Jerry Baer, president and CEO of Baer’s Furniture, grew up in Indiana, and his move to South Florida symbolizes everything about the evolution of his company. The company was founded by Baer’s grandparents in South Bend in 1945; in 1968, Baer’s launched its first store in Florida. Soon enough, the entire family began migrating to the Sunshine State. One by one, as the Indiana stores closed, the Florida showrooms debuted. The move—and the endeavor—has proven wildly successful. Baer says that “70 of our competitors are gone”—but Baer’s is still here and thriving. Today, the company has 17 Florida locations, with its largest showrooms in the tricounty area in Boca Raton and Pembroke Pines. It remains a family business, with a fourth generation of Baers getting into the act. Unexpectedly, the condition of the home furnishings industry has become newsworthy since the emergence of COVID-19. But the stresses of the shelter sector—which has been plagued by delayed shipments—has proven to be more hiccup than crisis for Baer’s. “We’re in better shape than most, with the largest inventory in our history,” Baer says. “From what we’ve been told by our clients, we’ve been better able to get delivery when we want it.” He says that it’s challenging when production is shut down in countries the company depends upon, but “because we forecast so far out, because our vendor partners are strong—many of them are very strong—they are able to help us, given our reputation for paying our bills and taking care of our customers.” He says that early on in the pandemic, clients tended to be less patient than they are today, but they’ve adjusted to industrywide slowdowns. “And though we’re being hit with so many price increases,” Baer says, “we’re still honoring every deal we’ve made with every client. That’s the only way we do business.” Baer’s marquee partners include the tropical-inspired Tommy Bahama, as well as Natuzzi Editions, Huntington House, Bernhardt, Lexington and Beautyrest. Baer notes that his company is the largest Natuzzi Editions dealer in the Americas (the brand, known for the quality of its leather upholstery, is based in Italy), and it’s the largest Tommy Bahama and Lexington dealer in the world. (Baer’s has been Tommy Bahama’s partner “since it started in the furniture business,” Baer says.) “Because of our buying power and our history with these companies—we believe in long-term partnerships—we tend to be in better position. We don’t tend to bounce around from company to company.”

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