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Industry meets in Orlando 2006 CFR Industry Symposium

Greg Martin, Staff Staff -- Casual Living, April 14, 2006

 Greg Martin, Owner, Kolo Collection, Atlanta
 Greg Martin, Owner, Kolo Collection, Atlanta

More than 80 retailers, manufacturers and manufacturer representatives convened in Orlando on Feb. 17. Through roundtable discussions, industry speakers, social gatherings and discussions in the hallways and over dinner, those fortunate enough to attend openly shared ideas and learned from each other.

Unlike years past, this symposium did not hire speakers but rather tapped the talented people who are examples of what makes the casual furniture industry so great. Speakers were retailers, manufacturers and manufacturer representatives. Topics included industry trends; big box activity; creating an alliance between manufacturers, sales representatives and retailers; sales training; challenges of the specialty retailer and being a leader through innovation.

Not only were new fabric trends discussed, but speakers elaborated on how trends were spotted as well as the transformation of a new fabric design idea to the actual fabric. Bottom line — there is an explosion of beautiful fabrics that will enhance your customers' outdoor experience.

On opening day, participants enjoyed meeting old and new friends with cocktails poolside prior to the highlight of the first day's events: announcement of Manufacturer of the Year. Our congratulations go to the winners, furniture manufacturer Meadowcraft and umbrella manufacturer Treasure Garden.

Participants also had a chance to get to know each other better during an afternoon golf tournament that was won by Justin Pfahl, Miles Fenn, Don Thomas of BJI and David Howell of Naples Patio. The symposium's social events were capped off with a poolside Hawaiian Luau complete with pig roast and a great band.

There was overwhelming consensus that the Symposium was one of the best. Our thanks from CFR goes out to those who attended and especially all of the companies and individuals that sponsored the event. The overall feeling from manufacturers, retailers and manufacturer representatives was "how can we be in this business and not at this symposium?"

As with any organization, change is a constant. What we do know regarding change in the near future is that CFR is committed to a totally revised and rejuvenated Web site to serve the industry as well as the consumer (i.e. our customers). Look for a very visual site that will excite consumers and help them find information about products in our industry as well as lead them to manufacturers and retailers.

The CFR also looks forward to a stronger partnership with the SCFMA. We are looking forward to the two organizations co-sponsoring an event at this year's International Casual Furniture and Accessory Market in Chicago. It is too early to announce what it is, but look for further information as we get closer to the show.

For more information regarding CFR, please see our existing (soon to be improved) Web site: www.casualfurniture.org.

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