IHFRA's 25th Annual Furniture Industry Awards Gala A Huge Success!

Click the link below to view our Digital Commemorative Program from this years event!

Check out the Digital Program from FIAG

WithIt Honors Violette Forman with 2021 Visionary Award and Announces WOW Award Nominee Finalists

WithIt, the women’s leadership development network for the home and furnishings industry, is proud to announce the nominee finalists for their annual WOW Awards. Each of the nominee finalists, as well as the recipient of the Visionary Award, will be honored at the WOW Awards gala, on Friday, October 15th in the IHFC International Ballroom. Individual tickets and sponsor tables are available to be purchased at www.withit.org. A limited number of tickets will be sold to allow for each table to seat six.

The annual awards, which are sponsored by International Market Centers, recognize business leaders nominated by their peers who have contributed to the success of the home and furnishings industry and have demonstrated a significant impact on their companies and the industry.

WithIt will present the Visionary Award to Violette Forman, General Manager for Havertys and president of WithIt in 2014 and 2016. The award is the highest recognition level bestowed by the organization, honoring a woman of achievement whose insight and actions have significantly impacted WithIt.

Violette Forman is a general manager at Haverty’s, overseeing stores in Alexandria and Monroe Louisiana. She has been a member of WithIt since 2007 and has served on many of WithIt’s committees over the years, culminating in a nine-year tenure on the board of directors. In 2014, during the first year of her presidency, Forman focused on stabilizing the financial health of the organization. Following a year of leadership transition, she accepted a second year of presidency in 2016 and used her organizational expertise, deep knowledge and love of WithIt to preserve the mission and the viability of the organization.

“Every organization at one time or another has to weather leadership transitions and WithIt is no exception,” says Lorri Kelley, WithIt’s 2021 President. “The leadership Violette demonstrated during this particular time in our history was nothing short of amazing. It was her strong guidance and encouragement that led many of us in this industry to roll up our sleeves and jump in to make our organization better and viable for the long term going forward. Her passion and commitment to WithIt’s legacy and prosperous future during her Presidency in 2014 and 2016 was so inspiring and an exceptional example for those of us who came after to follow. There is no better woman in our industry to receive our most prestigious honor, our Visionary WOW Award.”

In addition to honoring Forman, WithIt will present WOW Awards in five additional categories: Education, Mentoring, Leadership, Future Leader, and Sales Excellence.

Each of the nominee finalists have submitted packages supporting their nomination which will be judged by a panel of industry leaders. Recipients will be announced in October prior to the gala.

The Leadership Award to recognize the contributions of a woman who has demonstrated successful leadership in her company, WithIt and the home furnishings industry. Leadership Award nominees are Barbara Bradford, Restonic; Beverly Kastel, Stressless; and Amy Lyn Schwartzbard and Patti Carpenter, The Kaleidoscope Partnership.

The Future Leader Award honors a young woman in the industry who has demonstrated outstanding achievement and the potential to become an industry leader. The nominees for this award are Ashley Grigg, High Point Market Authority; Katie Vanderjagt, La-Z-Boy; and Kristen Wo, C.S. Wo & Sons.

The Mentoring Award honors a company or individual for their efforts to foster advocacy, development and promotion of women in their company and the industry.  This year’s Mentoring Award nominees are Rachel Cannon, Rachel Cannon Limited Interiors; Laura Levinson, Valdese Weavers; and Jana Platina-Phipps, Home Couture Collective.

The Education Award recognizes an individual who has put forth significant effort to educate associates, retailers and consumers about home and furnishings. This year’s nominees are Emily Cox, Onyx Design Collaborative; Kathy Phillips, Springs Creative; and Helena Yates, Purecare.

The Sales Excellence Award recognizes a woman who is extraordinary in sales, demonstrates excellence in education and relationships with her customers, and exceptional commitment to the manufacturers she represents.  The nominees are independent sales representatives Angela Huff and Cindy Rogers; and Tammy Virgil, J.B. Hunt Transport – Final Mile.

Sponsors of this event celebrating women’s achievement in the industry include J.B. Hunt Transport and Norwalk Furniture.

WithIt was formed in 1997 for women in the home and furnishings industries in order to support their multi-dimensional career paths. The non-profit network is based in North Carolina and supported by leading companies across the industry including their Vision and Platinum sponsors: International Market Centers, J.B. Hunt Transport, Myriad Software and Stressless. WithIt’s purpose is to encourage and develop leadership, mentoring, education and networking opportunities for professional women in the home and furnishings industries.

