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Hearth & Home April 2019

Richard Wright
Hearth & Home Magazine

Perspective: Expo in Retrospect

Time flies when you’re at a trade show. Whether you measure the number of products seen, or conversations held, the truth is that you know you should have done more of both – but you ran out of time.

So it was, once again, that we left the HPBExpo a bit frustrated that we were not able to see, greet, or chat briefly with more people. It’s pushing it to say that the Expo is a three-day show; saying a two and half-day show is still stretching it a bit.

It will be another year before the opportunity presents itself again.

That’s probably all right; we’re not lobbying for a longer Expo.

However, it’s difficult not to contrast it with the outdoor furniture shows.

First, there’s the Queen (furniture is feminine, you know), which is the Casual Market Chicago, a four-day show held every September. Prior to that, there’s the ICFA Preview Show, also held at the Merchandise Mart, this one in July; it’s a three-day show.

The High Point show is held in both April and October, each one is five days. The Las Vegas show is about the same, only its five days are in January and another five at the end of July.

Although we’ve run out of fingers, that gives us 27 days of viewing outdoor furniture. Add to that shows in Atlanta, Dallas, the HD Expo, Showtime, a slew of minor shows, and then it’s off to Europe and Maison & Object, over to Milan, Spoga, and arggggggg! Basta! Enough!

Come to think about it, the HPBExpo is just about right in length.

Vesta Awards Program

Here are a few words about the Vesta Awards Program, created by Hearth & Home in 2001 to honor Innovation in Design and/or Technology. This was the 19th year they have been held; 64 products were entered, but the sad news is that only 20 Hearth products were entered – the rest were products for the outdoors.

The question I have for all of you is the following: Why do you think so few Hearth manufacturers entered the Vesta Awards Program this year? One manufacturer said he found it very difficult to come up with something innovative every year – “There’s just so many times you can tweak a wood, gas, or pellet stove or fireplace,” he said.

Sure, but we have a few hundred manufacturers in the Hearth industry. That’s a lot of potential innovation out there.

My guess? Let’s blame it on the EPA – again. Throughout 2017-2018, manufacturers spent an incredible amount of time in R&D, trying to meet the upcoming NSPS in 2020. Time is money. They also spent a ton of money with the labs. We’re told it’s about $40,000 per stove to get certified.

Many manufacturers spent over $1 million getting ready for 2020 – and they had no time remaining to develop something Innovative.

Innovative products are what drive industries forward. Retailers can’t wait for something new – they get excited, they have something to talk about, and the cash registers (or today’s version of them) start ringing.  

We would like your views – your guess – why the number of Hearth entries was so low. Send those guesses to

Next year the Expo is in New Orleans!

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