High Point Market Spring 2021

The first High Point furniture market since October of 2019 was a great success both visually and psychologically! It was like a huge family reunion as we moved across showrooms for four days. There were lots of hugs, handshakes, storytelling and an overwhelming sense of optimism and gratitude.

Left to right: Alex Shuford III CEO Rockhouse Farms – parent company of Century, Hickory Chair, Hancock & Moore, Jessica Charles, Highland House & Cabot Wrenn, Kevin Kenney, and Guy Holbrook, VP Sales Century Furniture.
Left to right: Kevin Bowman, President of Hickory Chair, Kevin Kenney, Fred Hutton, VP Sales Hickory Chair.
Kevin Kenney, and Russell Towner, President of Lee Industries.
Del Starnes, President of Taylor King, and Kevin Kenney.

Here are some things I learned at High Point:

All that glitters is not gold! 

Although everyone is grateful for the record-breaking business, many manufacturers are taking huge hits to their profit margins. Millions of dollars of orders that were taken between 2019 and early 2021 were entered with prices based on parts and labor of 2020. Components, foam, fabrics and labor costs have increased by 25% or more creating a financial deficit for manufacturers. I expect some smaller manufacturers will be hit hard.

There are a lot of moving parts to build custom luxury home furnishings!

From innovative design concepts to wood, metal, springs, motion mechanisms, hardware, nails, staples, screws, paints, stains, bleaches, assembly, sewing, curing, baking, boxing and shipping…WHEW! The supply chain is improving slowly but surely. We must continue to creatively tell our stories to end-users so they understand the value of luxury home furnishings, versus the online imported product that photographically looks great!

If you give too many, too much, for too long there is a detrimental effect. 

The labor situation is dire, with so many people collecting federal unemployment through the CARES Act, there is no incentive to go back to work. This must be corrected soon or many industries will be in trouble. We must get our country’s labor situation figured out and decrease our dependence on countries like China!

Gloom and doom for 18 months has stimulated vibrant colors into home fashions. 

Wait until you see what we have coming to our showrooms!

We want to chill! Casual and comfort are the name of the game. 

Laidback design is no longer limited to the lower level or a recreation area. Casual looks incorporating fine woods, rattans, weaves, metals and mixed mediums will reflect the relaxed lounge looks so common in apparel fashion today.

Spinning, rocking and reclining! 

I guess spending more time sitting on furniture, combined with aging baby boomers like me, has made us want to keep moving even when sitting until we (I) hit the full recline position. 😊 Think swivel, tilt, rock, and motorized recline that stops in any position. Available on even a large-scale chair and a halfs! LOVE IT!

“You can’t sell milk from an empty wagon!” 

One of my favorite anecdotes having grown up in Iowa. We ordered more furniture, accessories and lighting than any four markets combined! We will have a steady flow of exciting product hitting our showroom floors in the coming months, just in time for the holidays!

And finally……..”Leaders are visionaries with a poorly developed sense of fear and no concept of the odds against them.” – Robert Jarvik. 

KDR is so fortunate to have partnerships with the leading home furnishings manufacturers led by some incredibly bright, dedicated, and risk-taking executives. I had the opportunity to have great conversation with many of these executives who I am privileged to call friends. What they have navigated over the last 14 months and continue to tackle has not deterred them one bit. There was no self-pity, just a sense of resiliency and determination to innovate and lead the thousands of people they employ that make them the great companies they are. These remarkable leaders put their employees’ and their families’ safety first throughout this pandemic, not knowing the impact and outcome of their businesses. I truly admire all of the fine executives we do business with, and all of us at KDR say THANK YOU for your leadership!

Please keep scrolling to view my travels to High Point with three lovely women in my life!

Thank you for your continued confidence in KDR and let me say, it’s so great seeing your smiling faces again!

Kevin Kenney

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Celebrating 30 Years

This week I received a reminder from our payroll service, “June 1, Kevin Kenney has reached 30 years.”

KDR Showrooms, Kevin Kenney giving presentation in 1993.
KDR President/CEO, Kevin Kenney in 1991.