Terminated Before Your Sold Product Arrives...Now What?

Court Can ‘Declare’ a Rep’s Contract Rights for Future Sales, Even Sales to Iran

by:  Adam J. Glazer


What is a rep to do when terminated before the sales come in?


As many reps know by now, framing a claim for breach of contract requires that the rep has suffered “damages,” that is commissions withheld on orders received, shipped and/or paid for by the customer. But if orders have not yet come in despite the rep’s best efforts, is the principal able to escape liability?


The Swiss rep Pyrrhus AG, whose customer was the Iranian government during a relative lull in the sanctions regime, found itself confronting such a possibility.  Pyrrhus’s plight furnishes a helpful example of a rep making use of a “declaratory judgment action” to lay claim to commissions on sales not yet shipped.

Iran to Court

U.S. company Dresser Industries, Inc. had signed Pyrrhus as its exclusive rep for the 2-year period August 1986 through August 1988 of Dresser’s earth-moving products to the country of Iran. During 1987-88, the Ministry of Mines and Metals of Iran allegedly agreed to purchase 140 products known as “Dozers” for $255,000 per.  Pyrrhus also claimed its services culminated in the sale to the National Iranian Steel Company of 20 trucks and parts.


In exchange for its services, Pyrrhus was due 5% of:


“the net FOB value of any shipment of the Products of whatever origin made by Dresser or a Dresser Subsidiary to Iran and pursuant to either orders received and accepted or Contracts entered into during the term of this Agreement.”


The contract further provided:


“Dresser will pay or cause to be paid to Pyrrhus the foregoing amounts within fifteen (15) days of receipt of payment by Dresser or the relevant Dresser Subsidiary in respect of any order or contract with respect to which such fee is due.”


When Dresser refused to pay commissions on the Dozer or truck sales, sales that seemed to fit squarely within this contractual agreement, Pyrrhus filed suit in the Chicago federal court.


Its Complaint alleged that Pyrrhus’s services led to the formation of Dresser’s contracts for the sale of equipment to the Ministry and to the National Iranian Steel Company, both of which called for shipments to be made in the future.  The shipments on which commissions would be payable had not yet occurred, so Pyrrhus’s Complaint sought a “declaratory judgment,” a remedy calling upon the court to declare the rights of the parties under their contract.  When the shipments did occur, a declaration favorable to Pyrrhus would oblige Dresser to make payment.


The trial court, however, saw things Dresser’s way.  Dismissing Pyrrhus’s claims, the court construed the rep agreement to require that “the goods must have been shipped into Iran” to be commissionable.  Pyrrhus sought “commissions due on future shipments for sales that have not been consummated,” the court ruled, and Pyrrhus did not qualify for such commissions at the time of termination.


Pyrrhus quickly appealed.

Iran to Appeal

Fortunately for Pyrrhus, the appellate judges proved more willing to give the contract a fair read.  The federal appeals court determined the trial court improperly interpreted the language stating that commissions are only due on products that ship (“5% of the net FOB value of any shipment of the Products . . . to Iran”), and the timing provision (“within fifteen (15) days of receipt of payment by Dresser”) as pre-conditions for commission liability.  “But it is clear,” said the reviewing court, “that if ‘orders [are] received and accepted or Contracts entered into’ during the term of the instrument, Dresser owes Pyrrhus a commission for the sales.”


The contractual factors relied upon by the lower court, namely the actual shipment of products into Iran and payment received by Dresser, merely defined when payments were to be made, not Dresser’s obligation to pay.  Reversing the trial court’s decision, the appellate court noted: “While the payments may not yet have been due under the Contract because of shipments to Iran or payments to Dresser that are as yet unfilled,” this was no reason to dismiss Pyrrhus’s claims “since Pyrrhus may eventually be entitled to commissions for the sales.”


Bringing a declaratory judgment action was specifically approved by the court of appeals “to determine whether Dresser owes Pyrrhus payments when Dresser has shipped the products and received payment.”  The case was returned to the trial court to ascertain if the alleged sales took place during the contract period (August 1986 through August 1988) and were therefore commissionable to Pyrrhus, even if the shipments took place later.



