Market Leaders: Jim Sherbert, CEO, Bush Industries
August 15, 2011 | 5:13 pm CDT
Jim Sherbert, CEO, Bush Industries
Quick Glimpse 
• Education: BS, Masters, Oregon State University; also served as an associate professor 1974-1976
• Years at the company: 5
• Years in the industry: 5 years furniture industry; two decades manufacturing industry
• Word that best describes you: Assertive
• The person you have tried to emulate in business and why: I believe personal integrity is foremost, which is why I keep a bust of George Washington on my desk. He was best at facing acute adversity, while still maintaining integrity and success.

The job of directing RTA giant Bush Industries in overcoming a host of challenges following its reorganization was a perfect fit for Jim Sherbert, who became CEO five years ago.

Sherbert has more than 20 years of management expertise — all in manufacturing — that he has used with success in bringing the company around. “I have pulled from my various experiences in the manufacturing industry and incorporated sound business strategies that directly solve problems and address challenges,” he says. “I’ve also adopted a process of objectivity and brutal honesty to turn companies around. My philosophy is that a company must focus on the future and not defend the past. Like a sports team, you have to look at next week not last week.”

And Sherbert continues to keep his focus forward as he directs Bush toward continuous growth. “This industry — like a lot of industries — is teetering on the precipice of change. If you can stay focused on the successful outcome and anticipate the future, you will achieve ultimate success. Bush Industries is attempting to do just that. Over the past year, we’ve been diversifying into new markets, developing new brands and introducing new product lines,” he says.

Earlier this year, Bush re-branded its commercial division as BBF and broadened the scope of its available products. Sherbert says the company also “reenergized with new brands and product lines, new partnerships like the one with kathy ireland Worldwide and expanded distribution channels.”

In addition, strategies have been put in place to combat issues facing the RTA industry, while balancing Bush’s short-term and long-term goals. “The impact of imported goods keeps prices down. The economy also has been one of the most difficult challenges to overcome. One solution is to drive toward ‘variablizing’ cost whenever possible. We have to convey that it’s okay to pay a variable cost — even if slightly higher in the short-term. Companies have to be flexible. It’s something I call ‘fail fast.’ If it isn’t working, stop doing it — immediately. It sounds simple, but it’s a hard concept for many, because people fall in love with their own ideas and are reticent to accept or admit that their idea has failed,” he says.

“My goals for Bush Industries are to increase enterprise value through sustainability, align our core values with those of the consumer and continue to know when to ‘fail fast’ and change direction,” Sherbert adds.

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About the author
Karen Koenig | Editor

Karen M. Koenig has more than 30 years of experience in the woodworking industry, including visits to wood products manufacturing facilities throughout North America, Europe and Asia. As editor of special publications under the Woodworking Network brand, including the Red Book Best Practices resource guide and website, Karen’s responsibilities include writing, editing and coordinating of editorial content. She is also a contributor to FDMC and other Woodworking Network online and print media owned by CCI Media. She can be reached at