SHFA members vote to disband, join NAHFA
Clint Engel -- Furniture Today, January 16, 2014
ROSEVILLE, Calif. — Retailer members of the Southern Home Furnishings Assn. have voted to close the organization and join the North American Home Furnishings Assn. as full members.
SHFA, with 180 retailer members in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia, previously was an affiliate of NAHFA. SHFA members completed the vote to disband in November and the association's final business was wrapped up during the first week of January, said Mary Frye, executive vice president of NAHFA in Dallas.
David Gardner of Warrenton Furniture Exchange in Warrenton, N.C., with wife Cathy, received the Southern Home Furnishings Assn.’s Willis Award of Merit at the SHFA’s final annual conference last year.
"The move allows the SHFA members and volunteer leadership to eliminate duplicate efforts and focus on networking activities that better serve retailers," the NAHFA said in a release. The former SHFA members will "remain active in regional events and initiatives and continue to enjoy all the benefits associated with membership."
As one of its final acts, in recognition of heritage and achievements of the SHFA and as a tribute to its leaders, the group set up a scholarship at High Point University to support and encourage the future generation of home furnishings professionals. HPU will manage the scholarship program, Frye said.
"We wish to thank all SHFA members for their past, present and continued support," the association's president, Britt Sams of Sams Furniture & Mattress Center, Henderson, N.C., said in the release. "Our members were the reason the SHFA was such a fine organization and they will be instrumental in making the Southern Region an effective group within the NAHFA."
Separately, SHFA presented its final Willis Award of Merit to David Gardner, president of Warrenton Furniture Exchange, Warrenton, N.C., during its last annual conference in September in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Gardner, third-generation leader of the retailer, took over the business when his father retired in 1988. The Willis honor, established in 1954 by the owners of Willis Furniture in Virginia Beach, Va., recognizes retailers for outstanding service to their communities, industry and church.
"This could be a sad night as we end a wonderful tradition, but we must celebrate the wonderful legacy that the Willis Family started ... one that all recipients are so proud to be a part of," Gardner said.
More than 50 people attended the award celebration, where Marc Schewel of Lynchburg, Va.-based Schewel Furniture offered a champagne toast, honoring Gardner and his many accomplishments and wrapping up the evening.
NAHFA was created last year with the merger of the three largest home furnishings retailer associations in the United States and has more than 1,800 members with more than 7,000 stores in all 50 states and several foreign countries. That number doesn't change with the SHFA full membership, Frye said, because as an affiliate, the group already was counted as member.
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