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Former Klaussner CEO and President JB Davis, left, and owner Hans Klaussner worked together to create one of the top furniture manufacturers in the nation. Klaussner passed away Feb. 29 in his native Germany at the age of 81.

Hans Klaussner dies at 81

ASHEBORO — Hans Klaussner, who purchased Stuart Furniture Industries in 1979, took the company to another level for the next 30-plus years. Renamed Klaussner Furniture Industries, it became one of the top furniture manufacturers in the nation.


Klaussner died in his German home on Feb. 29. He was 81. His funeral was held March 8.


JB Davis, former president and CEO of Klaussner, has fond memories of his good friend.


“We met in 1979 when he bought Stuart Furniture,” Davis said. “We became immediate good friends. From 1979 to 2010, I worked with him.”


Klaussner sold the business in 2011 to a group of the company’s managers that included CEO Bill Wittenberg and CFO Dave Bryant. 


“He was an incredible man and a great mentor,” Davis said of Klaussner. “He took me all over the world and showed me things I had never seen in furniture.


“He was kind of like the brother I never had. Although he spent most of his time in Germany, he made a tremendous impact in Randolph County. He had (Klaussner) plants everywhere and made an impact on the furniture industry.”


Stuart Love founded the company in 1963 and made a niche in the industry by delivering furniture to the customer within a week. His focus was on low-end and promotional furniture.


Meanwhile, Eugen Klaussner was growing his own furniture empire, Hukla Industries, in Germany and Europe. His son, Hans, worked at Hukla and eventually began looking for an American company to buy.


His search led him to Asheboro and Stuart Furniture. Klaussner liked the quick-delivery service that was provided.


So Klaussner chose Stuart and Asheboro, which reminded him of his home in the Black Forest of Germany. He picked Davis to lead the company with the same standards Klaussner adhered to.


“He was a real visionary,” Davis said of Klaussner. “He made the decision to come to America. When he came to Stuart Furniture, he was impressed by the  people.


“He was a firm believer in taking care of the employees. It was hard work, but the people were appreciated.


“We had events like the little carnival on Lewallen Road, then concerts at Southwestern Randolph High School and at the Greensboro Coliseum, with great performers. He tried to do what was right.”


At the annual employee get-togethers, Klaussner Furniture provided food and drinks as well as well-known singers such as Patty Loveless, Vern Gosdin, Toby Keith, Martina McBride and Delbert McClinton.


While spending most of his time in Germany, Klaussner purchased a home near Pinewood Country Club, often using the facilities to welcome suppliers. One year his home was decorated for the annual Holiday Tour of Homes.


While in Asheboro, Davis said, Klaussner “enjoyed talking to people and visiting with them. But he didn’t like the limelight.”


Klaussner didn’t neglect his responsibility to the local community. Davis said the Hans Klaussner Foundation gave $100,000 to Randolph Health to build its Cancer Center. He also donated to Randolph Community College and other organizations. 


Klaussner, when taking over Stuart Furniture, had a fear of being accepted, according to Davis. “He told me when he bought the company, ‘If those people don’t like me, I’m screwed.’ But they loved him. He was just special.”


Even though Klaussner has been gone from Asheboro, Davis said the two have kept in touch, last talking to each other two or three weeks ago. By then, Klaussner was having health issues.


“He knew I loved him and said the same to me with a smile on his face,” Davis said. “He was a great man and a wonderful friend. I miss him terribly already.”