What's behind the back up in new furniture and appliance orders?

Businesses across the U.S. are seeing major delays in furniture and appliance deliveries. NBC News’ Jo Ling Kent reports on what’s contributing to the backlog and what shoppers should know before they buy.

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Massive ship finally freed after days in the Suez Canal

The Ever Given is finally free after being stuck for days in the Suez Canal, blocking traffic along the critical waterway and snarling global shipping.

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Support Marty Libowsky in Walk for Hope!

Friends,

I have joined Walk for Hope because I want to make a difference in the fight against breast and gynecological cancers. Please support me and City of Hope's work to help people live longer, healthier lives. All donations add up to make a big difference. Please donate and share this page with your family and friends, and join Walk for Hope. Thank you for your support.

I appreciate you considering a donation to a very worth while cause.

1. To donate online click the link below, this will take you to the "Big Libowsky Team" page where you can make a donation.

DONATE NOW

2. If you prefer to donate by check please include "The Big  Libowsky Team in the memo.

 Send checks to:

City of Hope

Attn: NSE/Philanthropy

1500 E Durante Road

Durante, CA 91010

 

Thanks!

Martin S. Libowsky


SFBBG LLC, the law firm that represents IHFRA, welcomes new attorney Mark Flessner

We are pleased to announce that former City of Chicago Corporation Counsel Mark A. Flessner will be joining the Firm as a partner effective Monday, March 15th. Mark's practice focuses on sophisticated litigation and regulatory matters across numerous industry sectors. He has represented clients in diverse industries, including healthcare, retail, manufacturing, insurance, and finance. Mark has extensive trial experience, which includes bringing more than 50 cases to verdict, and arguing more than 40 cases on appeal, with an impressive record of success.
To learn more about Mark and his extensive and accomplished background, click here.
300 S. Wacker Drive, 15th Floor
Chicago, Illinois 60606
Telephone: (312) 648-2300

 

 


Open letter from Ray

Having spent most of my professional career as a journalist/editor in chief at Furniture/Today, I’d like to think that I have a fairly good understanding of the home furnishings arena.

And now, after a number of years as Executive Director here at the International Home Furnishings Representatives Association (IHFRA), I’d like to think I know the difference between a badrep, a good rep and a great rep.

And when I blend these two careers together, I’d like to think I know when it’s time to point out an injustice.

It’s time.

Last week, I heard from an IHFRA member from the Midwest who had represented a well-known supplier based here in North Carolina.  In 2020, the rep had received a sales award for outstanding sales for this supplier.

This year, despite the havoc from the pandemic, the rep had already surpassed his budget and was seemingly on his way to another banner year.

Sounds like the ultimate win-win story, right?   Wrong.  It was a win for the factory and a loss for the rep.   It seems like management, in an ongoing search for additional profitability, rewarded the rep by yanking the line from him.

While this is certainly not a new story here, it is a story that we are hearing more often and sadly, a story I think we will continue to hear as factories struggle to balance the books that have often been turned upside down since the onset of the Covid-19 virus.

In this case, that line happened to represent some 70% of the reps income but regardless of the percentage, this is just bad business.  Actually, in my opinion, it is shameful.

I wonder how that factory would have felt if the rep had decided, with no warning, to pick up a competitive line and replace all of his former slots with items from his new factory?

And as we all know, there really are no secrets in this business.  New, good or bad, travels fast.  I wonder how other reps for that factory are feeling after hearing this news.  I know that if I were a rep for that factory, I would be worrying that I, too, might be penalized for outstanding performance.

We’ve all sat around and wondered why our industry struggles to attract young, bright and motivated individuals.  Maybe it is decisions like this that keep young people on the sidelines.   I can tell you right now, there is no way I would want to join and industry that rewards high achievers by dismissing them.

Factories need to wake up to the fact that now, more than ever, good reps are the critical link between the factory and the retailer.

I will be the first to admit that not all reps are exceptional.  But I take extreme exception to a factory pulling a line from a rep simply because it wants the money on its side of the fence.

I realize that business is all about the balance sheet.   But it also needs to be about balance, fair play and ethical behavior at every level.

The relationship between a rep and the factory has to be based on mutual trust, respect and honesty.

This story underscores what happens when one side fails.  Ultimately, both sides fail.

