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Wood & Wood Products asked J.R Gfesser, CEO of Trendier Components Inc., and incoming president of the Suppliers Division of the American Furniture Manufacturers Association, to discuss the benefits of membership. Gfesser joined AFMA in 1989 and has been on the board of directors since 1993. He has been an active member of several committees and currently heads the Planning Committee and the Inter-Association Committee. In the past he has run the Public Relations, and the Resource Guide committees. He also is a member of AFMA's Furniture Political Action Committee (FurnPAC).

Who belongs to the Suppliers Division?

The more than 350 member companies of the Suppliers Division provide a highly diversified mix of products and services needed by manufacturers of home furnishings. Our members supply the materials, tools and machinery used to produce home furnishings. The Division includes manufacturers of finishing materials and furniture parts as well as accountants, lawyers, management consultants, shippers, and computer software providers. Anyone who offers a product or service to home furnishings manufacturers is eligible for membership.

What role does the Suppliers Division play in the furniture industry?

The Suppliers Division has been a vital part of the AFMA since joining the group in 1987 and has played an equally important role in the home furnishings industry. Members of the Suppliers Division occupy key roles in the AFMA. They provide technical research and information as well as support to the association concerning critical issues facing the industry.

What are the benefits of membership in the Suppliers Division?

It constitutes a long, varied list. For one, it brings together people who share the same goals and face the same issues and problems. Membership offers an opportunity to meet and exchange ideas and information. Suppliers receive a wealth of important statistical information, such as the monthly Survey of Current Business and the annual Fleet Cost Report along with business, legislative, and regulatory news of concern to the home furnishings industry. While members don't conduct business at AFMA functions, the events offer a unique opportunity for people to network in a relaxed, informal setting. The AFMA has eight other divisions and members of the Suppliers Division are encouraged to attend other divisional meetings and educational programs in addition to their own. Membership offers a forum for exchanging ideas and opinions and for finding solutions to shared concerns. We also work as a group to accomplish goals. Membership allows participation in the AFMA's Furniture Political Action Committee (FurnPAC). Suppliers Division members are listed in the AFMA's membership directory which is updated annually. The Suppliers Division also publishes a comprehensive Suppliers Division Resource Guide, included in this issue of the Wood & Wood Products. The Resource Guide, updated annually, offers a valuable tool to anyone looking for a supplier. The AFMA and Suppliers Division are represented on an active, informative Web site, Affirming the growing importance of information technology to the home furnishings industry, the AFMA created the Information Technology (IT) Division in 2000. The IT Division will develop educational and networking opportunities for IT professionals within the furniture industry, manage AFMA's Web site and other electronic initiatives. The IT Division will coordinate the development of electronic standards within the home furnishings industry while providing a voice for the industry concerning IT developments. Members receive a 20 percent discount for booth rental at the International Woodworking & Furniture Supply Fair (IWF) up to the amount of dues paid to the AFMA. AFMA members companies can now receive discounted rates on Federal Express shipping, thanks to a new program being launched this summer. Discounts are available on ground, express, international and multi-weight packages.

Please discuss why you value your membership in the Suppliers Division.

The benefits of membership for me include the many influential contacts I have made with people, that would have been very difficult if I weren't directly involved in an association like the AFMA. I have had the good fortune to build more than strong business relationships and forge many new personal relationships for which I am extremely grateful. Also, I value the opportunities presented to members to be able to affect change directly for the industry. Working together, we have accomplished many great projects. Membership arms companies with important business statistics and information as well as up-to-date information about governmental rules, regulations, and industry news and events that can be used to affect our individual businesses in very positive ways. The public relations work done by the AFMA has been extremely successful in bringing public awareness to the many positive and beneficial aspects of the home furnishings industry. I feel proud and fortunate to have been given the chance to serve our industry in such a capacity as an officer of the AFMA.

What projects is the Division working on?

The Suppliers Division continues with its Scholarship Program, open to children of regular, full-time employees of the AFMA member companies. This year we are pleased to offer six one-year scholarships of $2,000 each. We raised money for the scholarships with various events. On June 12, 170 golfers representing the AFMA supplier or manufacturing member companies participated in the annual Carolina's Golf Tournament at Tanglewood Park in Clemmons, N.C. We are pleased to recognize Wayne Wickstrom as the second recipient of our Joe Ziolkowski Award for Distinguished Service to the Suppliers Division. The "Jozi" award salutes the many years of service Wayne devoted to our ranks as well as the furniture industry. And last, but not least, we welcome Brent Burton as our new AFMA director. He obviously has big shoes to fill in following Andy Counts, but we feel very confident that he will be a dynamic liaison and will help to carry the Suppliers Division into the century.

Who is eligible for membership in the Suppliers Division?

Membership is open to suppliers to the furniture manufacturing industry if they have been incorporated in the United States and have supplied goods and services to the furniture manufacturing industry for at least two years.


