Friday, June 20, 2014

Brown and Schlesinger Given Lifetime Achievement Awards

The International Casual Furnishings Association (ICFA) has named William S. Brown Sr. and Fred Schlesinger the 2014 recipients of the casual industry's prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.

Brown was a leader in the casual furniture industry for 20 years. "He was a man who reinvented our industry and brought it a level of performance and excellence that we find very difficult to emulate," says Henry Vanderminden IV, president of Telescope Casual Furniture.

After some 15 years in the steel industry, Brown shifted his attention to furniture manufacturing, working for Delwood Furniture Company and then Burris Inds., a North Carolina-based upholstery manufacturer.

In 1980 he was named president of Marathon Corporation, a privately-owned Birmingham, Ala., conglomerate that included Winston Furniture, an aluminum patio furniture manufacturer. In early 1986, Brown and a group of investors acquired Winston from Marathon, and in 1987 they acquired Lyon-Shaw, a North Carolina wrought iron furniture manufacturer. They took the company public on the American Stock Exchange shortly thereafter.

Throughout his casual industry career, Brown was active in the Summer and Casual Furniture Manufacturers Association (SCFMA) – which preceded the ICFA – and served as chairman, president and director for over 10 years. He also served as a director on the American Furniture Manufacturers Association board for six years.

He was a civic-minded executive, serving the Birmingham Rotary Club, The Country Club of Birmingham and the Independent Presbyterian Church. In the mid-70s, he was elected to the Mountain Brook City Council.
Brown was married to Jere Louise Moore Brown for 37 years and had five children. He died in 1998 after a brief illness. He was 62.

Schlesinger was one of the founding members of the SCFMA in 1959 and he served on the board of directors for 15 years. His McAurther Collection received the first Lillian B. Winchester "best of show" award. He is also said to have hired the industry's first female sales representative.

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