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Lineup set for Next Gen Day at High Point Market

HIGH POINT — Next Generation-NOW, the North American Home Furnishings Assn.'s young professionals group, has announced a roster of diverse and experienced panelists for discussions at its inaugural Next Gen Day at the High Point Market.

Registration is still open for this free day of education on Monday at High Point University. For information or to register online go to

Buses will depart from market at 8:30 a.m. Monday from the Green Street entrance of the International Home Furnishings Center to shuttle participants to the HPU campus where, along with students, they will interact with industry professionals to gain career insights and discuss opportunities for a successful future in the home furnishings industry.

Ashley Furniture Inds. Chairman Ron Wanek will offer a brief welcome.

"We are so excited that the furniture industry is willing to step up to educate our students on potential careers in the furniture industry," said Jim Wehrley, dean of HPU's Phillips School of Business. "This opportunity could be the catalyst that sends a student in a direction that could lead to a lifelong satisfying and rewarding career."

Two panel discussions are scheduled.

"We knew we had to involve icons in the industry at both sessions," said retailer Lael Thompson of Broyhill Home Collections, Aurora, Colo., and a Next Gen NOW advisory board member. "Our goal is to provide as much knowledge, know-how and insight as possible - the ‘in the trenches' information that these panelists have will be invaluable to the audience of students and young professionals."

One panel will be at HPU, titled Fashioning a Career in the Home Furnishings Industry. Panelists include:

• Kerry Lebensburger, president of sales, Ashley Furniture Inds.

• Jason Goldman, marketing specialist and HPU alumnus, Ashley Furniture Inds.

• Seth Goldberg, vice president of business development, Raymour & Flanigan Furniture, Liverpool, N.Y.

• Stuart Curtis, vice president of operations, Best Home Furnishings

• Ron Gordon, vice president of technology, MicroD

• Hayley Leocha, product manager, MicroD

HPU shuttles will bring attendees and students back to market for an 11:30 a.m. luncheon panel and job-shadowing afternoon. Held in the 11th floor ballroom of the IHFC Green Wing, the luncheon panel session, facilitated by Ray Allegrezza, editor-in-chief of Furniture|Today, features prominent personalities in the industry.

Panelists for 3 Guys and a Mic - Insights and Anecdotes with Industry Icons will include:

+ Jerry Epperson, analyst and managing director, Mann, Armistead & Epperson, Richmond, Va.

+ Pedro Capo, senior vice president, El Dorado Furniture, Miami Gardens, Fla.

+ Steve Hodges, freelance designer and president, Steve Hodges Associates

+ Rick Schroeder, vice president of design, Stanley Furniture

Panelists will share stories of how they became involved in the industry as well as triumphs and challenges along the way. A Q&A will follow.

More than 20 students have signed up to participate in the afternoon at market. Job shadowing mentors offer students a variety of career opportunities to explore. From buyer to marketing manager to chief operating officer, students will get a behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of the home furnishings industry.

To follow the group's activities on Twitter during market, use the hashtag #NGNHPmkt.


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