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American Furniture Hall of Fame Announces Candidates for Induction

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The American Furniture Hall of Fame Foundation, Inc. (AFHF) announced the nominees for election into the American Furniture Hall of Fame for October 21, 2008.

“As an industry, it is important that we stop to recognize and appreciate our leaders,” says Donald Belgrad, president of AFHF. “This year seven individuals have been nominated by their peers as leaders who have had a remarkable impact on the furniture industry. Each inspires us with their leadership, service and integrity.”

The slate of nominees was selected from nominations by the AFHF members. To make a nomination, members submitted a biography of the nominee including detailed information about professional achievements, personal standards and civic involvement.

Each nomination was then seconded in writing by another AFHF member. The voting period begins July 1 and ends July 31. Only members of the organization are eligible to nominate, second and vote.

The seven nominees whose photos and additinal information can be found at http://www.furniturehalloffame.com are:

Alfred J. Audi (b 1938 d 2007) and his wife, Aminy, transformed L. & J.G. Stickley from a company of fewer than 25 employees into a thriving international business with three factories, 14 showrooms and more than 1,600 employees. Mr. Audi purchased the Heirloom Upholstery factory and continued to employ the workforce as Stickley Fine Upholstery. He also purchased and revitalized John Widdicomb, Cibola Leather and Madison Square.

Wogan Stanhope Badcock, Jr. (b 1932 d 1996) was president of W.S. Badcock Corporation, a company founded by his great grandfather. During his 30-year tenure, Mr. Badcock expanded the chain to more than 300 stores throughout the Southeast, providing entrepreneurial opportunities for more than 200 associate dealers in six states. He paved the way for extensive growth and innovation while maintaining the family-like atmosphere of the company.

Howard G. Haas (b 1924), who was president and CEO of Sealy Inc. for 19 years, increased revenues from $32 million to $550 million without the acquisition of a competitor or supplier. Mr. Haas took Sealy’s profits from slightly better than break-even to one of the highest returns in the industry. Currently an adjunct professor of Strategic Management at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, Mr. Haas is co-author of the best-selling book, The Leader Within.

Simon Kaplan (b 1924), a World War II veteran, was founder and CEO of Crest Furniture, Inc., D/B/A Value City Furniture. He began with a single store and expanded to seven retail locations and four Ashley Home Stores. Mr. Kaplan also played an active role in the formation of the Furniture Marketing Group (FMG), which today has 79 members with more than 500 retail locations and a combined retail annual volume exceeding $2.5 billion.

K. Bruce Lauritsen (b 1942 d 2007) rose from sales trainee in 1968, to president in 1989, to CEO in 1993 of Flexsteel Industries. Flexsteel’s revenues grew from $19.9 million in 1968 to $172 million in 1989 to $425 million in 2007. Mr. Lauritsen launched Flexsteel’s first in-store gallery in 1984; today there are more than 600. A member of the board of the American Home Furnishings Alliance since 2000, he joined their executive committee in 2005.

Pasquale Natuzzi (b 1940) is founder, chairman and chief designer of the Natuzzi Group, the world’s leading producer of leather sofas and Italy’s largest furniture manufacturer. Mr. Natuzzi transformed the industry by democratizing the leather sofa, a product once reserved for the elite. With revenues of 634.4 million euros and more than 8,000 employees, the Natuzzi Group today operates 12 factories worldwide. Natuzzi Americas is based in High Point, N.C.

Adrian M. Pearsall (b 1926) founded Craft Associates, which became the second largest employer in Northeastern Pennsylvania. After he and his brother sold Craft to the Lane Company, Mr. Pearsall became a partner at Comfort Designs, from which he retired in 1991. Mr. Pearsall is known for his innovative designs, including the popular beanbag chair. He recently authorized the use of his name for Craft Classics, Inspired by Adrian Pearsall, which debuted in 2006.

New members will be announced and officially inducted into the American Furniture Hall of Fame at the annual banquet celebration on October 21 at the High Point Market. To make reservations for the banquet, please call 336.882.5900.

American Furniture Hall of Fame Foundation, Inc. is an international, industry-wide organization founded to honor those individuals whose outstanding achievements have contributed to the continued growth and development of the U.S. furniture industry, as well as to research, collect and preserve our cultural, economic and artistic history. Membership includes eligibility to vote for inductees into the American Furniture Hall of Fame, and the opportunity to help preserve the history and heritage of the industry. The organization is based in High Point at 202 Neal Place, and can be reached at 336.882.5900 or visit www.furniturehalloffame.com.


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