george A. thornton, jr.
George Thornton (b.1905 d.1980) was chairman of the board of Heilig-Meyers from 1970 until his death. He was born with retail in his blood, but it soon became clear that furniture was his first love. In 1950, after a 20-year career in retail, he purchased two-thirds interest in H.I. Jaffee Furniture Company in Suffolk, VA. He had to sell the family home, car, and tools to raise the $50,000 investment.
In the next 20 years, he was relentless in his pursuit of the furniture business. He bought or opened 12 more stores and a central warehouse. Thornton then developed a corporate team, centralized management, and created a system necessary to manage a large business. The opportunity to use it came with the merger of the nine Thornton stores and the 18 Heilig-Meyers stores, having a combined volume of $11 million. This was a significant event in the furniture industry, even though it didn't appear so at the time. The company was renamed Meyers-Thornton. At that time, a "large" company was loosely defined as 50 stores and a "huge" company as 100 stores. None of the principals could have ever envisioned a company that grew in 29 years to more than 1,000 stores.
His numerous business and civic awards and activities include: serving on the Board of Directors of the Southern Retail Furniture Association; faculty member of the National Retail Furniture Associations School for Furniture Store Executives at Northwestern University; and chairman of the National Tax Committee of NRFA.