Congratulations to the Honorees of the Furniture Industry Gala Awards
Monday night at market there was a joint event sponsored by the National Home Furnishings Association (NHFA) and the International Home Furnishings Representative's Association (IHFRA). This is just one of many events that retailers and reps work together on to honor noteworthy members for their dedication to the industry.
In local chapters around the country, local charity functions and industry events like the March on Washington, reps have always been supportive and have worked with retailers and factories to make our industry a better place. This year we had a particularly good slate of honorees from IHFRA. Rick Gillespie received the Distinguished Service Award for his years of helping and leading the national IHFRA organization when times were particularly tough. He was on the Executive Board when I joined and I know he was a very diligent and hardworking rep, so the honor is well placed. Rick had full support from a number of Hooker reps in attendance, a company he has worked for since he started part time when he was 14.
The Pillar of the Industry this year went to John D. Bassett III of Vaughan-Bassett Furniture. He has led his bedroom company through particularly tumultuous times and has managed to keep American workers employed when many others went overseas. I had never met Mr. Bassett before this event and was taken with his positive upbeat message of optimism about the American potential. Vaughan-Bassett is reopening a factory, employing lots of American workers, and he reminded the audience that our best times are still ahead.
Also honored at the event were Mike Huber of Belfort Furniture and Howard Haimsohn of Lawrance Contemporary Home Furnishings as NHFA retailers of the year. Both men spoke of the honor as a team effort between the dedicated people who work for their respective companies and the vendors and reps who supply the product. In both cases it was evident that these men and their companies have overcome much adversity on their paths to success. Both men would not take personal credit, but rather shared the credit with their spouses, their family and of course all their employees. You could hear in both their acceptance speeches why these awards were so well deserved.
I will tell you that of all the industry functions I have been to over the years, this particular event was one of the most entertaining thanks to the great efforts of the new NHFA president Marc Schewel. In fact if you are a retailer and don't belong to NHFA, this year would be worth the investment just to hear Marc's dry wit as he pokes fun at industry icons and laments that he has never received the retailer of the year award. He did it all in good fun and brought the entire audience along on his Garrison Keillor type rendition of a Furniture Home Companion. Marc may have solidified a permanent speaking position on the furniture circuit.
Congratulations to all awardees for your industriousness and your dedication to the furniture business.
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