City, Koenig win IHFRA retailer award

Photo shows Andrew Koenig and other men in front of a City Furniture truck

Andrew Koenig’s emails carry this directive below his signature:

“For My City & Ashley Furniture Family – Please do not respond to my emails during non-work hours. If it’s a business emergency, I will call you. Thank you. Work-Life Balance!”

Work-life balance is a core value for Home Furnishings Association member City Furniture, the Tamarac, Fla.-based Top 100 retailer, which Koenig leads as president. Employees are family, and maintaining the right approach to work and life is imperative. If the boss sends an email after hours, save it for tomorrow.

That little illustration may not be why the International Home Furnishings Representatives Association named Koenig its Retailer of the Year. Or, maybe it is.

“This award, the highest honor given by IHFRA to a member of the retail community, recognizes a retailer who has distinguished himself through superior industry leadership, business achievement and service to his or her community,” the association says. It will present this award, and others, at the 25th annual Furniture Industry Awards Gala April 24, during the High Point Market, at the Koury Convention Center in Greensboro, N.C.

Koenig credits ‘our amazing City family’

Typically, Koenig deflected the award to the “family.”

“We’re so thankful and appreciative for this prestigious and humbling award by the IHFRA,” he told the HFA. “We’re so proud of our amazing City family and all our partners. We’re very blessed to have such a great team, working with great partners in a great community to create a wonderful shopping experience for our loyal customers.

“This recognition is well deserved for our team,” he added. “They’ve had a heck of year in 2019 in growing our business, living our 5 percent Giving Pledge and working toward our 2040 Green Promise, and we’re excited for 2020 and beyond.”

The statement only hints are some of City Furniture’s recent accomplishments under Koenig’s leadership and that of his father, CEO Keith Koenig. Its growth included the opening in November of a 100,000-square-foot, dual-branded City Furniture and Ashley HomeStore showroom in Doral, Fla. And all its stores offer wide product selections, design services and events with wine and refreshments.

Education, hard work and leadership

“Andrew grew up around City Furniture and, fortunately, he developed a strong passion for the business,” his father said. Keith Koenig tells the story of Andrew’s surprising spring break request. The younger Koenig was working toward a degree in accounting at Elon University in North Carolina, where he also played on the golf team. But, instead of some famous golf resort, Andrew wanted to take a spring break trip to Toyota headquarters in Japan.

“I was more than a bit amazed but set it up,” Keith said, “and he came back with a deep appreciation for Toyota, and he began his deep study of the Toyota Production System, which is known in the U.S. as Lean Management. Andrew studied lean, read every book and went to every conference and has become really expert and has led the development of our version, the City Furniture Operating System (CFOS). It is the management system he has put into place over the last 12 years. We hired a lean consultant who helped us get started, Dave Francis, and together they have helped the rest of our leadership team to become lean leaders and effective in our CFOS.”

Andrew joined City Furniture in 2007 after adding to his academic credentials with an MBA from Nova Southeastern University.

“Interestingly, he gravitated to Operations and started there by unloading trucks in our receiving department for 12 weeks before he moved to other roles,” Keith said. “He took on supervisory roles, then manager roles and soon was leading our entire Ops team. It was clear to me and our entire team that he was a good leader who cared for his team, but got everyone focused on performance. From Operations, he took on more leadership roles and grew in knowledge about every area of City Furniture.”

Andrew Koenig became chief operating officer in 2018 and president in 2019, “and has worked harder than anyone in our company as we have managed to grow substantially in our South Florida markets and as we expanded into Orlando,” his father said. “The future here at City Furniture looks bright as Andrew has developed a smart, young leadership team that love working together and seeing that we have a great opportunity to innovate and grow.”

City doubles its 5 percent Giving Pledge

The company stands out for other initiatives, including product-safety testing, sustainability initiatives and its 5 percent Giving Pledge – which it doubled in 2019.

[Read: City Furniture’s 2019 Corporate Social Responsibility Report]

[Watch: City Furniture’s Giving Pledge video]

City’s website includes this statement: “We know it’s our responsibility to give back, because we’re only as strong as our neighbors. So from raising funds for local and national charities, to getting hands-on for a cause, to donating furniture to those in need, we’re here to help. Some of our most passionate causes include breast cancer awareness, for which we run a month-long campaign every October. We’re also extremely dedicated to supporting youth in distress, working with charities like the Boys & Girls Club, the Covenant House Florida, and more.”

No wonder that City Furniture was the winner among employers with 750 or more employees of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce Good to Great Award. It recognizes businesses “throughout the tri-county region that have achieved greatness in their mission and established themselves as industry leaders.”

That stems from passion, which Andrew “has combined with a keen intellect and a great ability to grasp the entire business and connect with our associates to drive performance,” Keith said.

And one more thing: that work-life balance.

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