No kicking back for this La-Z-Boy

Filed under: One on One |

Jim Hendron left a 20-year career in software and financial services to purchase a La-Z-Boy Furniture Gallery in Colorado Springs.

When Jim Hendren decided to get into the La-Z-Boy business a few months ago, he thought it would be a sleepy little venture.

He soon realized, however, that the job offered little time to kick up his feet and relax.

Hendren and wife, Chris, own the La-Z-Boy Furniture Gallery at 7087 N. Academy Blvd. They said the recliner chair business is anything but laid back and could easily eat up 14-hour workdays.

“It’s a fast-paced, exciting environment,’ Hendren said. “We love it. My wife and I argue about who gets to go to work.”

Hendren spent 20 years in the software and financial services industries before he and Chris decided to go into business together. Now they are part of an American furniture dynasty that started in the 1920s with the first La-Z-Boy recliner-a wooden folding porch chair.

Today the company offers not only recliners but contemporary sofas and unique living room décor.

Hendren took time recently to tell CSBJ about himself and his business.

  • Organization: La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries of Colorado Springs
  • Position: Owner
  • Hometown: Kansas City
  • How long have you lived in Colorado Springs: 22 years, with an 18 year vacation in the middle. I moved here 1983 and moved to Washington, D.C., in 1986. I moved back in 2004.
  • Education: Computer science degree – University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
  • A few words about your company: La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries of Colorado Springs is part of the La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries store system, which is mostly owned by independent dealers and is the fourth largest U.S. stand-alone furniture retail store system and the second largest single-source U.S. furniture store system.
  • Recent accomplishments: I returned to Colorado Springs to be close to family after living in Washington, D.C., for 18 years. I sold my business to Thomson Financial and purchased La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries in 2005.
  • Biggest career break: Working with Fred Towers for 16 years. Fred literally created two software industries on his own-portfolio valuation software and mutual fund hypothetical illustrations. He taught me that success requires hard work and that hard work can be rewarding. Also, it’s important to have fun along the way.
  • The toughest part of your job: Figuring out how to get 18 hours of work done in 12 hours. Winning the argument with my wife about who gets to go to work. We both love working here.
  • Someone you admire: Many famous people I’ve never met. On a more personal note, my father-in-law, Neil Olson. He pulled himself from a difficult childhood situation, put himself through medical school and built a successful practice. He knows how to enjoy life as much as anyone I know.
  • About your family: Wife and partner – Chris. Two boys, Jay (14) and Neil (12)
  • Something else you’d like to accomplish: Climb some 14’ers (mountain peaks higher than 14,000 feet.)
  • How your business will change in the next decade: Industry consolidation, manufacturing efficiencies. General furniture dealers will have a difficult time unless they specialize.
    The large box discounters are driving margins down and making it really tough on the general furniture dealer. Many of the bigger manufacturers, such as La-Z-Boy, are focusing on branded distribution channels. This is good for the consumer in the long run. There will be more product selection across broader price points. Ultimately, great value products will be successful.
  • What book are you currently reading? "The Little Red Book of Selling" by Jeffrey Gitomer. Anyone in sales should read this book.
  • What is the one thing you would change about Colorado Springs? I would encourage redevelopment of interior neighborhoods. It’s a shame that the city is spreading out while many of the older neighborhoods are in decline.

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