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Art Van Store Ribbon Cutting

Cindy Crawford drops by to celebrate latest Art Van Furniture opening

Celebrity guests Cindy Crawford and Nigel Barker along with more than 400 other people showed up recently for Home Furnishings Association member Art Van Furniture’s latest store opening in Polaris, Ohio. 

The newest addition to Art Van’s chain features a 70,000 square foot, two-story store with a striking glass exterior and an open, contemporary floor plan showcasing six primary lifestyle collections (casual, urban, farmhouse, modern, traditional and mid-century). 

It’s Art Van’s second showroom in the state to be built from the ground up. Crawford and Barker mingled with attendees, shared their inspiration for their furniture lines, Cindy Crawford Home and NB2, and took part in an official ribbon-cutting ceremony alongside Art Van Furniture President and CEO, Ron Boire, company executives and team members. 

Performance speed artist, David Santia, wowed the crowd, including Crawford, by painting a striking, larger-than-life portrait of her in less than seven minutes. The painting was auctioned for $12,500 and, when added to a $10,000 check from Art Van Furniture, a total of $22,500 was donated to The Childhood League Center in Columbus, which serves children under six years old with developmental delays.  

Jordan's Furniture Employees With Lottery Check

Jordan’s Furniture employees share $1 million Powerball prize

For years, the “J-Team” – a group of coworkers at Home Furnishings Association member Jordan’s Furniture in Nashua , N.H., –  went through the same routine: Everyone kicked in $2 and the group bought a fistful of Powerball lottery tickets at a convenience store across the street from their store. Then, after missing out on a big prize, the group shrugged their collective shoulders and tried again the next week. 

Only this week was different. This week one of the J-Team’s fistful of tickets matched all five winning numbers but not the final Powerball number, which means that this week the J-Team won $1 million. 

If the winning ticket had the Powerball number 5 instead of 22, the J-Team would’ve shared the $625 million jackpot – and almost certain early retirement, but nobody’s complaining. Instead, each person will take home about $33,000, according to the New Hampshire State Lottery. 

“We were one number away from not being here,” said sales manager Rob Walsh, “but we’re happy to have won what we did.” 

At a press conference this week, none of the employees disclosed immediate plans for retiring from Jordan’s. Indeed, most showed up to work Thursday after claiming their prize a day earlier. That brought a sigh of relief from Jordan’s president, Eliot Tatelman, who made a playful phone call to lottery headquarters to congratulate the group.  

“I’m excited personally,” he told them over the phone, “because based on what just happened, I know you don’t need a bonus or a raise this year.” 

J-Team members were all smiles at Wednesday’s press conference, where they picked up their oversized check. “We each have our individual story of why it’s important to us, but there’s a couple in our group that — I’m not going to discuss the personal issues, but it’s really a meaningful impact for them. So it’s made it even happier all around,” Sandrea Lutkevich said. “It’s a big impact on us all.” 

According to the state lottery, winners receive $1 million if they get the five white-ball numbers but not the final Powerball number. The odds of getting the five numbers are one in 11,688,054. The winning numbers for the J-Team  were 24-25-52-60-66. 

“We are all really excited to win this $1 million Powerball prize together,” said Julia Crema, a longtime Jordan’s employee and one of the members of the winning pool. “We have been playing Powerball together off and on for years and we always dreamed we’d land a big winner. Today is our lucky day!”

Award on Desk

Matt Schewel is named a Future Leader by the Hall of Fame Foundation

Matt Schewel taught in a Spanish-immersion elementary school in Durham, N.C., then worked as a journalist in Washington, D.C., covering trade policy. 

Finally, in May 2016, he returned home to Lynchburg, Va., and joined the business his great-great grandfather started there in 1897, Schewel Furniture Co.

“I’d always considered the furniture business as an option, given my family’s tradition,” Schewel said. “My perception was, if I wanted to try it out, now was the time.” 

Matt Schewel, Schewel Furniture Company
Matt Schewel, Schewel Furniture Company

Schewel serves as director of store operations for the Home Furnishings Association member, which counts 50 stores in Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina. The job is working out so well that Schewel was honored this month by the American Home Furnishings Hall of Fame Foundation as one of nine Future Leaders. Each was described in a news release as “an innovator, a leader among peers and highly engaged with the home furnishings industry.” 

“I’m definitely honored to be recognized, and I’m flattered because I still feel like I’m starting out in my career and haven’t made much impact so far, but I hope to in the coming years,” he said. 

He thanked his company, its employees and its corporate leadership for helping him on his path. His father, Marc, is president and CEO – the fourth generation to lead the business. 

Matt Schewel has focused on preparing the company to meet new challenges. 

