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A year after new leadership at HFA member Sheely’s Furniture, co-owner Jeff Curry says communicating with store employees played a big role
in a smooth transition.
Home Furnishings Association member Jeff Curry knows a thing or three about change. It’s been 14 months since Curry, Jessica Smith and Lance Romeo purchased longtime HFA member Sheely’s Furniture in North Lima, Ohio. Curry says the past year has been a learning curve for the new owners, but one they think has made the company even stronger and positioned for success in the coming years.
The No. 1 rule Curry offers the next generation of leaders taking over a furniture store? “Communicate as much as possible with your employees,” he says. “They want to know what changes might be in store for the business and themselves. You need to be open and honest with them.”
When Dale Sheely Jr. and his wife Sherry announced they were retiring from the business last year, the company was already undergoing several changes.
In June 2018, Sheely’s opened a scratch-and-dent outlet center that was wildly successful from the start. Hoping to build on that momentum, the new owners in February remodeled the store’s bedding department.
They were only getting started. Ohio is to Amish furniture as Florida is to contemporary. Consumers can’t get enough of it. A month after remodeling the bedding department, Sheely’s dedicated 10,000 square feet of showroom to about $300,000 in Amish inventory.
Both have been a hit with consumers, says Curry. Neither would have been possible without Sheely’s new owners keeping their 150 employees not only in the loop but fully invested. “That’s the key,” says Curry. “Making sure everyone was onboard from the start. Look, everyone is a little nervous about change. That’s just who we are and the way we’re wired, I suppose. But having all the employees in from the start made them feel like they were part of the change – and they were part of the change.”
Sheely’s new owners all bring a unique perspective to the store. Curry came to Sheely’s in 2012 as the company’s general manager after working for years at Sears. Romeo, who’s been working at Sheely’s the past 29 years, is one of the industry’s most respected casegoods buyers. Smith is the granddaughter of Dale Sheely Sr., who founded the store in 1952. With a background in banking, Smith brings fresh ideas from a unique perspective.
“We get along great with one another, but more importantly, I think we get along with all the employees because we’re always talking with them, learning from them,” Curry says. “They’re the front line to the store. They’re the ones who know what works and what doesn’t. Why wouldn’t we listen to what they have to say?”
For information about the Home Furnishings Association, call HFA at 916-757-1164.
A feature about Home Furnishings Association's retail members, legislation affecting the furniture industry and other retail news from HFA.