With a thriving building and remodeling market as backdrop, the 2017 Cabinets & Closets Conference and Expo returns to Chicagoland April 11-13, coming to the Renaissance Convention Center in suburban Schaumburg, Illinois. 

With business climate much improved, closet businesses and cabinetmakers are contending with the challenges that accompany growth, such as finding and training workers, maintaining consistent quality, and reaching new markets to the next generation of customers.

 “Taking Business to the Next Level” is the overall theme for the three-track conference on April 11, followed April 12-13 by a two-day expo is expected to be the largest ever staged for closets and cabinet markets. Around 100 exhibitors are expected, showing design and manufacturing technology for cabinetry, closets and home organization systems, along with panel, functional and decorative hardware, and business management applications.  

The April Cabinet & Closets Conference will include an added emphasis on human resource strategies. The conference begins with a keynote address by Chris Stevens, “Small Business Numbers that Matter.” Stevens will share strategies drawn from his years in business development, including a pivotal role in the launch of the Keurig Coffee Maker. A highly  motivational speaker, Stevens is an adjunct professor at the University of Notre Dame Mendoza School of Business. 
The conference then splits into three tracks:
• Closets Track: Growing a Profitable Business 
• Cabinets Track: Power Up Your Business 
• Lean Management: Center for Lean Learning
Attendees are free to mix and match sessions from different tracks. They will gather mid-day for a peer-to-peer lunch, then board buses at 3:30 p.m. for a nearby plant tour, sponsored by Stiles Machinery, followed by a networking reception. 
A single registration fee for the conferences includes all sessions, lunch, refreshment breaks, plant tour, and the networking reception after.   
Workforce development conference sessions covering steps to establish methodical hiring and job description practices; and using Lean Management to contend with a tightening job market. Construction and remodeling businesses say they turn down work because of  designers, installers and production craftsmen shortages.  
Best Hiring Practices will be presented by Jessica Trippler and Bob Gaudrea of consultancy Brink Results.
“We help organizations determine the behaviors needed to produce the results for a certain position,” says Jessica Trippler, a human resources specialist from Brink Results. “After the job position has been assessed through our review and questionnaire process, we then assess the candidate.”
The Center for Lean Learning’s Brad Cairns will team with human resource expert Bobby Lewis of Perspective at Perspective Approach to develop a brand new conference track emphasizing the human resource quotient of Lean Management operations. Cairns, who also operates cabinetry firm Signature Wood Systems, will team with Lewis (a manager at Lewis Cabinets) to show how Lean Management can improve employee engagement and productivity – reducing remakes and errors in fulfillment, delivery and installation of projects. “Just try to calculate the cost of leaving one component of a closet or cabinet project off the truck,” says Cairns. 
Feeding the sales pipeline through marketing and management will also be covered, with sessions on marketing to millennials, project photography, and “Lead Generation Myths that Cost Closets Companies Money,” presented by Todd Bairstow, principal and founder of Keyword Connects.   
 New this year is the Closet Design Certification program, developed by the Association for Closets & Storage Professionals. New this year is a Green Cabinet conference for Columbia Forest Products 850-member PureBond Fabricator Network. This takes place Wednesday morning, April 12, with a range of exciting sessions.


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