TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) -- Furniture industry icon Alvin, "Bo" Bland died Tuesday at Traceway Retirement Community at the age of 88.
"Well, the most important thing I think I can say about him is he was my very best friend for some 35 years of our lives. Nothing rests with me any more important that that," said retuired Tupelo buisnessman Mickey Holliman.
It was Hollman, under the mentorship of Bland, who shared a vision in 1970 to start a company.
That company, Lane Furniture, still stands as one of the best worldwide in the furniture industry.
It was once known as Action Industries and is one of the leading furniture manufacturers in the world.
Holliman remembers Bland, not only as a giant in the furniture business, but as a great leader and family man.
"We started off in a little 20-thousand square -foot building on Crossover Road which is sort of behind the medical center. And started with about 35 employees," said Holliman.
He says that number grew to over 3,000 over the years.
"I think Bo's experience and his skills as a leader was the key to our getting off to a great start. And being successful over a lengthy period to time," Holliman stated.
According to one well-known northeast Mississippi economic developer, Bo Bland got his start in the furniture industry under the watchful eye of another man who was known as the Henry Ford of furniture manufacturing.
That man, according to Harry Martin, was Chicago- furniture icon Morris Futorian.
Martin was the head of Tupelo's Chamber of Commerce and he calls Bland a trailblazing entrepreneur.
"He was an entrepreneur of the best grade. He started a business with limited resources and everything. With that they took it into not only the state, regional and national reputation. So, you don't run across those. Tupelo has been fortunate to have a few of those,But they were and are the backbone of what our economy is today," said Martin.
Bland is survived by his wife Judy, a son and two daughters.