National Home Furnishing Industry Gala 2017 Honorees
Niraj Shah is the CEO, co-chairman and co-founder of Wayfair.
Niraj started the company with Steve Conine in 2002 and the pair rapidly grew the business to become one of the world’s largest online retailers of home furnishings and housewares, surpassing $2.25 billion in annual sales in 2015. Shah has extensive executive leadership experience in both private and public technology companies. He has started and grown several companies, dramatically increasing revenue, while also driving profitability.
In 2010, Shah was selected as the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in the consumer retail category for the New England region and as one of the Top 40 under 40 business leaders by the Boston Business Journal.
Before founding Wayfair, Niraj was CEO and co-founder of Simplify Mobile, an enterprise software company which was sold in 2001. Prior to that, he served as Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Greylock Partners, COO and a member of the Board of Directors at iXL, a publicly traded global technology consulting firm, and the CEO and co-founder of Spinners, which was sold to iXL in 1998. Niraj holds a B.S. in engineering from Cornell University, and lives in Boston, Massachusetts with his wife and two children.
Steve Conine is the Co-Chairman and Co-Founder of Wayfair
Steve Conine is the co-founder and co-chairman of Wayfair, the largest online retailer of home furnishings and housewares in the U.S. He currently leads development of the architecting and software systems that give Wayfair a technological edge in the online retail business.
Prior to co-founding Wayfair, Conine co-founded Spinners Incorporated, an IT services firm. Spinners provided custom application development services to Fortune 500 companies including AOL Time Warner, The New York Times, JP Morgan Chase, and Merrill Lynch. In 1998, Spinners was sold to iXL, a publicly traded global technology consulting firm. He led Spinners to revenue and net income growth of 300% per year while maintaining a 30% net income margin. After the sale of Spinners, Conine went on to serve as chief operating officer for the London office of iXL.
After moving on from Spinners and iXL, Conine was founder, chief technology officer and board member of Simplify Mobile, a software company providing mobile phone management solutions to large enterprises. This was the third start-up that Conine founded with Niraj Shah before starting Wayfair together.
Steve holds a B.S. in engineering from Cornell University, and lives in Boston, Massachusetts with his wife and three children.
City of Hope Honoree – Bill Wittenberg, Klaussner Furniture Industries
Bill Wittenberg is currently President and C.E.O. and major shareholder of Klaussner Furniture Industries in Asheboro, North Carolina since April 2010. Bill worked 16 years for Berkline Corporation in Morristown, Tennessee in various sales and operations capacities before becoming President and C.E.O. in February 1997. Both of these companies were in the top ten domestic furniture manufacturers in the United States. Bill graduated from Appalachian State University and has been in the furniture industry 38 years. He is a native North Carolinian and grew up in Hickory, North Carolina. He has been married to Julia for the past 37 years and has two married sons and four grandsons. Bill currently serves as an officer on the Board of Directors of the American Home Furnishings Association (AHFA) and on the Board of Directors for the American Furniture Hall of Fame. He is a past member of the Appalachian State University Industrial Design Advisory Committee. In Tennessee, Bill served on the Board of Directors for HC*Excel (an education-based organization) and was a Board member of the Morristown Chamber of Commerce (serving on the Industrial Recruitment Committee). In 2006, Bill was awarded the prestigious American Heritage Award in Manufacturing by the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) National Home Furnishings Division.