"We didn't know that we shouldn't build a furniture company in Winnipeg. We had no market, we had no suppliers, no resources, and sometimes that's a blessing. We had to become very self-sufficient and vertically integrated, and very, very deep into technology."
Art DeFehr started working in the family-owned business at the age of 5, sweeping the floor of the 500-sq.-ft. furniture factory. After earning his MBA from Harvard University, he officially joined the payroll in 1967. Palliser Furniture Holdings Ltd. now is a leading Canadian manufacturer, which offers a wide choice of custom options for upholstered and motion furniture. With more than 2,000 employees in Canada, Mexico and Indonesia, Palliser has earned a reputation for exceptional technical abilities and being highly self-sufficient. The company works with designers outside of its own R&D departments in search of innovative choices in both style and function. A loyal supporter of the industry, Mr. DeFehr led the initiative to harmonize duties for the sale of fabric and finished goods upholstery between the U.S. and Canada. As the developer and owner of the 360,000-sq.-ft. showroom building 220 Elm, he has worked with the Market Authority to strengthen the High Point Market.
Mr. DeFehr has received the Canadian Home Furnishings Alliance Lifetime Achievement Award, City of Hope Spirit of Life Award, International Home Furnishings Representatives Association Pillar of the Industry Award, and induction into the Canadian Manufacturers Hall of Fame. He is also a member of the Order of Manitoba and Officer of the Order of Canada.
In the 1970s, he led agricultural redevelopment in Bangladesh; served as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to Somalia; founded LCC International University, a Christian university in Lithuania; and organized a conflict resolution conference in Myanmar â€“ among countless other global projects. He serves on the Trilateral Commission to foster closer cooperation among North America, Europe and Japan; and the World Economic Forum, based in Geneva. The son of refugees, he spearheaded the Manitoba Business Council's Provincial Nominee Program for immigration. Mr. DeFehr is highly recognized as a lifelong activist in the industry and for humanitarian causes around the world.