Ira Baer grew up in style. Seventy years ago, his grandparents Melvin and Lucile Baer founded Baer’s Furniture in South Bend, Indiana. In 1968, they would open the first store in South Florida. Today the brand has become one of the largest furniture chains in the state with fifteen showcases and two warehouses.
Ira has worked in many positions within the company since he was 12, from being a buyer to even laboring on the trucks. He studied finance and is currently the CFO of the company. The happily married father (of six months) was also a vocal proponent for marriage equality, having worked with Equality Florida. He currently is a co-chair for the LGBTQ Mission to Israel—a trip which will include three nights in Jerusalem and four in Tel Aviv meeting with Israel’s top LGBTQ politicians, business leaders, and innovators. We recently had an opportunity to speak to Ira about his home life and his community work.
Berkley: How has being married affected your life?
Baer: I was with my partner for over a decade. I was married to a woman before that, and we both had kids from a previous marriage. Having kids makes things more complicated, so we wanted to wait until it was legal in Florida to get married. We worked hard with Equality Florida in order to push that agenda. Now that I’m married, I feel that I’m happier. People in the industry are thrilled I’m able to get married. Both co-workers within the chain and the vendors we work with have been just as excited as us. Everyone in the furniture world is very accepting.
Berkley: How important is interior design in creating your “home?”
Baer: It’s much more important for my husband than for me. I let him pickout most of the furniture since it helps build a give and take in the relationship. As far as the design, my home is very calm and earthy. We live on the water. I like coming home from a long day at work to a calming environment– one in which the details of the design all tie together. It’s a sanctuary.
Berkley: You are a co-chair of an upcoming LGBTQ mission to Israel with the National Jewish Federations of North America. What brought you to that endeavor?
Baer: It’s important to have a relationship between gay communities and religion. There are different areas of Judaism that are much less accepting, so it’s important to have your faith out there in the open to show that we’re here.
Berkley: How different is a trip to Israel through an LGBTQ lens?
Baer: There are some struggles for the gay community in Judaism, especially in Israel. There are some areas in which people go through much more discrimination than here. It’s important to let those that are struggling know that we are here to help them on their journey. And it’s also important to see those struggling so that we understand the importance in doing the work that we do.
3740 N. Federal Hwy.
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308
and multiple other locations