Reps are frequently terminated in situations where no commissions are due immediately upon termination, and the value of the rep’s work is only realized by the principal months or years later. If the rep generates orders, just as Pyrrhus did, compensation should follow. In the right cases, seeking a declaratory judgment from the court that the rep is entitled to commission payments when the sales are ultimately consummated is a highly valuable, if underappreciated, means to avoid walking away from a years-long effort with nothing to show for it.



Adam J. Glazer, partner in the law firm Schoenberg Finkel Beederman Bell Glazer LLC, known as the “go-to” law firm for sales reps nationwide, serves as legal counsel to MAFSI.  With decades of experience protecting the rights of independent reps, Adam can assist in commission recovery actions, mergers and acquisitions, and succession planning. Adam can be reached at 312-648-2300 or adam.glazer@sfbbg.com.

Check Out IHFRA's Webinar with Adam Glazer Pt.1

The team at IHFRA wants to thank the scores of members who signed up and attended part one of our two-part Webinar series presented with Adam Glazer and the members of his law firm of Schoenberg Finkel Beederman Bell and Glazer, LLC , our legal counsel. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did! Adam was joined by two of his associates, Andrew Bell and Matt Tyrell, who shared a wealth of knowledge and answered a host of questions regarding health and safety issues for traveling reps, applying for PPP loan forgiveness, changing tax laws and many other things.

In case you missed it, or simply just want to watch it again, you can access the video online from your computer, smart phone or tablet here:


We had several attendees submit questions in advance of the webinar and we’ve got the answers to your questions here:

Webinar Questions for Adam with Disclaimer

Curious about what people are saying about the webinar? Here are a few quotes from attendees:

  • “Lots of great information on many current and concerning topis. Looking forward to the November Webinar” ~ Tommy Coughlin
  • “Informative, educational and right on point. Time well spent.” ~ Ray Isser, IHFRA past president
  • “I received pertinent information from 3 talented lawyers that would have cost me a lot of money had I consulted with them on my own.  The subjects they covered were geared to my business as a 1099 and a small business owner.  My membership dues to IHFRA have more than paid for themselves this year.  I am looking forward to the next set of topics they will be presenting in November.” ~ Wendy Buzzard, President of Creative Visions Midwest
  • “I thought the webinar was great.  Lots of great information that was time sensitive, especially the information regarding the pandemic.  I’ve been in the industry over 40 years and still learned lots from this webinar.  I can’t wait till the second webinar in November.”   Tommy Leflein, past president, IHFRA.

Fully Loaded Podcast features IHFRA's Ray Allegrezza & John Pinion

Knight Furniture, a Texas-based independent furniture retailer, is one of those amazing businesses that consistently raises the bar.  Family-owned and operated, the 103-year-old retailer stays fresh not only from its assortment of great furniture and bedding but from an innovative and impactful social media outreach that shares information about the company both inside and outside of the industry often featuring informative podcasts.
Recently Knight Furniture, in recognition of fathers and sons working alongside each other, hosted a podcast that featured father and son David and Joey Knight, John Pinion, Sr. and John Jr, a dynamic rep duo  and Ray and Steve Allegrezza, both of IHFRA.  To hear the podcast, which focused on the ups and downs of fathers and sons working together, great blues music and an up close and personal insights from all the participants
Click Here to Listen!

