Lessons from Today’s Emerging Leaders

2022 21 July
12:00 pm Pacific / 3:00 pm Eastern

Lessons from Today’s Emerging Leaders

HFA’s CEO Mark Schumacher talks with the last three HFA Emerging Star Award* winners. You’ll hear how they made their place in the home furnishings industry and what they learned along the way. They’ll discuss how growing up in the business and transitioning into a leadership role at a young age, managing and earning respect from older and more experienced colleagues, wasn’t easy.

This webinar is a great opportunity for anyone wanting to learn about leadership development programs, mentorship, succession planning, and more. It’s time to take your career to the next level!

*The Home Furnishings Association Emerging Star Award recognizes exceptional young talent under forty years old with three to five years of experience in the retail furniture business. They exhibit excellence in one or more of these areas: philanthropy, technology, customer experience, mentoring, sustainability, and store culture.



  • Working in various areas and functions within your business teaches you how to manage the people who then do those positions. It also helps you improve those positions’ needs and hire for them.
  • The biggest challenge of being the owner’s child is gaining respect from people who have worked for the business for a long time. The best thing to do is to not micro-manage and give respect to get respect.
  • Mentorship is important for teaching and allowing up-and-coming leaders to grow.
  • Seek out groups for younger leaders to gather, share and collaborate.
  • Your culture will ultimately shine through when trying to attract the younger generation into the business.
  • Nowadays, employees and customers are looking for your corporate responsibility such as recycling, community support with non-profits, etc.
  • It’s important to understand that you are impacting people’s lives. Employees want to be challenged and have the opportunity for growth.
  • Focus on retention and onboarding instead of solely on acquisition and let your team know what career tracks within your organization are available.
  • Floor traffic down allows you to spend more time with your customers and give them the experience they want/need.
  • You are responsible for always preparing a succession strategy for every position.



Eric Beiter – Beiter’s Furniture Mattress & Appliance
Eric is the 2022 HFA’s Emerging Star winner. Eric started working in the warehouse of his family business as a teenager. He never pictured this being his career, but as he became more involved in the business and realized just how important what we are doing is to our community, He knew he was in the right place. He tributes his father and grandfather for allowing him to find his own path within the business. Beiter’s Furniture Mattress & Appliance is a family business locally owned and operated since 1966 and has been meeting the needs of North Central Pennsylvania.

Sydney HarrisFurnitureland South
Sydney was named HFA Emerging Star in 2021. Starting at Furnitureland South in 2018 as a Sales and Design Consultant, Sydney’s skills as a leader were quickly recognized, and at the end of her first year, she became the Sales Education Team Trainer. As a sales trainer, she led the development and implementation of proprietary sales software, specifically an order entry system and a customer relationship management system. Sydney served as a Co-Chair of the WithIt (Women in the Home Furnishings Industry Today) 2020 Leadership Conference and was instrumental in establishing a Women’s Leadership Circle at Furnitureland South, committed to supporting and empowering all women of Furnitureland South. As of July 2022, Sydney was named the Director of Organizational Development.

Joe Bright – Dunk & Bright Furniture
Joe was named HFA Emerging Star in 2019. After college, Bright worked in management for an international grocery chain and was in sales for a medical company before returning to his family furniture business as vice president in 2017. He was named president in 2019. He has led initiatives in digital marketing, e-commerce, and capital investment. Dunk & Bright was founded in 1927 and now operates a furniture showroom of nearly 100,000 square feet in Syracuse and a distribution center with 1 million cubic feet in Liverpool. Dunk & Bright also continues its support for dozens of community organizations and commits to sustainability in the area.