Casual Living Conference to honor Supplier and Retailer of the Year

Registration still open for attendees

Nicole Crews, January 5, 2012

The upcoming inaugural Casual Living Conference, to be held Feb. 22-24 at the Ritz Carlton in Sarasota, Fla., has announced the honorees of its first awards ceremony that pays tribute to those that take their company and the industry as a whole to a new level through creativity, innovation, and decisive and bold actions. Glen Raven Custom Fabrics, manufacturer of its Sunbrella brand of outdoor fabrics, will be honored as Supplier of the Year, and Leader's Casual Furniture, the Florida-based, 19-store retailer will be recognized as the Retailer of the Year.

Leader's familyLeader’s Casual Furniture’s Newton family. From left, Tami, Jerry, Linda, Tim and Ashley.

 Indi Pop by Alaxi Fabrics, SunbrellaThe Indi Pop Collection by Alaxi Fabrics features dozens of Sunbrella fabrics designed by Kate Korten. Indi Pop won the Interior Design Magazine Best of Year Award for Outdoor Textiles. Richard Frinier South Pacific Collection, SunbrellaBalinesia Rice, Samoa II Bermuda, Sailcloth Salt, Seaboard Sky, Timor Rice and Sasian Sky from the Richard Frinier South Pacific Collection for Sunbrella.

The event's agenda, titled "The Sky's the Limit," includes keynote speaker Bob Davies of High Performance Training, Inc. Davies is the author of The Sky is Not the Limit - You Are and is a former college football coach and sought-after motivational speaker. Sphere Trending founder and CEO Maxine Lauer will tackle the topics of life-stage demographics and the changing consumer. Jim Jansen of Pew Research will be on hand to break down how consumers shop online, and Gallery Furniture's own Robert Williams will discuss successful social-media strategies. Financial analyst Jerry Epperson of Mann, Armistead & Epperson will share the latest industry facts and figures, and Tiffany Vasilchik of Material ConneXion will offer an insider's view of one of the world's largest collections of advanced, innovative and sustainable materials.

An All-Star Retail Panel comprised of four of the nation's leading home furnishings retailers - Bernard Sensale of Fortunoff Backyard Stores, Doug Sanicola of Outdoor Elegance, Keith Koenig of City Furniture and Kyle Johansen of HOM Furniture - reveal their success strategies.

Industry icons Steve Lowsky of Pride Family Brands, Doug Peppler of Agio, Ashley Nolen of Leader's Casual Furniture and Petey Fleischut of Casual Marketplace, make up The Sky's the Limit: Issues and Answers Panel and will weigh in on issues challenging the industry including early buys, price hikes, quick-ships, credit, brick versus click and more.

A Category Growth Panel features Mary Fruehauf of Fruehauf's Patio & Garden Center, Ajay Gupta of Housewarmings Outdoor, Greg Martin of Kolo Collection and Bill Bacon of Bacon's Furniture - retailers who have padded their profit by mixing it up in-store with lighting, grills, seasonal, accessories, designer services and more.

The event is sponsored by Sunbrella, Agio, Merchandise Mart Properties Inc., Treasure Garden, AmericasMart, , TUUCI, Pride Family Brands, the International Casual Furnishings Association, Telescope Casual Furniture, Gensun Casual, International Market Centers, Dallas Market Center, Hanamint, Alu-Mont, Casual Cushion, Windward Design Group, Alfresco Home, Gloster, Lane Venture, Lloyd/Flanders and OW Lee. Sponsorships are still available.

To register for the Casual Living Conference, go to (ICFA member retailers enter "ICFA2012" to apply for a $45 discount). For more information, contact Casual Living Executive Editor Nicole Crews at or Publisher Norman Hamilton at

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