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American Home Furnishings Hall of Fame Foundation Names Four New Members

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Four industry leaders will be inducted into the American Home Furnishings Hall of Fame on October 14 during the High Point Market. Joining the current 112 members of the Hall of Fame are Kurt L. Darrow, chairman, president, and CEO of La-Z-Boy, Incorporated; Allen E. Gant, Jr., chairman of Glen Raven, Inc.; Keith Koenig, co-founder and president of City Furniture; and Paul B. Toms, Jr., chairman and CEO of Hooker Furniture Corp.

“We’re thrilled to honor these visionary leaders whose innovative ideas, entrepreneurial attitudes and hard work have significantly impacted the home furnishings industry,” says Jeff Child, president of the Hall of Fame Foundation board of directors. “In a year in which we are launching our Leadership Initiative to ensure we are creating future leaders, it’s fitting that we induct such outstanding role models, whose contributions to their companies, their industry and their communities are exceptional.”

A seven-member selection committee, composed of three Hall of Fame Foundation board members and four representatives from diverse segments of the industry, chooses inductees based on their contributions to the growth and development of the home furnishings industry in America. The committee uses a points-based evaluation system grounded on four foundations: enduring excellence, superior accomplishments, innovation and creativity, and philanthropic generosity. Ken Fulp, CPA, with the Foundation’s accounting firm Sharrard McGee & Co., verified the results.

“Induction into the Hall of Fame is the highest honor bestowed in home furnishings, and our selection committee chooses inductees from across all sectors of the industry,” Child says. “The 2018 inductees embody excellence and have adapted with extraordinary business acumen, creativity and determination during times of unprecedented change in our industry. They are generous and highly regarded by their colleagues, competitors and communities.”

The four new inductees are:

Kurt L. Darrow, chairman, president and CEO of La-Z-Boy Incorporated, repositioned and strengthened La-Z-Boy as one of the world’s most recognized consumer furniture brands. Today, the publicly traded company is the leading global producer of reclining chairs and the second largest manufacturer and distributor of residential furniture in the United States. During his tenure, the La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries store system evolved to become the 13th largest furniture retailer in the U.S., with La-Z-Boy branded products sold in 60 countries.  The La-Z-Boy family of brands also includes England, American Drew, Hammary, Kincaid, La-Z-Boy Spas, and La-Z-Boy Outdoor.

Mr. Darrow’s Board leadership includes the American Home Furnishings Alliance; American Home Furnishings Hall of Fame Foundation, Inc.; Anti-Defamation League’s Furniture Division, CMS Energy Corp., Business Leaders of Michigan, ProMedica Monroe Regional Hospital, and Monroe County Chamber of Commerce.  He has received the Anti-Defamation League American Heritage Award, the American Home Furnishings Alliance Distinguished Service Award and the City of Hope Spirit of Life Award. He holds an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, Adrian College.

Allen E. Gant Jr., chairman and recently retired president and CEO of Glen Raven, Inc., pioneered the development of performance fabrics for the outdoor and indoor furniture, marine and shade markets.  Mr. Gant is known for fueling perpetual transformation, driven by a corporate motto of “Let endless possibilities begin.” With more than 3,000 employees at 40 locations in 17 countries and six continents, the family-owned business founded in 1880 in Burlington, N.C., today has 43 global brands including Sunbrella and Sunbury Textile Mills.  The debt-free company generates zero land waste in the U.S. and soon will do so at its facilities in Europe and China. 

His board service includes the President George W. Bush’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations, the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition and TextilePAC, and the National Council of Textile Organizations. Passionate about supporting public education, economic development and leadership initiatives, among his many honors are the UNC Kenan-Flagler Global Leadership Award, the Dale Carnegie Leadership Award, and Commitment to Leadership Excellence. Textile World Magazine named Glen Raven the most innovative textile company today.

Keith Koenig, president of City Furniture, has an unwavering passion for serving the consumer, being collaborative with other retailers, and adapting its business model from selling waterbeds to furniture and home accents to adding licensed Ashley Home Stores. The culture of the No. 1 home furnishings store in South Florida and Top 100 retailer is ever based on the guiding principle, “To enrich people’s lives and make the world a better place.” A pioneer of same day deliveries and free shipping, its stores feature environmentally-efficient systems, trucks fueled by clean, compressed natural gas, and the recycling of 95% of its waste.

Mr. Koenig is known for generously supporting dozens of charities with his time and treasures, including the Doreen Koenig Blessed Beginnings Maternity Center at Holy Cross Hospital, the Archdiocese of Miami, Habitat for Humanity, Museum of Discovery and Science, Broward Center for Performing Arts, American Cancer Society, City of Hope and the Anti-Defamation League. It is the only company to win Philanthropic Company of the Year by the Society of Fundraising Professionals in Broward County and Miami-Dade County in the same year.

Paul B. Toms Jr., chairman and CEO of Hooker Furniture Corp., has diversified the company founded by his grandfather in 1924 through acquisitions, growing it from a mid-sized niche case goods manufacturer into one of the top five furniture resources in North America, listed on the prestigious NASDAQ Global Select. The Hooker family of brands includes Bradington-Young, Sam Moore, Home Meridian International, Shenandoah Furniture and H Contract. An early adopter, the companies have become a model of ethical business practices, supply chain management, environmental stewardship, information technology, and social media. 

Ever focused on serving the customer and consumers, Mr. Toms has positioned Hooker to be an involved and generous corporate citizen in the industry and community. His Board leadership includes the High Point Market Authority as its inaugural chair, the Home Furnishings Council, the American Home Furnishings Alliance, the International Woodworking Fair, High Point University, the Martinsville Boys & Girls Club, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Harvest Foundation. Mr. Toms received the Distinguished Service Award from the American Home Furnishings Alliance.

Legendary basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski will deliver an inspiring keynote address on leadership during the 2018 Lead with Vision Induction Celebration. Entrepreneurs, TV personalities, and best-selling authors Drew and Jonathan Scott will be the hosts. The Induction Celebration, the industry’s most prestigious event, will again be held at the Sheraton Greensboro Four Seasons.

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