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From Home Furnishing Business

Editor’s Note: Don’t Throw the Baby Out with the Bath Water

However, now it is not the heady days of the pandemic, but at 11.5%*, it is still double the performance of 2018. While the industry is stagnant, there are some signs of recovery. Traditional furniture retailers have maintained the gross profit after the pandemic, 47.2% (2018) to 51.1% (2023). The next cost cutting target is labor across the operation.

This component held at 18.19% during the pandemic. Proceed with caution. Management should attempt to control the expense as inflation drives labor costs upward. However, the strategic strength traditional retailers have is SERVICE against the emerging competition of home improvement, mass merchants, Internet, and so on. The consumer wants service, whether it is design assistance from the retail sales associate or dependable delivery and scheduling. Carefully evaluate going outside your organization.

Short term savings may not pay long term dividends. And another thought, could you be losing that employee that will make you successful, as those highlighted in this issue? PROCEED WITH CAUTION.

Cover Story: Modern Mavericks: Reinventing the Future

In the ever-evolving world of home furnishings, the landscape is constantly shifting. The individuals we honor here, some who have held their positions for several years, have continuously reinvented their roles to meet the demands of a dynamic industry. Their ability to adapt and thrive amidst change is a testament to their resilience and forward-thinking mindset. When many of these modern Mavericks first embarked on their careers, the industry looked different.

The rapid advancement of technology, the shift towards sustainable practices, and the increasing important of e-commerce have fundamentally transformed the way they think and how they prepare for what’s to come next. They have risen to these challenges, expanding their skill sets and embracing new opportunities with unwavering dedication. Leadership in the home furnishings sector today requires a blend of creativity, strategic thinking and a keen understanding of emerging trends.

The roles of leaders have evolved from traditional management positions to encompass a wide range of responsibilities, including innovation in design, sustainability initiatives and digital transformation. This evolution reflects the broader changes within the industry itself, which has seen a move towards more personalized customer experiences, the integration of smart home technology and a greater emphasis on eco-friendly products.

The Class of 2024 stands as a beacon of what it means to be a modern Maverick. They are not confined by conventional boundaries but are constantly pushing the envelope to explore new frontiers. Their stories of success are not jut about personal achievement but also about inspiring others to embrace change and pursue excellence. As we celebrate these remarkable individuals, we also look to the future with optimism.

The contributions of this year’s Forty Under 40 are paving the way for a more innovative, sustainable and customercentric industry. They are the pioneers who are not just responding to trends but are actively shaping them. In recognizing achievements of these leaders, we are reminded of the importance of adaptability, vision and the courage to challenge the status quo. The Class of 2024 exemplifies these qualities, and their impact will undoubtedly be felt for years o come. Join us in celebrating the modern Mavericks of the home furnishings world— those who are not only reimagining the future but are also making it a reality today.

Buyer and Inventory Specialist,
Johnson City Bedding

Recognized as an up-and-comer throughout Spring Air International’s licensing network, Jonathan Adkins started at Johnson City Bedding as a factory worker in 2020, working his way up to his current position as buyer and inventory specialist. He is responsible for overseeing all orders while tracking and analyzing inventory control and pricing materials. A proven leader with a passion for the bedding industry, his success and the success of his team are a result of his work ethic, his ability to motivate others and his strategic thinking skills.

He continuously works to decrease costs as well as production time as he encourages his team to be innovative and take action to solve problems. Perhaps his most significant achievement to date is how he drove the plant’s efficiency by reorganizing his department down to a three-person team in a span of one year. He aspires to own his own factory one day. Jonathan volunteers at Harmony Church Mission food pantry every Sunday helping to serve food for 25-30 families. He is also active in a company program that donates a portion of sales to non-profit organizations, including donating to the United Way of East Tennessee Highlands.

Director of Corporate Development, Relax in Comfort

Giovani Alba embodies exceptional leadership, elevating his team to unprecedented heights of success. With a relentless drive for excellence, he has expanded spcial events from three to over 30 in three years and has grown his division to an incredible multi-state status. His innate leadership skills, largely self-taught through mentorship and avid reading, define his success. Under his leadership, Giovani has doubled the company’s retail footprint from three showrooms to six showrooms in the last two years. Despite not completing high school, due to the death of a close friend, Gio’s intellect and determination have propelled him into a position of leadership and soon an ownership position across new locations. He spearheads national events, promoting high-end wellness solutions for home comfort under the Relax in Comfort Brand. Charged with market expansion in Florida and Utah, Gio is the epitome of American grit and ingenuity, shaping a more comfortable work environment through his unwavering dedication. He exemplifies the epitome of leadership - always advancing his team.

Gio supports Pulse Foundation whose mission is dedicated to fostering healthy people and a healthy planet by addressing nutrition, food insecurity and sustainability. Working with supporters and fund-raising for Zebra Foundation, he has helped create and fund a “safe place” for runaways abandoned by their parents for coming out as gay.

Director of Buyer Services, ANDMORE

Logan is redefining how top furnishings buyers interact with ANDMORE’s furniture and décor markets. She is broadening her outreach to support relationships with accounts, buying groups and industry associations by utilizing new channels, including social and digital platforms. She launched an Instagram account for buyers to help them find what they need at market through trend spotting, product sourcing and insider tips. Under Logan’s guidance, the number of trade associations and buying groups attending Las Vegas Market has reached more than 50. In addition, she is a go-to expert for retailers on how to maximize buyers’ experiences at market and even created a local restaurant guide to help buyers from all over find dining options through the Piedmont Triad. She has also spoken on multiple panels for trade publications and at industry events.

In her spare time, Logan volunteers as the public relations campaign manager for Horse Helpers of the High Country, the only federally recognized equine rescue in the region, serving the Northwestern corner of North Carolina.

Multi-Store Owner, Badcock Home Furniture

A multi-store owner of Badcock Home Furniture and founder of the Home Furnishings Association Sales Academy, Rob Ball epitomizes dedication and excellence in the furniture industry. At 37 years old, Rob owns and operates 26 Badcock stores while running the HFA Sales Training Academy, a testament to his lifelong commitment to the industry. His journey in the furniture industry began at 18 when he became a store manager for Raymour and Flannigan. His passion and drive quickly propelled him forward as he joined Badcock Home Furniture. By 30 he was purchasing his own stores and focusing on enhancing the skills of furniture sales associates nationwide through his academy.

Rob’s dedication extends beyond business operations. He is committed to sharing his extensive knowledge, whether volunteering at local schools, speaking at civic organizations, or through the HFA Sales Academy. His efforts aim to uplift and better the lives of those around him, embodying the true spirit of mentorship and community support. Rob is a talented individual with a broad range of interests. He teaches ju-jitsu to youngsters in Florida, demonstrating his believe in empowering the next generation both personally and professionally.

