HICKORY – Longtime outdoor furnishings executive Gary McCray is this year’s recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the International Casual Furnishings Association. Earlier this spring, McCray retired as president of Klaussner Outdoor after launching the division for the whole-home producer in 2014.
The son of a premier nursery and landscaping company owner in Hickory, McCray grew up riding along with his father to lush installations at prominent homes in the foothills of Western North Carolina. He joined the team at work through high school and college, where he gained a lifelong interest in creating beautiful landscapes and outdoor spaces.
Equipped with a degree in furniture manufacturing and management from North Carolina State University, he quickly landed at DMI Furniture in Huntingburg, Ind. as a product engineer. The opportunity to move closer to home came a few years later as he joined Venture Furniture Company, a division of the Lane Company. In the early 1980s, he traveled to Southeast Asia to develop wicker and rattan furniture. His first collections were part of the company’s debut at the outdoor furniture market in Chicago in 1983.
As the renamed Lane Venture company honed its focus in the outdoor category through the latter part of the decade, McCray led the development of WeatherMaster. During the 1990s and early 2000s, he was involved in the merger of two indoor Lane divisions into Lane Venture which doubled the size of the company and increased the exposure of the brand. In 2008, upon the retirement of Art Thompson, McCray was named president of Lane Venture.
Innovative product development was the hallmark of McCray’s establishment of Klaussner Outdoor in 2014, including cordless outdoor motion furniture, LED-lighted accent tables and RealisTEAKTM , an engineered polymer material that has the look and feel of natural teak without the necessary routine maintenance.
Amid ongoing concerns around COVID-19, the presentation and celebration of ICFA’s 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award has not been determined.
The International Casual Furnishings Association, based in High Point, represents manufacturers, retailers, sales representatives and designers of outdoor furnishings plus suppliers to the industry. McCray is a former chairman of the organization.
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