Decades after launching his Fayetteville, New York–based furniture business in 1900, Leopold Stickley understood that maintaining a successful network of enthusiastic dealers was critical to keeping his business healthy. He decided in his later years to use the occasion of his birthday to invite Stickley dealers from across the country to come together in Fayetteville. Candles and cake were not the top priorities!
Leopold saw this as a valuable opportunity to introduce new product, share company news, and educate the dealers on the quality of Stickley furniture and how best to communicate that quality to their customers. Among his frequent presenters and keynote speakers was Manhattan dealer E.J. Audi, Stickley’s largest dealer. With his personal passion for Stickley and talent for romancing its attributes (“Having breakfast at a Stickley table is like having breakfast with a beautiful woman. It smiles at you.”), he was the perfect person to inspire his fellow dealers. He even brought his teenaged son Alfred along to absorb these important lessons.
After Alfred and Aminy Audi purchased Stickley years later, they decided to reintroduce Leopold’s tradition. They invited their dealers to the very first Dealer Weekend In the mid-1980s; this time the birthday being celebrated was their eldest daughter Carolyn’s on June 24!
With the Audis and the Stickley team serving as hosts, a typical Dealer Weekend lasts three to four days and includes a welcoming dinner, a factory tour, a tour of The Stickley Museum, and a visit to the Towne Center retail showroom. To keep the events from being all business, outings are planned to such popular destinations as Thousand Islands, Cooperstown, Geneva On The Lake, MacKenzie-Childs, and the Finger Lakes wineries.
In between social gatherings, there are numerous opportunities for dealers to interact with each other and share the best practices that have led to success in their respective businesses. Small group sessions are held to discuss advertising, digital transformation, direction for new product introductions, etc. And just as in Leopold’s day, any insights the dealers receive they can take home to inform their interactions with customers.
The weekends typically conclude with an Awards dinner, where dealers are recognized for year-to-year growth, sales achievement, advertising excellence, and more. In 2018, a special Humanitarian Award was given to Houston dealer Mack McIngvale, also known as “Mattress Mack”. Several months earlier, in the wake of Hurricane Harvey’s devastating impact on Houston, he had immediately opened his Gallery Furniture showrooms to shelter displaced residents. Mrs. Audi and Edward presented the award to Mr. McIngvale, describing his “caring, compassion, and exceptional generosity in responding to human need and to the betterment of the human condition.”
After the two most recent Dealer Weekends were held at the historic Hotel Syracuse—where the first person to register at the newly renovated hotel on its reopening was a Stickley sales representative—the COVID-19 pandemic brought a halt to the gatherings. But it’s the Audis’ hope to reinstate the event as soon as possible, with a few updates to keep it relevant to current times. Said Mrs. Audi, “We’re looking forward to bringing the Stickley dealer family back together.”
Mrs. Aminy I. Audi, CEO and Chair of the Board