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Former Gorman’s CEO and 50-Year Home Furnishings Industry Veteran Tom Lias Passes Away at Age 77

Furniture World News Desk on 6/18/2024

Gorman’s Home Furnishings & Interior Design of Farmington Hills today announced that its former CEO, Thomas “Tom” Walter Lias, passed away peacefully on Saturday, June 15, 2024, in Winter Garden, Florida. A longtime resident of Troy, Michigan, and a more than 50-year furniture industry veteran, Tom was a dedicated leader and family man who left an indelible mark on his professional and personal communities. He was 77 years old.

Born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio, and a graduate of Chaney High School, Tom honorably served his country in the United States Army as a drill sergeant and then attended Youngstown State and the School of Design at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.

Joining Gorman’s in 1983 and moving through the company ranks, he was named company president in 1996 and CEO in 2017. Under his leadership, he was instrumental in Gorman’s move to its “100 brands” strategy, helping the furniture and design retailer expand its brands to include premier lines, such as Hooker Furniture, Lexington Home Brands and Stickley.

“Tom was an amazing businessman. He had a unique ability to balance a keen focus on the bottom line with a deep appreciation for art and design. His ability to buy to appeal to a vast majority of customers helped Gorman's develop its unparalleled competitive edge,” said John Moray, CEO, Gorman’s. “At the same time, he created an environment where employees could thrive, empowering his team, giving them the autonomy to make decisions and run the business daily, while still providing overall strategic guidance. Tom truly loved what he did, and he was exceptionally good at it. We are deeply grateful for his contributions."

Tom was a mentor to many in the industry and in 2017 was recognized with Furniture Today’s Champion of the Industry Award. The award recognized his career commitment to the furniture industry, his community and his servant leadership ideals. He retired from Gorman’s in June 2023.

“It has been my pleasure to know Tom Lias for over 20 years, both professionally and personally. Tom is one of the finest people I have known with a loving commitment to his family and the company that he successfully managed, along with Bernie and John Moray and Jeff Roberts,” said Phil Haney, President and CEO, Lexington Home Brands. “Tom was also a mentor to me and was happy to share his insights and observations about our industry and helped me better understand the supplier/customer relationship from a collaborative point of view. I will miss Tom greatly and send my deepest sympathy to his wife Chris, their son David and their extended family.”

Hooker Furniture CEO Jeremy Hoff reflected, “I had the great pleasure to have worked with Tom for over 20 years, and I cannot think of anyone who represented integrity, compassion, intellect, and honesty at a greater level than Tom. Over the years, our working relationship became a friendship and one that I will always cherish and hold dear in my heart. Tom will be missed by so many but by none so much as his wife Chris and son David, the very center of his life and love. My wife Robin and I are praying for their comfort and peace at this very difficult time.”

Prior to joining Gorman’s, he co-owned and served as president of La-Z-Boy stores in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. He also held numerous roles, including sales representative, general manager and vice president, for several Michigan Ethan Allen locations and served as Michigan and Ohio marketing manager for the company.

Tom's commitment to community service was exemplified by his long-standing involvement with The Arc of Oakland County, where he worked tirelessly to support individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. His compassionate efforts made a significant impact on many lives, reflecting his deep-seated belief in giving back to the community.

In 2022, The Detroit News named him a Michiganian of the Year for his significant contributions to the nonprofit community. He served on The Arc of Oakland County board of directors, including as president, for more than 12 years and was also instrumental in the rebranding of The Arc’s Forever Plan, which supports people with intellectual or developmental disabilities after their parents or guardians can no longer care for them.

Away from his professional endeavors, Tom was a passionate golfer and bowler, clinching his first perfect 300 game at the age of 18 years old.

Tom is survived by his beloved wife of 42 years, Christine “Chris,” and his cherished son, David; brother Charles (Barb) Lias of Boardman, OH, Uncle Dock (Barb) Lias of Leesburg, Fla, and many much-loved brothers-in-law and sisters-in-laws and nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his parents Charles Lias and Annette Hadley Lias.

Tom will be remembered as a loving husband, father, friend, visionary leader and compassionate advocate.

A celebration of Tom’s life will be announced at a future date. Contributions may be made to The Arc of Oakland County (https://www.thearcoakland.org/) or the National Fragile X Foundation (https://fragilex.org/) in Tom's memory.



About Gorman’s Home Furnishings & Interior Design
For more than 80 years, Gorman’s has been recognized as the original Michigan-style leader in home furnishings. With a reputation built on a commitment to quality–quality merchandise and quality design – the company delivers all of the best brands, not just a few, at the best prices–regardless of price point. Gorman’s nearly 50 designers have a combined 1,000+ years of residential and office design experience using Gorman’s expansive resource area and textiles library. Both designers and clients can rest assured when working with this style leader. Everything is backed by Gorman’s “Must Be Right” service guarantee. Showrooms are conveniently located in Novi, Southfield (Contemporary), and in Troy, and a warehouse and Three-Day Clearance Center are in Farmington Hills. For more information, visit www.Gormans.com.