Manufacturer’s Sales Representative, B&B Sales, LLC

The quintessential bridge between manufacturers, dealers and sales teams, Brian Browning ensures seamless business transactions and brand representation. With unwavering dedication, he provides vital support and tools, ensuring mutual success for all. Brian’s commitment to customer satisfaction is unparalleled, as he diligently follows up on leads, answers, inquiries and maintains around-theclock availability including nights and weekends. With eight years of experience on the retail sales floor, Brian has spent 10 years developing his manufacturers rep skills and built his own CRM that allows him to perform with excellence. His deep industry knowledge and impeccable follow-through have earned him accolades. Brian’s warmth and professionalism shine through fostering enduring relationships that drive growth and success. His impact transcends mere sales—he’s a catalyst for lasting partnership and industry advancement.

Brian gives back to the community through several causes and dedicates time and financial support to children, people and animals in need. He has helped raise money for multiple charities including Mission Outdoors, Special Olympics, local hometown youth groups, and pet rescues. He has been involved with the Color Run in his hometown for the last six years, to bring awareness to child wellness.

Residential Interior Designer, Sky Interior

As an experienced interior designer, Amy Bucheli specializes in high-end, multi-family and residential projects and is the creative force behind Sky Interior in Englewood, CO. She also works as the show floor visual designer for American Furniture Warehouse, one of the top retail furniture companies in the U.S. and the largest privately held businesses in Colorado, where she creates imaginative, eye-catching displays of merchandise to attract customers’ attention and drives sales by utilizing design concepts, color schemes, lighting and display props. Amy’s work has been featured in design publications including 5280 Home and Houzz. She is extremely passionate about what she does and serves customers domestically as well as internationally.

Amy believes wealth does not just come from money but from giving back to create an impact on other people’s lives. She is a supporter of Make A Wish Foundation and developed a line of apparel to help raise funds for Make A Wish Colorado. She is looking to expand her company tag line ‘Where the Skye is Limitless’ into a merchandise brand and sports apparel in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Chief Executive Officer, Bedding Industries of America

As the CEO of Bedding Industries of America, Jared Carlitz leverages his extensive experience in operations management, product development and market expansion to spearhead the company’s strategic direction. His focus on enhancing operational efficiencies and fostering innovation has solidified the company’s position as an industry leader. Jared oversees manufacturing, technology, sales and marketing teams, ensuring cohesive and effective operations. Under Jared’s leadership, BIA has expanded from one to three company-owned factories, successfully integrating new operations and ensuring seamless transitions. His deep knowledge of the bedding industry has been instrumental in navigating this growth and maintaining high standards across all facets of the company. Jared’s strategic vision and hands-on approach have driven significant advancements and helped him position the company for continued success. Prior to becoming CEO, Jared was the chief operating officer of this family-owned company where he involved himself in every aspect of the business, from product design and development to sales and manufacturing.

Beyond his professional achievements, Jared is dedicated to giving back to his community. He personally donates mattresses to those in need and supports multiple charities focused on homelessness.

Marketing Coordinator, Howard Elliot

Bree Cassidy is a rising star and standout in the home furnishings industry, not only excelling in her role but also giving back through her dedicated volunteerism. Her impact is felt across multiple fronts, from increasing social media followers and spearheading campaigns for Howard Elliott to holding leadership positions in industry organizations like WithIt and ART. Bree’s commitment to advancing the industry is evident in her roles as conference committee chair and is a member of the board of director’s for WithIt, as well as her marketing volunteer work for ART. With a career spanning Rizzy Home, as its director of e-commerce, Amber Engine, as its senior market development manager and now Howard Elliott, Bree has consistently demonstrated her passion and dedication to the industry. Her ability to drive brand awareness, coupled with her leadership and volunteerism show her spirit of innovation, collaboration and industry advancement.

Store Manager, Conns Home Plus

Seth Castro embodies the essence of exceptional leadership. As the store manager at Conns Home Plus, his dedication to product knowledge, training and motivation sets him apart as a true industry expert. His profound understanding of both his team and the business landscape has propelled the store into one of the top 10 in Florida. Seth is more than a manager; he is a mentor, coach and beacon of inspiration for his team. He possesses a wealth of wisdom and offers unwavering guidance.

With a keen eye for goal setting and metrics, Seth empowers his team by breaking down key performance indicators and charting a course to success. Beyond the store, Seth’s compassion extends to the community. He actively participates in initiatives like Toys for Tots and local back-to-school supply drives, demonstrating his commitment to making a positive impact beyond the bottom line.

Director of E-Commerce Merchandising, Kravet

Serving as the director of e-commerce merchandising at Kravet, Kelly Collins is responsible for managing and achieving the company’s e-commerce objectives, including branding and sales targets. Her role encompasses direct online sales and retail channel partner management. A driven self-starter, Kelly is highly organized, analytical and collaborative. She develops strategies for both long-and short-term growth opportunities, leveraging her comprehensive knowledge of the digital landscape, omnichannel site merchandising, SEO, social media, Digital marketing, email marketing and analytics.

Kelly’s expertise has been instrumental in launching significant projects at Kravet, a 100+ year old family business. She played a key role in the successful launch of its second edition wallcovering catalog and most recently led the full redesign of the company’s website supporting a face-lift for a more modern, content focused site. Kelly is an environmentalist and cares deeply for the planet. She is also passionate about empowering women to be more confident and advocate for their health. She is an active member of Kravet’s Women’s Employee Resource Group.

President and CEO, Green Front Furniture

As president and CEO of Green Front Furniture, Den Cralle has transformed the family business into a top 100 furniture company since joining after graduating college in 2013. His father, Richard “Dickie” Cralle, who remains owner, began the process of transferring the business to Den in October 2014. Named president in October 2018, Den has a keen eye for rebranding and strategic development and has elevated the company to new heights. Under his leadership Green Front Furniture has expanded into new markets, implemented innovative sales tools, and remerchandised effectively, driving major top-line growth.

Den’s management prowess and people skills are revered in the industry. His vision and dedication have propelled a third-generation company into a powerhouse brand. Kelly is a proud environmentalist. She spends her free time educating herself about the planet and the threats to our health, ensuring she shares it with those around her.

Creative Design Head, Sarom Fab Pvt Ltd

Ashita Desai is the creative design head at Sarom Fab Pv Ltd, where she oversees the design process for the company’s newly launched in-house brand Beds and More. Her role encompasses market analysis, conceptualization, planning and executive of finished products. She is integral to developing various prints and colorways ensuring the approval and production of samples.

