SCHAUMBURG, IL – The harsh economic climate that diminished attendance, did not dampen the spirits of those who did participate at the fifth annual Closets & Home Organization Conference & Expo.

Unofficially, more than 1,200 people participated at the event, held March 18-20 at the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel & Convention Center. The majority of home organization professionals and exhibitors that editors spoke to were upbeat about the future prospects of their businesses.

The Closets Conference, organized by the Association of Closet and Storage Professionals and CLOSETS magazine, got off to a rousing start with a presentation on “Leading with Spirit” by author and executive coach Jim Mathis.

Another opening-day highlight was the presentation of CLOSETS’ third annual Top Shelf Design Awards. Pat Simpson, spokesman for CedarSafe Closet and home improvement expert of HGTV, served as emcee of the awards presentation. Closets designer Nanci Corder Lewis of Nashville, TN, took top honors. (See clostesmagazine.com for complete Top Shelf Design Awards coverage.)

Immediately following the Top Shelf awards, Diana Augspurger, president of the ACSP, presented the association’s second annual Pioneer Award to Charles Costa, CEO of Sidelines Inc.

On the Expo Floor
Exhibitor hall traffic held steady for most of the two days of the Closets Expo. Visitors were eager to view the latest closet systems and accessories, as well as related products for manufacturing home organization products and cabinets. Displayed products included woodworking machinery, computer software, hardware and accessories offered by 85 industry suppliers.

Attendees also had the opportunity for up-close demonstrations during the expo. Simpson presented two show-floor forums on Thursday, March 19, one on a “High-End Closet Project” and the other on “Maximizing Under-Used Storage Space.”

Volkhard Neumann, president of the Closet Institute, led a pair of installation demonstrations on Friday, March 20. Among the highlights, Neumann showed the attentive audience how to create secret bottom drawer areas, evenly install systems without shims and easily build closets more than one story in height.

More Conference Highlights
The Custom Woodworking Conference, sponsored by the Cabinet Makers Assn., opened on March 19 with a half-day workshop on “How to Grow Equity in a Custom Woodworking Business.” Keynote speaker Richard Oedel, who has bought and sold businesses throughout his career, said custom woodworking owners must plan for success. He said written plans can be most effective to set a roadmap for growth, providing they are “realistic and measurable.”

Closing Closets Conference keynote presenters Kraig Kramers, author and motivational speaker, and Steven Mann, owner of Crowne Closets & Cabinetry, each noted that closet and home organization professionals may not be able to control the whims of the economy, but they can mitigate its impact on their businesses by summoning the full powers of their leadership skills.

Facility Tours Cap Event
The fifth annual Closets Conference & Expo was capped by a pair of facility tours. On Friday, March 20, a busload of attendees visited the high-tech panel processing operation of POWERS, a store fixture manufacturer based in Bolingbrook, IL.

HGTV home improvement expert Pat Simpson (left) and CLOSETS Editor-in-Chief Helen Kuhl (right) congratulate Nanci Corder Lewis of Nashville, TN, for being the Overall Winner in the third annual Top Shelf Awards.

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.