 


Ray says this is worth reading!

I just stumbled across this article and it made me think…it also prompted me to share this with our members.   I would love to hear if you agree or disagree with the point of this article! - Ray

“Fast Fashion” Furniture Has Given Us a World of Crappy Couches

Sure, that couch you bought on Wayfair is too uncomfortable to sit on, but at least it looks nice.

The Outline  Hanson O’Haver

I am writing this from an imitation Arne Vodder dining chair that is roughly two inches too short for my Ikea table, forcing me to keep my arms elevated at an unnatural height, while also leaving my neck and shoulders dangerously hunched. My back hurts. I could move to my Milo Baughman-style armchair, but frankly the situation there is even worse, as the extended seat cushion and rigid top rail mold my posture into the shape of the letter Ç (the cedilla is my legs). Not so long ago I was happy to work from a $30 Target computer chair, but today I wouldn’t dream of keeping such a bleak object in my apartment, no matter how comfortable.

What happened? I got a little older, started making slightly more money, and found myself caring about furniture. To be clear, it’s not like I’m reading books about Bauhaus or saving up for an Eames chair (I had to Google to figure out who my chairs are ripping off), but I am concerned with having a cool couch in a way I never thought I could be.

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An important note from Ray Allegrezza

As you know, as your Executive Director, I value our give-and-take, two-way conversations with our members.  Every now and then, a topic touches my heart and I wanted to share my thoughts with you.  This is one of those times and I hope the following message to you, resonates with you.  As always, I am anxious to hear from you!

T.S. Eliot called April the “cruelest month,” and in terms of the clout that premarket continues to have on the Spring High Point market, he was clearly on the mark.

Early in January of 2020, the World Health Organization sent out a low-key notice about a mysterious Coronavirus-related pneumonia in Wuhan, China.  The rest, as they say, is history.

The pandemic, soon to be known as Covid-19, swept over the planet and quite literally, turned the world upside down.   And our industry, was by no means immune from the virus.

To our credit, we have not only survived, but have found new ways to get back to business.  However, to our detriment, it took a pandemic to force us to relinquish the status quo that many of us were so comfortable with.

We now communicate via Zoom or other comparable technologies,  we have been forced to embrace new technologies and like it or not, we are all driving our businesses, at least to some extent, on the digital highway.

Need more proof?  Take a look at the changing nature and role of furniture markets.  A few years ago if someone had mentioned First Tuesday, he or she would have probably gotten a blank stare.

Similarly, if someone would have told you that premarket would suddenly become as important as market, you would have smiled and dismissed that idea as beyond silly.

But to laugh at these ideas now, could mean the joke just might be on you.

Covid-19 has taken our play book and thrown it in the dumpster.   Regardless of your point of view, First Tuesday continues to become more important to retailers and don’t be surprised if this upcoming premarket takes a huge bite out of the June market.

Based on conversations I have had with a number of key retailers, they plan (just like they used to do at market) to come in early for premarket and stay upwards of five to seven days.

Sound to you what used to happen during “traditional” market?  It does to me.

Make no mistake---your customers have always driven the bus…always have and always will.

They will—and are—dictating what works for them…and if you want to sell them, it had better work for you.

I’ve talked to reps who after initially resisting First Tuesday are now converts, and here’s why: Reps are getting quality time with their customers in a much less frantic environment.  A number of them report getting to spend 3-4 hours of uninterrupted time with retailers.

Can you put a price tag on that?

In the months ahead, the business is going to be like a big game of musical chairs.  Retailers and reps alike are looking for respective partners that can deliver the goods, make good on the promises and help them succeed.

As a rep, you need to embrace change, understand the technology, be adaptive, be proactive  and most of all, provide solutions.

I don’t want to see any of you without a chair when the music suddenly stops!

 

 

 

 

 


FIAG Honoree Marty Libowsky Joins Walk For Hope

Longtime IHFRA member and one of this year’s FIAG honoree Marty Libowsky has spent his life as a great rep and as a man with a big heart for charitable causes.  As one example, Since 1972, Marty has supported and volunteered with Ronald McDonald House! He, along with his business partners, have furnished over 440 Houses. Marty has tirelessly volunteered during our Firecracker 5k and Big MacClassic Fishing Tournaments year after year helping to raise money for RMHC.