Additionally, she handles costing, fabric consumption and cutting plans. Ashita leads a team of designers to create innovative solutions for product packaging and visual communication, consistently delivering impactful presentations for retail distribution. One of Ashita’s most remarkable vocational achievements is her ongoing role as an embroiderer at Tonja Hershfield in Munich, Germany since October 2019.

She was commissioned to handembroider artwork designed by Tonja Hershfield for an art and fashion exhibition in 2021. The artwork, inspired by masks and costumes from various cultures, merges different world cultures into a unified human representation. This series was showcased at Milan Fashion Week and the Munich Art Gallery in 2021 and 2022, highlighting Ashita’s expectational talent and cultural sensitivity. Beyond her role at Sam Fab Pvt. Ltd, Ashita is a textile consultant at Curiosity Workshop Textiles, where she focuses on developing sustainable textile products from waste materials. Her commitment to sustainability and innovative design underscores her contributions to the textile industry.

Manager/Vice President, New Deal Furniture

As manager and vice president of New Deal Furniture, Ryan Falvey is the epitome of assertiveness and responsibility. Leading the company with unparalleled customer service, Ryan’s customer-focused approach sets a new standard in the furniture industry. At New Deal Furniture, shopping becomes a total pleasure under Ryan’s guidance. His sincerity and genuine desire to elevate his family’s business into an institution resonates in every interaction. Starting from humble beginnings as a warehouse worker, Ryan‘s journey to overseeing operations at the company’s newest store showcases his unwavering commitment and dedication.

He possesses an innate understanding of the business and the customer psyche. His ability to anticipate and fulfill customer needs, coupled with a deep comprehension of operational processes and financial metrics, ensures the success and sustainability of the company. Ryan’s prowess in training and implementation empowers employees with focus and direction, fostering a culture of excellence and innovation. Ryan offers his service to his community both professionally and spiritually and seeks opportunities where can be of assistance.

Director of Sales Operations and Training, Hooker Furnishings

Analyzing sales trends and data are integral in a successful company, and training based on those results are a pathway to positive performance. Ronnie Fultz built his foundation at Hooker Furnishings beginning with his position as assistant manager and sales analyst to his current role as director of sales operations and training. He has become proficient in sales, supply chain, and probusiness decision making, and his years of experience have propelled him up through the ranks of the furniture industry.

Selected from a nominated pool of candidates nationwide, Ronnie recently completed the American Home Furnishings Hall of Fame Leadership Institute, whose mission is to accelerate the growth of leadership in the industry. He earned his Master of Business Administration focused on business administration and management from Averett University and an Economics Degree from Hampden-Sydney College. Recently, Ronnie served the United Way of Henry County & Martinsville as a member of the board of directors and their leadership team. He has also helped to support the Martinsville County SPCA and served on the Martinsville City Council’s IDA for Economic Development.

Supplier Relations Lead,

In just 18 months at, James has ascended through the ranks to lead the supplier relations division. His innovative contributions have been pivotal in developing a system configurator, designed to better display customizable products on retailers’ websites. This tool has revolutionized the way products are presented online offering consumers a way to see the options online. His role is crucial in bridging the gap between manufacturers and retailers, creating a synergy that drives growth and competitiveness in the market. His innovative approach to project managements offers fresh perspective in problem-solving and solution implementation. Growing up, James was actively involved in Boy Scouts and achieved the rank of Eagle Scout.

His journey from Eagle Scout to community leader and advocate exemplifies his passion for service and a genuine desire to make a positive difference. He participates in charity golf tournaments aimed at supporting veterans. He is also a member of the office lunch team, which fosters camaraderie and productivity by ensuring everyone in the office is nourished and energized throughout the work week.

President, Urbia

As the president of Urbia, David has an unwavering commitment to being a thoughtful and innovative team leader driven by his passion and enthusiasm for the home furnishings industry. In addition to developing and launching several successful product collections, he has led the company expansion into the e-commerce space, increasing brand exposure and revenue. Additionally, after identifying the need for a new ERP software system, David led the successful installation if a new and complex system, which radically changed the way the company operates. David possesses a strong commitment to moral and ethical principles and has an unwavering sense of fairness and objectivity that resonates in both his personal and professional life.

He is a supporter of Housing Works through its annual Design on a Dime showcase and charity fundraiser. He is an advocate for LGBTQIA+ youth through Hetrick-Martin Institute to help create a safe and supportive environment. In addition, he is a contributor to the Lustgarten Foundation, an organization dedicated to transforming pancreatic cancer into a curable disease, through their annual charity walk.

Product Development Manager and Textile Expert, Precision Textiles

Garrett Graven drives product strategy and innovation for Precision Textiles, coordinating research and development, sampling, sourcing and design. Serving as the liaison between the company’s purchasing team and its Asia-based vendors, he develops and manages sales forecasts and inventory to assure that the company meets the delivery schedules for its customers. His leadership in sales forecasting and global collaborations with key countries showcase his dedication to driving growth and innovation.

He was instrumental in engineering a new, sustainable, fire retardant (FR) solution for promotionally priced mattresses called IQFIT Comfort and was also involved in and committed to being at the forefront of non-glass mattress solutions helping to transition the bedding industry from raw fiberglass cores to a glass free solution. Additionally, he has played a vital role in having various Precision Textiles products certified in accordance with the Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX, which creates trust knowing the products have been found to be 100% safe. A hands-on father and dedicated husband, Garrett supports efforts that help preserve the planet’s natural resources. He is an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and has demonstrated support through donations and vocal advocacy.

Owner and Head Interior Designer, Henry Home Interiors

From an early age, Katelynn Henry was a creative, taking art classes, painting and redecorating her room. With a father who was a well-regarded designer as a role model, she was exposed to the furniture industry at a young age. As an interior designer she knows the importance of designing interiors that reflect consumer’s personal style and began her own interior design business. In 2018, Katelynn successfully transitioned a family-owned store, and opened Henry Home Interiors, a luxury store in Norman, Oklahoma that was created out of her experiences as an interior designer. Since then, Henry Home Interiors was selected by a panel of national industry experts and given the award for best single location furniture store at the Dallas Market Center and Accessories Resource Team 32nd ARTS awards.

The company was assessed in many categories including sales statistics, social media marketing and culture. The company’s success is a testimonial to Katelynn, who started the store on her own and worked to achieve national attention, while fostering a community-oriented culture, which is just one of the qualities that make the company unique.

