Former Klaussner Furniture owner Hans Klaussner, 81, dies

HIGH POINT – Hans J. Klaussner, the German furniture magnate who acquired Stuart Inds. in 1979 and changed the company’s name to Klaussner Furniture, has died. He was 81.

Born in Gengenbach, Germany, part of the Black Forest, Klaussner attended high school for six years before apprenticing as a cabinet maker and an upholsterer. His father Eugen Klaussner founded Hukla Inds., a mattress company in Europe in 1963 that expanded into upholstery in the early 1950s. Hans Klaussner worked at Hukla, and during his travels, he began looking for a U.S. furniture company to buy.

The acquisition of Stuart Inds. connected Klaussner with J.B. Davis, who had joined Stuart in 1970. Davis was the long-time CEO of Klaussner Furniture and called Klaussner the “brother I never had.”

“I loved him very much, and I know he loved me,” Davis said. “He was unbelievably fair and taught me and the rest of us so much about the business and exposed us to things that we had never seen.”

Davis said when Klaussner bought the company, the two of them traveled to other furniture factories in Japan, Switzerland and Austria. Through those trips, the company was exposed to new manufacturing techniques, new materials and new machinery that had not been part of U.S. furniture production.

Klaussner Furniture expanded its product offering to include the leather upholstery business after trips to Italy and China that included visits to different tanneries. Davis called Klaussner an “intelligent” and “knowledgeable” man.

“He was innovative, creative, forward thinking when he entered the U.S. market,” Davis said. “He told me when we were coming back from closing the (Stuart) deal that if the employees didn’t like him he was really in a mess. He was a wonderful people person, and people loved him.”

In 2011, Klaussner sold the company to its management team, a year after Davis retired in April 2010.

Davis spent 42 years of his career working with Klaussner and said, “He was an incredible person. I loved him like the brother I never had. We were the dearest of friends.”

Klaussner is survived by his wife Vera Klaussner.

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