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Candidates Selected For American Furniture Hall Of Fame

Furniture World Magazine


New members to the American Furniture Hall of Fame for 1998 will be selected from ten industry pioneers who have been nominated to the American Furniture Hall of Fame. "A numbered ballot and a printed Candidates' Roster, containing photos and biographies of the nominees, has been sent to all AFHF sponsors," announced Jerome Bolick, Southern Furniture Company of Conover, the president of AFHF. "Voting by AFHF sponsors will take place from August 25 to September 15, 1998. The newly elected laureates will be inducted and honored during the AFHF Banquet Gala on opening day of furniture market, Thursday, October 15, 1998, in the International Home Furnishings Club in High Point, North Carolina. Candidates for the 1998 American Furniture Hall of Fame include: S. Meyer Barnett (b 1896 - d 1986) served Reliable Stores for 70 years as manager, officer, president and chairman of the board. He was a leader in revolutionary changes that took furniture retailing from its downtown roots out to the growing suburban areas of our country. In 1924, he acquired eleven northeast furniture stores and solidified them into one of America's greatest furniture chains. Joe Benaron (b1915 d1991) As a rising young pioneer, this industrialist began his career in furniture by founding Belvedere Mfg. Company in 1940. An early trailblazer of vertical integration, when he couldn't find materials for his companies, he started supplier companies. By age 30, he owned and was top officer of ten California-based companies. His last invention, the "Relaxor Massage System", is currently being used by La-Z-Boy and other top manufacturers. Louis S. Bing, Jr.- (b1899 - d1970) graduated from Harvard University cum laude when he was 19 years old. He entered the family business started by his father, Louis S. Bing in 1891 and was elected president in 1920. He developed The Bing Company from a single store in Cleveland into a successful chain of twelve units in Northern Ohio. Louis Bing served as chairman and president of the National Retail Furniture Association and was honored as "Man of The Year" in 1944. In 1945, he developed a "Retail Furniture Industry of Standard Accounting Practice," in 1956, he received the Chicago Market Daily Award for "Outstanding Merchandising of Home Furnishings." Anton "Tony" Gfesser (b 1930) is chairman of the board of Trendler Components of Chicago, one of the largest family furniture component manufacturers in North America. They produce over four million swivels a year with annual sales exceeding ten million dollars. A consummate inventor, he will adapt a product to a new use, or create an entirely new product as a solution to a customer's marketing or design problem. A real American success story, Anton escaped from World War II concentration camp in Yugoslavia, entered the US with $20 and a tradition of old world craftsmanship. Spencer Colie Kittinger (b1901 - d1968) served as president of the 131 year old Kittinger Company from 1941 to 1966 during a period of growth and innovation. The company became a legend for high quality reproductions of English and American antiques ... the only authorized manufacturer of the furniture of Colonial Williamsburg and with an exclusive appointment to make Newport Reproductions. Spencer Kittinger spent over 50 years as a leader in design excellence and maintenance of the highest quality standards. Henry Talmadge Link (b1889 - d1983) organized Dixie Furniture Company in 1936 with 90 employees. In 1940, after visits to automobile factories in Detroit, he equipped Dixie Furniture with motorized conveyors, thus introducing the industry to mass production of product. For nearly half a century, Mr. Link was the man at the helm as Dixie grew and spread to become the largest manufacturer of bedroom furniture in the world and included: Link-Taylor (1949) Young-Hinkle (1962); Dixie-Linkwood (1972) and Wicker by Henry Link (1984). Henry Link accompanied then governor of North Carolina, Luther Hodges to Europe in the 1950's in search of business for the furniture industry. Earl N. Phillips (b1875 - d1975) was an entrepreneur in several fields of home furnishings. During his fifty-year career, he founded many companies to provide services to the furniture industry: Phillips Mills; Phillips Factors and First Factors, National Springs Corporation and co-founded Phillips Foscue . He served as mayor of High Point, and was founding chairman of many community institutions such as the String and Splinter Club and the world-renowned Hatteras Yacht Company. He endowed the Phillips School of Business at High Point University. Sidney Rosenberg (b1899 - d1992) after a career start with Bloomingdale's, he established the American Furniture Associates, the first and largest furniture buying group in the 1940's and headed it until his retirement in 1972 ... introducing the industry to mass or combined buying power. AFA members developed skills by attending his educational seminars and could purchase private, exclusive lines of furniture. He was the originator of the Six Hour Sale in newspaper and radio advertising. He is credited as the creator of the first four-color 12-page mailer which became and still is a major industry sales technique. Albert Z. Sutton, CHR (b1917 - d1992) a consummate sales representative began selling in 1938 and continued until his retirement in 1992 ... after 58 years of service. He used his educational background of psychology, marketing, and business to develop the industry-wide Certified Homefurnishings Representatives (CHR) Program. As national president of International Home Furnishings Association, he fostered closer working relations with AFMA and NHFA and began IHFRA's successful legislative efforts. George Alden Thornton, Jr. ( b1905 - d1980) was chairman of the board of Heilig-Meyers from 1970 until his death. When his nine stores merged with Heilig-Meyers eighteen stores, the combined volume of Meyers-Thornton was 11 million dollars. The new merger provided the opportunity to use Mr. Thornton's 40 years of retail experience, and his visionary development of a corporate centralized management team, system and warehouse, to form the foundation for Heilig-Meyers growth. 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.