6-24-2020 – Kincaid remembered as ‘a quiet leader’

Posted on: June 24th, 2020 by admin

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June 24, 2020

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By Guy Lucas
guylucas@newstopicnews.com

Jun 23, 2020 5:41 PM

 

When the fledgling High Point Market Authority needed to educate state legislators about how Market worked and all that went into it, Steve Kincaid opened up his company’s showroom for tours.

 

Kincaid’s help was critical to winning the first state support in 2002 for the annual furniture industry trade shows at a time when shows in other parts of the country threatened to take business away from North Carolina, said Judy Mendenhall, who was the authority’s first president

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“Market is a very busy time for exhibitors, and he would allow us to troop in with visitors at such a busy time,” she said. “He was so gracious.”

 

Kincaid, who died Saturday at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, was remembered in multiple interviews Tuesday as a quiet but highly influential leader in the industry and a “real gentleman” who remembered the lessons of his upbringing in Hudson.

 

Kincaid started his career in 1970 as a sales representative for Kincaid Furniture, which was founded by his father in 1946. He became company president in 1983. After La-Z-Boy Inc. bought the company in 1987, Kincaid was appointed senior vice president for La-Z-Boy and president of La-Z-Boy Casegoods. He stepped down in 2015.

 

During his career, Kincaid wielded his influence outside of the spotlight, said Tammy Nagem, chief operating officer of the High Point Market Authority. She called him “a thoughtful leader and a quiet leader.”

 

“He was not going to be the one fighting for the podium. He was the one making calls in the background,” she said. “He never wanted to be recognized for that. … When Steve called, people answered the phone.”

 

Kincaid was a critical part of many industry projects, said Kevin O’Connor, former president of Samson Marketing.

 

“He was one of those people who are respected as a person, not just as an industry leader and astute businessman,” O’Connor said. “He is someone we’re going to miss in the industry.”

 

Bob Lemons, a retired senior vice president of sales and marketing for Kincaid Furniture, said Kincaid had the trust of his employees because he took the time to get to know them and looked after their welfare, just as his father had. Lemons recalled morning trips with Kincaid through the company’s plants.

 

“We would speak to just about everyone in the plant, and the Kincaid family knew all the employees by their first names,” he said. In turn, the employees generally greeted Kincaid as Steve.

 

Boyd Wilson, former chief financial officer, said Kincaid always sought his employees’ input and opinions, and he was always there to encourage them.

 

“I wouldn’t say he was a boss, he was more like a coach,” he said.

 

Kurt L. Darrow, the chairman, president and CEO of La-Z-Boy, said in a prepared statement that Kincaid’s most significant contribution to La-Z-Boy was navigating the case goods group through its transition from a domestic manufacturing model to an import model as the overall wood furniture industry moved work offshore.

 

But Lemons said that Kincaid’s concern for his employees made that one of the hardest periods of his career.

 

“That was not by choice,” he said. “Steve was in misery because of that.”

 

Sheila Triplett-Brady, who had known Kincaid since high school, said that Kincaid felt deeply for his community, which was reflected in his involvement with many philanthropic efforts, including the Caldwell Memorial Hospital Foundation, Smart Start and Communities in Schools of Caldwell County.

 

“He’s somebody that didn’t stand back, he just stepped forward and got involved,” she said.

 

Lemons said Kincaid also encouraged all of his company’s managers to get involved in any community efforts that interested them.

 

Lemons said he has been fielding phone calls from numerous former Kincaid employees saddened by news of Kincaid’s death. They reminisced and shared fond memories.

 

Reflecting on all of those discussions, Lemons paused, then said, “There’s nothing negative anyone will ever say about him.”

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