Butler Specialty Co. on Tuesday heaped gifts and tributes on its most enduring – and beloved – a sales representative, Jack Lopez Klein, who has sold the company’s accent furniture for 58 years.
As Chicago-based Butler prepared to celebrate its 75th anniversary during this market, Klein was honored for his role in the company’s success during all but 17 of those years.
Amid numerous cheers and occasional tears during its semiannual sales meeting, Butler’s second and third generation owners gave Jack Klein dress watches – adorned with the smiling face of the man of honor – to a roomful of his colleagues. The watches were modeled after the Mickey Mouse watches Klein has collected and celebrated for years.
“These watches will always remind us how much quality time, how much joyful time, Jack has spent with this company,” said Burt Fainman, vice chairman. “With every tick, Jack has woven himself into the hearts of everyone associated with Butler Specialty. Obviously he will be missed; significantly, he will never be forgotten.”
Fresh out of Tulane University in New Orleans, Klein joined Butler sales rep on April 12, 1947. He worked with his father, Simon Klein, who had already covered a sprawling territory across 11 Southern states for 10 years. After his father died in 1950, Harry Bergman, one of the founders and grandfather of the current president, David Bergman, gave Jack Klein a large part of the territory. Two of those paying tributes to Klein on Tuesday were Burt Bergman and Burt Fainman, sons of the original partners.
This is, after all, as Klein is quick to point out, a family business.
“From the beginning, Butler owners built their business model on integrity and fair treatment,” Klein said. “Within good business parameters, it is almost an extended family relationship between owners, associates, suppliers and dealers. It is certainly family for me. We adopted each other a long, long time ago.”
In addition to the watches, Butler hung a portrait of Klein in the High Point showroom that it had commissioned from a Chicago artist, presented him a Butler tilt-top tea table with his image hand-painted on top, and renamed its sales honor roll the “Jack Lopez Klein Million Dollar Club.”
With 1,000 SKU’s, including 150 new products in High Point, Butler is not only the largest accent line, but also the industry’s design leader – the innovator other companies try to imitate. Butler’s accent home furnishings are designed to be the brightest spots in rooms throughout the home. In styles ranging from traditional to contemporary, these products are crafted from solid woods and veneers with exquisite wood and fossil stone inlays. Many feature authentic hand painting.
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