Edwin J. Shoemaker

Edwin J. Shoemaker

Birth
Monroe County, Michigan, USA
Death 15 Mar 1998 (aged 90)
Sun City, Maricopa County, Arizona, USA
Burial Monroe, Monroe County, Michigan, USA
Memorial ID 2674 · View Source
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Inventor of the La-Z-Boy Recliner. Edwin J. Shoemaker was originally a farmer in Monroe, Michigan. He took up woodworking in the 1920s, then formed a company with his cousin Edward M. Knabusch that they called the Kna-Shoe Manufacturing Company, with him as the designer and Knabusch as the marketer. They used orange crates to mock-up and refine their idea and developed a wood-slat porch chair with a reclining mechanism. They then upholstered their innovation and marketed it as an indoor chair. They held a contest to name the design, and La-Z-Boy was the winner. Initially they did all their construction in a garage; they also did re-upholstering to make additional money. They renamed the company to Floral City Furniture, and when the company outgrew the garage, they borrowed money to build a manufacturing plant. He did some of the work on the plant himself, including the electrical and elevator build and installation. The company continued to grow, even through the years of the Depression. Until this period, they made all sales by word of mouth, but around then began going to furniture shows and putting up roadside signs. They split off La-Z-Boy from the rest of the company in 1941 and sold the retail part of the company. During World War II, the company was unable to get metal to make recliners and did a lot of business in making them with springs from old furniture. The company also took part in war manufacturing, making tail sections for Corsair fighter planes. The company began to sell a reclining rocker in 1961, and sales grew again. In 1969 La-Z-Boy started designing other products including reclining sofas, sleep sofas and modular groups. In 1972 the company went public. He filed patents for more than 30 items, including at least five items related to the design and construction of reclining chairs. He designed the machinery that was used in the manufacturing of the chairs, the reclining chairs and loveseats, and refinements to existing products. He remained involved in the business until the month before he died. On the night of his death, we went out to dinner with some friends, then went home and fell asleep in his recliner and home and died there.

Bio by: Pete Mohney


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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 2674
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Edwin J. Shoemaker (2 Jun 1907–15 Mar 1998), Find a Grave Memorial no. 2674, citing Gethsemane Cemetery, Monroe, Monroe County, Michigan, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .