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Belgrad, Bernhardt, Segal inducted into Hall of Fame

 Image of Don BelgradDon Belgrad
 Image of Alexander BernhardtAlexander Bernhardt
 Image of Gordon SegalGordon Segal

HIGH POINT — Industry leaders Don Belgrad, Alex Bernhardt and Gordon Segal were inducted into the American Furniture Hall of Fame at a banquet ceremony here last night.

They join 85 members previously inducted into the hall, which honors individuals whose outstanding achievements have contributed to the continued growth and development of the furniture industry.

Kathy Ireland, CEO and chief designer of Kathy Ireland Worldwide, hosted the sold-out market banquet here. Kurt Darrow, La-Z-Boy CEO and president of the American Furniture Hall of FameFoundation, said this year's inductees were chosen using a revised process involving foundation members.

"This election was the first year using our new selection process, which incorporated a vote by the membership with a points-based rating system of each nominee by the Foundation's Industry Fellow Selection Committee," Darrow said. "The nomination process also was more thorough, insuring that the Hall of Fame will always represent an elite field of industry leaders. We congratulate each new member for their enduring excellence, superior accomplishments, innovation and creativity, and philanthropic generosity in their time, talents and resources."

Here are the biographies supplied by the Hall of Fame for the new inductees:

 Donald A. Belgrad, born in 1939, worked tirelessly for industry and philanthropic causes, spending his entire furniture career at Schnadig International Corp., where he built it into the largest U.S. family-owned upholstery producer. He pioneered the correlated approach to upholstery starting with occasional groups, and then moving to living rooms, dining rooms and bedrooms. Identifying the global manufacturing trend, he quickly established a Chinese subsidiary to ensure quality, production control and supply chain management before orchestrating the sale of Schnadig to Markor International Furniture in 2009.

 George Alexander Bernhardt, born in 1943, led Bernhardt Furniture Co. to become an award-winning design leader in residential and contract furniture. During his tenure, he quadrupled the size of the business founded by his grandfather in 1889, making it the largest high-end furniture company in the United States. Bernhardt Furniture has won nine Pinnacle awards and 32 Best of Neocon awards. The company also was one of the first American manufacturers to import parts and later fully made furniture from Asia.

 Gordon Segal, born in 1938, built Crate and Barrel from one store in Chicago to an internationally renowned home furnishings business with more than 100 stores in the U.S. and abroad. With a focus on design and a reputation for flawless customer service and integrity, Segal was among the first to buy directly from factories in Europe. He introduced innovative and much emulated methods of visual and product merchandising, dubbed "the Crate and Barrel look." For decades, Crate and Barrel has been among the nation's top 20 furniture stores.

Other nominees for this year's Hall of Fame included Donald H. Flanders Sr., whose career in case goods and casual furniture manufacturing included the founding of Flanders Mfg. and Lloyd/Flanders; John C. Portman Jr., who transformed the industry and the Atlanta skyline with his 7 million-square-foot AmericasMart and the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center; and the late Roy B. Unger, who played major roles at Sealy and Serta in a 50-year bedding career and was known as the "father of the modern bedding era."

Platinum level sponsors for the Hall of Fame Foundation are headlined by Ashley Furniture Inds., Aspenhome, Furniture Brands International, La-Z-Boy and Markor Cos.

Gold sponsors are AICO/Amini Innovations, Art Van Furniture, Berkshire Hathaway Furniture Cos., FEI Marketing, Hickory Springs Mfg., Leggett & Platt and Zenith Global Logistics.

Silver sponsors are Culp Inc., El Dorado Furniture, Flexsteel Inds., Furnitureland South, Kingsdown, Havertys Furniture, Klaussner Home Furnishings, Raymour & Flanigan, Simmons Bedding, Stein World and Vaughn-Bassett Furniture.

Copper sponsors are Badcock Home Furniture & more, Bassett Furniture Inds., Carpenter Co., City Furniture, Comfort Solutions, Grand Home Furnishings, Haynes Furniture, Home Meridian International, Hooker Furniture, L. & J. G. Stickley, Restonic, RoomStore, Rooms To Go, Samson Marketing, Stoney Creek Furniture, Steinreich Communications, Therapedic International, Watkins and Shepard Trucking and Zuo Modern Contemporary.

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