Matt Pridemore’s Life-Changing “Call”
Last week I found myself traveling to Valdosta, GA to present one of the Home Furnishings Association’s Retailer of the Year awards. Matt Pridemore is HFA’s 2023 Emerging Star Award recipient. He owns many Badcock Home Furniture and More franchise stores (his first was the store his parents owned) in Georgia, Florida, and Mississippi. He is also part of our HFA Sales Academy. It sounds like a generational succession story you find a lot in our industry. However, Matt’s is not a typical journey.
Speaking to him during my visit to Valdosta for the award ceremony, I discovered his thoughts about working in the furniture industry were unfavorable as a young man. He did not want that path and instead followed a passion for umpiring. He saw himself calling balls and strikes professionally, so he went for it. Incredibly, he made it to the doorstep of the big leagues, umpiring in Triple-A. Then, the path took a turn. Injuries forced him to make the most critical call in his life, up to that point, to give up the dream and move on.
It wasn’t like he turned around and said, “OK, furniture it is,” but as he transitioned out of baseball, a number of opportunities popped up. The next thing you know, he was working for Badcock corporate before buying his parents’ Badcock store. Now, 16 stores later, he has built a network of incredibly successful stores. The “no way I am going to work in the furniture industry” gave way to success.
Matt is not an emerging star in the cities where he owns stores. He is already an established, successful young businessman. What Retailer of the Year has done is help him emerge nationally.
The baseball story was not part of the nomination packet HFA requires for our judges to make their decision. The judge’s panel read about Matt’s desire to mentor his teams to the point where some may own their own store someday. Developing people is now Matt’s passion, and he prefers them to be in the spotlight. He also places a considerable emphasis on customers and their communities. That’s what earned him this recognition.
However, I find his lifelong journey just as compelling. My takeaways? Be confident enough to say no to opportunities that don’t feel right. (Furniture felt that way when he was younger) Be determined to follow your dreams no matter how daunting they might appear. Be OK with change when your path hits a dead end. Finally, in all instances, put people first, ahead of self. That’s Matt Pridemore’s path to success.