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GMFA to host awards dinner, dance Dec. 1

Kara Cox, Clint Engel -- Furniture Today, October 24, 2012

 Image of Bilici MehmetBilici Mehmet

EDISON, N.J. — The Greater Metropolitan Furnishings Assn. will hold its Awards Dinner & Dance Dec. 1 at The Palisadium in Cliffside Park, N.J., eight miles from the George Washington Bridge.

Retailers, suppliers and representatives will gather for the annual event, a festive kickoff to the holiday season, and to honor three industry leaders.

Mehmet Bilici, founder and managing partner of Sunset International Trade, a wholesale company in Paterson, N.J., will receive the Howard Liveright Award, given to an individual who has made outstanding contributions in the home furnishings industry.

Bilici, who is also owner of Furniture Expo in Clifton, N.J. - one of the state's largest furniture showrooms - established Sunset International in 2002, forming a partnership with Istikbal Furniture, the largest furniture manufacturer in Turkey, with "a long and reputable history as supplier of home furnishings products delivered with excellent service," according to a GMFA release.

"Today, only 10 years later, Sunset International has found favor with over 2,000 independent retailers," including large players El Dorado Furniture, Raymour & Flanigan, American Signature, American TV and JCPenney.

The Jerry Gans Memorial Award will be presented to Irwin Friedman of Top 100 company Crest Furniture of Dayton, N.J., which operates Value City Furniture stores in New Jersey and Ashley Furniture HomeStores in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

 Image of Irwin FriedmanIrwin Friedman
 Image of Rick AaronsonRick Aaronson

An industry veteran, Friedman joined Barney's Furniture of Paterson and Newark, N.J., in 1958 as an entry-level salesman. He worked there for 37 years, rising to principal executive before joining Crest CEO Simon Kaplan as the company's merchandising and advertising manager.

"If you think about all the positive things that the Jerry Gans Memorial Award stands for, and the way my father lived, Irwin is the perfect recipient," said Andy Gans, GMFA board member and president of Gans Bros. "He is as dedicated, loyal and hard working as they get."

Rick Aaronson will receive the Charles B. Costar Dean of IHFRA Award, given to an individual who sets an example in the industry through service and dedication to International Home Furnishings Representatives Assn., and his or her local chapter.


Aaronson is an active member of the GMFA and was president of its predecessor organization Metropolitan Furnishings Assn. He and his partners Tony Bellarosa and Chris Clarizio cover metro New York, New Jersey, southern Connecticut and the Hudson Valley for Klaussner.


Aaronson started his furniture career at Eclipse Sleep Products, serving as regional sales manager for National Mattress Co., and was vice president of sales and marketing for Deville Furniture.

"This year, we have three important honorees who exemplify the best the furniture business has to offer," said Patrick Cory, managing partner of Cory Home Delivery and GMFA president. "They give freely of their time, energy and enthusiasm, year after year, to support our industry and charitable causes. Each is known for bringing extraordinary value to their customers, for creating jobs and supporting their colleagues."

At the event, retailers, suppliers and representatives also will have time to network "while enjoying great food, an open bar, music and dancing," said Alan Granetz, GMFA executive director.

For more information on attending or participating in a souvenir journal being prepared for the honorees, contact Granetz at (908) 725-3460 or

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