industry. For people that have spent decades in or grew up in the industry, we remember times when the relationship aspect was the core driving force of the industry. And on the back end of the industry, we still experience that between ourselves, but I think we’ve lost that connection with the public.

RetailerNOW: Do you think those are the biggest challenges facing store owners today?

LT: I think those are probably right up at the top. The challenge is that it’s self-fulfilled prophecy. We drop prices, we run thinner margins and it reduces our ability to do the things we want to do. So what happens is we’re working harder for less. You have to sell more $200 dressers to make up for the one $400 dresser you used to sell. When we drop our numbers, we have to work a lot harder and do a lot more to make the same amount of money.

RetailerNOW: What advice do you have for older retailers?

LT: I would remind them that things constantly change and although their past experience is valued and valuable, it’s not the only way to get things done. When times got tough in the recession, a lot of the retailers fell back to what they knew worked in the past, but it didn’t necessarily work as well now. I believe the statistic was that during the recession, the furniture industry lost one out of four stores nationwide. The attrition level through this last recession was the heaviest this industry has ever seen, including the Great Depression. But I think part of what caused that was a resistance to change and the fact that they were going to do what they knew, but not try new things. They have to get out of that “this is how we’ve always done it” mentality. That was based on an old business model. To try and do the same thing in a new business model is like trying to put a square peg in a round hole. Not everything is going to be perfect all the time, but we have to learn to try things, but be smart about it so that if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t sink you. They have to embrace the change and welcome the technology and find ways that they can be successful with it.

The other thing is that almost anyone who’s great in this industry, if you ask them if they had somebody who made a difference in their furniture career, someone who took them under their wing and gave them a leg up, or mentored them or gave some advice that changed things for them, almost anyone you talk to is going to have someone that did that for them. So I would urge them to make sure they’re doing that for the next generation coming in. Find a way to contribute into these new people who are going to carry on the traditions.

RetailerNOW:What benefits do you see in Next Generation—NOW?

LT: The major ones are being able to find a friendly resource to help you get plugged in. There’s this kind of network, and that network shares influence, information and best practices. Those people stay on top because they stay abreast of what’s relevant and what’s working. What I love about Next Gen is that it’s providing an opportunity for young people to get plugged in and access all those resources. We can provide education, networking, information and best practices. Back in 2004 or 2005, we started the concept of this program, and the gist behind it was that we wanted to see young people who came into the industry stay in the industry. A lot of young people come into the industry and after two or three years, they’ll burn out and go elsewhere. They have challenges and problems and frustrations they encounter, and if they don’t get past them, that’s when they leave. We’re able to help people become successful and rooted and planted in this industry sooner. A lot of entrepreneurs, it takes a long time before they get it right. They had to get out there and do it and fail and find what worked, and there was a lot of energy and time and resource that was lost in that process. So what Next Gen can do is avoid that headache. If you have someone telling you, “don’t put your hand on the stove, it’s hot,” they save you the frustration and pain of getting burned. In this industry, we can come in and basically help people be more successful quicker and avoid the burnout—and hopefully have a little fun doing it at the same time.


Next Generation NOW (NGN or Next Gen NOW) is a community of young, passionate and engaged home furnishings professionals. Next Gen NOW seeks to give a voice to the unique needs of future generations entering the workforce to educate the industry on how to attract and keep young talent. Connect with members online at or on twitter @ngnow.

Furniture Today Leadership Conference 2014

January 10, 2014

NAHFA attends FT Conference with Honors

The 17th annual Furniture|Today Leadership conference in Naples, Fla., enjoyed a record turnout for the show. From December 3-5, 2013, more than 470 industry leaders descended on the Ritz-Carlton Beach Resort to enjoy an itinerary packed full of panels and presentations, all following the theme of “Mastering the Game.”


2014 FT Masters of the Industry Winners

Ron Wanek, left, of Ashley Furniture, Bernie Moray of Gorman’s, Art Van Elslander of Art Van Furniture, Simon Kaplan of Crest Furniture and Jake Jabs of American Furniture Warehouse received lifetime achievement awards at Furniture/Today’s Leadership Conference and Masters of the Game Awards dinner.

NAHFA held a strong presence among the attendees, with several of the association’s members being honored with awards. Four out of five recipients of the Masters of the Industry Award are members:

Art Van Elslander; Art Van Furniture; Warren, Michigan
Jake Jabs; American Furniture Warehouse; Englewood, Colorado
Bernie Moray; Gorman’s; Farmington, Michigan
Ron Wanek; Ashley Furniture HomeStores; Arcadia, Wisconsin

Simon Kaplan of Dayton, New Jersey-based Crest Furniture also received this award.

The Masters of the Industry Award is presented to retailers who have been industry visionaries, taking leadership to a new level and acting as ideal role models for the furnishings world.


2014 FT / Leggett & Platt Rising Star Award Winners

Tackling the subject of attracting young consumers and employees to the furniture industry. Seth Goldberg, left, Raymour & Flanigan; Will Daughtrey, Badcock Home Furniture & more; Jessica Tubman, Circle Furniture; Mark Mueller, Mueller Furniture; and Becca Sudbeck, Nebraska Furniture Mart.

The next generation of retailers also came out on top, with three out of the five of the Furniture|Today – Leggett & Platt Rising Star Awards going to NAHFA member stores:

Jessica Tubman; Circle Furniture; Boston
Will Daughtrey; Badcock Home Furniture; Mulberry, Florida
Seth Goldberg; Raymour & Flanigan; Liverpool, New York

Non-member store winners were Becca Sudbeck of Omaha, Neb.-based Nebraska Furniture Mart and Mark Mueller of Bellville, Ill.-based Mueller Furniture.

This award is specifically for young retailers who display exceptional levels of leadership, creativity, vision and innovation.



Congratulations to these shining NAHFA stars!


Words of Wisdom

The FT conference panels offered some easy-to-remember tips to success. Here’s a rundown of some of our favorites.

  • → If you take risk out of life, you take opportunity out of life.
  • → The magic lies in execution, not in ideas.
  • → Be relentless with your quest to change the world.
  • → Execute or be executed.