Buyer, Dunk & Bright Furniture

Molly Holmes is the case goods and mattress buyer for Dunk & Bright Furniture. A trained interior designer, she generated over $600k in sales in 2023. Her confidence, and merchandising and sales skills have earned her multiple promotions due to her competence and merchandising and sales skills including managing the store’s window treatment business and advancing to buyer. In her role, Molly maintains excellent stock positions and excels in selecting new product placements. Since her promotion, she has achieved a 21% increase in sales in the case goods, mattress and outdoor categories in just two years.

This growth is especially remarkable given that Dunk & Bright operates in a metro with no population growth. Molly volunteers with the Make-AWish foundation to create memorable experiences for children diagnosed with life altering illnesses. Additionally, she is a proud supporter and volunteer for Helio Health, which treats patients with drug and alcohol addiction in Upstate NY. She was the vice president of the Interior Design club in college and a member of National Honor Society.

CEO, Lifestyle Enterprise, Inc.

As a “next gen” CEO, Michael Hsieh began his journey with Lifestyle Enterprises as an intern during college working for his father, who founded the company. After earning a master’s degree in economics and international business he moved to Asia and became the managing director responsible for sourcing, merchandising and logistics. After eight years he moved back to the U.S. and was named CEO, making him responsible for the entire global entity including sourcing and worldwide sales. Michael also supervises the company’s logistics platform in the U.S. and Asian offices, which handle both upholstery and case goods. His global understanding of merchandising coupled with his knowledge of technology has helped transform the company to develop products with scale, style and function that meet the needs of today’s evolving consumers. Michael is a supporter of City of Hope and the Anti-Defamation League.

Senior Manager, Marketing, ANDMORE

In her role as senior marketing manager for the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center (ADAC), MacKenzie manages large-scale markets including strategy, planning, and execution. She works with ADAC’s tenants, media partners and PR firms to present the Design ADAC and Discover ADAC market events. She leverages her strong industry relationships to best understand how their objectives align with ADAC’s objectives to bring best-in-class speakers, panels and topics that showcase the diverse design industry in the Southeast. Mackenzie handles challenges and obstacles with grace and a high level of professionalism. She never gives up and looks at the bigger picture to quickly pivot to keep moving. She is also a wonderful example for her team on how to handle difficult situations and problem solve, and as a result the team looks to her as a leader. Mackenzie’s work has resulted in new sponsorship opportunities and custom designer-focused events that build awareness around markets and regional events. In her role at ADAC, Mackenzie actively supports the ASID and IIDA Georgia chapters.

Director of National Retail Accounts, Kuka Furniture

Mastering retail partnerships with strategic innovation, Andrew Liu is the director of national retail accounts for Kuka Furniture. His role involves fostering and coordinating all aspects of major retailer needs, bridging the gap between Kuka’s corporate operations and major retailers like Costco, Kroger, Best Buy, Home Depot, Walmart and Sam’s Club. Liu has masterfully coordinated efforts across sales, marketing and operations, significantly enhancing partnerships with major retail accounts.

His innovative strategies and unwavering commitment to understanding and fulfilling retailer needs have driven substantial growth for the company. Andrew has developed strategic partnerships with Costco, leading to remarkable business growth, expansion into new retail markets and the optimization of operation and sales strategies for current customers. Andrew is a registered donor member of Be The Match, a diverse marrow registry and the National Marrow Donor Program. He is an active supporter of City of Hope and an advocate for mental health and meditation in his local community.

Chief Marketing Officer, Simpli Home

During his tenure at Simpli Home, Darcy McGilvery has propelled the brand focusing on positioning, imagery and user experience. Under his leadership, the DTC channel experienced sixfold growth, including omni-channel marketing efforts to promote the brand’s products across all retail partners. He has worked within the executive leadership team to steer company initiatives, supervising pricing strategies and coordinating promotions and visibility with the sales team. A hands-on leader, Darcy seamlessly coordinates efforts across multiple departments, spanning from executive management to advertising, content creation, imagery, video production, marcom, pricing strategies and sales initiatives. Through his adept leadership, Simpli Home’s brand presence and positioning in the marketplace have been significantly elevated.

Darcy is proactive in Simpli Home’s sustainability efforts, including its Tree Planting Program, which plants one tree for every purchase made on In addition, his efforts have helped the company achieve plastic neutrality with efforts to do more underway. As a civic-minded individual, he has also participated in beach cleanup drives in India.

VP of Operations, Jes & Gray Living

Grace Miller has played a significant role in the launch of three retail stores for Jes & Gray Living, the lifestyle driven retail division of Rockford Wholesale. She began working for the company as a part-time sales associate while in middle school and continued to work for the company every summer, learning every aspect of retail along the way. She created and implemented the forecasting system for the brand, which has led to the consistent flow of goods. Grace’s highly successful “dusty inventory strategy” ensures that inventory at each location is tracked so that it is either remerchandised, moved to another location or marked down after a certain timeframe. Through her outstanding forecasting skills, she was able to increase inventory during the pandemic, honing-in on data to assure that appropriate inventory was available when customers wanted to buy it.

Grace is involved with several nonprofits including Orphan Relief, which serves children in West Africa, where she has sponsored several children. She has also been involved with Operation Christmas Child through Samaritan’s Purse. Grace is also part of the Meals on Wheels program in her community.

Customer Success Manager, STORIS

As the manager of the customer success team, Greg oversees STORIS’ priority NextGen MPOS platform initiatives with top 100 home furnishings retailers. He collaborates with retailers to develop and revise their sales playbook to enhance their brand’s customer experience, while imparting change management strategies that position end users to embrace impactful technology solutions. Under Greg’s leadership, his team successfully launched STORIS Academy in 2023— a learning management system that allows users to train at their own pace, on their own time, with guided learning paths and clear reporting metrics. This resulted in over 220 webinars created and over 21,500 course completions in the first year. His infectious positivity and credibility make him a leader that people want to follow.

He has successfully guided many retailers on leveraging best practices to take their operations to the next level. Greg is an active supporter of various charity organizations, such as the Movember Foundation, which focuses on men’s physical and mental health initiatives, and the TEARS Foundation, which focuses on lifting financial burdens from families who have lost children.

Senior Purchasing and Logistics Manager, La-Z-Boy

With more than a decade of experience in the furniture industry and a skill set ranging from e-commerce sales to developing demand forecasts and production schedules, Jonathan Moore has become an essential part of La-ZBoy’s organization. He is currently the senior purchasing and logistics manager and has progressed through the ranks of the company holding positions as demand planner and purchasing and logistics planner. As part of the La-Z-Boy incorporated family of brands, Jonathan plays a crucial role in the company’s purchasing and logistics team, inspiring future home furnishings professionals. With a bachelor’s degree in finance from Rochester Institute of Technology, he used his financing skills early on in his career to provide logistical support services in freight brokering, asset servicing, e-commerce price reconciliation, and developing a unit-based demand forecast to determine production schedules.

