• Ray Allegrezza

These tigers prove business is out there

Maybe it's the Philadelphia address, but the management team of Home Line Inds., a domestic manufacturer that also imports case goods and upholstery, has a work ethic and unflappable corporate spirit that makes the movie's Rocky Balboa look like a slacker.

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit the company and came away so pumped up that I felt ready to go 10 rounds myself. What did I see at their Philly facility that put me in such an upbeat mood? Perhaps I should answer that by telling you what I didn't see.

For openers, I didn't see the slightest trace of apathy or boredom on anybody's face at the company. Everyone, from the production workers to the executive team, had that eye-of-the-tiger look.

There was no talk of a half-full glass, or how business is as soft as a Philly cheese-steak hero. Instead, the company exudes a tangible energy that literally hits you in the face the minute you walk through the door.

Everyone there is on a mission. And thanks to tremendous communications efforts on the part of Co-Presidents Bret Vernekoff, Josh Verne and Verne's brother-in-law Josh Block, everyone knows exactly what his or her mission is at the company.

The 40-year-old family business, situated on a sprawling, 23-acre Philly site, in no way resembles its humble beginnings — a single used furniture store called Chuck's Bargain House, started by Chuck Vernekoff, a down-on-his-luck businessman who'll tell you how he struggled in those days to make the rent.

Today, the company is doing in excess of $100 million a year, imports product in just about every furniture category, produces upholstery here, just bought a second upholstery facility in North Carolina and has next-day delivery to some 15 major markets.

Home Line, which sells via full containers or single orders, will make its High Point debut this March in a permanent showroom.

More than anything else, this company proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the business is out there.

I guess you need a tiger's eye to find it.

Ray AllegrezzaRay Allegrezza | Editor in Chief, Furniture Today

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