Industry veteran is credited with many accomplishments, including achieving new heights in global sales for U.S. companies
CLEARWATER, Fla. — Although mourning his passing here late last week, colleagues and friends of industry veteran Dave Ogren are remembering him fondly not only for his professionalism in sales and marketing, but also for the kind and friendly spirit he showed to just about everyone he met in or outside the business.
A resident of St. Petersburg, Florida, Ogren died July 6 at age 85, surrounded by members of his family. His passing followed the lingering side effects of a traumatic brain injury in 2019 due to a fall he experienced playing basketball with his grandchildren.
Born on Feb. 23, 1938, he was a native of Joliet, Illinois. His family later moved to Glen Ellyn, Illinois, where he attended high school. After graduating, he went on to the University of Iowa where he received a degree in marketing and advertising.
Soon after, he went to work for Armstrong World Industries as director of marketing services, serving in the marketing department from 1960 through August 1969.
About a year after Armstrong purchased Thomasville Furniture Industries in 1968, he was named vice president of marketing at Thomasville. It was there that he met fellow industry veteran Tom Tilley who joined the company around 1974 as assistant marketing manager for occasional furniture and imports.
“Dave came from the advertising department, and his background and skills were in marketing and public relations,” Tilley recalled. “He was never a product person in those days, but he became great at it and he had this magnetic personality. Anyone who worked with him just liked him. He was very reliable, smart and quick, and an easy person to be around. … His personality was such that he didn’t try to impose his knowledge or worldliness. He just tried to fit in and he did a great job at that. He was very involved and was well liked by everyone. He fit very well into the Thomasville culture.”
In his role at Thomasville, Ogren was involved in nearly every aspect of the business, Tilley recalled, from product development and introductions to photography and national advertising.
“It was a big responsibility at the time,” Tilley said. “We had a lot of things going on there and a lot to manage — Dave did it very well and came out of it very well respected and liked.”
Joe Carroll, former publisher of Furniture Today, first met Ogren at the spring High Point Market in 1978, several months after he started working for the publication in October 1977.
“Not knowing who to ask for, I identified myself as an advertising salesman with FT,” Carroll told Home News Now. “The receptionist called Dave to speak to me. At that time he was vice president of Thomasville’s Founders Division. He welcomed me as if I were one of his top customers and gave me an extensive tour of the showroom. They say you can judge a person by the way they treat people of a lesser statue. As I got to know the industry better, I realized that it was Dave’s nature to receive all visitors with courtesy and hospitality.”
Ogren later became vice president of business development and international sales at LADD, where he worked from December 1982 until June 2000. In an oral history he gave as part of his induction into the American Hall of Fame, former LADD President and Chief Operating Officer Bill Fenn noted that Ogren expanded the international business into about 10% of overall sales, a high level even for most companies that export today.
“Dave did an excellent job of developing that business and making it a big part of our business,” Fenn said in the oral history interview. “At that point LADD was a $50 million business and he was doing 10% of that, so, you know, he was doing very well.”
“At markets he had a space that was separate from all the individual operating companies and that was the LADD International area,” Fenn added in the Hall of Fame interview. “If offshore people would come to any of the LADD companies, we would refer them to Dave. He and his people would take them through the various LADD showrooms and try to sell them as many different parts of the lines as they could. Dave built that business up beautifully along the way. He was doing 10% of LADD’s total volume in these international markets and nobody else in the industry was interested in it to that degree.”
Bob Maricich, chief executive officer of the Andmore entity (formerly International Market Centers) that runs the Atlanta and Las Vegas markets and owns major showroom properties in High Point, first met Ogren in 1989, the year Maricich was named senior vice president of sales at American of Martinsville. He has many fond memories of Ogren over his years with the company.
“He was just a positive guy,” said Maricich, who was promoted to president of AOM in 1990 and later to president of American Drew in 1995. “He also was one of the early adopters of American-based companies embracing international business. … By positioning U.S. manufacturers to be international, he was ahead of most companies in embracing that business. So in all regards, he was the leader.”
Maricich added that even after his days at LADD, when he became manager of business development at wood furniture sourcing specialist Planex Designs & Imports, Ogren continued to connect people in the industry. He began working for Planex Designs & Imports in September 2001 and continued until the fall that resulted in his injury in 2019.
Later in his career, Ogren stayed involved in the business in other ways too, working on a historical archives project for Thomasville Furniture along with fellow company veterans Ryan Tessau, Jim Gregory, John Sullivan and Vickie Holder.
“Dave was a great guy who loved the furniture industry,” said Tessau, who managed Thomasville’s retail store and gallery program and later headed up case goods development at Thomasville. “His deep feelings for Thomasville Furniture Industries and its employees began when he was given a new assignment by Armstrong World Industries to be a liaison between them and Thomasville Furniture, their newly purchased furniture company. When I retired from Thomasville in 2013, I worked with Dave on a Thomasville Furniture history project. It was his passion to have a Thomasville Furniture Museum and the history project was to be a part of it.”
While Ogren never saw that project completed due to his injury, Tessau said the finished project is now housed in The Finch House event venue in Thomasville. He and others say they are grateful to have known Ogren both personally and professionally over his many years in the industry.
“Dave was a natural leader,” said Carroll. “He led major companies even-handedly by demonstrating respect for his colleagues and his passion for furniture. His quick wit, marketing expertise and communication skills were major success factors in developing LADD Furniture’s international sales. He personified the saying ‘we do business with people we like to do business with.’ To me, Dave personified the greatest generation of furniture manufacturers.”
The family is holding a private memorial service on Friday, July 14 at the Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh, North Carolina. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that donations be made to the Fanconi Anemia Research Fund, www.fanconi.org/donate in memory of Dave and in support of his grandson.