Fall High Point Market Prep Continues as Product Demand Increases

HIGH POINT, N.C., September 17, 2020 — High Point Market Authority officials, building owners, and exhibitors are busily preparing for the upcoming Fall Market, scheduled for October 13-21, as consumer demand for home furnishings continues to increase.
The latest Furniture Insights newsletter from Smith Leonard Accountants and Consultants notes, “New orders in June were 30% ahead of June 2019,” and, “New orders were up for 73% of the participants.”
“We have blown away all June-July-August sales records,” said Mac Cooper, CEO for Uttermost. “After a couple slow months in the spring, we are already up for the year, and momentum has never been higher.”
Thibaut’s CMO Stacy Senior Allan echoes the sentiment. “We have seen growth in sales above last July and August, and we are pleased with the rebound since April. We are preparing for a healthy fall.”
Both of these exhibitors plan to show in person at the fall High Point Market, following safety guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), NC Department of Health and Human Services, and the #HPMKTsafe Initiative.
“High Point Market is the only US trade show where we can connect with our clients and solidify our relationships that we have developed over the years. We love to get direct input from our audience on new products and even designs that are soon to be launched,” said Allan. “We are excited to launch all planned 2020 collections and will be previewing our new tapes and trim offering in our showroom.”
“Given High Point’s layout over 13-city blocks in various different buildings, we are uniquely positioned to be able to follow all of the outlined safety guidelines and still offer the in-person buying interactions our industry desperately needs at this time,” said Tom Conley, president and CEO of the High Point Market Authority. “We are also geographically positioned well, with a large percentage of the industry living close or within driving distance.”
Working closely with state and local health officials, Market Authority officials are communicating the current safety guidelines to building owners and exhibitors through ongoing emails, Zoom calls, webinars, direct calls, and the website.
“High Point showrooms fall under the safety guidelines for retail, so right now, showrooms can be open at 50% capacity,” noted Conley. “The showrooms and buildings will be monitoring their capacity limits closely, and we’ll be doing the same on our transportation systems. Coupled with other safety measures such as required face coverings and daily health checks, enhanced cleaning, and social distancing, we feel prepared for Market to take place safely this October.”
In addition to an abundance of safety measures, buyers attending Fall Market can expect plenty of new product introductions and open showrooms. The recently launched What’s New webpage, www.highpointmarket.org/products-and-trends/whats-new, provides an overview of available new product details, including articles, product previews, and over 500 new product image submissions.
A new filter has been added to the Exhibitor search feature of www.highpointmarket.org to highlight exhibitors who have confirmed they will be open for Fall Market, and only confirmed open showrooms will be filtered to the exhibitor listing in the High Point Market app. Appointments are strongly encouraged for showroom visits, with many exhibitors requiring such.
Beyond scheduling appointments, buyers can find a checklist for preparing for Fall Market at www.highpointmarket.org/HPMKTsafe/how-to-prepare, and an overview of the planned safety measures and requirements at www.highpointmarket.org/HPMKTsafe/keeping-you-safe.
“With the demand for home furnishings currently at record-breaking levels, and given that our industry has not been able to meet for High Point Market since last October, we are thankful for the exhaustive efforts of our state and local health community to help us create an environment in which necessary business interactions can take place safely this fall. It’s vital for moving our industry forward and meeting the current consumer demand,” added Conley.

