The American Home Furnishings Alliance awarded its highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award, to manufacturer Gat Caperton at its 2022 Annual Meeting.
This honor is presented each year to an industry executive chosen for his or her contributions to the home furnishings industry, to the AHFA and to their local community. Caperton, founder and chief executive officer of case goods manufacturer Gat Creek, is the 55th recipient of the award. He serves on the board of Appalachian Hardwood Manufacturers, Inc.
In announcing the honor, Farooq Kathwari, chairman, CEO and president of Ethan Allen, described Caperton as a compassionate individual and a builder of innovative home furnishings business strategies for nearly 30 years in the industry.
After graduating from Davidson College in North Carolina with a degree in economics, Caperton worked in real estate in Chicago while completing a master’s in business administration at night. An essay he wrote as part of his application to the University of Chicago graduate school foreshadowed his future. It was titled, “I Want to Own My Own Business and Create Jobs in West Virginia.”
Caperton purchased Tom Seely, Furniture in Berkeley Springs, WV, in 1996 and transformed the ailing company into a robust enterprise, then named it Gat Creek after a backyard creek he used to play in as a boy. Kathwari described him as “super smart” and fearless, characteristics that helped him persevere through tough times.
In addition to nurturing a devoted workforce and loyal customers, Caperton is described as embracing innovations, particularly technology, to make his operation more environmentally friendly. “He is a benevolent and humble man who cares deeply about the people in his organization and takes tremendous pride in the community where he has built his factory,” Kathwari said.
Caperton served as chair of AHFA’s board of directors in 2019 and also received AHFA’s “Sage Award” for environmental excellence in 2012. He currently serves on the board of the Sustainable Furnishings Council, the West Virginia Nature Conservancy and Natural Capital Investment Fund, a $45 million fund providing flexible financing to small and emerging natural resource-based business primarily located in the Appalachian region.