Selected from a nominated pool of candidates nationwide, Jonathan recently completed the American Home Furnishings Hall of Fame Leadership Institute, whose mission is to accelerate the growth of leadership in the industry.

Member Success Manager, North American Home Furnishings Association

As the member success manager at NAHFA, Shamilah Pittman assures members achieve their goals and derive maximum value from their membership. In her role she has been able to establish, maintain and build member relationships by providing appropriate support. She has also engaged with industry partners to help create opportunities for success. Wearing many hats, Shamilah navigates diverse roles with unparalleled grace and resilience. Setting a standard of excellence that inspires, her ability to innovate and motivate others is commendable. In addition, Shamiliah created an internship program within the association and is in the process of executing it with various universities.

The daughter of immigrants, Shamilah is the first in her family to graduate college and attain a master’s degree. As a busy wife and actively involved mother of two, she embodies the values of hard work, dedication and compassion.

Vice President, Information Technology, New Classic Home Furnishing

Hogen Quiel is responsible for all information systems and technology at New Classic. He has an advanced and unique understanding of logistics, marketing, sales, security and human resources, and enriches each of those departments with new tools, either developed internally or with the right partners. He created the company’s first retailer portal that allowed dealers to place orders, check stock and track shipments all in one place. In the years since it was created, the portal has been upgraded through his guidance to include reporting, product information downloads, online payments, new account set up, container tracking and much more. Hogan also Implemented a warehouse management system that included bar coding, live scanning, shipment process tracking and more. In addition, he developed an e-commerce technology department.

Hogan is a family man, with a wife and two young children. His dedication to his family is a priority and he shows similar concern about his work family. He is described as a good person who demonstrates care and compassion.

Chief Sales Officer, Abbyson

As CSO, Rodd Rafieha spearheads transformative strategies to maximize revenue streams and bolster market presence. His nationally recognized proficiency in business management and operations fuels initiatives that propel Abbyson to the forefront of the industry. Foreseeing market shifts in 2008, Rodd launched Abbyson’s drop ship program, earning accolades for his innovation and resilience in navigating retail economic downturns. With extensive experience in wholesale and international markets, Rodd orchestrates sales channel distribution and cultivates partnerships. His skill set encompasses product development, multimedia branding and performance coaching. His career milestones, including the introduction of patented technologies like the iTABLE mini 1 and 2 and partnerships with celebrities, highlight his capacity for innovation and strategic vision.

Rodd supports the Viewpoint Children’s Fund, which focuses on providing services to underprivileged children, the Harold & Carole Pump Foundation for cancer research and The Ladylike Foundation, which empowers young women.

Chief Executive Officer, Meridian Furniture

Matt Rosilio is responsible for the overall operations of Meridian Furniture, a family-owned brand serving retailers and interior designers. He was the first of his two brothers to join the company, traveling alongside his father to China, Vietnam, and Malaysia, learning the import business along the way. He has helped grow Meridian’s product line to more than 9,500 SKUs. He also successfully pivoted the business to address challenges presented by restrictive tariffs, the Covid-19 pandemic, and the resulting supply chain issues. While leading the product development team Matt collaborates with the design team on trends, and with the replenishment team. He has helped drive the company’s consistent growth with an almost 90% in-stock inventory strategy from its 400,000-square-foot NJ warehouse. Matt is an active volunteer and philanthropist for his local Jewish community. He works directly with the Special Center for Children, which helps patients with autism and down syndrome. He also very involved in his children’s lives and coaches their basketball teams in his free time.


Head of Merchandising and Buying, Coconis Furniture

Keely Scanlon oversees the buying and merchandising process at four Coconis Furniture locations and one Ashley Homestore location. Not only is she head of the department, but she is an integral part of the company and knows the intricacies of every department. Keely is a self-motivated and driven individual who wants those around her to succeed. She has built the merchandising department to the successfully entity it is today. Since taking over her role in 2018, she switched the company to a new tagging software, suggested and implemented several changes in the inventory/POS software and streamlined many tasks in the process. Keely was invaluable during the COVID-19 pandemic, masterfully navigating the complications.

Keely has a huge heart and is a member of a group of employees who like to give back to the community. She has helped the Salvation Army hand out meals, shopped and raised money for children from an Angel Tree, cooked and handed out burgers for charitable purposes. She is also a hands-on mother and Girl Scout leader.

Chief Financial Officer, Bedding Industries of America (BIA)

Steven Sciortino served as BIAs outside accountant for over a decade before officially becoming the company’s first chief financial officer. He leads the finance and accounting departments. He has been a pivotal part of the team that spearheaded the opening of BIA West, an 80,000-squarefoot manufacturing facility, showroom and distribution center in California as well as the acquisition of the company’s Midwest licensee, Chicago-based Illinois Sleep Products, to form BIA Midwest. He was a key member of the executive team that led the merger between BIA and online mattress brand, Saatva. Under Steven’s leadership of the NJ plant, production output has increased twofold.

This was accomplished through his examination of policies and procedures, coupled with the optimization of available factory space and resources. Steven has expanded and supported BIA’s sustainability efforts, including solar panels on the New Jersey and California factories. He also helped cultivate BIA’s partnership with Evertreen to plant trees worldwide. He volunteers his time offering career transition assistance to professionals transitioning into new roles.

Vice President of Sales, Leather Italia USA

Zachary Shilen’s dedicated and focused efforts have been instrumental in shaping the vision, forecast planning, product development, and core values at Leather Italia USA. As vice president of sales and development for direct factory OEM, a position he has held for over eight years, Zachary has consistently contributed to the company’s success through his tenacity and drive. Prior to assuming his current role, Zachary worked as a product specialist with a durable medical equipment company. His excellence in interpersonal communication, teamwork, flexibility, and reliability was widely recognized, setting the foundation for his leadership at Leather Italia USA. Zachary graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science and government from North Carolina State University where he was a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success.


President, Steve Silver Company

Luke Silver’s journey at Steve Silver Company exemplifies innovation, leadership, and a forward-thinking approach. Promoted from purchasing director to president in 2021, Luke now oversees all sales, marketing, and purchasing operations. His rise to becoming the president was fueled by his impressive track record in developing some of the company’s best-selling products, showcasing his creativity and visionary approach. Before becoming president, Luke spent six years in China, directing product development. This international experience provided him with unique insights and expertise, making him an ideal candidate to lead the company’s purchasing and product development efforts. His time in China not only hones his skills but also solidified his reputation as a dynamic leader with a global perspective.

