After 54 years, Ken Smith says goodbye to the furniture industry

HIGH POINT – Smith Leonard founding partner Ken Smith has retired as of Dec. 31, 2023, after 54 years in the furniture industry. Readers of Furniture Today know Smith for his work in the furniture industry, in which he consulted with furniture manufacturers and distributors through his accounting firm Smith Leonard. He has also crunched numbers for and authored the monthly Furniture Insights survey and report for 30 years.

“After 54 years of dedicated service and exceptional leadership, Ken has decided to embark on a well-deserved retirement journey,” said Darlene Leonard, Smith Leonard founding partner. “He has been an extraordinary partner and friend to many during his career. He leaves behind a legacy of leadership, community engagement, and business expertise.”

During his career, Smith advised both public and privately held manufacturing, distribution and retail companies. Smith began his career with Seidman & Seidman, now referred to as BDO Seidman LLP or BDO, after graduating from High Point College (now High Point University) in 1969. He worked in BDO’s Atlanta and High Point offices, serving on the BDO board from 1995 to 1998.

After retiring from BDO in 2006, Smith and three other partners founded Smith Leonard PLLC. During his career, Smith authored the monthly publication Furniture Insights and conducted annual furniture surveys. Smith is considered an industry thought leader and is frequently quoted by national publications. His partner, Mark Laferriere, will assume leadership of the firm’s furniture practice.

“Ken was an integral part of Smith Leonard’s growth and success,” said Mark Bulmer, managing and founding partner. “Smith has chaired and served on many local boards including High Point Regional Health System, Business High Point/Chamber of Commerce, High Point Economic Development, Guilford County Economic Development Alliance and led the United Way of Greater High Point’s 2016 Campaign.”

Smith announced his retirement in the December Furniture Insights survey, which looked at furniture orders and shipments in October.

“For the record, some of you may have heard by the time you get this version of Furniture Insights, but I will be retiring from Smith Leonard, effective Dec. 31, which also means that after 30-plus years of publishing this newsletter, this will be my last episode of Furniture Insights,” he said.

“It has been a real pleasure to get to know so many of you over the years, both in person at meetings, events and markets, as well as through this correspondence,” he continued. “We, at Smith Leonard, have been very blessed to count so many of you as clients, as well as those who are not clients, also as friends.”

Laferriere also will take over Smith’s role with Furniture Insights.

“However, the team here at Smith Leonard with its countless combined years of furniture industry experience will continue to carry the torch led by Mark Laferriere, who will be taking my position as the leader of our furniture practice, handling all of our stats for this letter, as well as the annual operating statistics that we compile along with other industry data,” wrote Smith. “So, with that said, it’s been a real pleasure to be allowed to be involved in this great industry.

“Thanks again to all of you who have been so helpful to us and particularly to me. We appreciate your trust in sharing confidential information for us to share on a consolidated basis, as well as other comments, that you have allowed us to share without attribution. I hope to be able to see many of you in the next few markets, just to stay in touch. If I can ever be of any help to any of you, please feel free to reach out. In the meantime, please continue to respond and support Mark’s efforts when he reaches out.”

A retirement celebration in honor of Smith was held in December at Smith Leonard’s High Point office, where clients, colleagues, friends and alumni were on hand to celebrate and express appreciation for his career.

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