Local Business Leader Inducted into National Furniture Hall of Fame

HIGH POINT, N.C. — Four industry leaders were inducted into the American Home Furnishings Hall of Fame on Oct. 20 during the High Point Market. Joining the current 116 members of the Hall of Fame are Jake Jabs, president and CEO of American Furniture Warehouse; Clement “Clem” M. Lange, co-founder and chairman of Best Chairs, Inc./Best Home Furnishings; Paul Maitland-Smith, founder of Maitland-Smith Ltd. and Theodore Alexander; and Jim McIngvale, founder and owner of Gallery Furniture. 

“This year’s inductees represent the best of the best in our industry as a result of the work done by a dedicated Selection Committee, which is committed to thoughtfully and thoroughly researching candidates from across the industry,” says David Gebhart, president of the Foundation board of directors. “The inductees’ contributions are impressive and each has put their own mark on the industry and is worthy of receiving the industry’s most prestigious honor.” A seven-member selection committee, composed of Hall of Fame Foundation board members and representatives from diverse segments of the industry, chooses inductees based on their contributions to the growth and development of the home furnishings industry in America. 

The committee uses a points-based evaluation system grounded on four foundations: enduring excellence, superior accomplishments, innovation and creativity, and philanthropic generosity. Ken Fulp, CPA, with the Foundation’s accounting firm Sharrard McGee & Co., verified the results. “Induction into the Hall of Fame is the home furnishings industry’s highest honor,” Gebhart says. “Our new honorees represent innovative approaches to retail and domestic manufacturing as well as high-end design and global sourcing,” he says. 

 The four new inductees are: 

Clement “Clem” M. Lange, chairman of Best Chairs, Inc./Best Home Furnishings, built the domestic upholstery manufacturing company on the principal to create the best quality product at the most affordable price and to do it more efficiently than the competition. With more than 2,400 styles and options in more than 800 fabrics and leathers, orders are produced in five working days. A technology leader, Mr. Lange computerized manufacturing operations in the 1970s. In the 1990s, a new high-tech computer system and the launch of Best Chair Transit further shorten deliveries of its swivel rockers and gliders; stationary and motion sofas, loveseats and chairs; upholstered benches and occasional tables. 

Jake Jabs, CEO of American Furniture Warehouse, is an entrepreneur who pioneered the big box home furnishings store. A top 20 retailer and one of the largest privately held companies in Colorado, he believes in competitive pricing and created his own coast-to-coast trucking fleet. A former Air Force officer, he focuses on hiring veterans, offers widespread incentive pay to employees, and spends a full day with each new hire to instill his passion for honesty, providing value and fully informing each customer with detailed product information. He has a penchant for playing guitar for store customers and appearing with a white tiger in television commercials. 

Paul Maitland-Smith, founder of Maitland-Smith Ltd. and Theodore Alexander, is a master of creating high-end designs for case goods, upholstery and decorative accents. A trailblazer in establishing plants in the Philippines, Hong Kong, India and Vietnam, Mr. Maitland-Smith is a rare combination of designer, manufacturer and entrepreneur who has worked side by side with artisans to produce fine carvings, detailed hand painting, metalwork and sophisticated finishes. As a prolific designer, he would routinely introduce hundreds of products at a market in an eclectic array of antique reproductions and original modern classical designs on a scale that was unmatched in the upper end. 

Jim McIngvale, founder of Houston-area retailer Gallery Furniture, is known for delighting customers with a fun-filled shopping experience that includes a monkey habitat, a tropical bird aviary and a 30,000-gallon aquarium. “Mattress Mack” introduced same-day deliveries to his customers, building his business based on quality home furnishings, great value and exceptional customer service. As a result, he has a reputation for selling more furniture per square foot at his three stores than other independent retailers. Mr. McIngvale views challenges as opportunities and has created loyal customers through his ongoing support of the community, which in turn has globally raised the profile of the entire industry. 

The American Home Furnishings Hall of Fame Foundation, Inc., is an industry-wide organization founded to preserve its history, to celebrate exceptional individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to the U.S. home furnishings industry, and to inspire a new class of innovation and leadership.