“There have been a lot of opportunities to modernize our brand, our technology, our fulfillment structure, things like that,” he said. He’s joined a performance group with other retailers and begun to “align our operations with best practices in the industry.” 

Schewel also has been active in the Home Furnishings Association and is a member of its Government Relations Action Team.

“With my background, public policy and trade policy are definitely strong interests of mine,” he said. “I didn’t expect it would be something I would still be involved with, but it sort of worked out that way. I still have that expertise and interest to pursue that, which is why I’m trying to stay involved.” 

Last November, Schewel was featured in an article about tariffs in the online news site Politico.

The additional import taxes imposed by the Trump administration in its trade conflict with China could force his company to raise prices or seek other suppliers, Schewel said. 

While issues like that present business headaches, Schewel has found his move to Lynchburg from Washington has provided a better work-life balance. He and his wife have two children, ages 1 and 4. He may be in his third career, but he hopes it’s his last, and that his kids will grow up in the same small-town environment that he enjoyed. 

The other Future Leaders designated by the foundation are Suzanne Guy of Prestige Arts & Art Trends, Jay Lorenzo of AICO, Jessica Norby of Artiste Furniture, Kayla Wallace of FurnitureDealer.net, Ashley Childers of Emporium Home, Jason Phillips of Phillips Collection, Troy Pittenger of Norwalk Furniture and Shane Pohlman of Nebraska Furniture Mart. 

Sadler’s Home Furnishings

The coolest furniture store in the north

It’s not surprising that during my 13 years as a part of the Home Furnishings Association my mind has been trained to instinctively home in on a furniture retail store amid all the other businesses on any give street — very similar to the way my career in graphic design and marketing has trained my subconscious to identify fonts anywhere I go.

Recently, while visiting my sister-in-law, a lieutenant colonel stationed at Fort Wainwright’s Bassett Army Community Hospital in Fairbanks, Alaska, I spotted a massive furniture store standing nobly against the cold and snow. Sadler’s Home Furnishings. Now, normally I would simply check off this find in my mental game of impromptu scavenger hunt and drive on — scoring myself an extra 20 points for identifying the Optima Extra Black font used in the store’s name. But this time was different.

A week earlier I had been part of an all staff meeting where we discussed for two days all the ways we can serve our members better. Needless to say, I came away with the acknowledgment that we are all part of member support — from the CEO, membershipteam, marketing, events and education all the way through to the accounting department. So, my next step was a no-brainer. I found out that Sadler’s has been members of the association since 1987 and, despite not being part of our member service team, I can’t be all the way in Alaska and not stop in.

Left to right: Patrick, John, and Tim
Left to right: Patrick, John, and Tim

The warm reception was welcomed as I stepped in from the cold, and when I told the sales associates, Patrick Slagle and John Morrs, that I was from their trade association and just wanted to stop in and thank them for being long-time members, they were gleefully astonished that someone from the lower 48 would trek so far north just to say howdy and personally hand them a water bottle with the Home Furnishings Association’s logo on it.

I confessed to the guys that my stopping by was simply a fortuitous byproduct of visiting my sister-in-law, but they appreciated the effort, nonetheless.

We chatted about everything from product lines and consumer financing to their delivery trucks — Fairbanks can reach temperatures down to -50° and Sadler’s delivery cutoff is at -30°. Still willing to deliver in -29° weather? Color me impressed! Considering that Patrick had only been with the store for three months and John much less, they were very knowledgeable and attributed that to Sadler’s training program.

Patrick and John were sorry the manager wasn’t in, but after hearing how much their store manager enjoys being on the sales floor and engaging with customers from the community, I knew I had to give him a call.

When Peter Beaver answered the phone, I quickly broke the (Alaskan) ice by commenting that his last name was well-suited for Alaska. He laughed and we were off to a pleasant 35-minute conversation.

 “I love getting to know our customers,” Peter said. “Everyone is so pleasant and happy when they come in. Think about it. When people are coming to buy furniture, they’re in a pretty good mood. No one’s buying furniture when they’re down and out.”

During our conversation, I learned that Dave Cavitt, Sadler’s owner since 1975 — and one-time president of the former National Home Furnishings Association — converted the Fairbanks showroom space 15 years ago from a former JCPenney store to join Sadler’s Anchorage headquarters location to the south and a store farther south in Sterling.

In fact, the downtown Fairbanks location underwent a renovation about two-and-a-half years ago to accommodate 15,000 square feet of showroom on the first floor comprised of an Ashley showroom on one side and a mattress store on the other selling Serta, Simmons, Sealy, and Tempur-pedic. Upstairs is a 30,000-square-foot showroom carrying all of Sadler’s other lines, including Stickley, La-z-boy, Home Stretch, Stanton, Steve Silver, Emerald Home, Natuzzi, and many other brands, giving the 55,000-square-foot Anchorage store a run for its money.