Recognized for his next generation vision and leadership skills, Luke has continued to drive the company’s sales and marketing strategies, ensuring sustained growth and innovation. Colleagues describe him as someone who brings a new generation sensibility to design and management, positioning Stee Siler Company for a bright and successful future.

Receiving Manager, Hudson’s Furniture

Nemo Stokes is a standout leader recognized for his exceptional management and team-building skills, especially during the challenging Covid-19 pandemic. His strategic oversight in managing the supply chain, creatively navigating warehouse space and revitalizing departmental performance, are testaments to his vocational prowess. Nemo’s role is demanding, with responsibilities including overseeing more than 50 vendors, managing returns to vendors and freight damage.

Despite these challenges, he excels, making complex tasks look effortless. Beyond his professional achievements, Nemo’s commitment to philanthropy is equally impressive. He actively contributed to Habitat for Humanity, building homes for those in need, supports Second Harvest with furniture donations, and consistently offers a helping hand to his team members.

Digital Marketing Manager, Strategic America

In her position at Strategic America, an integrated marketing firm, Taia Veren leads a team of five paid social media specialists and coordinators, guiding them in strategy development, execution, optimization and comprehensive reporting across all paid social accounts within the agency. In the past year, she and her team successfully managed a portfolio of over 3,000 campaigns, with a media spend over $9 million. During her time working on the Homemakers furniture account, she consistently delivered exceptional results, driving substantial growth and revenue generation for the brand including an increase in return on ad spend (ROAS) year over year of 144%. Taia’s achievements on this account reflect her dedication, expertise, and ability to deliver impactful results,

When Taia is not working, she volunteers at the Food Bank of Iowa, participates in the PurpleStride Walk to end Pancreatic Cancer, and returns to her alma mater to engage with students in the marketing communications department. These activities allow her to give back to the community, support meaningful causes, and inspire future generations in the field of marketing communications.

Digital Client Strategist, Strategic America

As a digital client strategist, Claire meticulously oversees every facet of the relationship the company has with Iowa-based Homemakers. Her stewardship of the account is characterized by a relentless pursuit of perfection, coupled with a commitment to fostering trust and transparency. By aligning endeavors with Homemakers’ overarching vision, Voss facilitates the realization of their aspirations, propelling them to the forefront of distinction. Her adept communication skills and ability to set realistic expectations have fostered strong connections. Her organizational prowess, coupled with unparalleled attention to detail, underscores her success. Despite transitioning through four points of contact within three years, as well as internal turnover within her team, Claire has navigated these changes seamlessly. By meticulously onboarding and educating team members on client intricacies, she ensures continuity in their work

Claire contributes her time to initiatives that empower communities. From assisting with the Des Moines Marathon to supporting the MLK Day of Service at Urban Dreams, to Meals of the Heartland, she actively contributes to causes aimed at making a difference.

Buyer of Casegoods, Hudson’s Furniture

As a buyer at Hudson’s Furniture, Jessica Ward has consistently demonstrated exceptional leadership in identifying and procuring the right products to meet consumer needs. Her expertise includes product selection, pricing strategies, logistics management, sales analysis, markdown decisions and sell-off strategies. Jessica’s keen eye for detail and deep understanding of market trends have significantly contributed to Hudson’s success. By accurately anticipating customer preferences and ensuring the timely availability of in-demand products, she has not only optimized inventory levels but also enhanced customer satisfaction and boosted sales performance. Her approach to buying and ability to navigate complex market dynamics have been driving the company’s growth and maintaining its competitive edge.

Beyond her professional achievements, Jessica actively participates in. numerous charitable activities outside work and plays a pivotal role in Hudson’s community projects. Her dedication to both her profession and her community is commendable.

Digital Marketing Manager, Strategic America

Trista spearheads the strategic directionand meticulous optimization of Homemakers’ Google Ads initiatives, spanning Google Search, Performance Max and YouTube Ads. She tailors Homemakers’ campaigns, ensuring peak performance and consistent audience engagement. Integrating creative content across Meta Ads and Performance Max campaigns has led to a more than 40% increase in return on ad spend, surpassing standard campaigns. By quickly responding to emerging opportunities, such as launching a YouTube action campaign during the Super Bowl surge, Trista drives remarkable results, including a 94% view rate and over 1,000 in-store visits. Her approach ensures that efforts are seamlessly integrated with sales, product development and customer experience initiatives to drive impactful outcomes.

Trista’s passion for community involvement and corporate social responsibility reflects her commitment to making a positive difference. She volunteers at the Food Bank of Iowa, Dorothy’s House, whose mission is to provide a safe place for those whose lives have been interrupted by human trafficking and The Young Women’s Resource Center.

Key Account Manager/National Accounts, Kingsdown/Allure Sleep

As the youngest salesperson in the company, Harley Williamson manages Kingsdown’s national accounts including its largest, Mattress Firm, in addition to directing new business development. He was involved in all aspects of the design and merchandising process for Kingsdown’s rollout with Mattress Firm and helped create a lineup that is featured across the country. Harley successfully drives business and was the youngest person on the sales team to be number one in sales and the first salesperson at Kingsdown to achieve $1 million in annual sales back-to-back. In addition, Harley started a blackowned mattress brand, and is founder and chief executive of Allure Sleep. A successful minority in the mattress industry, he is proud to advocate for diversity and inclusion.

Harley is involved in the men’s basketball program at the University of West Chester in PA, participating in the alumni mentorship program. He also volunteers at Lower Merion High School organizing outdoor camping trips for male teenagers. He is proud to be father to his five-yearold twins.

West Coast Sales Director & Media Specialist, Cozzia USA

Madison Bruns first appeared in our Forty Under 40 in 2016 as the National Account Manager at Cozzia USA. At just 25 she showed remarkable promise. Since then, Madison has risen to the role of West Coast Sales Director and Media Specialist, overseeing a nationwide account with over 90 retail storefronts generating over $10 million in sales annually. Her responsibilities include crafting an internal and national account newsletter, producing instructional and promotional videos, and consistently surpassing sales targets. Madison’s knack for securing new clients and maintaining strong relationships has been pivotal to her success. Beyond sales, she plays a key role in human resources, implementing strategies that boost employee retention and satisfaction. Madison’s innovative approach and relentless drive continue to make her a standout leader in the home furnishings industry.

