Reps organization also names 4 Direct Chair posts
HIGH POINT — The International Home Furnishings Representatives Association, based here, has recently filled three vacancies on its Executive Committee and has also named four members to District Chair posts.
Industry veteran Cynthia Heathcoe has joined the EC as second vice president. Heathcoe, who is currently president of SCL Liquidators, cut her teeth in the industry as a salesperson with Bassett in South Florida. She would go on to become a national award-winning retailer with a passion for the home furnishings industry. Having previously served on the board of HFA and on the High Point Market Advisory panel, she tapped into her experience as a retailer to assist other retailers facing challenging times.
Sam Simonton, also well-versed in the home furnishings sector, has joined the EC as membership chair. Simonton’s company, Sales.Furniture, has one mission in mind: To make a clear path forward for e-commerce and B&M offerings. Through the development of private-label brands and products for manufacturers and importers, they strive to diversify the e-commerce and B&M offerings. Sam’s expertise in business operations, marketing and sales, as a manufacturers agent, a tech start-up founder and a creative idea-maker has been instrumental in helping her to achieve that goal.
Kimberly Wheat, president of WB Media Group and Revolutionary Retail, has joined the EC as secretary/treasurer. Wheat has been in the sales and marketing side of the industry for over 20 years. WB Media works with independent retailers throughout the U.S. offering training, guidance and continuing support with advertising and marketing, specifically helping to guide retailers through the ever-changing digital terrain.
As part of the transition, Wendy Buzzard, president of Creative Visions Midwest, who had served as a District Chair, has assumed the role of first vice president.
Her company, Creative Visions Midwest, is a successfully established full-service representative sales agency specializing in serving the needs of lifestyle and specialty boutiques, interior designers, interior design firms, furniture stores and gift stores.
Separately, IHFRA has also announced the election of four members to serve as District Chairs for its four district territories. District Chair posts are voted for by IHFRA’s general membership.
Specifically, Neil Friedman has been elected as District Chair for the West Coast, Todd Gerdes has been elected to the Southwest, Lane Brundieck to the Midwest region and Tommy Leflein has been elected for the Northeast sector.
Friedman has devoted 57 years to the home furnishings industry and began his career in the 1960s working in the mattress factory his family owned.
He remained active in mattress manufacturing from 1972 to 2000, then went on to be an outside sales rep for Ashley Furniture. In 2004, he joined Primo International as a sales manager and is currently in an ambassador role for Primo.
A staunch and loyal supporter of IHFRA on both a national and local level, Friedman has served as president of the Home Furnishing Representative Guild of Southern California.
His work in the industry along with his humanitarian outreach initiatives has made him the recipient of numerous awards, including the Rudy Sudyteltemeir Award, the Charles B. Costar Award, City of Hope’s Volunteer of the Year, and others.
Todd Gerdes resides in Conway, Arkansas, and has spent over 45 years in the home furnishings industry, having gotten his start in his family’s furniture store where he learned all aspects of the retail business.
In 1984, he became a manufacturer’s representative and has worked with multiple store chains, independent stores and stores in the Top 100 across multiple states.
Todd has been a member and officer of the Arkansas Road Runners since 1999, providing help and direction for retailers and other representatives. Todd has received numerous sales awards and positions throughout his career and is a member of IHFRA, the Arkansas Home Furnishings Association, the Arkansas Society of Association Executives and the Arkansas Society of Professional Lobbyists.
Tommy Leflein, an active member of IHFRA since the 1970s and a past IHFRA president, was honored last year with IHFRA’s Distinguished Service Award, the highest honor that IHFRA bestows upon a member.
After graduating from college, Leflein worked in retail for several years at his family’s New Jersey-based furniture store, Thomas Furniture. He went on to distinguish himself as a top salesperson for Thomasville, Rowe, Lexington, A.R.T. Furniture and other leading suppliers.
Currently, Leflein also serves as vice president and board member of the Greater Metropolitan Furniture Association of New York and New Jersey and has been president of the Tri-State Furniture Association as well.
Lane Brundieck, began his career in home furnishings in 1991 selling furniture at retail. He quickly rose up through the ranks to store manager and then decided to become an independent sales rep in 2011.
Brundieck had the opportunity to work both independently and as part of a team and began his role as a rep by first calling on smaller independent retailers and currently enjoys solid relationships with the larger retailers in the Midwest as well.
Currently, Brundieck is also vice president of the NCHFRA and is working to expand and update that chapter.
For more information about IHFRA, go to www.ihfra.org.