Sourcing expert Jeffrey M. Dilley dies at 79

WASHINGTON – Jeffrey Michael Dilley, a former U.S. Army Strategic Intelligence Officer and military advisor in Vietnam, who later helped furniture importers navigate the vast landscape of manufacturing and sourcing opportunities in the country’s growing furniture industry, died on March 18 due to heart failure. He was 79.

Dilley was born in Racine, Wis., on Jan. 31, 1942. The son of John Mulford Dilley and Evelyn Emily Dilley (Teske), he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Economics, Business and History from the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, in 1967 and a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Pittsburgh in 1971. He also did doctoral course work in International Business at New York University in 1972 and was certified by the State of Wisconsin as a teacher of social science.

In September 1968, Dilley received a direct presidential appointment as a strategic intelligence officer in the U.S. Army. Between 1969 and 1970, he served in the Vietnam War as an advisor in the Office of Civil Operations and Rural Support under the U.S. Military Assistance Command in Vietnam. He was based largely in Ban Me Thuot and was in charge of all-source coordination with command responsibilities and led low-altitude reconnaissance missions.

Following the war, he continued to serve in the U.S. Army Reserve, was an individual mobilization augmentation officer in the Department of Defense from 1973 to 1994 and was a joint staff officer and a foreign area officer at the Pentagon from 1994 to 2002. Dilley graduated from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in 1982 and retired from the Army as a Lt. Colonel in 2002.

For his military service, he received the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal, the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, the Bronze Star Medal, and the Air Medal and Air Crewman Badge. He also was the chairman of the International Economic Issues Group for the George H.W. Bush Presidential campaign in 1988.

He lived in Washington for 40 years, and he reinvented himself in his early 50s with a second career in international trade, focusing on Vietnam. His commerce advisory service include a wide range of industries including furniture, construction equipment, agricultural products, seafood and recycling materials to name several.

Dilley represented various U.S. companies in Vietnam and advised different public and private sector entities in doing business with the U.S.  He also facilitated various trade delegations from Vietnam to the U.S., the first ever of which took place in 1994 before the normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries. After his first business trip to Vietnam in 1994, he made more than 100 trips to Vietnam over the years.

This included Furniture Today’s first visit to Vietnam in July 2004, which included two editors from the publication. Dilley, a principal in Exsero Services Ltd., also organized a trip for the publication the following summer, which included an editor from Furniture Today and one from sister publication Casual Living.

During those visits and over subsequent years, Dilley helped serve as a liaison between the Vietnam Ministry of Trade and the Handicraft & Wood Industry Assn. of Ho Chi Minh City. In this role, he helped the organizations secure trade show space at both the High Point and the Las Vegas markets.

He also introduced different Vietnam-based manufacturers in those spaces to buyers and members of the trade press who stopped by.

Dilley is preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by two brothers and their families, including two nephews and two great nephews. To share condolences or a memory, click here.

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