RC Willey’s Jeff Child a teacher and a trailblazer

SALT LAKE CITY — Countless young retailers over the years have been mentored by RC Willey’s Jeff Child, the Home Furnishings Assn.’s 2024 Trailblazer Award winner. Shaping future generations, it seems, has always been foremost in his mind.

“I love his nomination packet. He talked about his initial goal as a young man was to become a history professor,” Mark Schumacher, HFA’s CEO, told Furniture Today. “In turn, he pivots, and for the past 40 years, he’s been the standard bearer for the history of RC Willey. He’s a historian by that.”

Child, president of the Salt Lake City-based retailer, part of Top 100 Berkshire Hathaway’s furniture division, said he’s grateful for the recognition and noted that he’s always felt people in his position had a mandate to give back to coming generations of leaders.

“It’s an honor. I know a lot of the guys who’ve gotten this award before, and they’re great people. I think this industry has been very good to our family and our associates,” Child said. “I’ve done a lot with younger groups. I don’t know if I’ve helped them much, but I feel it’s an obligation to help others like others helped me when I was starting out.”

Through the years, Child has played key roles with the HFA (and its older iterations), Furniture Marketing Group and the American Home Furnishings Hall of Fame, among other organizations. Oftentimes, members of the HFA’s Next Gen Now group would visit an RC Willey store and get ideas and inspiration from Child.

“There’s nothing he isn’t involved with. When HFA came into its current iteration in 2012, he was the first president. He has always answered the call to volunteer, whether our board or other organizations,” Schumacher said. “He’s always answered the call when it comes to community involvement. He loves this industry, loves the business and gives credit to the team. To me, that is the perfect example of a trailblazer. Who wouldn’t want to follow that example?”

Child cited the examples set by his father, Sheldon Child, and uncle, Bill Child, as well as former La-Z-Boy executive Pat Norton in influencing him early in his career. More recently, he’s had plenty of support from his brother, Curtis Child (RC Willey’s chief financial officer) and brother-in-law, Scott Hymas (CEO).

“I was able to spend a lot of time with (Pat), and he was a big influence. There’s been a lot who have had different roles, some bigger than others. Those have probably had the biggest impact on my ability to do the job. I’ve got a lot of supporters in the company now. My brother and brother-in-law. They’ve been supportive as I’ve gone out to these other groups.”

So what does being a trailblazer mean to Child? “If you spend this much time doing something, you hope you’ve done something right along the way to help somebody out and made it better for someone. That’s what we’ve tried to do,” he said.

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