The HFA’s Leadership Immersion Program

Immersion Program graphic-web

July 2018—

Learn from Leaders: HFA’s Leadership Immersion Program

Designed to help members learn best practices from industry leaders like top 100 retailer Badcock Home Furniture & More. Even better news: It’s not too late to sign up!

Whenever he attends a furniture market, convention, or seminar, HFA member Brad Schweig of Sunnyland Furniture in Dallas isn’t a big fan of taking notes. The way Schweig sees it, he’d rather write down the things he can act on versus everything else he hears.

So, it speaks volumes about the Home Furnishings Association’s Leadership Immersion Program that Schweig came home from last year’s event (at Hudson’s Furniture in Sanford, Fla.) carrying a notebook crammed with dozens of ideas and strategies to help make Sunnyland leaner and more profitable in the years to come.

The Leadership Immersion Program, started by the Association in 2015, is designed to allow HFA members who are also members of the association-sponsored Next Generation Now group, to learn from some of the industry’s best and brightest retailers.

“I’ve never come home with so many notes from a peer-to-peer event,” says Schweig. “I had so many ideas I would have needed a month off just to process all of them and start implementing some of them.”

Unfortunately, Schweig’ s father and Sunnyland president David frowns on such an extended leave from work, but you get the idea. In three years, the HFA’s Leadership Immersion Program has become one of the Association’s most popular member benefits. This year’s program will be held Aug. 6-9 at Badcock Home Furniture & More in Mulberry, Fla.

Badcock Home Furniture & More is a 114-year old privately held furniture company with more than 340 locations throughout the southeast. But, it wasn’t always that big; like many family-owned furniture companies, Badcock started from humble beginnings as a general mercantile store. And, like any company that has stood the test of time, it’s learned to adapt and thrive by focusing on its customers and employees and meeting their needs.

Rob Burnette, president of the 300-plus Badcock empire, says he’s excited to be hosting the program, adding that retailers of all sizes will find the event worthwhile. “There’s going to be something for everyone,” says Burnette. “The agenda is really going to be set by the retailers who attend.”

Roughly 75 percent of all Badcock sales are on credit, which Badcock holds the paper on. Because of that, Burnette says retailers on the fence about attending the Leadership Immersion Program might be reluctant to attend. “Some people might think we’re really more of a credit house than a furniture store,” he says, “but at the end of the day, we’re still selling furniture and delivering it. We just happen to have this third arm that pertains to credit.”

Burnette says they’ll talk about how their company operates and different departments function while visiting retailers tour the Badcock training campus and flagship store, but like Immersion Programs in years past, visiting retailers will guide how the week goes. “We want to hear from them,” Burnette says. “Between dinners and our round-table discussions, we want to use what’s worked for us to help them with their stores.”

That’s exactly the formula Josh Hudson used at last year’s Immersion Program. Hudson and his staff spoke about how they run their daily operations and shared insights into their company philosophy. Participants also learned and discussed valuable leadership skills, key performance indicators, pricing and margins, salesmanship, human relations, compensation, customer service, marketing, warehouse safety and more.

Previous Leadership Immersion Programs have been held at Hudson’s Furniture, Sanford, Fla., El Dorado Furniture, Miami, American Furniture Warehouse, Englewood, Colo. and RC Willey, Salt Lake City.

HFA member Bijan Lalji, of Lalji Home in Canada, attended the Leadership Immersion Program in 2017 at American Furniture Warehouse. “One of the best parts of coming to the Leadership Immersion Experience was the networking with peers and talking openly with others about best practices,” Lalji said. “We talked at breakfast, all throughout the day and well into the night. This really helped me get out of my business and see an overview with others.”

HFA’s next Leadership Immersion Program is August 6-9 at Badcock Home Furniture & More in Mulberry, Fla. For more information or to register, contact HFA’s education director Kaprice Crawford at 800-422-3778, ext. 102 or email her at The HFA Leadership Immersion Program is sponsored by Storis.

HFA’s Leadership Immersion Program
August 6-9
At Badcock Home Furniture & More, Mulberry, Fla.
Sponsored by Storis

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Insights Magazine will be replacing RetailerNOW as the official publication of the Home Furnishings Association. With this change, you will be able to find the same great content on the HFA website. All current members/subscribers will automatically receive the new print editions. You can continue to view content on this website until January 2020.

About the Author

Robert Bell
Robert Bell is Content Editor for the Home Furnishings Association. Email or call him with any news about your store, including expansion, personnel, successful initiatives—anything of interest to HFA members. He can be reached at or 916-757-1169.