CHICAGO – The International Casual Furnishings Association (ICFA) honored top retailers, manufacturers, representatives and designers this week during a gala award celebration slated during the International Casual Furniture and Accessories Market here.

It was the first time for all of the industry's award winners to be recognized during one festive event, and hundreds gathered at the Field Museum in Chicago on Thursday, Sept. 20, to spotlight top product designs, recognize manufacturing and retailing excellence, honor outstanding sales representatives and pay tribute to the 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.

Individuals and companies honored during the event included:

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 from a group of 10 finalists through an online ballot.

Seasons Four, Lexington, Mass., was the single store winner.

ABSCO Fireplace & Patio, Birmingham, Ala., was the multi-store category winner.

Finalists in the single store category included Kolo Collection, Atlanta; Outdoor Elegance, La Verne, Calif.; Sunnyland Furniture, Dallas; and Village Green, Rockford, Ill. Finalists in the multi-store category were Patios Plus, Rancho Mirage, Calif.; Outside in Style, Austin, Texas; Stauffers of Kissel Hill, Lititz, Pa.; and Yard Art Patio & Fireplace, Irving, Texas.

The competition recognizes products for their overall design, as well as their marketability, innovation, color, construction and imaginative use of materials. Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. co-sponsors the awards. The categories were updated for 2013, and the winners included:

Dining or Bar Table – Gloster Furniture's Windsor extending table by Russell Pinch.

Dining or Bar Chair – Janus et Cie's Suki-O dining chair by Janice Feldman.

Chaise Lounge – Telescope Casual Furniture's Bazza Sling Contour Armless Chaise by Bill Vanderminden.

Lounge Seating with Cushion – Summer Classics' Sierra Lounge Chair.

Lounge Seating without Cushion – Gloster Furniture's Bella Arm Chair by Carsten Astheimer.

Shade Product – Ningbo Sunrise Outdoor Products' High Class Solar Lighting Cantilever Umbrella by Sunny.

Outdoor Lighting Product – Terra Furniture's Bali Solar Floor Lamp by Gary Stafford. Heating Product or Firepit – Designing Fire Inc.'s Oriflamme Fire Table.

Fabric – Outdura's Powet Grey by D2.

Complementary Casual Product – Century Furniture's cocktail table by Pride Sasser.

Outdoor Carpeting, Rug or Flooring – Trans Ocean Imports' Meadows Mauve by Liora Manne.

The Lillian B. Winchester "Best of Show" award, selected from among the 11 category winners listed above, went to the Bella Arm Chair by Carsten Astheimer for Gloster Furniture.

The prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award is reserved for individuals who have made exemplary contributions to the casual furniture industry and to their individual communities. The 2013 honoree was Ken Burrows, general manager of Pasadena Patio in Pasadena, Calif.

Burrows began his career in the outdoor furniture industry as a high school student, lacing woven furniture and grinding frames at Brown Jordan in Pasadena. He worked his way up to national sales manager in 1962 and became general sales manager for all five Brown Jordan furniture divisions in 1969.

In 1972, Burrows and Gary Stafford purchased Terra Furniture in City of Industry, Calif., where Burrows served as president in charge of sales and marketing. During his latter years at Terra, he also served as a sales representative in Southern California for Triconfort and Allibert. In 2010 he turned over his interest in Terra to Stafford, and for the last two years he has been at Pasadena Patio.

Burrows was a member of the ICFA Board of Directors from 2008 to 2009 and was also on the board of the Summer and Casual Furniture Manufacturers Association, including serving as second vice president in 2005-2006 and first vice president in 2006-2007. For the past 40 years, he has been a member of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association and was named a life director in 2000. He was elected to the Tournament's Executive Committee in 1992 and served as the 111th Tournament of Roses Parade and Rose Bowl Game president in 2000.

One manufacturer was honored in each of 10 categories for the design and quality of their products, along with their merchandising, customer service, ethics, communications and trade relations. Winners were:

Elaine Smith – Complementary Casual Products

Jensen Leisure – Wood Casual

Laneventure – Rattan/Wicker/Woven Materials

O.W. Lee – Wrought Iron/Aluminum

Pride Family Brands – Cast Metal

Telescope Casual Furniture – Resin/Fiberglass

Trans Ocean Import – Outdoor Carpeting/Rugs/Flooring

Treasure Garden – Shade Products

Tropitone – Tubular Materials Furniture

Summer Classics – Outdoor Lighting

From among the 11 category winners listed above, O.W. Lee was named "Manufacturer of the Year." Both the category winners and the Manufacturer of the Year were selected in online voting.

This award recognizes an outstanding sales representative within the casual furnishing industry. Candidates were selected based on leadership, professionalism, exceptional service, communication skills, knowledge and product training expertise. The 2013 winner, selected from four finalists and determined through online voting, was Justin Pfahl, a representative for Ancient Mosaics, Cast Classics, California Outdoor Concepts, Crimson Casual, House Warmings Outdoor, Patio Renaissance and Treasure Garden. He has been active in the casual furniture industry for 16 years, beginning in retail and moving into manufacturing and then becoming a sales representative. He currently covers Florida, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.

Finalists in this year's competition included David Digirolamo, who represents Alu-mont, O.W. Lee, Treasure Garden, Gold Crest, Hanamint and Gloster; Brett Frenchwho represents Laneventure, The Natural Lamp & Art Company and Saber Grills; and Mike Hammer, sales representative for Telescope Casual, Northcape International, Oriflamme by Designing Fire and Fornetto Pizza Ovens and Smokers

ICFA manufacturer, retailer, designer and supplier members reviewed the nominees and cast their ballots in online voting in August.

Source: American Home Furnishings Alliance

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