Summer School Gets Cool

Leadership Institute article-web

April 2018—

The HFA Leadership Institute will prepare today’s managers to become tomorrow’s leaders.

Remember when summer school was embarrassing, a punishment for the slothful student who failed a class during the school year? The consequence was eight weeks of sitting in a non-air-conditioned classroom with a sweaty teacher who didn’t want to be there either.

The Home Furnishings Association is making summer school cool again.

The Home Furnishings Association Leadership Institute, four days of learning and networking alongside some of the industry’s best and brightest, will be held June 19-22 in conjunction with Louisiana State University Executive Education.

The program at LSU’s Baton Rouge campus is designed to maximize participation and collaboration among participants, says Michelle Boullion, director of LSU Executive Education. “It’s a custom program for the home furnishings industry to help managers into leadership positions or help move them into a leadership mindset,” she says.

Boullion said graduates will return to their stores with a new understanding of their leadership role, along with specific tools and techniques for building and sustaining a culture of innovation back home.

Topics of study include:

  • Understanding Business Financial and Financial Stability—Participants will cover techniques required to successfully manage, maximize and motivate their sales team.
  • Strategic Planning and Decision Making—Participants will master systematic approaches to making effective decisions and solving problems.
  • Human Resources/Employee Relations—Participants will focus on HR audits, employee handbooks, managing compensation, policies and procedures, succession planning, performance evaluation and management, and employee relations and labor law.
  • Home Furnishings Retail Management—Participants will learn how to manage a home furnishings operation from front-end to back-end operations, including warehouse, distribution and logistics, inventory management control, merchandising and product buying strategies.

Boullion said LSU Executive Education officials are recruiting executives—HFA member Tom Olinde of Olinde’s Furniture is one—from the furniture industry to help with the week. “We’ve all been to our share of education sessions within the industry, but these kinds of executive education programs come from an outside perspective,” says Olinde. “I really think whoever goes will come back to their store motivated, with a higher level of morale and confidence.”

Unlike traditional classroom settings, the HFA Leadership Institute will allow participants to network and learn from each other. “It always works really well when participants learn and share with each other how they handle some type of problem back home,” says Boullion. “You’re going to learn from some really strong executives who are teaching, but you’re also going to learn a lot from the retailer sitting right next to you in the classroom.”

The institute is yet another benefit for HFA members. HFA’s board of directors saw a need for the program and association CEO Sharron Bradley moved quickly to put together a program this year. “If you’ve been a part of our association for any length of time you know how serious we are about learning and helping our members grow their businesses,” Bradley says. “The Home Furnishings Association Leadership Institute will do both for members who participate.”

The program fee is $5,299 for HFA members, and $6,295 for non-members. The fee includes tuition, education materials, breakfasts, lunches and hotel accommodations for all four days. The first 20 HFA members to apply and be accepted will receive a $2,300 scholarship. Non-HFA members will receive a free one-year HFA membership. For more information, contact Kaprice Crawford at or call (916) 960-0346.

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.