The 24th of March 1927 would be the day that changed Edward Knabusch and his cousin, Edwin Shoemaker’s lives forever, as well as the world of seating. On this day, in Monroe, Michigan, Knabusch and Shoemaker made the decision to quit their jobs and start their own furniture company. They started out in Knabusch’s father’s garage and named their business the Kna-Shoe Manufacturing Company. Later, the company’s name changed to Floral City Furniture. Soon, the business began to grow which meant bigger premises were needed and they built their very own manufacturing plant. Before long they started designing novelty furniture, which included a slanted, folding wooden chair for the outdoor. The design of the prototype was shaped to fit the contours of a person’s body while sitting up or leaning back. The first of its kind!
In 1929, Shoemaker and Knabusch patented their reclining chair design. This became a huge success, especially after a suggestion was made to create an upholstered version of the chair. As part of a marketing campaign they created a competition for people to submit names for this new chair. Some of the entries received were “The Sit-N-Snooze” and “The Slack Back”, but the winning entry was “La-Z-Boy®”.
Floral City Furniture continued to grow and in 1941, Knabusch and Shoemaker decided to separate La-Z-Boy® from Floral City Furniture and create La-Z-Boy® as an independent company. Through the 1950s and 1960s, the La-Z-Boy® chair was incredibly popular with both men and women, even with competing companies introducing their own variations of recliners.
In 1961, La-Z-Boy®’s invention of the “Reclina-Rocker”, a rocking-chair version of the original design, created unbelievable sales. The sale of this chair alone took the company from $1.1 million to $52.7 million between 1961 and 1971.
Edward Knabusch and Edwin Shoemaker passed away in 1988 and 1998, respectively.
In 1996, the company’s name was officially changed to La-Z-Boy® Incorporated. The headquarters are still in Monroe, Michigan and now makes more than 30,000 chairs and sofas each week. La-Z-Boy® lounge furniture is sold all over the world and is still the most popular recliner.