Kevin O’Connor, former President and CEO of Samson Marketing/ Samson Holding, received the American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA) Distinguished Service Award during the organization’s 2019 Annual Meeting and CEO Conference in Miami, FL, last week.
The honor is conferred annually to an industry executive selected for his or her contributions to the home furnishings industry, to the AHFA and to their local community. O’Connor is the 53rd recipient of the honor, presented with the distinction “Industry Patron.”
In announcing the award, Rob Spilman, Chairman, CEO and President of Bassett Furniture Inds., described O’Connor as compassionate, innovative and a “quiet giant.” Spilman added, “He has served as an inspirational leader to hundreds around him.”
O’Connor’s first job was as a sales rep with Baumritter Corp., which later became Ethan Allen. He worked alongside two of the industry’s pioneers – Nat Ancell and Pat Norton – and developed many of his own business principles and leadership skills under their tutelage.
After leaving Ethan Allen in 1981, O’Connor held management positions at Singer Furniture, Burlington Furniture and Lea Industries before being appointed president of Hyundai Furniture in 1988. He began regular travels to Asia and, within the next decade, became president of Master Design. During this time he developed a business relationship with Samuel and Grace Kuo, and together they developed product for a start-up factory in China called LacquerCraft Manufacturing.
In 1999, O’Connor was a founding partner with the Kuos of casegoods importer Legacy Classic Furniture. Under his direction, Legacy Classic pioneered the direct consolidated container concept, which expanded direct importing from a few giant retailers in 1999 to hundreds of retailers within a few years.
O’Connor became President and CEO of Samson Marketing when it was formed in 2007 to oversee the management of Legacy Classic and Samson Holding’s other U.S. operating companies, Universal Furniture and Samson International, as well as to consolidate the “back room” services and warehousing of the operating companies.
O’Connor has served on numerous boards and industry committees, including chairing the High Point Market Authority Board from 2008 to 2012, chairing the AHFA Board of Directors in 2016, and chairing the City of Hope Spirit of Life Dinner since 2012.
He received the City of Hope Spirit of Life Award in 2007, the International Home Furnishings Representatives Pillar of the Industry award in 2009 and in 2012 was inducted into the American Furniture Industry Hall of Fame.