Blog: New HNN team member reflects on career covering the industry

After about 18 straight years covering the furniture industry – by far the longest stretch I’ve worked at a single publication – a flood of memories comes to mind.

From my first Premarket – where I saw more product in a few short days than I remembered seeing in a long time – to my first trips to Asia, seeing even more product at a string of back-to-back shows – it seems like a whirlwind looking back. And one that went by very quickly.

The memories are mostly good – minus that first sweltering Las Vegas Market in July 2005 writing news stories in a frenzied pace in trailers just outside a construction site – a testament to how much I have enjoyed covering not just the industry, but also the people that make it so great.

That said, one of the memories that sticks out was traveling to furniture shows in Cebu, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore in February 2004 with former Furniture Today Publisher Joe Carroll – a “two-week adventure” as he called it at the time. Being a rookie back then I was floored that we wouldn’t get but several steps before someone stopped him to say hello. Then it would be at least another 10 minutes before we started walking the show floor again. These weren’t just people from the U.S., but people from around the world. For them, Joe was the international ambassador for Furniture Today.

I shared this memory while at lunch with Joe this past week and he reminded me of the 5-and-10 rule – meaning he would get five steps and stop to talk with someone for 10 minutes.

Another thing I remembered from our first trip together was how he said how much he really felt like he was part of the industry. This gave me pause at the time, particularly as someone just reporting the news – who felt an obligation to keep some distance to be fair and objective. Yet somehow it made sense, given all the people Carroll had gotten to know, and vice versa, over the many decades he was in the industry.

Fast forward to many years later – not to mention the thousands of news stories and columns I’ve written about the industry. These range from an untold number of High Point and Las Vegas market business and product stories to coverage of key issues such as furniture tip-overs and global trade conundrums such as antidumping and China tariffs. Regardless of the subject matter, all have involved speaking with and getting to know key people in the industry – stateside and overseas – one of my favorite parts of the job.

Now I’m in a new role at Home News Now, an online furniture publication started by founding Publisher Rick Harrison, and founding Editor-in-Chief Clint Engel. They’ve created a news resource that covers industry issues similar to those I and many others have covered over the years. Yet somehow their startup has managed to tell the stories in new ways, in more depth and with insight and a knowledge that reflects many years of industry experience.

The credit for building that foundation goes to them. I am just fortunate to have an opportunity to help build upon its success.

In taking on this new role, I recall Joe Carroll’s words – and his passion for the industry – and think of a recent conversation I had with industry veteran Rick Stroud. I don’t remember the whole thing, but these words struck a chord — “Furniture people like you and me — we get it.” It was flattering and humbling at the same time. I never really thought of myself as a furniture person — until then. Of course, as an industry observer, I’ll always try to keep a sense of objectivity, fairness and even some distance as we report the news. Yet I realize too that gaining the trust of the industry is a big part of that. In this business, that trust has to be earned every day. That said, HNN and I look forward to serving the industry and you, our loyal readers, for many years ahead.

Thomas Russell

Home News Now Editor-in-Chief Thomas Russell has covered the furniture industry for 25 years at various daily and weekly consumer and trade publications. He can be reached at and at 336-508-4616.

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