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Casual Industry Celebrates Excellence with 2018 Award Winners

Friday, September 28, 2018

The International Casual Furnishings Association (ICFA) honored top retailers, manufacturers, sales representatives and designers this week at a gala awards celebration during Casual Market Chicago.

All segments of the industry gathered at the Swissotel Chicago Wednesday, September 27, to recognize manufacturing and retailing excellence, spotlight top product designs and pay tribute to the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award recipients. Awards presented or recognized during the event included the following:

Apollo Awards

The Apollo Awards recognize retail excellence in the sales and marketing of outdoor furnishings. Finalists must demonstrate outstanding accomplishments and commitment to customer service. Winners in two categories, single store and multi-store, were selected from a group of 10 finalists through an online ballot.

Bowman’s Stove & Patio of Ephrata, Pa., was the winner in the single-store category. Porch & Patio Casual Living, with a flagship showroom in Warwick, R.I., and a satellite store in Mystic, Conn., was the multi-store category winner.

Finalists in the single store category included Outdoor Elegance, La Verne, Calif.; Patios Plus, Rancho Mirage, Calif.; Sunnyland Furniture, Dallas; Village Green Home and Garden, Rockford, Ill.

Finalists in the multi-store category included Daylight Home, Lighting & Patio, San Luis Obispo, Calif.; Great Gatherings, Gainesville, Va.; and Today’s Patio, Scottsdale, Ariz.

Design Excellence Awards

See the list of award winners here.

Lillian B. Winchester "Best of Show" and "Lilly" Awards

The Lillian B. Winchester “Best of Show” award, selected from among the 11 category winners listed above, went to TUUCI’s Automated Max Cantilever Umbrella, which also received the Lilly Award in the Outdoor Accents category. IndoSoul USA’s Montage dining tablereceived the “Lilly” award in the Outdoor Furniture category.

Lifetime Achievement

L to R: Steve Elton and Larry Smith.

The prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award is reserved for individuals who have made exemplary contributions to the casual furniture industry and to their individual communities. The 2018 honorees were Steve Elton, chief brand curator for Brown Jordan, and Larry Smith, owner of Village Green Home and Garden in Rockford, Ill. Both men are described as visionaries in the casual furnishings industry.

Elton was hired as a Brown Jordan sales representative in 1990 and developed a unique ability to articulate his precise vision and pure passion for the brand. For the last 28 years, he has played an integral role in furthering the Brown Jordan legacy established by its founders. He distilled the brand into three distinct pillars – heirloom quality, design innovation and jewel-like precision – and became its chief curator. To expand the brand, he secured collaborations with category-defining product designers like industry icons Richard Frinier and Michael Smith. Known for his tireless work ethic, humility and dynamic creativity, Elton’s enthusiasm for the Brown Jordan brand remains contagious.

Rockford, Illinois-native Larry Smith launched Village Green, a retail garden center, with his friend, Bill Swadley, in the early 1960s. They soon expanded to a second location, then added a lawn service, but competition from large discount stores began impacting both sales and margins. In 1980, Smith built a beautiful flagship store in a developing area of the city near the Interstate 90 corridor and began selling casual furniture to offset the shrinking lawn-and-garden business.

Village Green Home and Garden now offers an eight-acre outdoor living experience of plants and products with an expanded outdoor furniture display that includes a dramatic 15,000-square-foot atrium. Customers meander along changing elevations of patios and decks under natural light as they shop more than 100 furniture groups. The store received the 2016 ICFA Apollo Award for retail excellence and received the first Mary Fruehauf Retail Genius Award at the January 2018 ICFA Education Conference in Fort Lauderdale.

Manufacturer of the Year

Lloyd Flanders was named Manufacturer of the Year – a tribute to the design and quality of their products, as well as outstanding merchandising, customer service, ethics, communications and trade relations. The finalists for this award included Brown Jordan, Gloster, O.W. Lee and Telescope Casual Furniture.

Sales Representative of the Year

This award recognizes an outstanding sales representative within the casual furnishing industry. Candidates were selected based on leadership, professionalism, exceptional service, communication skills, knowledge and product training expertise. The 2018 winner, selected from five finalists and determined through online voting, was Billy Markowitz, owner of W.R. Markowitz Enterprises of Tustin, Calif. Other finalists included Andy Hamilton, president of Andy Hamilton DSA of Dallas; Ed Hatton, president of Hatton & Associates of Lexington, Ken.; Dave Hunt, president of Hunt Sales Associates in Churchville, N.Y.; and Carmen Squadrito, Wake Forest, N.C.

Jackie Hirschhaut
(336) 881-1016

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