I remember vividly — June 1, 1991, having moved to St. Louis a few weeks earlier, opening KDR in 1,700 square feet of space, only 2 miles away from our present location. The warehouse was full of Kirsch drapery hardware, having only one employee, Mike Huelsing, who had been the Kirsch warehouse manager in St. Louis, and a few desks, I was scared to death of what I had got myself into.

KDR Showrooms Retirees Susan Carter, Mike Huelsing and Kevin Kenney. St Louis Showroom 2012
From left to right: Kevin Kenney, Mike Huelsing and Susan Carter. Huelsing recognized for 20+ years of work at KDR during 2012 retirement, St. Louis showroom.

A lot has happened both personally and professionally over the last 30 years, including a pandemic, but I can’t help thinking I am truly one of the luckiest guys alive.

First KDR Employees: Susan Carter, Mike Huelsing, Norm, Vicki /
KDR’s first employees: Susan Carter, Mike Huelsing, Norm Flaherty and Vicki Tallman.

I have been so fortunate to surround myself with great employees who — are like family to me. Having had five of these employees each retire with more than 20 years with the company.

I have been so lucky to have all of you, as amazing design professionals accept me as a non-designer and as a trusted partner in bringing your projects to life. So many of you, I can call friends.

The KDR team and I have worked so hard to earn respect and admiration from the industry’s leading vendors. Their partnership and my relationships with them are invaluable.

Last but not least, I have the best wife, children, and grandson who truly make me complete and are the center of everything I do.

It’s crazy to know we are doing business with people now who weren’t even born when we started!

My most sincere THANK YOU to each-and-every one of you for making KDR what we are today.

Here are a few of my favorite pictures to commemorate some of the events in years gone by.

We will also be celebrating our 20th anniversary in Kansas City in September.

The best is yet to come!

Very truly yours,
Kevin Kenney

Brenda Goudey, CFO/VP of Finance.
Kevin Kenney and Aaron Walbrandt
Kevin Kenney and Key Hall, CEO, Cowtan & Tout.
Kevin Kenney and Jack Lenor Larsen
Kevin Kenney and Fred Hutton, Vice President of Sales, Hickory Chair Furniture
Frederic Henry, CEO of The Romo Group, North America
Todd Huckabone and Angie Folcik of Phillip Jeffries, Kevin Kenney and Kurt Knapstein.
KDR Designer Showrooms team at 25 year anniversary.
Kevin Kenney with Jeffrey Bershad and Phillip Bershad of Phillip Jeffries.
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Furniture | Video
Resources and Insights into Post-Pandemic Lead Times & Delays for Home Furniture Industry

The pandemic has significantly impacted the home industry and as a result, consumers are facing extended lead times for their orders. In addition to long lead times, home manufacturing has endured a number of other challenges including disruptions in the supply chain, high demand, raw material shortages, and price increases. To better understand these challenges, we’ve compiled a guide of credible sources and information on the industry’s news and communications. These resources can help you and your clients understand important key points and the impact they may have on your furniture orders.

As the home furniture industry continues to grapple with long lead times; currently ranging between 14 to 24 weeks, we are not seeing much improvement in reducing those lead times yet. We will continue to update this post with the latest news and articles.

All of us at KDR are grateful for your business and will do everything we can to keep you and your clients informed.

For more information and important updates from our showrooms and manufacturing partners, please visit our announcements page:

Home Industry National Headlines

The Wall Street Journal

A Furniture Maker’s Five-Month Struggle With Covid. ‘You Can’t Really Have a Plan.’

September 3, 2020

Since 73-year-old Century Furniture reopened, it has had to manage frightened workers, volatile orders and new coronavirus outbreaks in its plants and markets.

Fox Business

Strained supply chains creating backlog in furniture industry

April 15, 2021

‘It’s a very unique experience to have this level of demand and not be able to keep up with it.’ – Kevin Bowman, President, Hickory Chair

“For Hickory Chair Furniture Co. in North Carolina, not only has the cost of its materials – such as the metal and wood it uses – increased, but there is also a shortage of foam due to the winter storms last February. 

Additionally, the factory has a limited number of workers to make the furniture due to coronavirus restrictions.”

Business of Home

As home business booms, industry struggles to meet demand

February 11, 2021

“As the home furnishings industry continues to ride out one of its strongest business cycles in recent memory, it is being hampered by product shortages exacerbated by a logistical perfect storm. It comes down to this: too much demand, too little supply.”

