The American Furniture Hall of Fame Foundation Inc., based in High Point, North Carolina, has announced its 2014 nominees. On the list is Harry Cornell Jr., chairman emeritus of Carthage, Missouri-based mattress industry supplier Leggett & Platt, as well as five other furniture industry notables—Hershel Alpert (Alpert’s), Bernard Castro (Castro Convertibles), Donald Dreher (DMI Furniture), Jena Goldman Hall (Jena Hall Associates) and Stuart Miller Love (Klaussner Furniture). In addition to the honor of being nominated, all six will be named 2014 Industry Fellows.
Candidate selection was based on open nominations and input from the foundation’s Industry Fellows Selection Committee. Criteria included overall contribution to the “growth and development of the furniture industry in America with a focus on four standards: enduring excellence, superior accomplishments, innovation and creativity, and philanthropic generosity,” a news release stated.
In a brief biography, the foundation credits Cornell with building Leggett & Platt from a regional company into a Fortune 500 giant:
He transformed the company from five plants and $7 million in annual sales into a $4 billion company with 130 plants in 18 countries. His many milestones include the initial public offering of Leggett & Platt common stock in 1967 and the 1979 listing on the New York Stock Exchange. As a supplier that manufactured component parts, created the machinery to make them and produced the raw materials, Mr. Cornell expanded Leggett & Platt into eight industries. A past president of the American Innerspring Manufacturers’ Association, he received the Award of Exceptional Service from the National Association of Bedding Manufacturers (precursor to the International Sleep Products Association) and CEO awards from Financial World for five years and The Wall Street Transcript for three years. At the University of Missouri, his alma mater, the business school was dedicated in 2002 as Cornell Hall, where he funds the Cornell Leadership Scholarship and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Law. In 1998, he was named Citizen of the Year in Carthage, Missouri, home of Leggett & Platt.
The foundation uses a combination of membership voting and a points-based rating system to select inductees. Voting for the hall of fame begins June 30 and ends July 31. Winners will be announced and officially inducted into the American Furniture Hall of Fame at an annual banquet celebration, Oct. 19, during the fall High Point Market.
Foundation President Bill Kimbrell said, “This year’s leaders who will each be made an Industry Fellow are representative of the diversity of business models today, ranging from a traditional manufacturer and a retailer, a retailer who manufactures, a vertical supplier, and a product and marketing strategist. Each person on the slate has impacted our industry through a lifelong career of exemplary achievement, leadership, innovation and generosity. Each nominee is undoubtedly worthy of our respect and recognition.”
At the ceremonial banquet, all nominees receive a pin and plaque. Inductees earn an “Affie,” the “highest award bestowed by the American furniture industry.”