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Three Furniture Industry Leaders Get Awards At Joint MFA/GNYHFA Dinner

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Chris Clarizio, Eric Bernstein and Jeff Katz           

Three industry leaders, Jeff Katz, Chris Clarizio and Eric Bernstein were honored at a formal dinner and dance hosted by The Metropolitan Home Furnishings Association (MFA) and Greater New York Home Furnishings Association (GNYHFA).

Well over 200 furniture retailers, representatives and industry suppliers were on hand to celebrate the evening, marked by great food, drink and dancing, plus a commemorative journal that can be seen by clicking on the journal cover photo above.

Just before the formal award presentations were made, Patrick Cory of Cory Home Delivery announced that in 2011, MFA and GNYHFA will support an east coast event to raise money for City of Hope. This was followed by a presentation made by Shannon Sullivan who spoke of City of Hope's work to find a cure for cancer, diabetes, HIV and other life threatening diseases. A $5,000 check from Cory Home Delivery was presented to City of Hope.

Alan Granetz - Executive Director of MFA, Kevin Snyder - President MFA, Chris DeLisa - President GNYHFA, Shannon Sullivan from City of Hope, and Patrick Cory of Cory Home Delivery .

Award winner Chris Clarizio was introduced by Tony Bellarosa. Chis a partner at Furniture Concepts, the sales organization representing Klaussner Home Furnishings, was the recipient of the 2010 Dean of IHFRA Award recognizing quality of service to the industry, the recipient’s charitable nature, and a dedication that sets an outstanding example for others to follow.

Accepting the award, Chris spoke about his warm welcome into the furniture business, saying, "I began my career as a Manufacturer Representative for Klaussner Home Furnishings over 12 years ago.  From the very first day I entered the factory, the Klaussner family accepted me into their home with open arms, literally. I can remember walking into the factory a little nervous at the time not knowing what to expect. Then,  JB Davis (our CEO at the time) and the other upper management  came up to me and all gave me a hug hello when they saw me.  If that isn’t a welcoming for a young guy into the business I don’t know what is. Well, having a glass of wine and a cigar at lunch when Tony offered me the job was a pretty good welcoming too.  Steve, Jay, Brandunn, your support thru out the years in the good times and also the bad has truly meant so much to me."

He told the group about his passion, the Dean Michael Clarizio Cancer Foundation named after his late brother, and thanked Al Granetz, Mike Fisher and the Board of MFA for supporting his efforts at its annual golf outing. He continued, "I lost my brother Dean to cancer almost 5 ½ years ago.  Dean was not only my brother, he was my best friend and my hero.  He is the reason I have become the person you see today. While Dean was fighting the disease, he decided his ultimate goal was to beat his cancer and help to raise money for children and families, who are in need, fighting this disease.  Unfortunately Dean passed before he could see the foundation come to fruition.  But he did make me promise to continue on with his dream.  It is a promise I will keep and fulfill for the rest of my life.  With the help of my family and close friends, all volunteers, The Dean Michael Clarizio Cancer Foundation has been able to donate over $200,000 directly to children and families fighting cancer."

Chris Clarizio and Tony Bellarosa

The second award winner was introduced by Tommy Leflein, a member of the boards of GNYHFA and MFA. Tommy also served a photographer for the evening.

Eric Bernstein, President, of Berkshire Furniture was chosen as the recipient of the 2010 Howard Liveright Memorial Award. Berkshire Furniture of Union, N.J., a retailer serving the tri state area for moderate to high quality furniture, is a service-oriented family owned business. The Howard Liveright Memorial award honors prominent members of the furniture industry for distinguished service.

Eric spoke about his life in the furniture industry with special emphasis on balancing family and business.

Eric Bernstein and Tommy Leflein

The final award presentation was made to Jeffrey Katz, General Manager of The Fulton Stores, chosen as the recipient of the 2010 Jerry Gans Memorial Award that honors prominent members of the furniture industry for distinguished service. Jeff was introduced by Andy Gans.

The Fulton Stores operates in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens, New York, offering high quality furniture, a vast array of styles, and excellent value.

Jeff spoke of Fulton's history and the importance of family. He got lots of laughs by observing that, "To call Fulton an enduring business would be an understatement.  The list of events we’ve managed to make it through would cause even Moses to blush at a Passover Seder.   Five  wars, two fires, at least one flood, robberies, burglaries, 13 recessions,  one bankruptcy (sorry), civil unrest and  10 mayors.  But for every one of those there’s been a multitude of good. Great employees who have supported and stuck by us and never leave, they never, ever leave. A business model that’s managed to support us all through both good and bad times.  The wherewithal to grow, maintain our commitments, and the ability to stand behind whatever we say we’re going to do."

After thanking his wife Wendi, daughters Sadie & Hannah, members of GNYHFA, MFA and his "dad, Phil, my uncles Richard and Kenny, and my cousin Darren," he ended in this  way. "On a side note, For those of you who are free starting Monday, we’ll be having our annual end of year, fall, holiday, winter, liquidation, moving, and founders sale for 1 days only, featuring Kathy Ireland, Martha Stewart, Christie Brinkley, Alexander Julien, Ralph Lauren and a special appearance by Elvis. Ice cream and cookies will be served for all. Thanks to everyone."

Jeff Katz and Andy Gans

Information on GNYHFA and MFA events and programs can be obtained by sending an email to editor@furninfo.com.

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