George alexander bernhardt
Beloved by employees and respected throughout the community and industry for his integrity, George Alexander "Alex" Bernhardt Sr. (b. 1943) has led Bernhardt Furniture Company to its position as an award-winning design leader with an impeccable reputation for the highest quality residential and contract furniture. Through his emphasis on excellent design, innovative partnering with Asian manufacturers, lean manufacturing techniques and environmental sustainability, Mr. Bernhardt's positive influence has helped shaped the furniture industry.
During the past 46 years, including 30 as CEO, Mr. Bernhardt has worked in virtually every position at Bernhardt. He has quadrupled the size of the business founded by his grandfather in 1889, making Bernhardt the largest high-end furniture company in the United States. Under his direction, Bernhardt has won nine Pinnacle awards and 32 Best of Neocon awards. The company was also among the first of American manufacturers to import parts and later fully made furniture from Asia, a strategic move that became the industry model for furniture outsourcing.
In 2000, Mr. Bernhardt received the American Furniture Manufacturers Association (AFMA) Distinguished Service Award, and in 2002, the Anti-Defamation League's Humanitarian Award. As president of the Southern Furniture Manufacturers Association in 1982, Mr. Bernhardt led a merger with the National Association of Furniture Manufacturers to create a strong national organization, the AFMA. He has served as president of the International Home Furnishings Marketing Association and in various capacities with the American Home Furnishings Alliance, Furniture Foundation Inc., FurnPac, the International Home Furnishings Center Market Advisory Board, the 3-M Furniture and Fabric Industry Center Advisory Council, the Dallas Market Center Board of Governors, and the Atlanta Home Furnishings Mart Board of Governors. Mr. Bernhardt has held board seats with Fortune 500 companies and served North Carolina on several governor's advisory boards, including the N.C. Business Council of Management and Development Inc. and the N.C. Governor's Air Transport Advisory Committee. He has been a director of Duke Energy since 1991 and was elected chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond's Charlotte branch.
Mr. Bernhardt, an Eagle Scout, is dedicated to compassionate, hands-on stewardship. He has served as an elder in the Presbyterian Church and created the Bernhardt Furniture Foundation to support the local community. Mr. Bernhardt is chairman of the N.C. chapter of The Nature Conservancy and is involved in several environmental groups. He also works diligently for education, founding a 5-star daycare center, providing scholarships for single parents, serving as a director for Communities in Schools, and serving as a trustee for several colleges and universities, including his alma mater, Davidson College. The Anne and Alex Bernhardt Foundation provides support to a free medical clinic and a center for abused children. Other service has included the North Carolina Community Foundation, Catawba Valley Community Foundation, Caldwell United Way, the Morganton/Lenoir Airport Authority, Fort Defiance Inc., Lenoir Downtown Association, Lenoir Little Theater Association, Caldwell Memorial Hospital, Caldwell 20/20, Patterson School Foundation, and Caldwell County Chamber of Commerce.