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American Furniture Hall Of Fame Nominates Candidates

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The new members of the American Furniture Hall of Fame for 2006 will be selected from eight industry leaders who have been nominated. Ballots for voting were sent to AFHF sponsors who vote on numbered ballots which are returned to BDO Seidman, LLP for secret tallying. Nominees who are elected will be inducted into the AFHF and honored at a banquet gala to be held on Tuesday, October 17, 2006, in the ballroom of the IHFC. Photos of the nominees, more complete biographies and historical furniture industry information can be found on the AFHF website at www.furniturehalloffame.com. The nominees include:

ALFRED J. AUDI (1938) purchased the storied but ailing manufacturer, L. & J. G. Stickley, with 22 employees in 1974 and revived it to a thriving international business with three factories, 14 showrooms and 1600 employees worldwide. In 1995 he purchased the Heirloom Upholstery factory in High Point and kept the work force employed in what was to become Stickley Fine Upholstery. During the past five years he has purchased the assets of Widdicomb, Cibola Leather, and Madison Square. All have been preserved and revitalized with the same energy and reverence that saved Stickley.

BOBBY WESLEY "BOB" BUSH, SR, (1931) is a member of the Board of Directors and retired vice president of sales of the Hickory Springs Manufacturing Company. Over his 50 years of service, Mr. Bush built this family company into a business known for its quality, innovation and value. During the formative period of the Southern furniture industry, Bob played a vital role by working with manufacturers, North and South, in terms of location, supply, design, credit and marketing to ensure their success.

ORMON WILLIAM "BILL" FENN, JR, (1927) former president and CEO of LADD Furniture, believes the furniture industry is a global market. His contributions to the North Carolina Furniture Export Council have been extremely important to the growth of the industry overseas. His military experience, education, and years of service to the furniture industry with such companies as Stanley Furniture Company, Thomasville Furniture Industries, and Armstrong World Interiors (prior to joining LADD) prepared him to receive the honor to serve as Honorary Consul General representing North Carolina in Japan. Through this he has been an integral part in the promotion of trade to and from Japan.

FRED FRIEDMAN, (1942 - 2005) acquired Carls Furniture in 1974 along with his business partners and long-time friends Mike Baker and Bobby Dragin. Under Fred's leadership and ingenuity, they grew into one of the largest furniture retailers in the country with over 500 employees and 22 stores. Carls Furniture is consistently ranked among the top 100 stores by Furniture Today with projected revenues exceeding $130 million. The success enjoyed by the Carls group can be directly related to the personal involvement exhibited by Fred with his employees. He made it a point to know every employee by first name.

SIDNEY A. GAYLE, JR, (1921) of Alderman Studios dedicated his career to helping furniture manufacturers market their goods in new and exciting ways. He pioneered the concept of photographing furniture in a home environment created in the studio. The marketing needs have changed many times during Sidney's fifty-five years of service in the industry. In an attempt to cater to these needs, he was the first to offer to photograph at night in the showrooms during furniture market. This allowed his furniture industry customers to have their market prints of new furniture even before they left High Point. The real testament to this service is that it continues to be the "norm" today.

CHARLES A. GREENE, (1938) founder, president, and CEO of Classic Gallery, became aware of a niche in the furniture industry that was not being met early on in his career. He saw that while most furniture and department stores had their needs being met, the small, independent designers needed a quality upholstery manufacturer that would cater to their needs. In response to this void, and with a leap of faith, Charlie founded Classic Gallery. In the furniture industry as well as his community, Charlie has served as an officer and board member of many organizations and was recently appointed by the Governor of NC to chair the North Carolina Home Furnishings Export Council.

CHARLES T. KNABUSCH, (1939 - 1997) after receiving his degree in Business Administration and Corporate Law, worked his way through the ranks of La-Z-Boy until becoming President in August 1972, succeeding his father Edward M. Knabusch. During his tenure the company completed a series of acquisitions and mergers and consistently outperformed industry growth averages. After assuming the CEO post in 1985, Charles improved La-Z- Boy's sales from $52.7 million at the start of his reign to more than $1 billion annually. Under his direction La-Z-Boy became the largest upholstered furniture manufacturer in the U.S. and the world's largest producer of reclining chairs.

RONALD G. WANEK (1941) founded Ashley Furniture Industries in the early 1970's. Since that time he has taken Ashley from being a modest manufacturer of occasional tables to the largest furniture manufacturer in the world and second largest retailer in the United States in 2005. In the 1980's he developed global sourcing, becoming one of the first manufacturers to both source and sell around the world. His most recent contribution to the industry was his development of Ashley Furniture HomeStores, which introduces the concept of selling in Ashley-branded stores while focusing on the needs of middle income consumers. Ron began to promote and advertise the Ashley name and has now developed what appears to be the fastest growing consumer brand.


The American Furniture Hall of Fame is an all-industry effort organized to honor those individuals whose outstanding achievements have contributed to the continued growth and development of the American furniture industry and to research, collect and preserve its cultural, economic and artistic history. For more information call (336) 882-5900 or visit the AFHF website at www.furniturehalloffame.com.

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