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Women instrumental in furniture industry

Jerry Epperson An insider’s viewJerry Epperson An insider’s view
In the May 20 issue of Fortune, everyone's favorite multi-billionaire, Warren Buffett, wrote an essay on why he is "bullish on women." He accurately points out how much of the great progress in America over the centuries has been done with 50% of its population limited in its ability to show creativity, leadership, and ability.
     Women in our society are not just making gains, they are exploding in their influence and impact on everything from high finance to politics. Don't look now guys, but we may not see another white male president for a while, after a 230-year streak.
     You know the statistics with women earning most of the college degrees and making dramatic income gains as they move toward more equal pay, move up in the corporate structure and gain more responsibility. Female CEOs and board members are no longer unusual.
     I am the token fossil on the board of governors of WithIt, the rapidly growing, influential women's association in our industry. Over a decade ago, this organization recognized that women must have a greater role. With few exceptions, men dominate the furniture and mattress industries in terms of design, merchandising, marketing, sales, administration, manufacturing, global sourcing, and in sales representatives. The only place women are clearly dominant is making the ultimate purchase decision. Sigh.
     With the possible exception of the women's underwear and shoe industries, no other industry could benefit more from having women in decision-making roles. Some right brain input could really help the left brains do better.
     We must attract young people into our industry, especially young females.
     While I am ranting, the American Furniture Hall of Fame is about to nominate another group of outstanding leaders of our industry. While honoring these individuals is a wonderful idea, the AFHF is also publishing interviews from industry leaders and gathering industry memorabilia to help preserve our very interesting, colorful, characters-rich history. Please join me in supporting the AFHF with your contributions, your historical items and, most of all, your input. The Hall of Fame wants to be as inclusive of all factors in our diverse industry as possible and it wants you to help.
     Finally, have you visited the Bienenstock Furniture Library in High Point? If you go, you will be disturbed that this wonderful resource has been available and you have not been using it. Please visit not just for its vast collections, but also to purchase the latest home furnishings books.
     And, as an added incentive, while there you can ride the Epperson elevator. Tell them I said it was OK.

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