Recently I was elected the 74th President of IHFRA.  It will be a busy year.  Here’s the article from Furniture World magazine.

Mike Root, President of Furniture Sales of Mid-America has been elected the 74th President of the International Home Furnishings Representatives Association (IHFRA).  Mike has been active in the Association for the past four years, helping drive membership and rep benefits to make IHFRA one of the most dynamic sales rep organizations in the country. 

Mike is a third generation furniture representative with past experience in retail, rental, and wholesale.  His company, Furniture Sales of Mid-America, (www.furnituresales.biz) is a furniture wholesale and repping company servicing retailers in the Midwest and Rocky Mountain states and this year celebrates its 50th year in business. Mike says he has the good fortune of working with his father, Emmet Root, who started the company and still is quite active after 50 plus years on the road. 

Mike and his associates at Furniture Sales of Mid-America are multi-line reps.  Their top lines currently represented include Hughes Furniture, Progressive Furniture and Woodcrest Manufacturing all of which they have represented for 15 -20 years each. 

Within the past year Mike also partnered with another past President of IHFRA, Bob Bruns from Cozzia Massage Chairs to help launch a nationwide sales force for Mega Motion, a wholly owned subsidiary of Pride Mobility.  Mike indicated he never would have had this opportunity had it not been for his involvement and connections made as a member of IHFRA.

Mike writes the Rep blog for Furniture Today as well as the New Media Marketing articles for Furniture World magazine.  Mike is on the CQRID board for the Interior Design Society and is a newly elected Board member of the National Home Furnishings Association.
Mike is passionate about the incredible opportunities for our industry to make a difference in people’s lives. As President of IHFRA, he believes reps are still an integral part of the home furnishings distribution chain and continue to bring value to the industry.  The hope and challenge for his term is to grow membership of IHFRA by providing support and benefits to the sales professionals who in turn provide value to their factories and their retailer customers.

Outside of furniture Mike has two great loves.  First is his family: wife Nancy of 26 years and two adult children, Jay and Kara.  Mike’s other passion is golf for which he sports a low single digit handicap and owns with his son a business called FitnessForGolf.com.

IHFRA chose its 2012-2013 slate of officers during its annual Board of Directors meeting in High Point on March 17m 2912.  Joining Mike Root on the IHFRA Executive Committee are:  1st Vice-President Christopher DeLisa, Greater Metropolitan Furnishings Association; 2nd Vice-President, Matthew Keepers, At-Large Member; Secretary/Treasurer, Frank Lorenzo, Florida Home Furnishings Representatives Association; and Chairman of the Board, Mark Scharff, Greater Metropolitan Furnishings Association.

The IHFRA Executive Committee will be sworn in at the IHFRA Presidential Gala on Friday, April, 20, 2012 at the IHFC Ballroom on the 11th Floor Design Center.  For more information contact IHFRA at 336-889-3920 or e-mail ihfra@ihfra.org. Reservations can be made online at www.ihfra.org.

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A good friend of my parents is a gentleman by the name of Walter Scott.  He is a remarkable businessman whose net worth qualifies him to be on the Forbes list of billionaires.  He came by this fortune the old fashioned way — he earned it.  For years he was the head of Kiewit Construction, one of the world’s largest privately held, employee owned, construction companies.  Walter is also chairman of Level 3 Communications and sits on the Board of Berkshire Hathaway and Burlington Northern Railroad.

What has always impressed me about Walter Scott is what an astute, problem solver  he is.  Besides being a driving force in a number of successful businesses he also has been an incredible philanthropist in Nebraska.  Many buildings and projects honor him and his wife Sue for their donations of time and money to get the big projects going.  I respect him greatly for his willingness to give back.

Recently, Walter gave a talk to the Omaha Business Ethics Alliance that I wanted to share with you a synopsis.  In many ways, his talk about his views on integrity is why he has been so successful in business.  The rest of this article are quotes directly from the talk

“To me, high ethical standards are like air.  If the air is present, we don’t think much about breathing.  If it’s absent, you notice right away.  In the same way, we don’t often notice ethical behavior;  because it is assumed in those companies with high standards.  It is much easier to spot poor ethics which is why we usually illustrate the subject with negative stories.”

