American furniture manufacturer. La-Z-Boy is celebrating its 90th this year. Kurt Darrow, La-Z-Boy’s chief executive officer since 2003, told the Toledo Blade, “You don’t stay in business for 90 years without having great customers.”

La-Z-Boy has five US manufacturing operations, a facet that is serving it well during an era when “Buy American” is a popular trend. And it also owns six US distribution centres and 142 La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries stores. An additional 204 store locations are dealer owned.

To give the company a boost in the competitive furniture sector, La-Z-Boy said it is building a USD14 million Innovation Center that will be used to help with trends, products, and manufacturing. It will house a model shop, technology centre, test lab and three-dimensional printing lab.

“We think everything’s on the table. We think of the materials you use, the technology you use, the types of furniture, designs of furniture,” Darrow said. Currently, La-Z-Boy has 246 issued and active patents in the US and worldwide.

The CEO said he thinks the company’s founders, Edward Knabusch and Edwin Shoemaker, would be pleased and surprised at what La-Z-Boy has become. He said: “I think in terms of the company that we have stuck to our core values of comfort, quality, innovation, and community. We’re very philanthropic in the communities we’re in, we value our people, we invest in our people, and we make a quality product.

“All the things they thought were important, we’ve done. I think they would be pleased their vision has endured this long.”

Last June, the company reported a 2016 fiscal year profit of USD79.3 million compared to USD70.7 million the prior year and sales were up 7 per cent at USD1.53 billion.

This was a far cry from 2008 and 2009 when the company lost a total of USD135 million

Darrow said he has not forgotten the lessons, and mistakes over the year has led to the successes now enjoyed by La-Z-Boy. “You’ve got to get through those bumps in the road to look ahead,” he explains. “We had a mantra — the company wasn’t going to fold under our watch.”

From The Toledo Blade