September-October 2015 | In Style, In Stock, In Your Home Today... IN HER HANDS

In Style, In Stock, In Your Home Today... IN HER HANDS
Office Manager Liza Hitch (seated) with VP of Administration Jessica AndersonWarehouse Manager Heather CarrollSenior Sales Manager Lisa Estevez (left) with Director of Sales Debbie WhaleyThe women of FurnitureLand/Ashley Furniture HomeStore rally around their dynamic leader, founder Beth Barnes (standing, left).In Style, In Stock, In Your Home Today... IN HER HANDSIn Style, In Stock, In Your Home Today... IN HER HANDSIn Style, In Stock, In Your Home Today... IN HER HANDSIn Style, In Stock, In Your Home Today... IN HER HANDS


In Style, In Stock, In Your Home Today... IN HER HANDS

There are many factors that have gone into the tremendous quarter-century success story that is FurnitureLand & Ashley Furniture HomeStore ­ — but none more so than its talented team of women



The impressive growth of FurnitureLand & Ashley Furniture HomeStore in tax-free Delmar, Del., is no accident. It’s due to some very savvy business philosophies and corporate policies, meticulously crafted over 25-years and two generations. They include the company’s 100% IN-STOCK GUARANTEE, its SAME-DAY DELIVERY TO NEARLY ALL OF DELMARVA and of course a famously vast selection of unbelievable furniture values, affectionately known as “BARNES BUYS.”

But there’s more…

As much as any other factor in the incomparable success of FurnitureLand/Ashley’s success is its all-star staff — particularly its women. In fact, a 2011 study published in the Harvard Business Review found workgroups that included more women possessed a higher level of collective intelligence and performed better than groups with fewer women. A quick look at the dynamic team of female business leaders populating the FurnitureLand/Ashley Furniture campus elegantly illustrates the power behind this principle. Let’s get to know them a little better. 

DEBBIE WHALEY (Tenure: 16 years)

Position: Director of Sales. Debbie has authority over the 30-member sales teams of FurnitureLand and Ashley Furniture HomeStore, including four managers. She oversees a sales culture that has FurnitureLand’s obsession with its customers at its core. Debbie also participates in the formation of policies and procedures with senior corporate executives while enforcing the company’s mandate of “continuous improvement.” 


Skills: Affectionately referred to as the “Velvet Hammer,” Debbie’s ability to candidly mentor her management and sales teams, while showing each that she’s fully invested in their success, has created a nurturing yet results-driven family atmosphere.


Philosophy: Debbie strongly believes that the “Courage to be clear” is an essential aspect of any healthy relationship. Thus, she employs tactful candor in her communication style, skillfully mentoring her team toward outstanding results while engendering loyalty and dedication.

LISA ESTEVEZ (Tenure: 2 years)

Position: Senior Sales Manager. Lisa is responsible for 13 sales associates and an assistant sales manager at Ashley Furniture HomeStore. She works closely with Debbie Whaley in managing the sales culture while enforcing company policy. Ultimately, her number-one responsibility is to ensure each customer is treated like family and becomes “a raving fan of the company,” according to Operations VP Justin Barnes.


Skills: High-energy and a larger-than-life personality set Lisa head-and-shoulders above her peers in the industry. Her infectious enthusiasm is a catalyst for everyone on her team.


Philosophy: “If there is a customer in the store, then I’m on the showroom floor,” is the maxim that makes Lisa shine. She makes it a personal goal to meet every customer who enters Ashley Furniture HomeStore.

HEATHER CARROLL (Tenure: 14 years)

Position: Warehouse Manager. Heather’s responsibilities include management of receiving, delivery, all company safety initiatives and its post-sale customer-care call center. She’s also in charge of two managers, six delivery drivers and 14 warehouse personnel who together keep the product flowing to and from the company’s enormous 80,000 sq. ft. campus. 


Skills: Her uncanny work ethic and problem-solving skills are why Heather was appointed Warehouse Manager. Having grown up in Somerset County, she has the tireless work ethic of an Eastern Shore farmer in her blood, applying these core values to skillfully navigate the multifaceted demands the Distribution Center.


Philosophy: Heather is all about “OAR” — Organization. Accuracy. Raving fans. Unlike many warehouse operations, the FurnitureLand warehouse is known for being as well organized as it is immaculate. It’s the fulfillment of founder Larry Barnes’ mandate to have a warehouse “as accurate as a bank teller’s drawer.” 

LIZA HITCH (Tenure: 7 years)

Position: Office Manager. Liza oversees all purchasing, accounts receivable and accounts payable functions. She does this while managing the company’s guest-services staff, who interact directly with customers to process end-of-sale paper-work and payments. She supervises 10 team members.


Philosophy: One of Liza’s favorite professional mantras is: “People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.” This philosophy lends itself to Liza’s interaction with customers, as well as her endeavors to build and lead an elite team of professionals. 


Skills: Liza is a great teacher with strong team-building skills. As a result, she enjoys almost nonexistent turnover and superior team unity.

JESSICA ANDERSON (Tenure: 17 years)

Position: Vice President, Administration. Jessica is responsible for all administrative functions for FurnitureLand, Ashley Furniture HomeStore and the Distribution Center. She oversees a staff of 15 and manages all HR functions for the company’s 85-person staff. Additionally, Jessica is the primary buyer/merchandiser for FurnitureLand, so she selects the products for the showroom and develops the strategy for how they are displayed. 


Skills: Incredible attention to detail and a keen eye for fashion are just two of the skills that make Jessica excel. Under her supervision, FurnitureLand has enjoyed a track record of excellence and perfect compliance in Human Resource Management and financial stewardship. Creatively, Jessica’s fashion-savvy has yielded a boutique-style showroom promoting the latest trends and color schemes — extremely uncommon for a store FurnitureLand’s size. 


Philosophy: Jessica believes there is no such thing as “good enough.” Whether it’s order entry, HR or accounting functions, Jessica insists on precision and maintains a zero-tolerance policy for inaccuracy. There is a right way to do something, she says, and both she and her team embrace that level of commitment to excellence every day.




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