Inspiring Inclusion and Encouraging Involvement

Terri Lee Rogers

In 1995, when OW Lee CEO Terri Lee Rogers and her mom, Beverly, were asked to leave an all-male Summer and Casual Furniture Manufacturers Association (SCFMA) closed board meeting she felt embarrassed and somewhat rejected. Two hours later, the equally embarrassed Chairman of the Board, Mike Echolds from Tropitone, called and invited her to join that board. She immediately became an active member and over the past twenty years has enthusiastically taken on leadership roles resulting in her new position as Chairman of the Board of the SCFMA’s successor, the International Casual Furnishings Association.

“My parents always stressed the importance of involvement in industry organizations because it gives us a voice in the issues that drive our business.  O.W. Lee is among so many companies that have shown consistent support of the ICFA with resources and time.  As Chairman, I plan to expand our promotion of the ICFA as an inclusive organization with extensive benefits and limitless opportunities for involvement for members representing every sector of the industry,” said Rogers.

Outgoing Chairman Doug Sanicola, President and CEO of Outdoor Elegance Patio Design Center, credits Rogers’ personal invitation to him to join the ICFA as the catalyst to his becoming the first retail Chairman.  “Terri has always been an advocate for ICFA membership, and her willingness to work on committees and serve on the Executive Board when I asked her sets an example for members who are less actively involved. She is always taking the initiative to invite new members and encouraging them to take a seat at the table to provide their perspective on the ways our organization can best help them.”

Rogers believes that the success of the ICFA is attributable to the increased number of members joining committees within the organization. “Being involved and being heard cultivates ownership in making sure our goals and objectives are achieved.  I hope to get more of the younger generations involved in more committees so we can stay relevant in providing up-to-date resources and resolutions to business challenges.”  Both Rogers’ children, Leisa, 34, and Paul, 32, hold management positions at O.W. Lee, providing her with personal insight on how their experiences will evolve the casual furnishing industry. 

As Chairman of the Marketing Committee, Rogers guided the development of the new website and marketing will continue to be a key area of her focus. “I would like to see more marketing tools available to our retailers.  The ICFA could help develop these for the manufacturers with images and copy that can be downloaded as templates for websites, e-commerce sites, social media, email blasts, and digital, print, and electronic ads.  We can make it easier for our retailers to compete with the big guys with tools that promote our ICFA manufacturers’ products.”

Rogers believes the greatest challenge facing the industry is effectively engaging with the consumer in a manner that compels the sale. “Our customers have so many choices and places to buy. Now more than ever, we need to support each other by sharing strategies that have produced success.  The ICFA provides a forum to discuss the challenges we face and ideas on how to overcome them.  Our Educational Conference, meetings, webinars, and trade shows provide many opportunities to hear inspiring speakers, engage in lively discussions, or just take a moment to brainstorm within our heads.  These all help us to imagine what more we can do to make our business better for the people we serve.”

Consistent with her lifelong mission of helping others creating an inviting sanctuary for outdoor living, Rogers recently unveiled her new backyard paradise. Featuring a pool house, OW Lee’s signature fire pit, and plenty of comfy seating and dining areas, this Southern California oasis is a source of great pride and pleasure.  “It’s so much nicer to relax with friends and family at home.  No driving, no pressure, and once they see how we have transformed this space, they want to create their own outdoor havens by purchasing gorgeous casual furnishings. We are always happy to send them down the road to Doug and his team at Outdoor Elegance!”