Now, Marty says, I have joined Walk for Hope because I want to make a difference in the fight against breast and gynecological cancers. Please support me and City of Hope’s work to help people live longer, healthier lives. All donations add up to make a big difference. Please donate, share this page with your family and friends, and join Walk for Hope. Thank you for your support!

Thanks so much for considering a donation to this very worthwhile cause!!!!!

  1. TO DONATE ONLINE:

https://ourhope.cityofhope.org/team/346573

This will take you to the team page where you can make a donation

  1. SEND CHECK TO CITY OF HOPE

If anyone wants to mail checks, they should just note in the memo line (or with an accompanying note) that the funds are to be credited to THE BIG LIBOWSKY TEAM.

               City of Hope

Attn: NSE/Philanthropy

1500 E. Duarte Rd.

Duarte, CA 91010

 


Longtime IHFRA member and AICO rep Lawrence Pascal has passed.

With profound sadness IHFRA shares  the passing of Lawrence Pascal on Tuesday, March 9, 2021, after a very courageous 16- year battle with prostate cancer.

Lawrence was an outstanding human being and an outstanding furniture rep and was a well-known face at the AICO showroom.

 

Michael Amini, CEO and Founder of AICO, said, “With a painful heart, and incredible sadness I offer my sincere condolences to the Pascal family, his friends and our industry. He was one of a kind. When I think of Lawrence, I only remember his smiling face, a passionate and dedicated man to his family, his company, his customers and his freinds. He loved his job and everyone around it. The furniture industry lost one of its best people, and I lost a wonderful team member and a great friend that never gave up. In the last days of his life while he was on the hospital bed, he never missed a zoom meeting and still worried about his customers shipments. What a trooper.  My deepest sympathy from my family to his."

 

Martin Ploy, President of Aico, added, “Our friend, Lawrence Pascal, will be missed by so many. He will be long remembered for his character, his love of family, his passion for sports, his commitment to his customers and his company, and his appreciation for his fellow man. Always a special friend to us all...he was willing to assist any of us in any way possible. He was never a whiner or a complainer...he recognized the importance of dealing with issues promptly and was more concerned about helping his customers grow their business than he was about a quick sale. Truly a special man who made us all a little better. I will miss him.”

 

Jonathan Schulman, IHFRA’s Chairman of the Board, said,  "Rarely do you find a guy like Lawrence.  Anyone who knew him in the industry will tell you that he loved his family, his customers, selling AICO, and the Montreal Canadiens.  He possessed the most well intended passion for what he did, that you couldn’t help but to just fall in love with the guy.  His success was born from caring deeply for others and I will take that lesson with me for the rest of my life.  Go Habs Go!”

 

Lawrence was the son of the late Hyman and Esther Pascal of Montreal, brother of the the late Sheila Glazer, he is survived by his wife Danielle Thomas, his sister Mimi Kerman, his children David, Beth (Ian), Michelle (Bob), Haley (Elliot) and Matthew and his grandchildren, Rheanne, Jaimie, Ethan, Amber, Chloe, Zachary and Alexander.  Lawrence will always be remembered for the even-tempered, kind and generous soul he was, who always put family first.  To quote a friend who wrote last week, “I don’t think there is a person in this world who knows him and doesn’t love him.”

Memorial donations may be made to Princess Margaret Hospital https://www.uhn.ca/corporate/ways-help or Kensington Hospice https://www.kensingtonhealth.org/donate

 

The funeral will be live streamed on Friday, March 12 at 2 p.m. at https://smclive.ca/

 

 

 


IHFRA chief sees continuing industry disruption but some reasons for hope

 

HIGH POINT — In an industry update ahead of the recent International Home Furnishings Representatives Assn. board meeting, Ray Allegrezza said the industry sits “in the eye of a perfect storm,” enjoying never stronger demand while struggling like never before to meet it.

“Our biggest asset — a seamless supply chain — is once again our biggest liability,” IHFRA’s executive director said in a message to members (and posted to YouTube). “ Even before the pandemic it was fragile and was often knocked offline by price hikes, worker shortages, driver shortages, container shortages. And now, they have all hit at once and have hit us harder than I can remember, thanks to the pandemic.

 

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