Casual Industry Presents Awards at Gala Celebration

September 23, 2021
CHICAGO – The International Casual Furnishings Association (ICFA) recognized manufacturing and retailing excellence, turned the spotlight on top product designs and honored the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient at a gala awards celebration yesterday during Casual Market Chicago.

More than 500 ICFA members and guests joined the dinner event at the Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park, which also included announcement of the Sales Representative of the Year and the Unsung Hero Award recipient. The annual ICFA Awards Gala is underwritten by theMART, co-sponsor of Casual Market Chicago.

Apollo Awards



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.

Patio’s Plus of Rancho Mirage, Calif., was the winner in the single-store category. The Fire House Casual Living Store, based in Charlotte, N.C., was the multi-store category winner for the second year in a row.

Finalists in the single-store category included American Casual Living, Suwanee, Ga.; Gasper Home & Garden Showplace in Richboro, Pa.; Villa Terrazza, Sonoma, Calif.; and Village Green Home and Garden, Rockford, Ill.

Finalists in the multi-store category included Porch & Patio Casual Living, Warwick, R.I.; Rich’s for the Home, Lynnwood, Wash.; Today’s Patio, Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Watson’s, Cincinnati.

Design Excellence Awards

The Design Excellence competition recognizes products in 11 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. Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. co-sponsors the awards. The 2021 category winners include:

·    Chaise Lounge: Gensun Jayne Daybed, designed by Chris Panichella and Jonathan Panichella
·    Complementary Casual Products/Accents: Elaine Smith Mandala Lapis Pillow, by the Elaine Smith Design Team
·    Complementary Casual Products/Furnishings: Jensen Outdoor Mix Square Coffee Table, designed by Seth Alguire
·    Dining Bar Chair: Brown Jordan H Arm Chair, designed by Toan Nguyen
·    Dining Bar Table: Alfresco Home Jasper Lightweight Concrete Dining Table, designed by Sako Wijma
·    Fabric: Glen Raven Reward Smoke from the Sunbrella ReCycle Collection, by the Glen Raven Design Team
·    Heating/Firepit: Ebel, Inc. Bellino Fire Pit, by the Ebel Design Team
·    Lounge Seating with Cushion: Bernhardt Exteriors Madura Sofa, by the Bernhardt Exteriors Design Team
·    Lounge Seating without Cushion: Seaside Casual Furniture Hip Club Chair, by the Seaside Casual Design Team
·    Rugs and Flooring: Summer Classics Raised Ikat Dove, by the Summer Classics Design Team
·    Shade: Woodline Shade Solutions Easilift Umbrella, designed by Fritz Walter and Tim Yates

Lillian B. Winchester “Best of Show” and “Lilly” Awards



The Lillian B. Winchester “Best of Show” award was selected from among the 11 category winners listed above. The 2021 award went to Brown Jordan for the H Arm Chair by Toan Nguyen (right), which also received the Lilly Award in the Outdoor Furniture category.

Elaine Smith’s Mandala Lapis Pillow by the Elaine Smith Design Team received the “Lilly” award in the Outdoor Accents category.


Lifetime Achievement Award



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 2021 honoree is William Bew White, III, Executive Chairman of the Board of Summer Classics. The innovative manufacturing executive is known for creative talents that brought unique product design to the category through a consumer-centric model in a mix of wood, wrought iron and aluminum. The entrepreneur led development of proprietary performance fabrics, a new UV-resistant wicker and a trademarked cushion. He was among the first in the industry to establish an in-house lab to test all new materials before introduction. White was also recognized for helping to guide dealers during the economic crash in 2008 and during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as for his philanthropic endeavors.


Manufacturer of the Year



Telescope Casual Furniture was named Manufacturer of the Year – a tribute to the design and quality of the company’s products, as well as its outstanding merchandising, customer service, ethics, communications and trade relations. The company has earned six Manufacturer Leadership Awards since 2012 and received its first Manufacturer of the Year award in 2019. This year’s finalists, all of whom received Manufacturer Leadership Awards, included Castelle, Lloyd Flanders, Summer Classics and Treasure Garden.

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 2021 winner, selected from five finalists and determined through online voting, was Paul Bentley, a Summer Classics and Gabby representative based in Birmingham, Ala. Other finalists included Joe Crandall, Marietta, Ga.; Billy Markowitz, San Juan Capistrano, Calif.; Courtney Randolph, Irvine, Calif.; and Richie Weyershausen, Houston.


Mia Nault Unsung Hero Award



This award was created to call attention to outstanding customer service representatives at manufacturing companies throughout the casual furnishings industry. Candidates are selected based on their ability to provide exceptional customer service, as well as outstanding communication skills, innovative problem-solving, professionalism and ability to inspire others as brand ambassadors. This year the award was renamed in honor of the inaugural 2020 recipient, the late Mia Nault of Ebel. Sara Brown of Telescope Casual Furniture was selected as the 2021 recipient. Finalists included Terry Demeusse of Lloyd Flanders and Pam Gibson of Lane Venture.