Preaching Participation and Pride in Our Industry
“Put your money where your mouth is and get involved to influence change,” is the message Warren Juliano, Vice President of Sales at Lloyd Flanders, shares in the video featured on the ICFA website. As incoming Chairman of the Board of Directors, he’s taking his own advice and demonstrating the highest level of commitment to the industry he joined in 1997 as an independent sales rep. “I was always eager to learn, and from the start of my career, I appreciated how individual participation in the Summer and Casual Furniture Manufacturers Association (SCFMA) and later, ICFA, benefited the entire industry. Dudley Flanders, my mentor, and role model, was always extremely active, investing time and resources in this trade organization. It was a natural progression for me to follow his legacy when I joined the Lloyd Flanders management team in 2005.”
Continuing his predecessors’ efforts to build membership in the ICFA is a high priority for Juliano, who admits that he preaches the benefits with energy and passion. “This industry has blessed so many people, and it is our responsibility to continue to grow this organization and engage the next generation. We need to continue to offer timely content at our conferences that may take some of our longtime members out of their comfort zones but ensures that we are providing high-quality, relevant education. If our sessions can provide five or six great ideas and our members can implement just one or two, the conferences pay for themselves several times over.”
Membership benefits accrue to each industry segment, from significant reductions on Casual Market Chicago showroom fees for manufacturers to tangible discounts on office supplies and telecommunications for sales reps. “The opportunities for retailers are immeasurable. The ICFA offers tremendous potential to network with other specialty stores across the nation to share challenges and successes.”
Putting his money where his mouth is, Juliano has sponsored some of his company’s retail partners for an annual membership. “I realized that the same set of retailers were winning the Apollo Awards every year, so we sponsored some new ones, hoping they would see the value and continue to pay their dues for the next year. That was certainly the case with Great Gatherings. Their president, Joe Pucci, is now on our Executive Committee.” While one or two of the retailers has shocked him by not choosing to remain a member, Juliano considers the sponsorship initiative to have produced an exponential return on this company’s investment.
“As the ICFA grows, we must continue our focus on communicating with our membership and potential members frequently, certainly to keep them informed of our programs and activities, but also to serve as a resource to help them succeed, said Juliano. Just as the “Got Milk?” campaign benefited the entire dairy industry, we have an opportunity to increase the awareness and compel sales for our industry through meaningful messages. One of our greatest challenges as manufacturers of outdoor furniture is that we don’t have the financial power to market directly to consumers. Retailers like Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn do a good job of this because they can control the story. For us, it is easy for that message to get fragmented or lost if we aren’t consistent as an industry. We must define our value story, and when targeting younger consumers, who are more interested in investing in trips than possessions, we must talk in a different way that resonates with them. We must strive to achieve this through all communications channels, and among all our members.”
“As an International organization, we haven’t focused too much on developing our influence overseas, but I think we’ve barely scratched the surface of what we can accomplish here in the US. Spending time outdoors is an indulgence that becomes more cherished as life gets faster and our connection to nature is threatened by busy schedules and the diversions of a digital lifestyle. The increasing demand for quality outdoor furnishings is something we can count on.” When he isn’t traveling on business, Juliano, a self-described homebody, can be found at his house in the Tennessee countryside where he, his wife Shannon, daughter Destin, and son Braden enjoy time at the pool, fire pit, and all the other pleasures of outdoor living.