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26th annual IHFRA Furniture Industry Awards Gala celebrates “Students of the Game”

Ashley founder Ron Wanek receives coveted Icon Award

HIGH POINT — More than 600 home furnishings professionals filled the Nido and Mariana Qubein Arena and Conference Center at High Point University here on Oct. 21 to celebrate with the honorees of the International Home Furnishings Representatives Association’s 26th annual Furniture Industry Awards Gala.

The annual event, known as FIAG, is IHFRA’s yearly event that honors outstanding participants in the home furnishings sector.

“Our theme, Students of the Game — The Class of 2022 Honor Roll, dovetailed perfectly with the new venue, the recently completed conference in the heart of High Point University,” said IHFRA Executive Director Ray Allegrezza.

Ron Wanek, Ashley Furniture, left, winner of the Icon Award; Neil Friedman, Legacy Rep Award; David Koehler, Johnny Janosik Furniture, Retailer of the Year Award; Jack Hawn, Zenith Global Logistics, Pillar of the Industry Award; J. Michael Anderson, Legacy Rep Award; Craig Anderson, Rising Star Award; and Tommy Leflein, Distinguished Service Award

This year, IHFRA honored Ron Wanek, the founder of America’s largest home furniture manufacturer and retailer, Ashley Furniture Inds., with its coveted Icon Award.

According to IHFRA, the Icon Award recognizes an individual who has made significant and withstanding contributions to the industry throughout the course of his or her career. Through selfless acts and service, the recipient has displayed the leadership traits to guide and mentor the future of the industry.

Jack Hawn, chief executive officer at Zenith Global Logistics, was presented with the Pillar of the Industry Award, which is presented to an industry leader who has distinguished him or herself with creative work and effort to improve, enhance and benefit relationships
among reps and other segments of the industry.

Top 100 retailer David Koehler, CEO of Johnny Janosik Furniture, was presented with the Retailer of the Year Award.

IHFRA Executive Director Ray Allegrezza speaks at FIAG on Oct. 21. Behind him on the screen is an image of a hand-crafted compass made by a family business based in Scotland that IHFRA and the City of Hope presented to each honoree.

The Retailer of the Year Award recognizes individuals or organizations that have distinguished themselves through industry leadership, business achievement and service to their community.

Tommy Leflein, a veteran independent sales rep and IHFRA past president, was awarded the group’s Distinguished Service Award. His is IHFRA’s highest honor bestowed to a member of the organization who, by deed and action, has enhanced the image of the home furnishings sales representative in the community and industry.

Two IHFRA members, Neil Freidman and J. Michael Anderson, each received the Legacy Rep Award. The Legacy Rep Award is given to a rep who has been on the road for 30 years or more, is still active and has established relationships that have lasted throughout the years.

Craig Anderson was honored with the Rising Star Award given to a rep who has been on the road for five years or less and displays qualities that make them stand out to both their retail customers and manufacturers.

IHFRA presented a certificate of appreciation to Martin Ploy, the retiring president of AICO, for his many contributions to the industry.

In his opening remarks, Allegrezza recognized each of the honorees for their professionalism, dedication, integrity and success. He also said that they shared another trait—a strong moral compass. In recognition of that, IHFRA, in cooperation with the City of Hope, presented each honoree with a hand-crafted compass made by a family-run company in Scotland.

In addition, IHFRA surprised AICO President Martin Ploy, who is retiring this year, with a certificate of appreciation for his numerous contributions to the industry.

“Last year, we hosted FIAG as a virtual event, and it was great, but with the furniture industry being so familial and social, we were thrilled to go back to an in-person platform,” Allegrezza said. “And for me, the icing on the cake is hosting our gala at High Point University’s stunning convention center, $170 million-dollar state-of-the-art facility.”

Based on feedback from attendees and the honorees, Allegrezza said that the event was given an A+. “Thanks to the support from all of our sponsors and the hard work from the IHFRA staff, the event was a huge success and created lots of positive energy and buzz to help kick of the Market.”

Below are some links to the video presentations of various honorees that were shown at the event.

Ron Wanek –

Tommy Leflein –

Jack Hawn –

Dave Koehler –

Digital Program Book

Thanks to all who attended and a special thank you to all of this year’s sponsors!

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