Kudos to the bright young people working hard to make our business better

Earlier this month, I participated in the annual board of directors meeting for the International Home Furnishings Representatives Association.

This was the first board meeting under the direction of IHFRA’s newly appointed executive director, who happens to be my son, Steve.

As one of our industry’s under-40 leaders, I was honestly blown away as I listened to his annual report and how brilliantly he and his executive committee had embraced several state-of-the-art technologies to allow the organization to run leaner, faster, more efficiently and more cost effectively.

It made me realize that as some of us industry veterans continue to sing the old song lamenting a shortage of young people joining our industry, we may not only be off-key, but off the mark.

During the meeting, it was announced that Raymour & Flannigan will be honored at our upcoming Furniture Industry Awards Gala and this retailer, one of the most successful retailers in our industry, is being led by Seth Goldberg, another young blood who has already made his mark in our business.

Seth, who understands today’s technology as well as anyone in our sector, has taken an already formidable company and thanks to his understanding of cutting-edge technology has cut into his competition by using these new tools to create and analyze data to help him keep Raymour in the passing lane of the fast track.

With our FIAG gala on my mind, I could not help but think of Andrew Koenig of City Furniture, who we recently honored at the gala.

Having reported on City Furniture for decades, I’ve developed a great relationship with Andrew’s dad, Keith, and it has been amazing to watch Andrew at the helm, taking the company to new levels of excellence.

Andrew has done an outstanding job building and nurturing a team that is as much a “family” as it is a highly successful sales and service organization.

Last year’s FIAG honored four “Rising Stars” that included Kian Amini of AICO, Sydney Harris of Furnitureland South, Katie Korngold of Korngold Sales and Marketing and Cameron Wanek of Ashley.

What is humbling about these young executives is how vast their knowledge of the business is. 

And what is exciting is watching how they are using these new tools to build a new platform fueled as much by augmented reality, artificial intelligence and digital platforms as dressers, armoires and accessories.

And as they say on those late-night infomercials, “But wait, there’s more.”

And more would include bright stars like Crystal Bruns, director of national accounts at Cozzia USA, and Darlene Sexton, training director at Storis.

The good news is that, if space permitted, I could go on and on naming bright young people working hard to make our business faster, smarter, more efficient and more profitable.

So, to those naysayers who would like us to believe that we are an industry of dinosaurs headed toward the tar pits, I would ask them to politely move out of the way because as The Who observed, “The Kids Are Alright.”

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