TAMARAC, Fla. (January 23, 2023) – Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc., a nonprofit educational organization honoring the achievements of outstanding individuals and encouraging youth to pursue their dreams through higher education, today announced that Keith T. Koenig, Co-Founder and Chairman of CITY Furniture, has been selected for membership in this prestigious organization. Mr. Koenig joins 12 other exceptional business, civic and cultural leaders from across North America in receiving 2023 honors. For 76 years, the Horatio Alger Award has been annually bestowed upon esteemed individuals who have succeeded despite facing adversities, and who have remained committed to education and charitable efforts in their communities.
In search of a quieter lifestyle, the hardworking Koenig family moved down to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida in 1961. Money was tight in the household, and Mr. Koenig helped by washing cars and windows in the neighborhood, eventually becoming a busboy in nearby restaurants. In 1971, Mr. Koenig’s late brother, Kevin, opened a small waterbed store in Ft. Lauderdale and named it Waterbed City. While running the store the summer of 1972, he got his first taste of entrepreneurship and was hooked. The brothers soon became business partners and grew Watered City into a local landmark in the 1970s and 1980s.
After many successful years, the demand for waterbeds declined and sales plummeted. The Koenig brothers saw this problem as an opportunity to reinvent the business. They converted their then 14-store chain to CITY Furniture, adjusting their product line, suppliers, store format and advertising and retrained their entire team. Sales rebounded. In 2003, CITY Furniture launched a partnership with Ashley Furniture and the company has since grown to become one of Florida’s largest private companies, employing more than 3,000 associates across the state. The company has its own manufacturing facility in Mississippi and recently opened a new warehouse-showroom in Tampa, Florida, which is projected to bring 500 jobs to the area. Amidst his professional success, Mr. Koenig faced significant personal tragedy when he lost his first wife Doreen in 2015 to breast cancer. The couple had been married for 37 years. He also lost his brother and business partner, Kevin, who died at age 54 in 2001.
“Like all Horatio Alger Members, Mr. Koenig’s life has been about turning challenges into opportunities,” said Terrence J. Giroux, executive director, Horatio Alger Association. “Despite facing professional setbacks and personal adversity, he remained focused on achieving his goals. We are honored to welcome Mr. Koenig into our distinguished Association.”
In 2021, Mr. Koenig’s son, Andrew, took over as CEO of CITY Furniture. Mr. Koenig remains involved as Chairman. He is an avid – and quiet – philanthropist, providing support to regional organizations including the Museum of Discovery and Science, Habitat For Humanity, Camillus House, Holy Cross Hospital, the University of Florida, Nova Southeastern University, Boys and Girls Club, St. Gregory Catholic Church and the Archdiocese of Miami, among others. 27 years ago, he founded an annual golf and fishing tournament that was later named in memory of his late brother, Kevin. Through CITY Furniture, Mr. Koenig also donates furniture to shelters and organizations in need, including Alonzo Mourning’s Overtown Youth Center. Committed to higher education, Mr. Koenig is a Member and Past Chair of the University of Florida Foundation and a Member of the Board of Governors at the Nova Southeastern University Alan B. Levan Broward Center of Innovation.
“I am pleased to become a Member of the Horatio Alger Association and to join a community of likeminded leaders,” said Mr. Koenig. “Despite the challenges I’ve faced, I have always recognized the importance of community involvement and service to others. I can’t think of a more worthy cause than supporting young people who wish to pursue higher education and I look forward to meeting this year’s Scholars who are just beginning their journeys.”
Since 1984, the Association has awarded annual need-based scholarships to high school students who have displayed dedication to pursuing higher education despite significant obstacles throughout their lives. The Association also aims to educate young people about the endless opportunities available by the free-enterprise system through commitment, honesty, and diligence. The scholarships are made possible through the Association thanks to the generosity of its Members, who will have collectively provided more than $245 million to 35,000 students by 2023.
“Each year, it is our utmost honor to present outstanding leaders who have displayed extraordinary perseverance in overcoming challenges with the Horatio Alger Award,” said James F. Dicke II, chairman, Horatio Alger Association and 2015 Horatio Alger Award recipient. “Each of these incredible leaders has also shared their success with others, giving generously to important causes and communities in need. The 2023 awardees exemplify the Association’s mission and are proof that the American Dream is within reach for all who seek it.”
Mr. Koenig and the Member Class of 2023 will be formally inducted into the Association during the Horatio Alger Award Induction Ceremonies in Washington, D.C. from March 30 through April 1, 2023. The three-day event is an annual ceremony to honor both the achievements of Members and National Scholars, who will have multiple opportunities to meet, interact and exchange stories of perseverance.