Manufacturer's Rep Award goes to Church

TUPELO – Norman Church went on the road to sell furniture when he was 21 and hasn’t slowed down.
The spry 67-year-old sails, drives a Harley and rides a bike when he’s not selling furniture for Standard and Sauder furniture company, something he’s done for 42 years.
On Saturday, his friends and admirers gave him a warm ovation after he won the Tupelo Furniture Market’s biannual Manufacturer’s Rep Award.
“I’m not looking to retire,” he said. “I’m not going to retire as long as I’m healthy and I’m having fun.”
Billy Hodgson, chairman of Standard, also hopes Church sticks around.
“He’s helped train reps in the field as well as management,” he said with a laugh. “I’d love to have 10 of him … furniture is his hobby.”
In fact, Church established many of his sales contacts in the Caribbean by sailing to the islands and visiting potential customers.
He also rides his Harley to visit other accounts.
That kind of self-motivation has helped Church become one of the most prolific furniture sales reps in the country. In 2005, he helped ship $25 million for Standard.
“The biggest thing to realize is that the factories are giving you a tremendous opportunity,” Church said. “How you perform determines how big that opportunity becomes.”
Church said sales reps should treat their dealers like family and “not to sell them anything you wouldn’t want to buy.”
“It’s not a job you’ll excel at if you’re selfish and self-centered,” he said.

Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal