Otis Sawyer to retire as president, La-Z-Boy Portfolio Brands

TJ Linz, president of La-Z-Boy retail, will assume Sawyer’s responsibilities next spring

MONROE, Mich. — La-Z-Boy announced this week that Otis Sawyer, a 29-year company veteran currently serving as president, La-Z-Boy Portfolio Brands, will be retiring from the company next year.

TJ Linz, president of La-Z-Boy retail will assume his responsibilities at the end of April 2023, which also is the start of the company’s 2024 fiscal year.

Otis Sawyer

Sawyer, who also has served as president of the company’s custom upholstery division, England, will be in his current role through April 29, 2023, but will remain with the company in an advisory role through June to help with the transition.

Sawyer joined the company in 1993 as vice president, finance at England. Shortly after, he was named senior vice president, overseeing accounting, information technology and logistics.

In 2005 he was named chief information officer and vice president, corporate operations for La-Z-Boy Inc., a role in which he initiated the transition from legacy main-frame based systems to an ERP system. According to a company bio, he also oversaw the early development of a web-based retail management system for La-Z-Boy’s company owned retail stores.

He returned to England from 2008 to 2016, serving as president. In this position, he led the company through extremely challenging financial times and focused on maintaining the brand’s domestic manufacturing model, “using a highly disciplined system for manufacturing custom upholstery and delivering it in 21 days or less.” The company said that this model has helped double England’s sales volume since 2008.

In 2015, he was also given oversight of La-Z-Boy Casegoods. Under his leadership, the company said, this segment of the business has grown sales “and consistently improved the division’s operating profit.”

“As we execute our Century Vision strategy and position the company for long-term profitable growth, succession planning plays an integral role in our business philosophy and management of the company,” said company President and CEO Melinda D. Whittington. “With extensive systems expertise and a focus on lean initiatives, Otis made significant contributions to La-Z-Boy Incorporated throughout his 29-year tenure. We thank him and wish him all the best in his well-deserved retirement.”

TJ Linz

She said the company also is pleased to name Linz as his successor, heading up the Portfolio Brands division. In addition to La-Z-Boy and England, the company’s brands include American Drew, Hammary and Kincaid.

“Under TJ’s leadership using data-driven analytics, our company-owned retail business has experienced tremendous profitable growth,” Whittington said. “And, he has built a strong and unique culture throughout the Retail team, which drives exceptional performance and talent development at all levels. TJ will undoubtedly be equally successful in his new role as he further refines and develops the Portfolio Brands business and team.”

Linz joined the company in 2015 as director of strategy and analytics and became director of retail operations and strategy in 2017. He was named president of the retail division in 2019. Before joining La-Z-Boy, he was with Deloitte Consulting for nine years.

Linz said he is excited to lead the Portfolio Brands Division.

“England’s unique 21-day delivery model for custom furniture is unparalleled, and our case goods businesses each serve a distinct customer base, providing excellent opportunities for innovative product development and profitable growth,” he said. “I look forward to working with the Portfolio Brands team to build upon these great businesses.”

The company also said that a search is underway to fill the president’s role for the retail division.

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 tom@homenewsnow.com and at 336-508-4616.

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