Blog: Travels with Ron Passaglia nurtured respect, friendship

Julia Rosien takes a snowy selfie with Ron Passaglia in front of the Biltmore House.

My friend Ron Passaglia, the long-time president of Restonic, is wrapping up his distinguished bedding career this month. And that triggers memories of my travels over the years with that good, kind man, described by one of his colleagues as “a marketing maven who knows a thing or two about sales.” Yes, he does.

Restonic was ahead of the times in moving to a virtual headquarters model back in 2009, with its headquarters being wherever Passaglia’s BlackBerry (and then his iPhone) happened to be at the moment. And many times that was on the road, where I joined Passaglia several times over the years. He worked hard to build the Restonic brand, and he won widespread respect for his diligent work.

Three of our trips together stand out, each in snowy surroundings.

In January 2009, as Passaglia was settling into his new role at Restonic, I flew to Buffalo, N.Y., where key Restonic licensee Tom Comer was based. Of course, it was snowing there.

We met in the dining room at the Buffalo Club, where Theodore Roosevelt held his first cabinet meeting in 1901 after the assassination of William McKinley a few miles away. Comer, who died unexpectedly in 2017, put a log in the fire burning nearby as we talked about Restonic’s plans to seek out growth opportunities in the bedding marketplace. We enjoyed our time together in that warm, cozy setting as cold winds whipped through snow-covered Buffalo.

Our longest trip together was to Anchorage, Alaska, and that marked the first time that Furniture Today has visited that state. In snow-dusted Anchorage we visited Bailey’s Furniture, a retailer with a store full of hunting trophies and impressive displays.

On our way to Alaska we stopped in Seattle, where Passaglia was the sales manager for Levitz (remember them?) early in his home furnishings career. There, we made a pilgrimage to Holy Grounds: the original Starbucks at 1912 Pike Place, which was packed with tourists and coffee history.

Another memorable trip was to Asheville, N.C., where we visited the Biltmore House and looked at some of the architectural details in the nation’s largest privately owned house that were incorporated into Restonic’s Biltmore line.

We got a nice surprise overnight and awoke to a snowy wonderland, one that I captured with my trusty iPad, photographing Ron and fellow Restonic executive Julia Rosien in front of Biltmore House.

We talked a lot of business on those trips, but we also talked about family and friends and the things in life that really matter to both of us. Ron Passaglia was a good businessman and an even better friend.

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