Sadler’s Ashley showroom
Sadler’s Ashley showroom

Outside the Fairbanks store was a banner promoting the 46th anniversary sale with 46 percent off everything storewide with only a few exceptions, so I asked how the sale was going.

“For the past five years we’ve had an anniversary sale,” Peter said. “Usually it’s in April and it really hits a home run with the community. This is the first time we’ve done it in March, but it still seems to be a big hit.”

Having some intel about the Alaskan economy from my sister-in-law, I asked Peter if the annualPFD — the Alaskan Permanent Fund Dividend, a constitutionally established byproduct of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline which paid every Alaskan resident $1,600 in 2018 — provided a surge in sales.

“Oh, for sure,” Peter confirmed. “That combined with the turnover in people from two military bases and the University of Alaska Fairbanks, we do a very good sales volume each year. And the economy here will be getting a bump,” he added. “With Eielson’s (AFB) new F-35 stealth fighter jet production coming to Fairbanks, that means thousands of new jobs and money coming into the economy. So, business should be really good for the foreseeable future.”

“We’re the northernmost La-z-boy gallery in the U.S., and in the coolest city,” he added, tongue in cheek.

By the end of our conversation, I learned so much about this member store, and about Peter Beaver. For example, Peter came to Alaska 26 years ago and has been with Sadler’s for 25 of those years. Before that, he was a golf pro in Washington state. So, Peter, if you’re reading this, we’ve got a golf event coming to Idaho’s Circling Raven Golf Club on September 19, 2019. So, thaw out your golf clubs, ‘cause we’d sure love to see you there representing Sadler’s Home Furnishings.

Sadler’s has a designated first floor mattress showroom, and the larger selection of the other furniture brands Sadler’s carries can be found upstairs in their 30,000 sq. ft. showroom.
Sadler’s has a designated first floor mattress showroom, and the larger selection of the other furniture brands Sadler’s carries can be found upstairs in their 30,000 sq. ft. showroom.

I was so glad I reached out to Sadler’s because it put me in touch with a member that we don’t get the chance to meet with face to face. And, when I say ‘member’ I mean the folks on the floor. Sure, the owner is our first point of contact, but we serve every level of professional within the store.

Did you know that your member benefits have perks that extend to your employees’ needs as well, such as our Sherwin-Williams, Office Depot, and Best Buy programs? We’re at your service.

The Home Furnishings Association wants to connect with you where you are, and wherever you want to go, we’ll help you get there.

desk with plant and computer

HFA leaders aim to add value, grow membership

The Home Furnishings Association launched an ambitious campaign to speak personally with each HFA member to better understand and address their needs for growing their businesses.  

More than two dozen HFA board members gathered in San Diego March 5-6 for the association’s Spring Board of Directors meeting. The board members, who own furniture stores ranging from small to Top 100 in the United States and Canada, discussed numerous ways for growing the Home Furnishings Association and making it even more valuable to its members. 

HFA President Jesus Capo said the new campaign – scheduled to begin in April – was unanimously approved by the board. He said the move is part of a goal of doubling HFA’s membership in five years. 

“We recognized that one of the best ways to accomplish this growth is by providing more and more value to our members and to partner with them through the good times and the difficult times,” said Capo, chief information officer for El Dorado Furniture in Florida. “We dove deep into the profile of various members of various sizes to identify their needs. It provided the board members with a unique perspective as to how every member has their own distinct set of needs.”  

Capo said he enjoyed seeing board members unanimously agree that “everything we offer, and all that we do, should be representative of the wants and needs of HFA members and that our duty as board members is to address those wants and needs as best we can as an association.” 

Mark Schumacher, HFA’s vice president for marketing and membership, called the board meeting “foundational,” adding that the gathering in San Diego was both proactive in its vision for the future of the HFA and responsive to the myriad needs of members. 

“I think down the road this will be viewed as the singular most important board meeting we will have had,” said Schumacher. 

The next step in the process is for HFA member specialists to begin calling members. Schumacher said those calls will start next month as the association learns how it can be an even better partner in helping its members strengthen their businesses. 

“We really need to hear from our members,” said Schumacher. “We’re going to listen and we’re going to respond to what we hear. I think members are going to be very excited about the changes that are coming because it’s going to be changes that they are asking for.” 

Members who want more information on the board meeting and calling campaign can contact Schumacher at 916-757-1173 or at mschumacher@myhfa.org