Owner, Deets HomeStore

Kyle Deets, first honored in our Forty Under 40 in 2016 at age 30, was then the Director of Sales and Marketing at Deets HomeStore, representing the third generation in his family’s furniture mattress, and flooring business. By 2023, Kyle had transitioned from working under his father to owning the store. His dynamic energy and eagerness for fresh ideas have elevated customer service and team spirit, treating everyone at Deets as family. Kyle also serves on the Furniture First Executive Board, the Norfolk Nebraska Chamber of Commerce, and is on the City of Norfolk’s planning board. Additionally, he contributes to the city’s advisory board. Kyle embodies the next generation of store owners, seamlessly blending tradition with innovation to drive the business forward and strengthen community ties. His leadership continues to shape the future of Deets HomeStore and the broader industry.


Words of Wisdom:


In the ever-evolving landscape of the home furnishings industry, the journey to success is often paved with invaluable lessons and sage advice. For this year’s Forty Under 40 cover story, we asked our honorees to reflect on the key pieces of wisdom that have significantly influenced their careers. From the insights that sparked innovative thinking to the guidance that fostered resilience, these lessons have shaped their approaches, steering them towards success and redefining the future of our industry. Through their shared experiences, we gain a glimpse into the minds of modern Mavericks who are not only reimagining their own paths but also inspiring others. Here’s what some of them shared.

"When I first started in this industry, I was nervous, and although I was around furniture sales my entire life through my mother’s experience at Raymour and Flanagan, it was just theory. What did I know about furniture and furniture sales? What I received in my first few weeks [of training] was a Harvard education on sales in this industry, which gave me the confidence I needed to take my first “up.” Now 20 years later that experience I received seems to be missing from the industry. Technology is at the for front of everyone’s mind, how do we attract more clients, CRM systems, AI etc., I would encourage my peers to not forget about the ones who sell 80% of our products—the retail sales associate. Sales training and increasing your conversion ratio / average sale are within reach if you invest in your people.” ROB BALL Multi-Store Owner, Badcock Furniture

“Always be there for your customers’ sales reps and let them know it is ok to reach out anytime. I have worked in a retail store and understand they are reaching out to make a sale and not just to chat. Typically, it is nights and weekends, but taking 60 seconds to answer the call, email, or text will help them close the deal. If they know you are available, they will push your lines, and you will get it back, tenfold.”
BRIAN BROWNING Manufacturer’s Sales Representative​

“The key lesson that has influenced my career in the home furnishings industry was to never stop learning. Developing new skills and experiences is crucial for career advancement. Although it can be challenging, with a commitment to learning and self-improvement, one can stay ahead of the curve in a rapidly changing world.”
AMY BUCHELI Residential Interior Designer, Sky Interior

“In my career in home furnishings, the best advice I’ve received is to prioritize quality and service. By deeply understanding consumer and homeowner behavior, we refine our products to seamlessly integrate into their lives for decades. This customer-focused approach ensures we deliver enduring experiences of comfort and style, fostering trust and loyalty. It establishes a standard where excellence in craftsmanship and customer care define our brand amidst a competitive landscape. Studying the preferences, aspirations, and aesthetic sensibilities of customers allows us to craft luxury offerings that exceed expectations, setting new benchmarks in quality and customer satisfaction.”
KELLY COLLINS Director of E-Commerce Merchandising, Kravet

“One piece of career-boosting advice I received is that failures are more valuable than successes if we learn from them. By seeing setbacks as opportunities for growth, every failure becomes a chance to improve and innovate. This mindset turns stumbling blocks into stepping-stones for personal and professional development. It fosters resilience and adaptability, essential traits for navigating life’s ups and downs. Viewing failures as learning opportunities drives improvement and brings us closer to our goals with confidence and fulfillment.”
JAMES GARSIDE Supplier Relations Lead,

“The best career advice I’ve received is to build strong, lasting relationships and embrace change. Early on, I learned that cultivating solid relationships with industry peers and team members is a career must and has contributed to my long-term success. These connections and conversations play into my ability to stay updated with industry trends, which helps me continue to create successful and relevant events that make an impact. I’ve discovered that change has enhanced my creativity and problem-solving skills. These lessons have reinforced the importance of balancing meticulous planning with flexibility to ensure flawless, impactful events with continued professional growth.”

“I’ve learned that a curious mind and a love for learning can transform challenges into exciting opportunities. In the home furnishings industry, this playful approach has kept me engaged and driven, leading to continuous growth. By constantly exploring new ideas and embracing innovation, I’ve been able to contribute positively to the evolving landscape of our field. I’m grateful to be part of Kuka, where the culture of learning and innovation fosters an environment that supports and encourages these values. This mindset has made my journey in the home furnishings industry both enjoyable and rewarding.”
ANDREW LIU Director of National Retail Accounts, Kuka Furniture



What Sells: In Motion Motion furnishings are moving into more homes.

In today’s unpredictable retail climate, many retailers are reducing overall inventory levels and rebalancing their floor selections. The result is more pressure to identify the sweet spot of price, style, and features in every category—including motion furniture. Different by Design Design trends in recliners, reclining sofas and motion sectionals continue to reflect those in stationary upholstery. More colors and patterns are emerging in upholstery fabrics and leather after a decade of gray- and greige-dominated sales floors. Performance fabrics are moving from being a special-order option to becoming the norm.

“Value” remains a key buzzword on retail floors as sales associates market motion furnishings. While that definition varies depending on price point, communicating distinctive comfort, function and fashion features are essential to closing sales. Tailored details such as welts, contrasting stitching and nailhead options are being used to add fashion to motion furniture as well as differentiate manufacturer brands. In terms of scale, many consumers equate larger pieces with greater value, yet marketers are also finding success with smaller silhouettes aimed at apartment dwellers, new home buyers and downsizing boomers.

“Sectionals are currently on-trend, reflecting the latest in fashion décor, especially when paired with cool arctic color palettes,” says Anthony Teague, senior vice president at Jackson Catnapper. “These modular pieces are designed to fit any living space, large or small, offering ultimate relaxation and flexibility.” Consumers are increasingly drawn to styles inspired by stationary upholstery. Models that balance beauty and comfort are more likely to appeal to both partners in the home and help close the sale. At the same time, traditional overstuffed motion frames continue to hold their ground in the lower- and mid-priced markets. And as younger consumers come to market, transitional styling is seeing a resurgence.

Manual recliners still dominate entry-level price points, yet power motion innovations are in high demand. Fashionforward features like hidden mechanisms are valued, as are innovations such as electronic charging ports, fully lit tabletops and integrated storage and work surfaces. Growth Trends New growth is also evident in specialized upholstery segments such as lift chairs and zero-gravity models, as well as options and models dedicated to massage, heating, and other relaxation features. The increasing variety of upholstery styles overall is resonating well with consumers.

