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Published: Tuesday, 6/5/2001

La-Z-Boy markets recliner that doubles as a back massager

BY MARY-BETH McLAUGHLIN
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

MONROE - La-Z-Boy, Inc., says it has a new gift for Father's Day, especially for those dads with back pain.

The company yesterday announced it is selling recliners that melds the company's 10-motor massage system with a patented system. It vibrates less than earlier versions. The cost is $1,300 for a leather chair, $1,000 for fabric.

The chairs, offered in two styles, include a bowtie-shaped air cushion in the lower back or lumbar area, and a smaller, rectangular shaped cushion that's located just above it. One air cushion inflates while the other deflates, creating a cycle of continuous motion that actually moves the spine forward and back.

Such chairs are part of La-Z-Boy's effort to use technology in its recliners to serve niche markets, said Kevin Wixted, vice president of marketing for the Monroe furniture maker.

Gary Evans,business editor of the Greensboro N.C.-based Furniture Today trade magazine, said motorized seating is becoming more popular in furniture, with many companies selling chairs with massage benefits.

“It sounds like La-Z-Boy is taking it to a different level,” he said. “Baby Boomers are starting to get older, their bones are starting to ache, and I think these people have money to spend on the luxury-end of the reclining chair market.”

The announcement is in keeping with La-Z-Boy's timing on another niche chair - it introduced one with team colors and a built-in cooler two years ago just in time for for the annual football rivalry between the University of Michigan and Ohio State University.

Ken Lauerer, of the marketing communications Lauerer Markin Group in Maumee, complimented La-Z-Boy for the Father's Day tie-in.

“Sounds like this product is geared toward the traditional guy who's viewed as a couch potato,” he said.



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