Ashley Furniture Industries
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Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Headquarters||Arcadia, Wisconsin, U.S.|
|Ronald G. Wanek
Todd R. Wanek
|Products||Upholstered furniture and casegoods|
Number of employees
Ashley Furniture Industries, Inc. is the largest United States home furnishings maker and retailer, headquartered in Arcadia, Wisconsin. The company is owned by father and son team Ron and Todd Wanek. Ashley Furniture manufactures and distributes home furniture products throughout the world.
Ashley Furniture Industries sells home furnishings and accessories available through two distribution channels: independent furniture dealers and more than 500 Ashley Furniture HomeStore retail furniture stores, which are independently owned and operated by licensees in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America, and Japan. It has manufacturing and distribution facilities in Wisconsin, Mississippi, California, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida, China, and Vietnam.
Carlyle Weinberger founded Ashley Furniture in Chicago in 1945 as a sales operation. Specializing in wooden occasional furniture, Ashley marketed goods made by local companies. Later the company opened a branch in Goshen, Indiana. In 1970, Ashley invested in the Wisconsin-based Arcadia Furniture, founded by Ronald G. Wanek, who had begun his career in a furniture factory owned by Eugene Vogel. When Wanek moved to Arcadia to open his own factory he took with him Eugene Vogel's son, Chuck. The two began doing production work for Ashley Furniture. Even though Arcadia started out as a small production plant for Ashley's lines in 1976, Wanek and group of investors bought out Weinberger, taking control of Ashley Furniture. At first the two companies maintained their separate identities, with Arcadia focusing on production and Ashley on sales.
By 1982, the merged company's annual sales reached $12 million and it had moved its corporate headquarters from Chicago to Arcadia. By the mid-1980s, Ashley offered a line of roughly 350 different furniture products, and had turned its design and manufacturing away from "heirloom pieces" toward products aimed at middle-income buyers. The company's growing network included wholesalers such as Levitz Furniture and mass-retailers such as Sears, Kmart, and Montgomery Ward, in addition to smaller retailers. Sales had climbed to more than $44 million by 1985.
In 1994 Ashley acquired upholstery manufacturer Sklar-Peppler, and by the late 1990s the company was operating assembly and distribution plants in Seattle, Washington; Pomona, California; New Brunswick, New Jersey; and Orlando, Florida. Gambling that motion furniture was a strong growth area, Ashley acquired Gentry Furniture, of Ripley, Mississippi in 1999. That same year the company also branched out into retailing, licensing Ashley Furniture HomeStores to independent dealers. The chain grew in its first year to approximately 40 stores.
By 2000, Ashley Furniture Industries employed more people in Arcadia than the town's population. The plant in Arcadia had grown from 35,000 square feet (3,300 m2) in 1970 to 1,500,000 square feet (140,000 m2). The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration imposed $1.7 million in fines on Ashley due to unsafe working conditions at its Arcadia plant which caused over one thousand injuries to workers.
Today the company maintains plants across the United States and also operates several factories (including its largest) in Pacific Rim countries such as China. Ron Wanek is currently Chairman of the Board and Todd Wanek is currently President and CEO.
Ashley Furniture HomeStores chain of furniture stores is composed of corporate owned stores and independently owned stores with licenses to sell Ashley Furniture products exclusively, including mattresses and accessories. As of September 2016, there are over 600 Ashley Furniture HomeStore retail furniture stores operating worldwide. Ashley Furniture HomeStore is the largest retail brand of home furniture and accessories. Ashley Furniture HomeStore CEO is Mark Dufresne.
Ron Wanek designed and built Memorial Park in Arcadia, Wisconsin, with donations from Ashley Furniture. The park is dedicated to the soldiers who have served in wars throughout the history of the United States. The walkway in the park serves as a time line, beginning at the founding of the United States and proceeding into the future. A monument is located for each war at its place in time.
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- Abrams, Rachel (2015-02-02). "OSHA Cites Ashley Furniture Over Dozens of Safety Violations". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-03-09.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-12-08. Retrieved 2009-05-27.