– Words by Angela Cowan Photographs by Don Denton
Aaron Gray, Vice President of La-Z-Boy Vancouver Island, has spent most of his life in and around the furniture industry. He recently moved to Nanaimo to return to the family business. Aaron’s family has owned and operated La-Z-Boy locations on Vancouver Island for over 20 years.
“I help [my father] run day-to-day business here,” says Aaron. “I had a tenure with La-Z-Boy, so it was an obvious fit.”
“Being centrally located is amazing,” he adds. “You can go to the mountains, you can hop on the ferry to Vancouver, and you’re never far from a hike or a walk. Every month I discover something new that interests me.
After working for La-Z-Boy corporately for the past decade, being back in a role on a more intimate level feels like coming full circle.
“I worked in the family business from when I was 13 until I was 20, then I moved to Toronto to try to get away from it,” he laughs.
He went to art and graphic design school in his early twenties, but found he was constantly drawn back to the furniture industry.
“You merge everything from industrial design to fashion,” he says. ” That’s all. The build quality of the furniture, the real wood and tacks, and the fabric and design. It’s a fusion of worlds for sure.
He loves travel, trade shows, unique challenges and the fusion of form and function.
“It’s a rapidly changing industry and I thrive on change. And I’ve seen that put food on my family’s table growing up, so as far as following in my dad’s footsteps, I have that love and respect for that industry,” he adds. .
The 7 Sins
What shoes would you like to walk in?
Alex James, bassist of British rock band Blur. He lived life in the shameless 90s as a rock star, then retired to a farm in Oxfordshire as a cheesemaker. Both of her lives are incredibly glamorous in their own way. There’s something about living a romantic existence as a craftsman in the English countryside, making a product you’re passionate about. I would gladly trade my skinny jeans for some wool and a pair of rubber boots.
What is one food you might eat over and over again?
I love to eat out and when I travel I base my stops around the restaurants I want to try. To choose a food, it would be something Italian. It is a cuisine based on the simplicity and quality of its ingredients.
You are given 1 million dollars that you have spend selfishly. What would you do spend it?
I have this idea of renting and furnishing a room in an old five-star hotel in Paris: doing room service, organizing parties, drinking good wine and dining in cafés. In my mind, it’s a Wes Anderson film with a soundtrack by Serge Gainsbourg. Just pure escapism. And it would end with the hotel manager politely informing me with a folded note that I was out of credit and had to vacate the room immediately.
The black beasts?
Baseball caps in restaurants. Why grown men don’t mind that and insist on sitting down to a good meal in a baseball cap is beyond me. I’m no maniac for manners, but this one takes the cake.
Where would you spend long Do nothing?
My bed. I feel like at this point in my life, I’ve figured out the pleasure of having a good mattress, a perfectly weighted duvet, and a sturdy pillow. Saturday mornings are the best. My girlfriend and I sleep, drink coffee and watch English football.
What is the one thing you are secretly proud of?
A few years ago I restored a 1966 Vespa to a floor build. I literally knew nothing about mechanics, and although old Vespas were about as complicated as a lawn mower, it was still a challenge for a guy who had no idea what a carburetor was. .
What makes your heart beat faster?
I’ve been playing in bands since I was a teenager, and there’s nothing that makes me feel more alive than playing a show. It’s nerve wracking but at the same time full of that all-consuming excitement. Anything can happen: equipment can break, the bar can be empty or packed, pints can fall and fry electrical equipment…it’s the organized chaos that gets my adrenaline pumping.
Story reprinted with kind permission from Boulevard Magazine, a publication of Black Press Media
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