For months Hack Upstate and Careers in Code has been forging relationships and meaningful partnerships across the state. Some of our partnerships were obvious, the Syracuse iSchool, Cornell, MVCC’s thINCubator, to name a few. Our goal is to expand the reach of our participants into the area around them, and for participants to take their coding skills to the community in a meaningful way. It’s essential that our partner organizations share a very like-minded goal, and are committed to helping to further our mission.

Luckily, when we made contact with Raymour and Flanigan, those objectives clicked into place almost instantly. Based out of Liverpool, they have been ingrained in the fabric of Central New York, for decades. Notably, Raymour and Flanigan have made incredible contributions to our local Boys and Girls Club of America chapters, so with that in mind, we knew they would be a perfect sponsor for Hack Upstate.

Now, like me, you may have asked, “Why in the world would a furniture company want to sponsor a hackathon?” Now, I knew Raymour and Flanigan had been based in Syracuse for 65 years, and I knew that they had always given back to the community… but why a hackathon?

It hit me like a ton of bricks when the heads of IT for Raymour & Flanigan, Matt Checkfield and Ralph Divito told me that their staff was doubling over the next three years.

Of course — an online marketplace!

“We’re breaking the paradigm that says legacy furniture retail has to stay legacy,” says Ralph.

He and Matt are a pair of 30-somethings, charged with running the fastest growing IT org in CNY and their goal is to make technology development the backbone of Raymour & Flanigan by enhancing the retail experience through technology. Most importantly, they want to keep it local. Hiring from neighboring communities and colleges drive their efforts.

“Awesomeness Wanted”, the pair proudly announced to me, saying that they want to become the premier employer and drivers of innovation in CNY. By developing a system to become one of the few Omnichannel Retailers in the area, Raymour and Flanigan, Northeast’s largest furniture retailer are positioning themselves as not only an area tech powerhouse but a national industry leader.

Perfecting this system of integrating storefront and e-commerce is going to be challenging and take some of the brightest minds in our area. It was an exciting opportunity for hackers to be able to connect with Ralph and Matt at Hack Upstate XII!

Our mission of fostering a tech community and connecting those community members with valuable networking opportunities comes full circle with our Raymour and Flanigan partnership. We hope our participants will take advantage of the incredible opportunity to network with the fastest growing IT department in the area. If they want awesomeness, they can look no further than our wildly innovative teams. We’re so excited to see how Raymour & Flanigan can leverage local talent to build one of the most forward-thinking online marketplaces in the world.