First, he was named the Manufacturer’s Rep Award winner, which recognizes the top sales representative for a furniture company.
The second surprise was the appearance of his son, Hunter, who made the trip from south Louisiana to help celebrate with his father and mother, E.C.
“This is unbelievable,” Southerland said through smiles, hugs and congratulatory handshakes and pats on the back. “I’ve been blessed to work with a lot of people here. ... and it’s an honor to be recognized by your peers.”
Southerland, 72, is a rep for Catnapper, the motion furniture division of Jackson Furniture. He joined the company two years ago after a long career with Vaughan Bassett.
Tom Little, Jackson’s vice president of sales and merchandising, said Southerland is the “prototypical representative who works hard every day and is very loyal.”
Southerland met E.C. when they were on competing sales teams at department store Maison Blanche in New Orleans. They married in 1974.
Southerland said he had no immediate plans to retire, and would work “as long as the company wants me.”
As for the key to his success over the years, he said it was simple.
“In real estate, they say its location, location, location,” he said. “You have to sell yourself, it’s building relationships. The longer you stay in the industry, the more you build them.”