The International Casual Furnishings Association (ICFA) honored top retailers, manufacturers, sales representatives and designers this week at a gala awards celebration during Casual Market Chicago.
All segments of the industry gathered at the Hilton Chicago Wednesday, Sept. 11, to recognize manufacturing and retailing excellence, spotlight top product designs and pay tribute to the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award recipients. Awards presented or recognized during the event included the following:
The Apollo Awards recognize retail excellence in the sales and marketing of outdoor furnishings. Finalists must demonstrate outstanding accomplishments and commitment to customer service. Winners in two categories, single-store and multi-store, were selected from a group of 10 finalists through an online ballot.
Paine’s Patio of Pocasset, Mass., was the winner in the single-store category. Watson’s, based in Cincinnati, Ohio, was the multi-store category winner.
Finalists in the single-store category included Outdoor Elegance, La Verne, Calif.; Patios Plus, Rancho Mirage, Calif.; Villa Terrazza, Sonoma, Calif.; and Village Green Home and Garden, Rockford, Ill.
Finalists in the multi-store category included Daylight Home, Lighting & Patio, San Luis Obispo, Calif.; Elegant Outdoor Living, Bonita Springs, Fla.; Great Gatherings, Gainesville, Va.; Today’s Patio, Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Yard Art Patio & Fireplace, Coppell, Texas.
Design Excellence Awards
The Design Excellence competition recognizes products in 11 categories for their overall design, as well as their marketability, innovation, color, construction and imaginative use of materials. Eligible designs must have been introduced in the marketplace within the previous year and must be offered by companies exhibiting at Casual Market Chicago. Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. co-sponsors the awards. The 2019 category winners included:
- Chaise Lounge: Brown Jordan Oscar Chaise by Ann Marie Vering
- Complementary Casual Products: Brown Jordan STILL Mobile Console Table + Serving Cart by Richard Frinier
- Dining Bar Chair: Janus et Cie Anatra Armchair by Patricia Urquiola
- Dining Bar Table: Kannoa Santorini Dining Table by Luis Blasini
- Fabric: Glen Raven’s Richard Frinier Collection for Sunbrella Algorithm by Richard Frinier
- Heating/Firepit: Mamagreen Ercole Firepit by Ak47 Design
- Lounge Seating with Cushion: Brown Jordan Oscar Lounge Chair by Ann Marie Vering
- Lounge Seating without Cushion: Sunset West Milano Armless Club Chair by Wes Stewart
- Rugs and Flooring: Jaipur Living Indie Collection Farra Rug by the Jaipur Living Design Team
- Outdoor Lighting: TUUCI Ocean Master MAX with Ambria Lighting and Heat by Dougan Clarke
- Shade: TUUCI Plantation Teak Parasol by Dougan Clarke
Lillian B. Winchester “Best of Show” and “Lilly” Awards
The Lillian B. Winchester “Best of Show” award, selected from among the 11 category winners listed above, went to Brown Jordan’s STILL Mobile Console Table + Serving Cart by Richard Frinier, which also received the Lilly Award in the Outdoor Accents category. Brown Jordan’s Oscar Lounge Chair by Ann Marie Vering received the “Lilly” award in the Outdoor Furniture category.
The prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award is reserved for individuals who have made exemplary contributions to the casual furniture industry and to their individual communities. The 2019 honorees were Gwen and Jack Raseman, founders of Deck-N-Den Ltd., of Kalamazoo, Mich., and Allen E. Gant Jr., chairman of Glen Raven.
Jack and Gwen founded Deck-N-Den in 1974. Five years later they took home their first Apollo Award for retail excellence. They earned another in 1981, and in 1984 they opened a new store. The couple raised four children in their family business. Each child was active in the enterprise as they grew up, although only one – Donn, now a sales representative for Tropitone and Seaside Casual – wound up with a career in the casual furniture industry. Jack and Gwen were both active in what was then the National Association of Casual Furniture Retailers. Jack served as president in 1982-83, and Gwen served as president in 1988. Among their proudest accomplishments during this time was helping to launch winter retail conferences to build professionalism among outdoor and casual furniture entrepreneurs. In 1997, Jack and Gwen retired and closed the store that supported their family for 25 years. They now live on Gull Lake in Michigan, where they enjoy their five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Many industry veterans know Allen E. Gant Jr. as the long-time CEO of Glen Raven Inc., a global provider of performance fabrics with 40 factories and over 3,000 employees in 17 countries on six continents. However, not as many are familiar with his family’s legacy in the textile industry.
The company was founded in Burlington, N.C., in 1880 by Gant’s grandfather, John Q. Gant, as an apparel business. It became Glen Raven Cotton Mills in 1902. Gant’s father, Allen E. Gant Sr., invented pantyhose in 1953 and launched Sunbrella performance fabrics in 1960.
Gant Jr. “formally” joined Glen Raven in 1971 in the industrial engineering department, although he had been doing odd jobs around the company since age 16. He served in a number of positions, adding steadily to his responsibilities until being named president and CEO in 1996. During his leadership, he transformed Glen Raven from a company focused primarily on apparel into one that created innovative performance fabrics for outdoor and indoor furnishings, the marine and shade markets, plus the automotive industry. He also guided two major restructurings of the company and led several acquisitions and mergers.
Upon his induction to the American Home Furnishings Hall of Fame in 2018, Gant Jr. said he was driven by Glen Raven’s corporate motto: “Let endless possibilities begin.”
Manufacturer of the Year
Telescope Casual was named Manufacturer of the Year – a tribute to the design and quality of their products, as well as outstanding merchandising, customer service, ethics, communications and trade relations. The 2019 finalists included Jensen Leisure, Lloyd Flanders, OW Lee and Treasure Garden.
Sales Representative of the Year
This award recognizes an outstanding sales representative within the casual furnishing industry. Candidates were selected based on leadership, professionalism, exceptional service, communication skills, knowledge and product training expertise. The 2019 winner, selected from eight finalists and determined through online voting, was Andy Hamilton, of Andy Hamilton DSA, Dallas. Other finalists included Michael Anderson, St. Paul, Minn.; John Benner, Trabuco Canyon, Calif.; Ariel Biscan, Chicago; Chris Cafasso, Savannah, Ga.; Dave Digirolamo, Dublin, Calif.; Courtney Randolph, Irvine, Calif.; and Claire Walvick, Gorham, Maine.