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Six leaders nominated for American Furniture Hall of Fame

HIGH POINT — Six industry leaders in manufacturing, retail and design are candidates for election this year into the American Furniture Hall of Fame.

The nominees, who will be made Industry Fellows at the Oct. 20 Hall of Fame banquet here, are Aminy I. Audi, John D. Bassett III, Milo Ray Baughman Jr., A. Leon Capel Jr., Hassel H. Franklin and Eugene Rosenberg, the American Furniture Hall of Fame Foundation announced.

"The home furnishings industry is comprised of highly diverse roles and products, which is represented in this year's slate of the leaders in our industry," said George Cartledge III, president of the foundation. "Each person represents a lifelong career of exemplary achievement, leadership, innovation and generosity. Each nominee has earned the respect of his peers as well as the industry as a whole, and will be made an industry fellow."

Foundation members will vote between July 15 and Aug. 16 on which nominees will be inducted into the hall. Under the new selection system, the inductees will be determined by the combination of the voting and a points-based rating system of each nominee by the Foundation's Industry Fellow Selection Committee.

New members will be announced and officially inducted into the Hall of Fame at the annual banquet Oct. 20 during the High Point Market. Each nominee will be recognized and presented with a Hall of Fame pin and plaque. New inductees will receive the Affie award.

Officials said the candidates were selected from open nominations and by the Industry Fellows Selection Committee based on their contributions to the growth and development of the furniture industry in America with a focus on four standards: enduring excellence, superior accomplishments, innovation and creativity, and philanthropic generosity.

Here are summaries of the official Hall of Fame bios of the nominees:


 Image of Aminy I. AudiAminy I. Audi

• Aminy I Audi, CEO and chairman of L. & J.G. Stickley, and her late husband, Alfred, purchased a struggling company with 25 employees in 1974 and were instrumental in a resurgence of the Arts & Crafts style. Today, Stickley employs more than 1,500 with three manufacturing plants, 14 company-owned stores and a network of retail dealers. Audi has helped to direct seven expansions at the Manlius, N.Y., plant, which run 20 hours a day. She has been instrumental in the purchase of Nichols & Stone, John Widdicomb, Heirloom Upholstery, Cibola Leather and Madison Square while also directing the planning, staffing and merchandising of each store. An active mentor, philanthropist and industry champion, she has been honored by WithIt, the International Furnishings and Design Assn., the Small Business Administration and the American Red Cross while serving on boards including the American Home Furnishings Alliance and as a trustee of the State University of New York. 

 Image of John D. Bassett IIIJohn D. Bassett III


• John D. Bassett III, chairman of Vaughan-Bassett Furniture Co., is a champion of American-made furniture, serving as chairman of the Committee for Legal Trade and advocating for a critical Environmental Protection Agency rule change to benefit the furniture industry and the environment. He has led the company from sales of $38 million in 1983 to more than $90 million today, making Vaughan-Bassett one of the largest American wood bedroom manufacturers, importing less than 2% of total sales. In 2012, he oversaw an $8 million expansion and reopening of a factory. A recipient of the American Home Furnishings Alliance Distinguished Service Award and the International Home Furnishings Representatives Assn. Pillar of the Industry Award, Bassett shares his best practices about American manufacturing throughout the country. He supports many community organizations and created the Vaughan-Bassett Free Clinic, which provides free medical care for employees and their families.


 Image of Milo Ray Baughman Jr.Milo Ray Baughman Jr.

• Milo Ray Baughman Jr. is recognized as a pioneer of mid-century modern furniture design whose creative genius was combined with inventive engineering and manufacturing expertise. He formed Milo Baughman Design Inc. in 1947 and began to design furniture for Pacific Iron and Glenn of California, becoming identified with the burgeoning California modern style. In 1953, he forged a collaboration with upholstery manufacturer Thayer Coggin that continues to thrive today, long after his death. Demand continues to grow for his original pieces of furniture while his classic modern designs have been reintroduced by Thayer Coggin and are sold by fine retailers and design showrooms. He has won design awards and his pieces have been exhibited at a number of museums. Baughman also founded and led the Department of Environmental Design at Brigham Young University, and taught design at several prestigious universities. He is known for his kind and generous heart.


 Image of A. Leon Capel Jr.A. Leon Capel Jr.

• A. Leon Capel Jr., an innovator in the rug industry for nearly 60 years, led Capel Inc., America's oldest rug manufacturer, until his retirement in 2005. With his brothers, the company founded by his father has grown from two to five factories and from $1 million to $55 million in sales worldwide. Capel was for decades the only rug manufacturer with its own spinning mill, weaving division, dye house and sales force, as well as showrooms in 10 U.S. cities. Known for his creativity, Leon Capel devised unusual promotions to drive showroom attendance. He has served on the Governors Travel Council for Exports to Europe, the Far East and South America, the North Carolina Department of Commerce for Domestic Exports and advisory boards at the High Point, Dallas and Atlanta market centers. He is also active on numerous community boards.



 Image of Hassel H. FranklinHassel H. Franklin

• Hassell H. Franklin, chairman and CEO of Franklin Corp., launched a small, family-owned business in 1970, which now supplies American-made motion upholstery worldwide and has sustained double-digit growth nearly every year. It is among the largest privately owned U.S. furniture manufacturers with more than 1,300 employees. Franklin has received the AHFA Distinguished Service Award, the Upholstered Furniture Action Council Industry Service Award and was elected to the Mississippi Business Hall of Fame. He has served as a director on a number of business and civic boards. He established a $1 million endowment at Mississippi State University for the Franklin Furniture Institute, a research and training center benefitting the furniture industry.



 Image of Eugene RosenbergEugene Rosenberg

• Eugene Rosenberg, a founder of Bob's Discount Furniture and Planned Furniture Promotions, and a partner in the revival of Boyles furniture, has combined hard work and perseverance with his love for the furniture industry. In 1962, he co-founded Gene Rosenberg Associates, now called Planned Furniture Promotions, the country's largest furniture promotion firm, which has assisted over 6,000 retailers with high-impact sales that have enabled retailers to survive, reorganize or close without extensive debt. In 1991, he co-founded Bob's Discount Furniture, growing the chain to the 15th largest furniture retailer in the U.S. Dedicated to assisting those in need, he founded Camp Rising Sun for children stricken with cancer and the Bob's Discount Furniture Foundation, which benefits dozens of children's charities and other charitable organizations.


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