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Casual industry names Lifetime Achievement honorees

Marie Schirmer, James F. Baker to be recognized during Apollo Awards banquet

Marie Schirmer and the late James F. Baker will be honored with 2004 Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Casual Furniture Retailers and the Summer & Casual Furniture Manufacturers associations.

CFR and SCFMA developed the award to recognize individuals who have made exemplary contributions to the casual furniture industry and to their communities.

Schirmer is a 33-year veteran of the casual furniture industry, having founded Schirmer's Patio, Pool & Spa with her husband, Ed, in 1971 in Falls Church, Va. They eventually expanded the business to include three stores, a warehouse and a clearance center.

Schirmer served on the board of CFR from 1994 to 2000, including a term as president in 1996. In 1985 their store received an Apollo Award, which recognizes retail excellence in the summer and casual furniture industry. Although they sold the business in 1997, Schirmer and her husband continue lending their expertise as consultants.

Baker, who died in 2003, was chairman and chief executive officer of Tropitone from 1977 to 1991. He was a third generation furniture maker who pioneered many design and manufacturing innovations during his career.

He is credited with building both Tropitone's name and elevating the awareness of fine casual furniture among consumers through national advertising campaigns that ran for nearly 25 years. Baker also led the expansion of the company from Florida to California in 1970. Today, approximately half of Tropitone's revenues are generated from its manufacturing facility in Irvine, Calif.

Baker's grandfather was a Norwegian cabinetmaker who immigrated to America. His father, Bert M. Baker Sr., founded Tropitone Furniture in 1954 after retiring from the Grand Rapids Chair Company.

Baker joined his father's company in the mid-1960s as vice president of sales and marketing before serving as CEO. In the early 1990s, he passed the torch to his son, Doug, who continues as a fourth generation furniture maker.

Doug Baker and Tropitone's current CEO, Michael Echolds, will accept the award on Baker's behalf.

"While his leadership was often quiet and behind-the-scenes, his love of contemporary design — as well as his marketing saavy and commitment to creating unsurpassed value for customers — made an indelible mark on the company and the industry," Echolds said.

The awards will be presented at the 45th Annual Apollo Awards Banquet on Sept. 20 during the International Casual Furniture and Accessories Market in Chicago.

The SCFMA and Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. are co-sponsors of the event.

Marie Schirmer

James F. Baker

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