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American Home Furnishings Hall of Fame Announces New Inductees

Five influential industry leaders will be inducted into the American Home Furnishings Hall of Fame on Oct. 27 during the High Point Market.

06/04/2024
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Hall of Fame Inductees
Clockwise from Top Left: Bob McCreary, Clarence H. Smith, Joseph P. Cory Sr., Thomas Day, Steven F. Elton.

Five influential industry leaders will be inducted into the American Home Furnishings Hall of Fame on Oct. 27 during the High Point Market. Joining the current 134 members of the Hall of Fame are Joseph P. Cory Sr., former chairman of Cory 1st Choice Home Delivery; Thomas Day, designer and cabinetmaker; Steven F. Elton, chief brand curator of Brown Jordan; Bob McCreary, founder of McCreary Modern; and Clarence H. Smith, chairman and CEO of Havertys Furniture.

“This year’s impressive group of inductees represents a broad spectrum of superior accomplishments and enduring excellence from across the industry, including manufacturing, retail, design, outdoor and transportation,” says Steve Rusing, president of the American Home Furnishings Hall of Fame Foundation Board of Directors “These five leaders have positively impacted the industry in a multitude of ways and, through their achievements, provide exceptional role models for future leaders building their careers in the dynamic world of home furnishings.”

A seven-member selection committee, composed of representatives from diverse segments of the industry, chose this year’s inductees based on their contributions to the growth and development of the home furnishings industry in the U.S. The committee uses a points-based evaluation system grounded on four foundations: enduring excellence, superior accomplishments, innovation and creativity, and philanthropic generosity. 

“Our independent selection committee, which maintains the highest standards, thoughtfully and thoroughly researches candidates from across the home furnishings industry to determine the annual honorees,” Rusing says. “All five of this year’s inductees have had a significant, far-reaching impact on our industry. They epitomize the innovation, enduring excellence and other elements of success required to achieve our industry’s highest honor.” 

The five new inductees are: 

Joseph P. Cory Sr., late chairman of Cory 1st Choice Home Delivery, led the transportation, distribution and in-home delivery specialist from 1977 to 2013. An early adopter of technology and new ways of operating, Cory was one of the first transportation providers to offer white glove service for home deliveries, including “deluxing” to assemble and repair furniture. He embraced warehouse barcoding and real-time delivery processes to provide more visibility to customers on shipment status. Building on a deep commitment to delivering the highest levels of customer service, Cory expanded the business from its Northeast base to the South and across the West by focusing on service. He would say, “We are in a people business, not a trucking business.”

Thomas Day, a leading Southern designer and producer of distinctive, handcrafted, 19th-century mahogany and rosewood furniture, was born a free Black man before the Civil War. Day navigated the change from the age of a rural individual cabinetmaker to standardized parts and manufacturing processes. A savvy entrepreneur, in 1827 he purchased a warehouse in Milton, NC, for his growing business, promoted his case goods and upholstery in storefront windows, advertised outside his community, installed steam power to mechanize production and purchased hardwood forests to supply his own lumber. These innovations enabled him to warehouse furniture and produce custom architectural elements for commercial and residential use. Today, Thomas Day furnishings can be found in private collections and museums across the country.

Steven F. Elton, chief brand curator of Brown Jordan, transformed the outdoor furniture category with his keen eye for textiles and contemporary design.  After joining Brown Jordan in 1990, Elton played a key role in expanding its reputation as a producer of luxury outdoor furnishings, building on a cornerstones of heirloom quality and design innovation. He directed the introduction of a steady stream of fashion-forward designs, forging collaborations with leading industry designers and high-end fabric sources. A passionate brand ambassador for Brown Jordan, Elton elevated the entire casual industry through his creative use of photography, catalogs and showroom display. He also led high-profile design projects at The White House, Smithsonian Gardens and Winterthur.

Bob McCreary, founder of McCreary Modern, started the company in 1986 with the concept of perfecting an innovative business model: the domestic production of exclusive, private-label upholstery that often is co-designed with the retail customer. Competitively priced, the employee- and family-owned business does not employ a sales team nor does it incur the marketing costs associated with promoting its own brand.  Now with 1,000 employees at six production facilities in North Carolina, McCreary Modern is known for its passion for quality and attention to detail.  Frames are built in-house, with added features for stability, comfort and support. McCreary also has been instrumental in starting the Furniture Academy at Caldwell County Community College. 

Clarence H. Smith, chairman and CEO of Havertys Furniture Companies Inc., has maintained a focus on its over 120 stores located in 17 states, while establishing a vibrant e-commerce presence.  By creating a strong managerial team, the Atlanta-based retailing institution has achieved consistent results despite some turbulent times. Smith has devoted his entire career to the company founded by his great grandfather, working throughout the organization during his more than 50 years of service. Under his leadership, the regional powerhouse has developed branded merchandise, added free in-home design services in each store, and continuously updated numerous operational and IT systems to improve efficiencies and reduce costs. The publicly held company, founded in 1885, is debt-free.

The Hall of Fame is supported by the pacesetter sponsors of the 2024 Induction Celebration: Presenting Sponsor, Serta Simmons Bedding and Surya; Welcoming Sponsor, Rooms To Go; Dinner Table Sponsor, Nourison Home; Leaders Circle Event Sponsor, Lacquer Craft; Leadership Sponsor, Sleep International; Cocktail Sponsor, ANDMORE; Inductee Video Sponsor, Surya; After Party Sponsor, Tempur Sealy; Journal Sponsor, Loloi Rugs; Step and Repeat Sponsor, Ashley Furniture Industries, Inc.; Elevator Poster Sponsor, Najarian Furniture; Hall of Fame Tech Sponsor, La-Z-Boy Incorporated; At the Hall Sponsor, Markor International; Celebration Sponsors, Harounian Rugs International and Karen McNeill; Registration Sponsor, Glen Raven/Sunbrella; Paul Broyhill Future Leaders Event Sponsor, ANDMORE; Trend Spotter Seminar Sponsor, Sunpan; Platinum Sponsor, Hooker Furnishings; and Gold Sponsor, Gat Creek.

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