It was 1927, in Monroe Detroit when two cousins (Edwin Shoemaker and Edward Knabusch) designed their first La-Z-Boy recliner. Until this date, no one had considered designing a chair that reclined…a simple, yet effective concept.
At the time, the cousins constructed the chair entirely out of timber, with the mechanism allowing the chair to move forward, as you pushed the top part of the chair backwards. The chairs appearance represented something you would find on your deck or patio today and was designed to represent ‘nature’s way of relaxing’.
Fast forward till 1928 and this dynamic duo continued to redesign and developed an upholstered version, this time designed for use inside the home. It wasn’t until 1961 however, that the real turning point occurred for the La-Z-Boy brand, with the invention of the La-Z-Boy recliner-rocker. Not only did the La-Z-Boy chair recline, but it now rocked. This small change, led to a big reward, with sales catapulting from $1million a year to over $52 million in the 10 years following. In the 1960’s, other furniture pieces including reclining sofas, sofa beds and modular sofas were introduced.
It was in 1983, that La-Z-Boy then started to stock its first range of stationary sofa’s and chairs…proving the diversity in the brand which also meant appealing to a broader market. La-Z-Boy was set to then put their mark on the world and expanded into other continents, including in New Zealand and Australia.
The magic formula
It is not just the design that allowed for the global success of La-Z-Boy, but rather a combination of branding, planning, people and innovation, joined together under the umbrella of the La-Z-Boy core values of comfort, quality and style…..For 90 years, these values have been the backbone of why La-Z-Boy and why the brand has been so successful.
This consistency is shadowed in NZ where the Morgan family have had the manufacturing and marketing rights for La-Z-Boy for nearly 4 decades with 3 generations having led the company to continued success.
‘We’re extremely proud to continue providing quality furniture to our customers across Australia and New Zealand for over 4 decades. Not only is our immediate family still involved in the day to day operation of the business, but also our ‘surrogate family’, our valued Morgan Furniture employees, many of whom have worked for my father and also grandfather! A testament to the loyalty that surrounds our company and the La-Z-Boy brand. We have enjoyed being part of the evolution of the La-Z-Boy brand across the years, and look forward to future years. Whilst innovation and designs will change, one thing won’t and that is our commitment to ensuring our customers are always at the heart of what we do.’ John Morgan – CEO, NZ and Australia (Morgan Furniture)
Whilst the designs that come from head office in the USA are often referenced in Australia, the designs are often unique to New Zealand and what Australians are searching for in a La-Z-Boy chair or sofa and the fact it has been a family-led business, means family is often the forefront of designs and the business in general.
Family and memories…
No doubt, you will remember curling up with your Mum or Dad, Grandparents and/or friends on a La-Z-Boy recliner. Not only has La-Z-Boy become iconic in terms of the design, but also what the recliner represents. For 90 years, La-Z-Boy has meant, quality time with family, conversations shared and memories created. This has not changed, despite La-Z-Boy’s design having changed over the years to mirror developments such as innovation and advancements in technology.
With functionality now that allows for powered recliners, lift recliners (allowing the user to almost stand up out of the chair) and fabrics that are resistant to water, to name a few, La-Z-Boy has plans to be around for a while, creating new memories and providing more comfort for families young and old in Australia and across the globe.
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