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Hearth & Home April 2015

Richard Wright
Hearth & Home Magazine

Perspective: Sounding
the Right Note

Since weather most likely has been the main driving force behind the surge in hearth purchases over the past two years, it was perhaps appropriate, if not pleasant, to have cold temperatures and snow settle on the HPBExpo 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee.

That moisture may have dampened the garb of those in outdoor booths, but it certainly didn’t dampen their spirits. Everyone, it seemed, was coming off a spectacular year of hearth, as well as barbecue, sales.

At the Vesta Awards ceremony on Friday night, we asked those in the audience to make noise – by clapping, stomping or yelling – if 2014 had been the best year of their careers.

The response was immediate and loud; it came as a roar, stretching from the back of the Music City Center Ballroom to the front, and from side to side.

Little wonder, then, that neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow, nor traffic jams, nor airline delays could alter the jubilant mood of almost everyone at the show.

It also helped enormously to see and feel the energy from an additional 3,000 attendees. That’s right, total attendance went from 5,131 in Salt Lake City to 8,116 in Nashville. Buying entities went from 1,031 to 1,510.

The downturn is over; business is back, and so is the HPBExpo.

Nashville, despite the weather, once again proved to be a great location for the Expo, although the majority of western dealers found it to be a bit too far. (Strange, we’ve always thought of folks in California, Oregon, Washington and a few other western states as adventuresome, progressive and willing to tackle just about any thing or hurdle. But somehow, a simple little plane flight for a few hours intimidates the hell out of them.)

Puckett’s, Nashville, Tennessee.

They missed a very good show; they missed a gorgeous venue in the Music City Center; they missed a beautiful hotel in the Omni, and they missed warm and helpful people all along the way, including those in the catering department at the convention center, and in the hotels and restaurants around the city (next time, try Puckett’s for down-home southern food, and Etch for highly creative fusion cuisine; both are just a few blocks from the convention center).

We even left the city with a warmer feeling toward country music – well, a little bit warmer – and we will be pleased to return again and again to Nashville, Tennessee.

While we didn’t completely fill the 2,100 or so seats set out in the convention center ballroom for the Vesta Awards, a good guess is that between 1,600 and 1,800 people were there and in high spirits. That was due mainly to the excitement of the show itself and seeing old friends. Many of those friendships go back as far as the beginning of the HPBA (formerly the Wood Heating Alliance), which coincides with the first issues of Hearth & Home.

It’s hard to believe, but that’s 35 years ago.

Next year the location is New Orleans, home of the first hearth trade show in 1981. Perhaps we can convince all those wayward westerners to get their wagon trains rolling southeast around the first of the year.

More Stories in this Issue

The Key is Innovation

By Richard Wright

The Vesta Awards program was started in 2001 with one goal in mind: to honor and highlight those companies that propel their industries forward with products that are well designed and innovative.

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2015 February Business Climate

In early March, Hearth & Home faxed a survey to 2,500 specialty retailers of hearth, barbecue and patio products, asking them to compare February 2015 sales to February 2014. The accompanying charts and selected comments are from the 215 useable returns.

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