According to a FurnitureCore, Inc. survey developed by Impact Consulting Services (parent company of Home Furnishings Business), the combined upholstery category (stationary + motion), as a percent of total furniture sales came in at $52.84 billion for 2023, up slightly from $52.43 billion in 2021. Looking specifically at motion upholstery, 2023 closed with $19.52 billion in sales, up slightly over $19.36 billion in sales posted for 2022.

Statistically Speaking: Are You Better Off Now Than You Were in 2019?

The real growth of wages, adjusted for inflation, are also shown in Table A. Even after inflation, wages still increased much faster than furniture store sales, especially in 2022. However, last year real growth in wages slowed and by the first quarter of this year had dropped sharply to an index of 100, exactly where we were in 2019 Q1 before the madness began.

On an annual basis, furniture store sales grew 17.1% between 2019 and 2023. But that growth is misleading because much of it occurred during a rebound from COVID-19 and in a highly inflationary period. Quarterly furniture store sales comparing current dollars to real dollars are shown graphically in Table B. Current 2024 Q1 furniture store sales of $17.3 billion only amounts to $14.7 billion in real inflation-adjusted 2019 dollars, which happens to be about the same as current sales in 2019 Q1. No progress. Furniture stores have been forced to keep up with other industries in increasing wages. And those wages have stayed well above 2019 levels in current dollars, and are up slightly in real inflation-adjusted wages. Table C shows that weekly wages totaled $759 in 2019 Q1 and rose 23.3% by 2024 Q1 to $935. After adjusting for inflation, weekly wages were up .4%.


Why are weekly wages falling faster than hourly wages? Table C shows that in the first quarter of this year, weekly furniture store workers averaged 33.5 hours, 1.2 hours below 34.7 hours in 2019 Q1. And while 1.2 hours a week doesn’t sound like much to the average reader, when hourly wages are going up and sales are going down, many furniture stores see the natural next step to be to cut weekly hours. And that is exactly what is happening in furniture stores. The final result is that furniture stores sales and weekly wage costs are exactly where they were five years ago, 2019 Q1 to 2024 Q1, but hours worked are down.

Another key part of the equation is that while sales are declining, wages increasing, and weekly hours worked per employee down, the number of workers in furniture stores is falling, whether by attrition via stores closing or current retailers trimming rosters. (Table E).

One thing is certain, the average quarterly furniture store sales per employee increased beginning in 2020 Q3, and has not returned to 2019 Q1 levels, both in actual (current) dollars and also dollars adjusted for inflation. Between 2019 Q1 and 2024 Q1, in current dollars average employee sales grew from $65,000 and $84,000 per quarter, an increase of 29.1%. In real dollars adjusted for inflation the growth was 9.7%. (Table F) The boom in the furniture industry since 2019 came to a slow end over 2023 and the decline gained speed in the first quarter of this year. As shown in Table G, furniture store sales grew 17.1% between 2019 and 2023, even as 2023 slowed. Last year, sales fell 5.8% (2022 to 2023). And in the first quarter of this year, sales fell another 6.7% compared to Q4 of 2023. From a different quarterly year-over-year view, Q1 2024 versus Q1 2023 declined 8.7%.

Meanwhile the growth in employment, which was previously detailed in Table E, showed a continuous decline throughout the last four years and into the first quarter of this year. The four years 2019 to 2023 saw employment fall 6.6% and in the first quarter of this year by 5.2% Q1 2023 to Q1 2034 (Table G). Furniture Stores sales growth has fallen way behind other channels as consumer spending on furniture has slowed, but to a much less extent (Table H). Consumer spending growth between 2019 and 2023 of 39.7% was more than double the sales growth in furniture stores, 17.1%. In the first quarter of this year, the growth was even more pronounced. In 2024 Q1 versus the same quarter in 2023, consumer spending on furniture was down 2.98% compared to furniture store sales growth of a negative 8.7%.

Competing Distribution Channels So how have other retail channels that sell furniture fared? Some better, but some worse (Figure 1). Between 2019 and 2023 the following retailers fared much better than furniture store growth of 17.1%: Electronic shopping (88.5%), building material and home centers (32.9%), warehouse clubs and superstores (29.2%), and general merchandise retailers (30.5%). Slowest growth was among electronic and appliance stores (1.2%) and department stores (-1.5%). Beating furniture store employment growth of (-6.6%), the biggest winners in employment were lawn and garden equipment and suppliers’ growth (18.2%), warehouse clubs and superstores (12.5%), and building material and home centers (8.0%). Employment data from electronic shopping is not available. Employment losers were home furnishings retailers, excluding floor covering stores (-22.1%) and electronic and appliance stores (-15%). Growth in both sales and employment has slowed significantly in the first quarter of this year.

Editors Note: Ready-Aim-Fire

In the eighties, management gurus led by Tom Peters, as documented by his book Search of Excellence, stresses a strategy with a “bias for action,” a preference for doing something, anything, rather than sending a question through cycles of analysis and committee reports. The results were good companies on the dust heaps of history. Our industry has many examples starting with manufacturers: Broyhill, Lane, furniture brands and continuing with retailers: Levitz, Wickes and more recently Klaussner, Art Van, Mitchell Gold and more.

It is difficult to watch as incoming manufacturers’ orders significantly fluctuate month-to-month impacting the ability to forecast production six months out. Exacerbating this is the long standing practice that retailers can cancel orders with little recourse. This, added to the manufacturers concern about the recent bankruptcies of industry icons such as RoomPlace and Ruby Gordon, creates a sense of something needs to be done. Likewise, retailers weekly see the very real downward trend of consumer traffic to the stores – down 14% 2019 – 2023. While revenue for the same period is up 10% (top 50% quartile), with net income remaining in the upper single digits due to increase in average unit prices and the impact of volume variances, it is still troubling.

Translating “FIRE-READY-AIM” to what to do will require “STRATEGY-TACTICAL PLANS-EXECUTE.” The first part of strategy is to address the unique trends after the pandemic, specifically: Industry Trends
The GENERATIONAL TRANSITION from the Baby Boomers to Generation X to Millennials (See our feature story from the Nov/Dec 2023 issue.)
NEW COMPETITION from new distribution channels that offer a different retail experience attracting the incoming generations (See the feature story in this issue.)
CHANGING STYLE PREFERENCE necessitating a balancing of both the retailer and manufacturer merchandising assortment (See our feature story from the Jan/Feb 2024 issue.)
• The CHANGING BUSINESS MODEL from independent furniture retailer to direct to consumer and everything in between; What will define success in the next decade?
What is Your Specific Strategy for Each?
It is not a time to base your strategy on qualitative facts (opinions), but quantitative facts (data). Unfortunately, our industry has been oriented to past facts – what worked before. It is not the time to roll the dice. Watch for the incoming.


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