Stretching the Tent by Increasing Opportunity and Expanding Engagement

“As the second woman privileged with this position, I honor those in leadership positions who have come before me and plan to actively encourage more women to embrace the many professional and personal growth opportunities of membership,” said Megan Pierson, incoming Chair of the Board of Directors of the International Casual Furnishings Association, (ICFA). Megan, Executive Vice President of Business Development for POLYWOOD, has focused her twenty-plus years of career on building relationships internally and externally, and leadership development.

She considers younger members crucial to the ongoing vitality of the ICFA. “I would love to see those starting in our profession join our program and become part of a multi-generational community of leaders. I believe their viewpoints and agility with new channels and technology will bring diversity and inclusivity, ultimately elevating our industry.”

Megan’s attended her first ICFA meeting about a decade ago when she started her career with POLYWOOD. The evolution of her involvement is a perfect road map for those aspiring to leadership positions in the organization. She immediately joined the marketing committee, leading it for two years while participating in meetings and educational conferences. She became chair of the social media committee and served on the Board for six years. “At POLYWOOD, we believe the people make the difference. Building a great team of people around you will challenge you to get the best outcomes possible. That management philosophy aligns completely with how the ICFA is run and serves me well in this new leadership position,” she said.

Supporting women’s advancement in the ICFA hierarchy is an objective that inspires Megan. “I think it would be amazing to create a women’s leadership council. It would help us encourage more women to get involved in our industry and support the current women in our association. Multi-generational leadership is so important. It builds a culture of respect and communication amongst professionals, as well as mentorship, offers new perspectives, and creates extensive opportunities for women in our industry,” she said.

Megan also sees value in promoting membership to designers and those in the hospitality industry. “We have a lot of crossover with the design industry. I believe there are ways we could collaborate to gain synergy together. We’ve seen success with this at POLYWOOD, including building strong media relationships through our design partners. Hospitality is another area I’d like to focus on. This industry has exploded in recent years. The ICFA networking and membership benefits would greatly benefit both of these industry segments.”

Although the challenges of COVID are behind us, “continuing to create the best possible customer experience in an ever-changing landscape is an issue we all face,” said Megan. “The ICFA Annual Conference provides amazing resources to stay informed on the changes going on in the industry. The conference also provides sales training, marketing courses and leadership training. Eighty-five percent of our customers want to feel and touch the product in the store. This is a huge merchandising opportunity, and we can guide brands on partnering with retailers and manufacturers to amplify their in-store experience.”

When contemplating her impact as Chair, Megan has distinctive goals. “I hope that my legacy includes integrating our network of designers with our manufacturers and retailers so we can continue to inspire and learn from each other, especially over sustainability and innovation, while growing our membership base into an even richer community of thought leaders.”

Megan and her husband of 22 years, Kevin, have two teenagers, Ethan, and Brady, and two Dobermans, Lexy, and Remy. When she isn’t traveling for work, she can be found at the baseball field, proudly watching her youngest play.

Joining Megan on the ICFA Executive Committee this year are Henry Vanderminden, Telescope Casual Furniture, Vice Chair; Anderson Gibbons, STI/Revolution Fabrics; Gary McCray, Gary McCray Design & Development; and Eric Stalzer, Offenbacher’s, Herndon, Va.

New directors elected to serve include Gibbons; McCray; Scott Horvath, O’Malia’s Living, Carmel, Ind.; Judy Miller, Outback Patio Furnishings, Marble, Texas; Joy Odom, ABSCO Fireplace & Patio, Birmingham, Ala.; Eric Parsons, Jensen Outdoor; Patrick Troy, Dedon; Phil Fowler, East Coast Casual.