ICFA presents Apollo Awards to Summer House, Fruehauf's
Recognizes Lifetime Achievement recipient
Cinde W. Ingram -- Casual Living, 9/16/2011 11:53:44 AM
CHICAGO — The International Casual Furnishings Association celebrated its brightest stars in retailing and paid tribute to the year's Lifetime Achievement honoree Wednesday night at the 52nd annual Apollo Awards banquet and alfresco fashion show. For a second year, the event took place inside the historic Field Museum.
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.
Summer House of Tukwila, Wash., was named the multi-store category winner. President Todd Patterson recognized the four other nominated retailers as well as hundreds of other casual furniture stores as he accepted the award for the family-owned business. Being a first-time nominee brought back memories of many dedicated employees and great friendships developed at the stores over more than 30 years, Patterson said. "It's nice to stop the day-to-day and go back to think about it," he said, speaking for his Seattle-area stores and his sisters Kim Benford and Diane Patterson. "Our dad passed away a little over a year ago but he loved this event and the combined relationships that make this go."
Fruehauf's Patio & Garden Center of Boulder, Colo., was named the single store winner. Mary Fruehauf, president and owner of Fruehauf's, took the time to thank all her manufacturer suppliers and other retail friends as she accepted the award. "Many of the other retailers in the industry we now consider our very best friends," she said.
Bob Vanderminden Sr. received the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award, reserved for individuals who have made exemplary contributions to the casual furniture industry and to their individual communities.
Born in Brooklyn in 1927 and still designing products for Telescope Casual Furniture, Vanderminden was characteristically humble as he accepted the award. "I want to thank you all for what you've done for me and my company," he said. "I've always kind of stayed in the background all my life. My greatest achievement is my family."
His daughter, current Telescope CEO Kathy Juckett, described her father as "very intense, very creative and always looking for a better mousetrap." His son Bill Vanderminden, now executive vice president, has continued his father's direction with innovative designs of products, some of which were being introduced at the market. Another son, Robert Vanderminden Jr., is senior vice president, information systems. His nephew, Henry Vanderminden IV, is president.
Highlights of Bob Vanderminden's many credits include:
+ 1953 - Redesigned the director's chair with a slot system that made the seat and back fabrics removable, meaning customers could easily customize and change the colors. The popularity of the chairs exploded.
+ 1956 - Developed Telescope's aluminum business with a small budget and a few thousand square feet of manufacturing space. Bought all used equipment and created "production centers" consisting of five people. With the new "cell" production process, each five-person team could produce 1,000 chairs per shift. In the late 50s, he began designing all of the product as well as the equipment to make it.
+ 1977 - Introduced the Gardenella Sling Collection, the first collection in the industry to feature the dowelled sling in a groove design. The design is now an industry standard.
+ 1980 - During gas rationing, he designed and built a waste wood burning system to heat the entire plant. The same system is in use today.
+ 2008 - Vanderminden's designs helped the company win many awards over the years, but the 2008 Design Excellence Award for his popular Windward Sling Collection design is worth special note since the designer was not only in his 80s, but was also suffering from macular degeneration, a disease that now renders him legally blind.
Vanderminden was named to Telescope's Board of Directors in 1967 and became executive vice president of the company in 1971. He served as the CEO from 1989 until 2001, when he was named chairman of the board.
"He considered his greatest gift to the success of Telescope bringing up five kids with his work ethic, who then, hopefully, have passed that along to their children," said granddaughter Greta Cosey, who now handles public relations for the company. "He never focused on titles or turf - he just got everyone pulling in the right direction to get the job done."
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