Former Gorman’s CEO, Tom Lias, dies at 77

WINTER GARDEN, Fla. — Gorman’s Home Furnishings & Interior Design former CEO, Thomas “Tom” Walter Lias, passed away on June 15 at Winter Garden. He was 77 years old.

A longtime resident of Troy, Mich., and a more than 50-year furniture industry veteran, Lias was born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio, and a graduate of Chaney High School. He served in the U.S. Army as a drill sergeant and then attended Youngstown State and the School of Design at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.

Joining Farmington Hills, Mich.-based Gorman’s in 1983 and moving through the company ranks, Lias was named president in 1996 and CEO in 2017. Under his leadership, he was instrumental in Gorman’s move to its “100 brands” strategy, helping the furniture and design retailer expand its brands to include premier lines such as Hooker Furniture, Lexington Home Brands and Stickley.

“Tom was an amazing businessman. He had a unique ability to balance a keen focus on the bottom line with a deep appreciation for art and design,” said John Moray, Gorman’s CEO. “His ability to buy to appeal to a vast majority of customers helped Gorman’s develop its unparalleled competitive edge.

“At the same time, he created an environment where employees could thrive, empowering his team, giving them the autonomy to make decisions and run the business daily, while still providing overall strategic guidance,” Moray added. “Tom truly loved what he did, and he was exceptionally good at it. We are deeply grateful for his contributions.”

Tom was honored with Furniture Today’s Champion of the Industry Award, recognizing his career commitment to the furniture industry, his community and his servant leadership ideals. He retired from Gorman’s in June 2023.

“It has been my pleasure to know Tom Lias for more than 20 years, both professionally and personally,” said Phil Haney, president and CEO, Lexington Home Brands. “Tom is one of the finest people I have known.

Haney added, “Tom was also a mentor to me and was happy to share his insights and observations about our industry and helped me better understand the supplier/customer relationship from a collaborative point of view. I will miss Tom greatly.”

Hooker Furnishings CEO Jeremy Hoff said, “I had the great pleasure to have worked with Tom for more than 20 years, and I cannot think of anyone who represented integrity, compassion, intellect and honesty at a greater level than Tom. Over the years, our working relationship became a friendship and one that I will always cherish and hold dear in my heart.”

Prior to joining Gorman’s, Lias co-owned and served as president of La-Z-Boy stores in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. He also held numerous roles, including sales representative, general manager and vice president, for several Michigan Ethan Allen locations and served as Michigan and Ohio marketing manager for the company.

Lias is survived by his wife of 42 years, Christine; son, brother, uncle and many brothers-in-law, sisters-in-laws, nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his parents, Charles and Annette Lias.

A celebration of Lias’ life will be announced at a future date. Contributions may be made to The Arc of Oakland County or the National Fragile X Foundation  in his memory.

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