Straight from Factory Floor. Updates from Furniture Manufacturers.

Rock House Farm Brands

Late Winter Storm Further Impacts Delayed Furniture Production: Foam Shortages

March 22, 2021

An important update published on KDR’s announcement on March 22, 2021, discloses a letter from Alex Shuford III, CEO of Rock House Farm Brands: Century, Hancock & Moore, Hickory Chair, Highland House, and Maitland Smith. In the letter, Alex Shuford III details the key factors attributing to the shortage of flexible foam.

Lee Industries

From North Carolina: Furniture Makers’ at Lee Industries make video to share their message.

May 2021

In this update, hear the messages from Lee Industries. Our furniture partners are doing everything they can to produce your orders as fast as possible. Watch the video to hear from President, Russell Towner and Lee Industries’ skilled craftspeople who are working hard, every day on your behalf.

A message from Lee Industries, President, Russell Towner. Watch video message.
March 3, 2021

In a letter to partners, Lee Industries’ President, Russell Towner, details the challenges and high demand furniture manufacturers are facing. A link to The Wall Street Journal article is enclosed in the letter.

American Leather

Video featuring Bruce Birnbach, CEO of American Leather discussing challenges faced by the industry including price increases, material supply shortages, long lead times, and disruption in the supply chain.

Watch video of American Leather’s CEO discussing industry delays and price increases.

Furniture | Video
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How One Small Act of Kindness Saved A Life

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

– Aesop

In this post, we share a remarkable account illustrating the powerful impact one small act of kindness made in another’s life.

This story comes from KDR Kansas City showroom manager, Kelly Specht. She and her husband started a foundation in 2018 called Carl’s Cause, to promote mental health awareness after the heartbreaking loss of their son Carl.

Carls Cause Annual Golf Tournament

As told by Kelly Specht:

This amazing story happened after our annual golf tournament in September 2020. At the tournament ‘green rocks’ were handed out with positive sayings on the top and #CarlsCause on the bottom. We encourage people to leave the green rocks out on trails, beaches or anywhere it might be found and make an impact. 

A family friend came in to play from Minnesota, and upon returning home, she left her rock on a golf course there. On October 13, the day of Carl’s birthday, I received an email from a 42-year-old woman from North Dakota, titled, “You Saved My Life”…. a portion of her email is below.

You Saved My Life

I just wanted to reach out to you and extend a great big thank you! I came across this rock at Madden’s Resort in Brainerd, Minnesota. I was taking my final weekend getaway with my best friend and had my suicide planned for Sunday night when we got back from our trip. 

Small Act of Kindness Green Rocks Carls Cause

Upon finding your rock, I pulled up your website and read Carl’s story, my heart got heavy and the tears flowed. I couldn’t ignore the obvious signs being sent to me and I couldn’t help but think there may have been some divine intervention. 

I told [my friend] what my plan was and said I needed help and I want to seek it out for the first time in my life. After a long tearful talk, I was admitted for psych treatment for the first time ever after battling severe clinical depression and generalized anxiety for 25 years.

I was discharged from the hospital and I referenced your rock numerous times throughout my stay. I could feel your heartache in telling Carl’s story and only then did I realize I would be eliminating my own heartache and leaving a hole in those who love me. 

I want to tell you thank you for helping eliminate the stigma of mental illness. I want to tell you thank you for allowing your heartache and loss save my family from the same fate. 

I truly feel like I was chosen by Carl to let you know he is still doing amazing things and is able to with peace of mind and without struggle. Maybe he picked me because I was spending my last days alive golfing while having a heavy heart.

I love your Carl although I never met him, because of his story I feel like I knew him, and I most definitely understand him.

I know I have a long road ahead of me and there will be two steps forward and three steps back, but none the less, your rock put my journey back on the long road instead of it ending at the fork in the road.

We share this story as part of a series in our #InspireKindness Initiative, a 30-day campaign to promote random acts of kindness. We believe that acts of kindness foster compassion, joy and self-fulfillment. Join us to #inspirekindness and create a better world. Learn more about the campaign here.

Read our employee Stories of Kindness on Facebook and Instagram.

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