Furniture retailers and manufacturers often develop strong relationships over the years, but the Coconis-England bond is especially strong.
It goes back a half-century. Paul Coconis and Dwight England were friends. So, when Coconis needed a delivery for an after-Christmas sale in 1972, England wouldn’t let the fact that he didn’t have a driver on Christmas Eve spoil it. He simply told his son, Rodney, who was in the army, to hurry home for the holiday – so he could haul the goods 380 miles from New Tazewell, Tenn., to Zanesville, Ohio.
“I unloaded that truck,” Randy Coconis said when he was told that story many years later. He recalled he was a high school senior and was also pressed into Christmas Eve service.
Today, Randy Coconis owns Home Furnishings Association member Coconis Furniture & Mattress 1st , and Rodney England runs England Furniture, which has been an independent subsidiary of La-Z-Boy since 1994.
“I remember it like it was yesterday,” Coconis said.
England helped Coconis weather tough times
He also remembers a more significant event that happened just a few years later. It was the late-1970s, and business wasn’t very good. Then Paul Coconis had a stroke and couldn’t work. Randy wasn’t even in management yet, but suddenly he had to run the store. They were months behind in paying suppliers and weren’t going to get more product until they paid up.
Dwight England was different. When he called, the first thing he did was ask about his friend Paul, Randy said. He found out about Coconis’ difficulties and “he wanted to help us.” So, he promised to keep shipping if Coconis could pay 10 percent more than the cost of each shipment until he cleared what was owed. The arrangement worked.
These are more than warm memories for Randy Coconis, whose business has grown to include a Coconis La-Z-Boy Comfort Studio & Mattress 1st in Zanesville and Coconis Furniture & Mattress 1st stores in Heath and Lancaster, Ohio. They’re meaningful stories that appeal to customers. In fact, said Coconis, they form stories that are “more important today than I ever remember.”
The England-Coconis story is told in a video by Scott Goldberg, a sales representative for England Furniture, whose father was also a sales rep for England. “We’ve had four England reps in 40 years,” Randy Coconis said.
Video touches on England-Coconis history
“There’s great history between the England family and the Coconis family,” Goldberg says to open the video. He’s sitting on an England sofa in a Coconis showroom.
That sofa, like all England products, is Made in America.
“We’re proud to build everything under one roof and we’re proud to build everything in the United States,” Goldberg says, as the video shows an American flag, then a scene inside the England factory. He goes on to describe the wide fabric selection for upholstered furniture, the ability to deliver special orders in two-to-three weeks, and the hardwood frames that are made to last. He demonstrates spring and cushion options, armrest strength and cushion features.
It’s an effective video that shows England’s commitment to quality, which of course says the same for Coconis.
‘Made in America’ resonates with many customers
Coconis frequently highlights its U.S. manufacturers, including Smith Brothers, Flexsteel and Vaughan-Bassett. Earlier this year, Coconis posted a video that takes visitors inside the Daniel’s Amish Collection factory in Killbuck, Ohio, which produces handcrafted bedroom and dining room furniture. Founder Daniel Yoder supports the annual Coconis charity golf tournament – even though he doesn’t play golf. Then Coconis added a video highlighting La-Z-Boy’s Made-in-American manufacturing.
Another Ohio manufacturer that supplies Coconis is Archbold Furniture Co.
“It’s not like we’re going to China and buying that stuff,” Coconis said.
‘They love that we struggled, too’
It’s not that Coconis doesn’t sell furniture made in China, but Made in America resonates with many customers – perhaps now more than ever.
So do stories about hard times, long friendships and loyalty.
“I think everybody kind of can relate to that,” Coconis said. “They love that we struggled, too.”
When retailers and manufacturers tell their stories together, customers may be sold.