Chairman of the Board: Rad Darby, Akzo Nobel Coatings Inc.

President: JR. Gfesser, Trendler Components Inc.

First Vice President: Dennis Park, Leggett & Platt, Inc.

Second Vice President: C. Morris Cornwell, CMD Systems, L.P.


David Barnes, Acme Metal Slide Don Coleman, Hickory Springs Mfg. Rich Cunningham, Hanes Converting Ray Shufelt, Top Supplies Inc. Graden W. Walter, B. Walter & Co. Inc. John Bergandine, Franklin International Jack Bell, Bell Springs Mfg. Co.


Michelle Papierniak, Menasha Corp.

Edward Massood, MGM Transport

Joel Nichols, Scott Insurance

Trela Hendrix, Supreme Foam

Michael Long, Synthetic Industries

K. Patrick Smith, Cargo Consolidation Services

Buster Mann, Hickory Spring Mfg. Co.

Terry Tysinger, Lilly Industries Inc.

Bill Richardson, Vopak USA

Clint Wright, Carpenter Co.

Cathie Huber, Adhesives Research Inc.

Ray Shufelt, Top Suppliers Inc.

Bob Lain, 3M Co.

Jeff Smith, Ferrari America, Inc.

Ken Smith, BDO Seidman, LLP


Our Mission: To improve the effectiveness of suppliers and manufacturers serving the furniture industry.

To accomplish this mission, the Suppliers Division will:

* Represent the AFMA Suppliers Division member companies in addressing industry issues, trends and problems related to the furniture industry.

* Work to increase the understanding and communication between furniture manufacturers and their suppliers.

* Sponsor activities that build and strengthen the furniture manufacturing industry in the United States through the education and sharing of ideas.

* Promote professional development of personnel in the AFMA Suppliers Division member companies.

We believe that holding joint meetings with the various divisions of AFMA will help accomplish the mission statement above. However, we feel these meetings are not a form of soliciting business or individual entertaining.


Suppliers to the furniture industry are organized under the umbrella of the American Furniture Manufacturers Association, The Suppliers Division, which represents 350-plus corporate members, has its own officers and board of directors.



Objective: To increase industry awareness of the Division and the activities of the membership and to develop ways and means to assure the members have the opportunity to participate in the activities of the Division.

Current activities: Distribute Suppliers Division member's news releases to appropriate trade journals. Develop Suppliers Resource Guide.


Objective: To promote understanding between manufacturers and suppliers with an agenda of educational programs and informal social functions.

Current activities: Prepare educational program for annual meeting. Networking reception at Hickory Suppliers Show.


Objective: To work with manufacturers to enhance awareness of regulatory issues and standards that impact the furniture industry.

Current activities: Upholstered Furniture Flammability, Furniture Tipover Standards, Metal Furniture MACT, Bunk Bed Safety


Objective: To administer the scholarship fund and develop programs to support the fund.

Current activities: Fund raising activities. Award scholarships.


Objective: To review the present activities and plan the future efforts of the division.

Current activities: Annual Supplier Award, Enhancement of division involvement in AFMA


Objective: To encourage supplier members in the mid-south area to participate in the activities of the AFMA Suppliers Division.

Current Activities: Mid-South Golf Tournament, Networking Reception at Tupelo Show



Brent Burton, director of transportation and logistics for the past 2 1/2 years, has been promoted to vice president of the Suppliers Division. Burton takes charge of a post previously held by Andy Counts, who will become AFMA's executive vice president on Jan. 1, 2002, following the retirement of Doug Brackett.

David Purvis has joined AFMA as its first director of information technology, following the formation of the trade association's Information Technology (IT) Division in 2000.

Nancy High, vice president of marketing services for the AFMA, has assumed additional responsibilities for the development of the Association's Decorative Accessories Division, as well as membership recruitment. She retains her marketing division duties.


The Suppliers Division of the AFMA has named this year's recipients in its scholarship program.

The winners are Cynthia Lange, daughter of Daniel Lange, Flexsteel Industries, Dubuque, Iowa; Crystal Bryson, daughter of Pamela Bryson, Stanley Furniture, Stanleytown, VA; Zacharias Hampton, son of Wanda Hampton, Clayton Marcus, Hickory, NC; John Royston, son of Julia Royston, La-Z-Boy, Monroe, Mich.; Willie Allen, Jr., son of Willie Allen, Sr., Orleans Furniture, Columbia, Mississippi; and Timothy Gilley, son of Martha Weaver, Watauga Wood Products, Boone, NC.


The AFMA Suppliers Division has bestowed its prestigious Joe Ziolkowski Award for Distinguished Service to the Suppliers Division to Wayne Wickstrom, formerly of Leggett & Platt. He is the second recipient of the award nicknamed the "Jozi."
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Title Annotation:American Furniture Manufacturers Association
Publication:Wood & Wood Products
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2001
Previous Article:Furniture Flexibility the Key for Many NeoCon Exhibitors.

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