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AFMA Reorganizes to Embrace Emerging Business Models

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The American Furniture Manufacturers Association has become the American Home Furnishings Alliance, a broad-based organization that will embrace the global home furnishings community while still remaining a critical advocate for U.S. furniture manufacturers. “The new organization reflects our continued focus on assisting U.S.-based manufacturers, but also recognizes the new business models many of our members have adopted in recent years,” said AHFA’s CEO Andy Counts following the historic membership vote today that changed the organization’s name and established new membership criteria on the eve of AFMA’s 100-year anniversary. Previously, to be eligible for AFMA membership, a company was required to have a manufacturing facility within the United States. The new organization eliminates that requirement and welcomes any company that manufactures or imports home furnishings products for wholesale distribution. “In the future, an increasing number of longtime AFMA members who value the association’s programs and services would have no longer qualified for membership. While our new organization will remain a voice for domestic manufacturers at the state and federal level, we will also create new services for those members and prospective members whose business models do not necessarily include domestic furniture production,” Counts stated. “AHFA also will place renewed emphasis on gathering and disseminating timely, accurate and critical industry data and research to the membership and industry stakeholders.” The operations arm of the new organization will remain focused on government affairs, as well as the professional disciplines within a typical member company, including manufacturing, human resources, safety, environmental affairs, information technology, purchasing, packaging, transportation and finance. “A professionally staffed Washington, D.C. office will continue to provide a voice for manufacturers and suppliers on legislative and regulatory issues,” said Counts. Marketing and public relations will take on added importance as the new organization works to impact consumers and gain a greater share of disposable income for home furnishings. The official Media Center of the International Home Furnishings Market in High Point will continue to be sponsored and staffed by AHFA to facilitate press coverage of new home furnishings products and trends each April and October. The current Suppliers Division of the AFMA will remain intact within the new Alliance and will be open to companies that supply goods and services to AHFA members worldwide. The Summer and Casual Furniture Manufacturers Association also remains intact within the new organization. The SCFMA Board of Directors already approved an expansion of the SCFMA membership to international members earlier this year. A letter from AHFA’s president, Rob Spilman, president of Bassett Furniture Industries in Bassett, Va., announced the organization’s changes to all 252 manufacturing members and 225 supplier members via email today. Spilman stated: “2005 marks the 100-year anniversary of AFMA and its predecessor organizations. The timing of this change is perfect for advancing the organization and ensuring its ability to continue serving the membership with meaningful programs and services for the next 100 years.” A marketing campaign celebrating AFMA’s first 100 years and highlighting the changes adopted in Sea Island this week will be rolled out in January 2005. The organizational changes approved at this week’s meeting were proposed by a subcommittee of the AFMA Board of Directors after a “critical issues” survey conducted among the board members this spring. The survey asked directors to assess the major strengths and weaknesses of the association and to envision the organization a decade into the future. Results of the survey were presented to the Board in May. A subcommittee, dubbed the Olive Branch Committee, was subsequently formed to explore the issues raised by the survey, including possible ways AFMA might embrace companies that manufacture home furnishings products outside the United States. The American Furniture Manufacturers Association is headquartered in High Point, N.C. – the furniture capital of the world – and represents more than 200 leading U.S. furniture manufacturers and 250 suppliers to the furniture industry.

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