Ashley Homestores: celebrating 25 years
Last Updated on
April 26, 2020
Founded by Carlyle Weinberger in 1945 in Chicago, Ashley Furniture specialized in wooden occasional furniture made by local companies. Today, Ashley Homestore has 663 US store locations.
In 1970, Ronald G. Wanek opened a factory in Arcadia, Wisconsin, and he and Chuck Vogel began doing production work for Ashley Furniture.
In 1976, Wanek and a group of investors bought out Weinberger and took control of Ashley Furniture. The two companies maintained their separate identities, with Arcadia handling production and Ashley focusing on sales.
By 1982, the merged company’s annual sales had reached $12 million and the corporate headquarters were moved from Chicago to Arcadia.
By the mid-1980s, Ashley changed its focus from heirloom pieces to products that were designed for middle-income buyers. The company’s expanding network included wholesalers such as Montgomery Ward, Sears and Kmart, as well as smaller retailers. By 1985 sales had climbed to more than $44 million a year.
Ever-growing, Ashley acquired upholstery manufacturer Sklar-Peppler in 1994. By the late 1990s the company was operating assembly and distribution plants in Seattle, Washington; Pomona, California; New Brunswick, New Jersey; and Orlando, Florida.
In 1999, Ashley acquired Gentry Furniture, of Ripley, Mississippi and, in that same year, the company branched out into retailing, licensing Ashley Furniture HomeStores to independent dealers. In the first year, the chain grew to about 40 stores.
By 2000, Ashley Furniture Industries employed more people in Arcadia than the town’s population.
The plant in Arcadia grew from
35,000 square feet in 1970 to
1.5 million square feet in 2020.
Today Ashley Homestores has plants across the United States and operates several factories in Vietnam and China. They also have sourcing offices in India, Vietnam, Southern China, Muar and Taiwan.
Ron Wanek is currently Chairman of the Board and Todd Wanek is President and CEO.
The Ashley HomeStore chain includes both corporate and independently owned stores. There are over 800 Ashley HomeStore locations worldwide.
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