Still Selling After All These Years; Interview with Carl Brinson

1957 was a milestone year. The Soviet Union ushered in the Space Age with the launch of the world’s first man-made satellite called Sputnik. The average American’s salary was about $4,500 a year; a nice house cost $20,000; a brand-new Ford could be bought for $2,500 and you could fill the car’s tank for 29 cents a gallon.
And while practically everything else has changed since then, one man—Carl Brinson—has been as steady as the day is long since joining IHFRA and the furniture industry some 63 years ago.
With all the doom, gloom and sky-is-falling concerns thanks to the COVID-19 virus, IHFRA felt this was the perfect time to have Carl, who is 90 years young and still calling on customers, share some highlights of his remarkable career.
Carl was born on December 5, 1929, joined the Marines after high school and saw combat while serving 14 months in Korea.
After the war— and after hitting the road for a year to see America—Carl came home for Christmas and happened to bump into John Cooney, then President, Augusta Bedding Co., (Serta Mattress Co.) who offered him a job. “I took the job on the spot and that became my first job in the furniture industry. I worked for him for four years,“ Brinson said.
In 1962, Carl accepted a job with Kroehler Manufacturing Co.  It was to be his first job selling upholstery and in moving to Columbus, Georgia, it also represented his largest territory.
Carl worked areas from Mobile, Al to Tallahassee, FL to Columbus, GA including Savannah, Columbus, areas south of Atlanta, Montgomery, AL, and Pensacola, FL.
He also recalls that the territory, while huge, was also lucrative for him. “This was the best money I had made—$50,000 my first year in that territory,” he remembers. Not too shabby for 1962!
Carl was originally given a 10% commission, but after three years, “The company cut me back to a 3% commission and told me all my accounts had to buy $10,000 a year, which made it impossible for my accounts to order,” he recalled.
In response, Carl reached out to a friend who worked for Dixie Furniture to see if they needed a salesman. As luck would have it, his friend happened to be with Smith Young, a key executive at Dixie, who seemed interested.
A short time later, Brinson found himself in Lexington, NC, waiting to interview with Young and having to wait two hours for him to finish playing tennis. When Young finally walked in, his first words to Brinson were, ‘Where is your halo?’  Everybody tells me you have one.’
Carl assured him that while he had no halo, he could produce heavenly sales. “The interview lasted all of ten minutes and I was given the job and moved to Indiana in 1963, proud to be a part of the Dixie family.”
However, before leaving to go to Indiana, Carl, ever the consummate salesman, stopped to see Grover Maxwell, a good customer of his who operated 40 stores.
Carl explained he was going to work for Dixie and walked out with a huge order for his new company.
When news of the sale reached Dixie, Carl got a call from Young who said, “Now I know why you have a halo. We’ve tried to  sell Maxwell for years and you’ve already sold him in one day.  We can’t give you commission for your sale because it is not in your territory, but will take care of you,” Young promised.
And while Dixie did just that, Carl more than repaid their efforts. He recalls that, when he got to market in Lexington, NC, they informed him that he had opened 149 accounts.
They increased Carl’s territory and he moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, for the next four years.
But Brinson missed the south and asked for a territory there. Young introduced him to Mr. Franzman, who became Carl’s business partner in Atlanta for the next seven years. The business took off and Carl reports earning some $60,000 annually from that territory.
But good news about great reps travels fast and Carl received an offer from Bernhardt to take over the Washington, DC area. “I was told I could make $100,000 a year and I decided I needed to take that opportunity.”
Brinson remembers getting a call from Young who while disappointed, understood Carl’s decision.
However, Brinson’s stint with Bernhardt got off to a terrible start. “The first account I called on had a shipment that was damaged, which was not a great way to start a new job,” he said.
Even so, in the first three weeks Brinson had the territory, he sold half a million dollars in sales.  “I remember getting a call from Mr. Young checking in with me. I told him I hated Washington  DC and said he knew I would.”
While Young had a reputation for never hiring a rep who left Dixie, he made an exception for Brinson, rehiring him and giving him Columbus, GA, Mobile, AL, Montgomery, Al and the panhandle of Florida.
But he told Brinson, “You will live in Atlanta until you sell a million dollar’s worth of furniture.
Young then then took Brinson into the production area and showed him a new wicker set.
Armed with the new wicker goods, Brinson promptly sold $3 million in wicker, then again asked Smith if he could relocate. “At that point, Young said with my sales figures, he didn’t care where I lived, so I moved my family to Gulf Breeze, Florida.
“I retired when I turned 70 from Dixie Furniture Co.” Brinson said.
During his long career with Dixie Furn. Co. (Link Taylor, Young Hinkle, Henry Link) which became Lexington Furn. Co., Brinson not only sold the furniture…he helped design some of the groups.  “My first one was Ship Ahoy, a bedroom suite for a boy,” he confirmed.
“I later helped with some other ones. I took our team to many of the old historical towns in my territory and we did bedroom and dining room suites that featured designs from the historical houses in those areas,” Brinson said.
Brinson was always heavily involved with IHFRA and served as chapter President for Indiana, Georgia, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle.
Carl still keeps in touch with reps and management from Dixie Furniture Co. Back in 2013, I was in touch with Jeff Young, who referred to Brinson’s career as “star studded.”
Young went on to salute Brinson for, “Accomplishing more than any rep he knew” adding, “every dealer with whom you made contact really and truly ‘wanted’ to do business with you and to spend time with you.”
Young also noted that, “charismatic people like Carl Brinson are few and far between. We do not meet many individuals with his combination of high character, a caring and genuinely earnest interest in the welfare of others, a sense of humor second to none; all rolled up in one high energy selling machine with business savvy far exceeding his peers.”
After a year of being retired, a friend called and asked if Brinson wanted to go back to work. He eagerly came out of retirement and went to work for several smaller companies back in the Florida panhandle and lower Alabama and lower Georgia.
Now, almost twenty years later he is still working – and still getting calls from suppliers asking if he will represent their lines. “I have to turn them down, but my doctor tells me since I am in better health than most of his patients I should probably keep working.
To Brinson, his dealers are like his family – “I’ve been with them for many years. I also love my career and thankfully am going strong at 90 years old.”

2021 Lapel Pin Design Announced

2021 IHFRA Lapel Pin Design Contest Winner!

Thanks to everyone who submitted designs, as well as those who took time to vote. Congratulations to Tom Nolan for the winning design.