“… ethics reflect societal norms.  Integrity on the other hand is a personal quality.  It is difficult to conduct our businesses or our government institutions up to the ethical standards of the society in which we operate unless we employ people of integrity… It was my goal to hire and develop people with personal integrity;  because people of integrity will uphold and perpetuate the ethical standards of our companies and the ethical standards of society.”

Walter quotes his former boss, Peter Kiewit as saying “No matter how much native ability a man may have, no corporation dare employ him… unless he is fundamentally and entirely honest and trustworthy.  Without this, his very ability is all the more dangerous.”

“I believe there are potential problems for all firms…A big problem is that employees don’t come to us the same as they did when I started my career.  It’s probably a big surprise to these kids when they get to the world of work and find out their performance will be judged.  We can no longer assume employees come to us with the ethical toolkit of previous generations.  Society in general has lowered its standards, but society’s expectations for business are higher

So what’s the prescription for us as business leaders?  Number one on my list is the tried and true — start by hiring people of personal integrity.  Number two is never assume an ethical culture will not automatically perpetuate itself.  Any business organization is only one generation away from losing its ethical moorings…Number three is to have an open culture where it is recognized that mistakes do happen.  In the world of politics our leaders learn  — or perhaps don’t learn that its never the scandal that gets you.  It’s the cover up.  The same is true of business.  The measure of a company’s character isn’t that they can have a problem from time to time, because that will happen.  Rather it is how they respond and whether they take immediate action to resolve the issue and ensure it doesn’t happen again.”

There is so much more in his talk including examples of these points.  To get a copy of the talk please click here.

As always, feel free to leave your comments below.

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Finalist for Glazer Kennedy Marketer of the Year

December 15, 2011

I competed as a finalist for the title of Glazer Kennedy Insider’s Circle Diamond Marketer of the Year.  My friend and fellow rep Jeff Giagnocavo, actually won the contest.  This was really cool because I introduced him into this marketing organization, and he has developed his marketing so well that he won the contest. My entry was [...]

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Come See My Market Seminar on How to Grow Sales Using Social Media

October 18, 2011

Here’s the story…

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Kathy Ireland and the Root family were hanging out together

June 4, 2011

  Recently, Nancy, Jay and  I got to hear Kathy Ireland speak to a group.  She is a remarkable businesswoman who is passionate about her brand.  She launched her business in 1993 and today it is a $1.5 billion dollar company selling over 45,000 products. She told the story of starting the brand with a [...]

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Kevin Sauder’s Belief that Independent Reps ARE An Asset to a Manufacturer

January 18, 2011

Kevin Sauder’s Belief That Independent Furniture Reps Are An Asset to a Manufacturer In reading an excellent blog post on Furniture Today by Jim Green, (Reps and Breaking Ties article) I was reminded of an interview I did with Kevin Sauder, the third generation leader of Sauder Woodworking.  He leads a company that is one [...]

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The Big Goal Setting Question I Learned From A Funeral

December 28, 2010

Two months ago my father served as a pallbearer to a friend he’s known for 50 years.  Tomorrow he will repeat the process for another friend.  It’s sad to have close friends of my parents pass on.  These were people I knew since childhood, looked up to while growing up, respected for their business successes [...]

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It’s a Wonderful Life!

December 23, 2010

TV alert: this weekend It’s a Wonderful Life is on a couple of times. It’s one of my all time favorite Christmas movies.  It’s the story of a man who has big aspirations in his school years, but through fate of circumstances has to forego his dreams of conquering the world to help save the  [...]

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A Funny Thing Happened On My Way To Mass

November 16, 2010

Last weekend I found myself in a hotel on the Inner Harbor in Baltimore.  All day Saturday, there were Catholic Bishops all over the hotel from lobby to bars to exercise room.  There wasn’t anywhere in the hotel you didn’t turn without seeing them in full uniform. These weren’t just priests, but Bishops who were [...]

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What Happened to Thank You over the generations?

November 5, 2010

Last Friday my mother hit a milestone birthday. She would kill me if I told you how old she was. Let’s just say it was in the range of three quarters of a century. My wife and I organized a birthday party for family and friends. Actually my wife did all the work and I [...]

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