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ICFA presents industry awards

Celebrates top efforts in retailing, manufacturing, sales and design

CHICAGO - The International Casual Furnishings Association celebrated its brightest stars in retailing, manufacturing, sales and design this week during two gala award celebrations at the International Casual Furniture and Accessories Market.

Hundreds gathered at the impressive ballroom of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago on Wednesday, Sept. 22, to spotlight top designs, recognize manufacturing excellence and honor an outstanding sales representative.

ICFA members and their guests assembled again on Thursday, Sept. 23, for the annual Apollo Awards dinner honoring the industry's top retail stores and paying tribute to the year's Lifetime Achievement honorees.

Awards presented Sept. 22-23 included the following:

Apollo Awards
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 through an online ballot.

Outdoor Elegance, of LaVerne, Calif., was the single store winner.

Yard Art Patio & Fireplace, with four stores in and around Irving, Texas, was the multi-store category winner.

Design Excellence Awards
The competition recognizes products for their overall design, as well as their marketability, innovation, color, construction and imaginative use of materials. Merchandise Mart Properties Inc., co-sponsors the awards. Category winners included:

Cast Metal: Varenne Barstool from Veneman's Roger Thomas Collection.
Complementary Casual Products: Cushion Storage Chest by Povl Eskildsen for Gloster.
Fabric: French Twist Collection from Shuford Mills/Outdura.
Outdoor Lighting: Phatty Conversation Table Lamp by Andy Morter for Shady Lady.
Outdoor Rugs/Carpeting/Flooring: Peacock Ocean Aqua Outdoor Rug, from Sawgrass Mills/The HammockSource.
Rattan/Wicker/Woven Materials: Gigi Lounge from JANUS et Cie.
Resin/Fiberglass: Brio MPG Cushion Sectional by William Vanderminden for Telescope Casual Furniture.
Shade Products: Plantation MAX Parasol by Dougan Clarke for TUUCI.
Tubular Materials: Color Glass Dining Table from Telescope Casual Furniture.
Wood Furniture: Topaz Stackable Carver by Ciani Design for Jensen Leisure.
Wrought Iron/Wrought Aluminum: Amelie Dual Spring Rocking Loveseat by Shaun Sweeney for Woodard.

Lillian B. Winchester "Best of Show"
The Lillian B. Winchester "Best of Show" award was selected from among the 11 category winners listed above.

Topaz Stackable Carver by Ciani Design for Jensen Leisure.

Manufacturer Leadership
One manufacturer was honored in each of eight categories for the design and quality of its products, along with its merchandising, customer service, ethics, communications and trade relations. Winners were:

Tropitone - Tubular Materials Furniture
O.W. Lee Company - Wrought Iron/Aluminum
Lane Venture - Rattan/Wicker/Woven Materials
Gloster - Wood Casual
Treasure Garden - Shade Products
Shady Lady - Outdoor Lighting
Ancient Mosaic Studios - Complementary Casual Products
Gensun Casual Living - Cast Metal

Manufacturer of the Year
From among the eight category winners listed above, O.W. Lee Company was selected as top Manufacturer of the Year. Both the category winners and the Manufacturer of the Year were selected in online voting.

"We're so surprised to reeive tthis award," Terri Lee Rogers, co-president of O.W. Lee said. "As you all know, it's been a trying year this year. And we tried really hard."
Sales Representative of the Year
This new award was designed to recognize and honor 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.

Bryan Echols of Echols Enterprises Inc., was named the inaugural winner of the new ICFA Sales Representative of the Year Award for 2010, determined through online voting. Echols is a sales representative for Classic Cushions & Umbrellas, Lloyd/Flanders and Meadowcraft. After a short stint in the banking industry, he entered the casual furniture industry as a sales representative for Samsonite in 1992. In 1997 he went to work for Lloyd/Flanders in North and South Carolina, a territory he still holds. He later added Meadowcraft and Classic Cushions.

Lifetime Achievement
The prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award, reserved for individuals who have made exemplary contributions to the casual furniture industry and to their individual communities, was presented Thursday night. The two honorees for 2010 are:

Larry Shaw (1928-2009) was co-founder with William Lyon of the Lyon-Shaw wrought iron outdoor furniture company in 1969. He met Lyon at Lee L. Woodard & Sons outdoor furniture in Owosso, Mich., where Shaw went to work in 1956 as an industrial engineer. In 1959, Shaw and Lyon were both involved in opening Woodard's Carolina Forge division in Salisbury, N.C. Ten years later they left Woodard when it was purchased by the Wickes Corp. and founded Lyon-Shaw. When Lyon-Shaw was sold in 1987, Shaw returned to Woodard as vice president for product development. Three years later, he joined Garden Source in Atlanta as sales manager, then became president of Currey & Company as a outgrowth of that business. In his final professional venture, Shaw served as chief operating officer of Charleston Forge in Boone, N.C., in 1996, and held that post until his retirement in 2000.

Ron Ball is a sales representative for O.W. Lee in Tennessee, Kentucky, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Georgia and for Windham Castings in Texas and Oklahoma. His 43-year career in sales began with General Electric in 1967 when he served as a sales representative in West Tennessee for the consumer electronics division. In the mid-1970s, he began a 20-year stint with Samsonite Furniture, which was purchased by Sunbeam in 1995. Ball started as a territory salesman for Tennessee and Kentucky and left the company in the mid-1990s as vice president of sales and marketing. From Sunbeam/Samsonite, he went to work for Winston/ Lyon-Shaw and later picked up the Pompeii and Brown Jordan lines. Ball eventually became the Southeast regional sales manager for Winston/Brown Jordan. In 2005 he made the shift to O.W. Lee and then added Windham Castings.

The Casual Market continued to garner positive responses through its run, which ends today at the Merchandise Mart.

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