Casual Industry Celebrates Excellence With 2017 Award Winners
All segments of the industry gathered at the Chicago Field Museum Thursday, Sept. 15, to recognize manufacturing and retailing excellence, spotlight top product designs and pay tribute to the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award recipients. Awards presented or recognized during the event included the following:
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.
Sunnyland Furniture, Dallas, was the single-store category winner.
Outside in Style, with two stores in Austin and one in San Antonio, was the multi-store category winner.
Finalists in the single store category included Kolo Collection, Atlanta; Patios Plus, Rancho Mirage, Calif.; Rustic by Design Fireplace & Patio, Morgantown, W. Va.; Villa Terrazza Patio & Home, Sonoma, Calif.; and Village Green Home and Garden, Rockford, Ill. Finalists in the multi-store category were ABSCO Fireplace & Patio, Birmingham, Ala.; Daylight Home, Lighting & Patio, San Luis Obispo, Calif.; Elegant Outdoor Living, Bonita Springs, Naples and Fort Myers, Fla.; Pacific Patio, Santa Monica, Calif.; and Today’s Patio, Scottsdale, Ariz.
DESIGN EXCELLENCE AWARDS
The Design Excellence competition recognizes products in 10 categories for their overall design, as well as their marketability, innovation, color, construction and imaginative use of materials. Eligible designs must have been introduced in the marketplace within the previous year and must be offered by companies exhibiting at Casual Market Chicago. Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. co-sponsors the awards. The 2017 category winners included:
- Chaise Lounge: Lane Venture Winterthur Estate Daybed, by John Black for Winterthur
- Complementary Casual Products: Gloster Furniture Bar Cart by Henrick Pedersen
- Dining Bar Chair: Telescope Casual Furniture Jetset MGP Aluminum Dining Chair by William Vanderminden
- Dining Bar Table: Barlow Tyrie Aura Narrow Dining Table by Mark Tyrie
- Fabric: Glen Raven Sunbrella Midori Indigo by the Sunbrella Design Team
- Heating/Firepit: Ebel Lucca Fire Table by Kai Ebel
- Lounge Seating with Cushion: Jensen Leisure Furniture Cordial Lounge Chair by Alan Morley
- Lounge Seating without Cushion: Gloster Furniture William Lounge Chair by Henrick Pedersen
- Rugs and Flooring: Jaipur Living Waveny Flume Birch/Phantom by the Jaipur Living Design Team
- Shade: TUUCI Ocean Master Max Integrated Lighting System by Dougan Clarke
LILLIAN B. WINCHESTER “BEST OF SHOW” AND “LILLY” AWARDS
The Lillian B. Winchester “Best of Show” award, selected from among the 10 category winners listed above, went to TUUCI’s Ocean Master Max Integrated Lighting System, which also received the Lilly Award in the Outdoor Accents category. Jensen Leisure’s Cordial Lounge Chair received the “Lilly” award in the Outdoor Furniture category.
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 2017 honorees were Petey Fleischut, founder of Casual Marketplace in Hockessin, Del., and Oliver Ma, founder of Treasure Garden, Baldwin Park, Calif.
Fleischut worked as a registered nurse until her son, Peter, was born. She had always dreamed of owning a family business and eventually opened a casual furniture store at the Jersey shore where the family had a beach home. The seasonal business thrived. Eleven years later in 1995, when an historic mill property became available in her hometown of Hockessin, she closed the little beach shop and opened Casual Marketplace. The village of Hockessin is just minutes from Wilmington and the Delaware shore. Fleischut transformed the mill into a three-floor showroom with two outdoor pavilions featuring over 1,800 pieces of casual furniture, hearth products, giftware and holiday décor. Her husband, Harold, joined her in the business about 10 years later. Fleischut served on the Casual Furniture Retailers board her first year in business and has been active in industry leadership ever since. She is currently completing a three-year term on the ICFA Board of Directors.
Oliver Ma entered the shade products business in 1975, exporting beach and garden umbrellas from Taiwan to mass merchants and outdoor furniture manufacturers in the United States. In 1980, he opened a sales office in New York City but soon discovered that specialty stores wanted customized products made in the United States. So, in 1984, he built a small factory in Baldwin Park and launched the Treasure Garden brand. Throughout the 90s, the company strengthened its customer service and product development. In 2000, Ma built a vertically integrated factory in Ningbo, China. Aluminum extrusion, zinc die cast and plastic injection molding all were handled in the same plant, minimizing cost and maximizing quality control. The company expanded into the European, Australian and New Zealand markets and built another factory in 2008. Additional product categories now include pop-up tents, pavilions, retractable awnings and accessories. Treasure Garden has received eight straight Manufacturer Leadership awards in the shade category from the ICFA membership.
Ten leading manufacturers were honored for overall leadership reflecting the design and quality of their products, along with their merchandising, customer service, ethics, communications and trade relations. Winners, selected by ICFA members through online voting, were:
Jensen Leisure Furniture
Telescope Casual Furniture
MANUFACTURER OF THE YEAR
For the sixth year in a row, O.W. Lee was named “Manufacturer of the Year.” Like the Manufacturer Leadership winners, the Manufacturer of the Year is selected for the design and quality of their products, as well as outstanding merchandising, customer service, ethics, communications and trade relations.
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 2017 winner, selected from five finalists and determined through online voting, was Scott Ellis, an independent sales rep with Brown Jordan, Tropitone and American Leather. Ellis began his career in the outdoor industry in 1990 when he joined his father-in-law, Bill Berman, a former Brown Jordan rep in the New England territory. Ellis says, “The best and most rewarding part of my job is working and partnering with retailers to help them grow.” ICFA members reviewed the nominees and cast their ballots in online voting in early September.
Finalists for the award included Dave Digirolamo, Dublin, Calif.; Andy Hamilton, Dallas; Vern Lachowitzer, Longwood, Fla.; and Charlie Smith, La Quinta, Calif.