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From Home Furnishing Business

Michigan Group is IHFRA Chapter of the Year

HFRM has stayed ahead of the curve as the furnishings industry continues to change drastically from what it was at the group's founding in 1948, when Michigan sales representatives banded together and created a professional fraternity to maximize all that they had in common.

Being a sales representative was never easy, but the industry was constantly growing. After the Second World War, it was booming, as the need for furniture expanded with the postwar growth of families.

But things began to change in the seventies due to many factors. In order to become more important to both their factories and their accounts, HFRM published an annual Buyers’ Guide for the benefit of buyers looking for certain lines and the reps who carried them.

As society grew and changed in the 80’s, it became less and less important for sales representatives to belong to a professional association. By the 90’s membership had begun a free-fall, shrinking drastically. The members of HFRM have continued to be steadfast and loyal, adapting and improving themselves and their work for many years now.

An excellent example of this work for the good of the industry is the event held June 4-5, 2013. The main attraction was a day-long seminar presented by Cathey Manley, an award-winning and accomplished sales trainer. HFRM offered this seminar free of charge for Michigan retailers. It was aimed at store sales associates, and covered all aspects of their work from approaching the customer to building a client relationship to delivering the purchased goods. The attendance was impressive, and all reported that what they had learned was inspirational, useful and beneficial. The next day was for golf, with the aim of presenting a check to one of the chapter’s pet charities, Folds of Honor.

In 2013, one of HFRM’s longtime members was stricken with a serious illness that resulted in the need for a heart transplant, the chapter’s board voted to donate $10,000 toward the cost of the procedure, since the patient’s insurance was not going to cover everything. HFRM had previously sent $5000 to a fund set up for the education of children of 9/11 victims.

Many of the HFRM members have been involved with the Chapter for their entire careers and have contributed generously with their time, to ensure the success of the work on behalf of charities such as Children’s Hospital in Detroit, Folds of Honor, and Mary Free Bed in Grand Rapids.

In recognition of the need for new survival skills, HFRM is planning more events for the edification of members. Its board of directors spends a significant portion of its meeting times planning for future events, and discussing ways to keep the membership interested and involved. The annual HFRM holiday event for members and spouses is a popular social occasion as well as a presentation of the latest benefits of membership in the Chapter.

In 2013 HFRM undertook an exhaustive revision of the list of Michigan retailers, with emphasis on e-mail addresses and updating all pertinent information. This task was hands-on to ensure accuracy.

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