Chicago The International Casual Furnishings Association (ICFA) honored top retailers, manufacturers, representatives and designers this week during two gala award celebrations slated during the International Casual Furniture and Accessories Market here.
Hundreds gathered at the beautiful Ballroom of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago on Friday, Sept. 21, to spotlight top product designs, recognize manufacturing excellence and honor an outstanding sales representative.
Then, ICFA members and their guests assembled again on Saturday, Sept. 22, for the annual Apollo Awards dinner honoring the industry's top retail stores and paying tribute to the year's Lifetime Achievement honorees.
Awards presented Sept. 21-22 included:
The Apollo Awards recognize retail excellence in the sales and marketing of outdoor furnishings.
Finalists must demonstrate outstanding accomplishments and commitment to customer service. Winners in two categories, single store and multi-store, were selected from a group of 10 finalists through an online ballot.
Sunshine Furniture, Vero Beach, Fla., was the single store winner.
Patios Plus, Rancho Mirage, Calif., was the multi-store category winner.
Finalists in the single store category included Authenteak, Atlanta; Daylight Home and Gardens, San Luis Obispo, Calif.; Kolo Collection, Atlanta; and Outdoor Elegance, La Verne, Calif. Finalists in the multi-store category were ABSCO Fireplace & Patio, Birmingham, Ala.; Fishels, Portland, Ore.; Greenhouse Mall, Austin, Texas; and Yard Art Patio & Fireplace, Irving, Texas.
Design Excellence Awards
The competition recognizes products for their overall design, as well as their marketability, innovation, color, construction and imaginative use of materials. Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. co-sponsors the awards. Category winners included:
Cast Metal: Martini Barstool by Kara Karpenske, Karmarron Design Inc., for The Veneman Group
Complementary Casual Products: Dansk Coffee Table by Philip Behrens for Gloster
Fabric: Crazy Horse Lemongrass by D2 for Outdura Corp.
Outdoor Lighting: Bamboo 120V LED Floor Lamp by Dale Klaus for Patio Living Concepts
Outdoor Rugs/Carpeting/Flooring: Violet Pebble Yellow Outdoor Rug from Sawgrass Mills by Hatteras Outdoors
Rattan/Wicker/Woven Materials: Flight Woven Adjustable Chaise by John Caldwell for Brown Jordan
Resin/Fiberglass: Adirondack MGP Chair by Bill Vanderminden for Telescope Casual Furniture
Shade Products: Plantation Max F-1 by Dougan Clarke for TUUCI
Tubular Materials: Kantan Lounge Chair from Brown Jordan
Wood Furniture: Solana Dip Down Lounger by Povl Eskildsen for Gloster Furniture
Wrought Iron/Wrought Aluminum: Verano Arm Chair from Summer Classics
Lillian B. Winchester "Best of Show"
The Lillian B. Winchester "Best of Show" award, selected from among the 11 category winners listed above, went to the Flight Woven Adjustable Chaise by John Caldwell for Brown Jordan.
The prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award is reserved for individuals who have made exemplary contributions to the casual furniture industry and to their individual communities. The 2012 honorees were Don Bottemiller and John Miles, both of whom are retired from Homecrest Outdoor Living. Bottemiller spent his high school summers working at Homecrest, a company started in 1953 by his father, Mert, and his uncle, Al. In 1966, after college, three years in the Air Force and two years at Control Data, Bottemiller joined the family business, replacing the company’s retiring purchasing agent and shipping supervisor. He also served as plant engineer and coordinated the construction of several additions to the factory before being asked to serve as president in 1973 when his father and uncle sold the business to Sperry and Hutchinson Company in New York. In 1980, he partnered with John Miles, who had joined the firm as vice president of marketing and sales, and purchased Homecrest back from S&H. The business enjoyed steady growth over the next two decades, expanding in both domestic and international markets. Throughout his career, Bottemiller contributed eight utility patents to Homecrest. He is still active in the company and remains a member of the board of directors. Miles was named president of Homecrest’s Crestmark International Division in 1983. He retired in 2001.
One manufacturer was honored in each of 10 categories for the design and quality of their products, along with their merchandising, customer service, ethics, communications and trade relations. Winners were:
Pride Family Brands Cast Metal
Elaine Smith Complementary Casual Products
Trans Ocean Import Outdoor Carpeting/Rugs/Flooring
Woodard Outdoor Lighting
Lloyd/Flanders Rattan/Wicker/Woven Materials
Telescope Casual Furniture Resin/Fiberglass
Treasure Garden Shade Products
Tropitone Tubular Materials Furniture
Gloster Furniture Wood Casual
O.W. Lee Wrought Iron/Aluminum
Manufacturer of the Year
From among the 10 category winners listed above, O.W. Lee was named "Manufacturer of the Year." Both the category winners and the Manufacturer of the Year were selected in online voting.
Sales Representative of the Year
This award recognizes an outstanding sales representative within the casual furnishing industry. Candidates were selected based on leadership, professionalism, exceptional service, communication skills, knowledge and product training expertise. The 2012 winner, selected from four finalists and determined through online voting, was Dean Smith, a representative for O.W. Lee for the last 31 years; Alu-mont for 23 years; Gold Crest for 22 years; Hanamint for 15 years; and Gloster for 8 years. After joining his father in the business in 1982, Smith worked for 10 years following the motto, “Profitable lines professionally represented.” Upon his father’s retirement, he traveled the entire territory by himself, covering Southern California, Arizona, and Southern Nevada. As business expanded, he formed Dean H. Smith Associates Inc., and brought on board his respected associate, John T. O’Brien in 1998. His son, Charlie Smith, joined the business in 2004 and excels as the third generation in the family business.