Retirement often opens up the possibility of traveling, but that doesn’t appeal to Stephen Forsey.
A lifetime in the furniture industry has already sent Forsey all over the country and around the world. It even inspired him to become a private pilot to save on travel time. Although he said he has enjoyed every step along the way, Forsey, the president of SPCI Companies and Havasu Furniture and Bedding, is looking forward to retirement where he can finally stay in Lake Havasu City full time.
“I plan on trying to improve my golf game — that is going to be a huge challenge,” Forsey said. “I also do some woodworking, but mostly I just want to relax. I have traveled so much -- living on airplanes. I was on an airplane every week for years and years and years. To think of getting on another airplane is nauseating.”
After around 60 years in the furniture industry, working nearly every job possible, Forsey said he has already started to taper away as he transfers Havasu Furniture and Bedding and SPCI Companies to his children, Mac and Hilary McLaughlin.
“I’m actually trying to play golf three times a week, so I’m kind of semi-retired and I want to wrap it up by the end of the year if I can,” Forsey said.
For Forsey, the furniture industry is a family business. His father started Forsey Furniture in Salt Lake City, Utah in the 1950s. Eventually Forsey Furniture expanded to three locations and Forsey’s uncle joined the operation.
“I worked in various positions in the beginning from sweeping the parking lot, up through delivery warehouse, and selling,” he said.
Forsey said by the end of high school he was the warehouse manager.
While at the University of Utah, Forsey said he started working as a traveling furniture salesman for his brother.
“It really was very profitable,” Forsey said. “I started making a lot of money without working that much. I was able to go to school full time. I was going to transfer from the University of Utah to the college in Boulder, (Colorado), and I was offered a position at one of the factories that I helped my brother with.”
So Forsey started working as a sales representative for several different companies as he moved around from Salt Lake City, California, Denver, Colorado, and eventually Dallas, Texas – taking a little more prestigious position with each move.
Once in Dallas, Forsey stayed for several years where he was in charge of sales throughout northern Texas and New Mexico. That caused him to take a serious look at how he was traveling.
“The territory was so large that driving it takes forever, so I learned how to fly and I started flying,” he said. “So I traveled for years flying as the pilot.”
Eventually, Forsey decided to chase his dream of producing his own line of furniture. He quit his job and opened Forsey Manufacturing, Inc. in Amarillo, Texas in 1979.
Things started off well and they were able to expand with another factory in Denver within two years. But then a recession hit, which contributed to Forsey Manufacturing’s largest customer going out of business. That, in turn, forced Forsey out of business.
But the spark for a new business was born even before Forsey Manufacturing had fully closed.
“During the process of winding down the factories, our largest customer had a liquidation company come in and run a liquidation sale,” Forsey said. “It turned out that nobody got any money for it but the attorneys. I was watching the process and I thought, ‘This shouldn’t be that way.’”
So Forsey started consulting work and eventually opened up SPCI Companies, which specializes in furniture consulting and helping to liquidate companies throughout the United States and some in Canada. After several years in business, SCPI started picking up large companies such as La-Z-Boy and Ashley Furniture as clients.
It was through Ashley Furniture that Forsey ended up in Lake Havasu City. He said Ashley Furniture sent SCPI to consult on the store, which had been struggling since an expansion into Kingman didn’t go as planned.
Originally, Forsey said he planned on closing the store and liquidating the assets. That was before he actually saw the city.
“We came down and visited the store and I thought, ‘This is really kind of a neat community, and I’m not getting any younger,’” he said. “So we wound up keeping the store open.”
Forsey initially sent an SCPI employee to Lake Havasu City to manage the store, but about nine years ago Forsey decided to move to town himself and take over the operation. He brought the headquarters of SPCI Companies with him.
Forsey said one of the secrets to Havasu Furniture and Bedding’s success has been the vast industry knowledge gained through SPCI.
“In doing business nationally, we buy nationally,” he said. “So whenever we are doing a project, we are always buying merchandise for that particular product. There are a lot of things that we see that a lot of other stores probably wouldn’t have access to, or wouldn’t know about.”
The success that Havasu Furniture and Bedding has enjoyed for a little more than a decade has also allowed Forsey to give back to the community. As an avid golfer himself, one of Forsey’s favorite places to donate is the Lake Havasu Junior Golf Club. He said they also donate money to Hospice of Havasu, Victory Chapel and Toys for Tots.
“We believe in the community, and we try to invest back into it and support it,” Forsey said. “I have never lived in a community this small, but both my wife and I love it. I still travel a little bit for the consulting business and it is so nice to get back here after being in Denver, Chicago, LA and places like that. It is really pleasant to get back here.”
If everything goes to plan, by the end of the year Forsey will never have to leave Lake Havasu City again.