Kuka expands North America management team

Melisa D. Galvin

Joelle Kuhlman

Justin Smith

Justin Smith

HIGH POINT – Kuka Home is continuing a strategic restructuring of its North America executive management team with the addition of senior-level talent to support its current customer base and continue its rapid expansion.

Justin Smith has been promoted to chief sales officer of Kuka North America to lead the vice presidents who oversee sales representatives in various territories, and leather upholstery specialist Joelle Kuhlman has joined the company as vice president of sales.

Matt Harrison

Matt Harrison

Those new positions come on the heels of 30-year veteran Matt Harrison’s promotion last month from executive vice president to president of Kuka North America.

Harrison promoted Smith to his new post. In almost eight years with the company, Smith has a strong record in sales promotion and business expansion in the United States and Canada, and will continue to be a major factor in driving sales.

“Justin is extremely talented in merchandising and sales especially towards the medium to higher end customer base Kuka has been known for over the years,” Harrison said. “I believe his past experience and product knowledge will continue to contribute to our extensive growth plans of the future.”

Kuhlman joins Kuka North America from Hooker Furniture, where she was the vice president of upholstery. She has 25 years of experience in leather, merchandising and sales including positions at Manwah and Leather Services of America. At Kuka she will focus on the East Coast customer base as well as select OEM customers.

Harrison’s promotion to president came after tripling Kuka’s motion business in the past three years, according to Berton Chen, general manager of Kuka North America’s China division.

“His strong retail and manufacturer connections and extensive product knowledge make him the right person to steer us towards our future goals,” Chen said.

I’m Powell Slaughter, senior editor at Furniture/Today. I returned to the publication in January 2015 after nine years of writing about furniture retail strategies and best practices at a monthly magazine focusing on home furnishings retail operations. Prior to that, I spent 10 years with F/T covering wood furniture, the last five of those as case goods editor. Upon my return to F/T, I developed coverage of the logistical and service aspects of the furniture industry as well as following the occasional, home office and home entertainment categories. In April 2018 I took over the upholstery category, with responsibility for coverage of the fabric and leather stationary and motion upholstery, recliners and massage chair categories.

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