IHFRA names honorees for 2018 Industry Gala

August 2017—

The International Home Furnishings Representatives Association has announced its honorees for the 23rd annual Furniture Industry Gala set for April 16, 2018, at the Koury Convention Center, Greensboro, N.C.

Martin Ploy, president of AICO, will receive the Pillar of the Industry Award; Rachel Tronstein, President of Top 100 Gardner-White Furniture, will be presented the Retailer of the Year Award; and Mark Scharff, former IHFRA President, will receive the Distinguished Service Award.

The Pillar of the Industry Award is presented to an industry leader who has distinguished himself with creative work and effort to improve, enhance, and benefit relationships among representatives and other segments of the industry. Through their actions and deeds the recipient has shown his commitment to the home furnishings industry, their community and to mankind.

As president of AICO, one of the industry’s leading suppliers of innovative and fashion-forward home furnishings, Ploy has ultimate responsibility for all the key segments of the company’s business, including sales, marketing and strategic planning and growth.

“Martin’s broad breadth of experiences has always provided us with a unique and solid perspective as to how we should value our employees, customers and our suppliers, with an aggressive drive and critical eye on building our business for the future,” said Michael Amini, AICO founder and CEO.

Rachel Tronstein, President of Top 100 Gardner-White Furniture, will be presented the Retailer of the Year Award, the highest honor given within the retail home furnishings community.

This award recognizes individuals who have distinguished themselves through industry leadership, business achievement, and service to their community.

Tronstein is the 4th generation at Gardner-White, working alongside both of her parents. She returned to Michigan in 2012 after spending five years at the US Department of Energy developing a solar energy R&D initiative. Tronstein has an MSc from the London School of Economics and a BA from the University of Michigan.

Gardner-White Furniture is a Michigan-based family-owned and operated furniture retailer since 1912. With 105 years of successful retailing under its belt, Gardner-White has also earned a reputation for innovation. Earlier, it broke new ground by having Gardner-White departments within select Best Buy stores. It also distinguished itself, according to industry observers, for early and successful utilization of social media.

The Distinguished Service Award (DSA) will be presented to Mark Scharff. The DSA was founded in 1975 as IHFRA’s highest honor bestowed to a member of the organization.

The recipient of the DSA is a sales representative who embodies certain qualities and character, and has distinguished him or herself on behalf of IHFRA to sales representatives and the industry.

The recipient has also enhanced, by deed and action, the image of home furnishings sales representatives in the community and the industry. Scharff has had a varied career in the home furnishings industry working in retail, manufacturing, and sales.

Scharff joined Greater Metropolitan Home Furnishings Association, a Chapter of IHFRA, in 1980 and served as Chapter President in 1985. He earned his Certified Home Furnishings Representatives designation in 1988 and received the Dean of IHFRA Award in 1989.

Scharff was elected the 73rd President of the International Home Furnishings Representatives Association in 2011. He was a multi-line representative serving the New York/New Jersey area before retiring to Prescott, Arizona a few years ago. Mark is a graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University.

In addition, IHFRA will once again award two recently added categories of awards for sales representatives during the Furniture Industry Awards Gala: Rising Stars and Legacy Reps for the East Coast, West Coast and Middle USA.

Retailer, manufacturers and sales representatives will be asked to cast ballots in the upcoming months for these two categories by region. Winners are slated to be announced in mid-January.

For additional information, contact IHFRA at 336-889-3920 or email them at ihfra@ihfra.org.