Universal Furniture expands leadership team to support customers

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HIGH POINT – Universal Furniture named Neil MacKenzie as senior vice president of marketing and Shannon Lookabill as vice president of product development, both effective Jan. 1, 2023.

“Our goal is to be the easiest company to work with,” said incoming president Sean O’Connor. “The promotions of Neil and Shannon support our purpose to attract and retain customers, both in the retail and interior design community.”

MacKenzie will serve in the newly created role supporting O’Connor in the day-to-day management of the company. He joined Universal in May 2015 as director of marketing and was promoted to vice president of marketing in March 2021.

MacKenzie led the development of the brand’s digital ecosystem, from an overhaul of the website and social and email marketing to the creation of the B2B ecommerce tools. He also has worked on licensing agreements and collaborations with high-end interior design and lifestyle brands including Miranda Kerr, Coastal Living and Garden and Gun, as well as helping to launch the Designers Lounge in 2016.

In his new role, Lookabill will lead the direction of the company’s case good and upholstery lines and translating home trends into saleable products. He joined Universal Furniture full time in June 2019 but has been developing collections for the company as a contract designer since 2008.

As director of product development for Universal, Lookabill was the architect for Pinnacle Award-winning collections including Coastal Living Outdoor (outdoor collections) and Modern (luxury bedroom), in addition to designing the company’s successful Past Forward, Tranquility and Erinn V. collections. During the Covid-19 pandemic, he engineered a virtual product development process which allowed uninterrupted manufacturing of new designs during a time of global supply chain issues.

Before joining Universal, Lookabill spent 24 years as a furniture designer in Grand Rapids, Mich. He is a graduate of Kendall College of Art and Design.

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Jean Marie Layton is senior editor for upholstery at Furniture Today. A design and furniture aficionado, she has worked as a writer/editor in industry and non-profits, in academic administration and in retail furniture sales. She pursued a master’s degree in the history of design at Parsons/Cooper-Hewitt and has a BA in history from Mount Holyoke College and an MA in liberal arts from Stanford University. Reach out to Jean Marie with your story ideas, tips and more at [email protected]



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