Founder and chairman of Ashley Furniture, Ron Wanek, was inducted into the Tampa Bay Business Hall of Fame last week at the Tampa Convention Center. The annual event is hosted by the Florida Council on Economic Education (FCEE.) The Tampa Bay Business Hall of Fame was created to honor the men and women who have made outstanding contributions to free enterprise, have demonstrated business excellence, and are inspiring leadership and social responsibility.
“I am humbled to receive this great honor from the FCEE. Their mission to prepare Florida’s young people for personal and financial success and to help them become productive members of the workforce, responsible consumers and wise investors resonates so closely with my personal mission,” said Ron Wanek. “It is our duty to help students gain exposure to the workforce, learn how to be successful, what different careers have to offer and the skills needed.”
In 1970, Ron founded Arcadia Furniture, a 35,000-square-foot occasional table manufacturer with 35 employees. Since then, he transformed the small company into an international manufacturing and retailing giant known as Ashley Furniture. Guided by his determination, vision and expertise, the company now has over 30,000,000 square feet and more than 35,000 employees worldwide. Not a small feat, this transformation happened by continuously innovating the business, adding new product categories, expanding the company’s footprint and entering the retail industry with Ashley Furniture HomeStores. Today, Ron Wanek and Ashley Furniture are iconic names in the furniture industry, serving as an example to the world that the American Dream is alive and well.
Ron has made it his life’s mission to mentor and inspire this generation and those that come after it. Outside of the business, Ron is highly regarded for his philanthropic initiatives. In 1998, Ron and his wife Joyce started the Ronald & Joyce Wanek Foundation supporting a multitude of their favorite causes, including the furniture industry, children in need, medical research, education and the arts, and honoring our armed forces.
Ashley and the Wanek Family continue to support education to help secure our country’s position as a world-leader in technology and advanced manufacturing. They have developed a number of partnerships with K-12, as well as post-secondary schools over the past five years.
Proceeds from this event benefit the FCEE and go directly into funding economic and financial literacy education for K-12 students across the state. More information on this event can be found at www.fcee.org/tbhof.
View Ron Wanek’s inductee video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OZCO8P-pn8.