One is a South Florida business legend who shared lessons learned while transforming a waterbed store chain into a leading quality furniture retailer. One is a recognized automotive industry leader whose career path has taken her from receptionist to globetrotting executive.
Both Herbet A. Wertheim lecturers drew capacity crowds of 100 faculty, students, alumni, and guests who gathered to hear their compelling insights into their business success.
Retail industry success story: It all started with waterbeds in the 1970s.
ld on March 5, 2007, at the MARC Pavilion on the Modesto A. Maidique Campus, this year’s first Wertheim lecture featured Keith T. Koenig, president, City Furniture.
Today, City Furniture is South Florida’s leading furniture retailer, with 21 showrooms that include six exclusive Ashley Furniture HomeStores. Founded in 1994, the company was born from Waterbed City, the chain of waterbed stores started more than thirty years ago.
Koenig explained that this business transformation was fueled by careful focus on offering quality home furnishings at excellent values, complemented by friendly, efficient service and exciting showrooms. The results speak for themselves: the company’s revenues grew nearly 800 percent between 1994 and 2006.
“Koenig had an incredible story to tell, and we were excited to get the opportunity to hear him speak here on campus,” said Annabelle Rojas (MBA ’98, BBA ’87), director of external relations and resource development for the College of Business Administration. “He views our young, diverse student community as a perfect example of his target employees and customers. He already has hired some of our graduates and has expressed interest in continuing to build a relationship with the college.”
Stephen Flowers, president, UPS Américas Region, was one of the business community members who attended Koenig’s lecture.
“It’s always beneficial to hear from other business leaders in South Florida,” Flowers said. “It was interesting to understand the history of City Furniture and how it has evolved throughout the years.”
An inside look at the global automotive industry: What it takes to be a true player.
On March 15, 2007, in the Graham Center Ballroom on the Modesto A. Maidique Campus, Wertheim Lecture attendees were riveted by the presentation given by Maureen Kempston-Darkes, group vice president and president, General Motors (GM) Latin América, Africa, and Middle East, and a member of General Motors’ Automotive Strategy Board.
empston-Darkes knows the American automotive industry inside out. Based on her extensive experience, she offered keen insights into what it will take for American automotive companies—to be successful global players. In her talk, she outlined GM’s strategies for the future.
Augusto Vidaurreta (BBA, ’80), entrepreneur, author, and member of the college’s Dean’s Council, found Darkes’ lecture to be of both personal and professional interest.
“I’m a car fanatic who is concerned about the future of the American automobile industry,” he said. “I’m also a businessman who was interested to hear Darkes’ assessment of the policies and economics that drive success or failure in today’s global marketplace.”
Vidaurreta said he also is impressed with the caliber of speakers the Wertheim lecture series brings to campus.
“This series provides students with invaluable, firsthand learning experiences,” he said.
This year’s Wertheim lecture series is another excellent example of the college’s ongoing commitment to bringinging distinguished speakers and experts in business leadership and entrepreneurship to campus. Herbert A. Wertheim, a long-time supporter of the university and the college, endowed the lecture series in 1993.
View or download the Wertheim lecture series’ podcasts.
If you missed the real events, listen to, download, or view the podcasts now at: http://business.fiu.edu/Spotlights/wertheim_lecture_series.cfm.