ATLANTA - Attendees at the 2018 IWF Closets Symposium, held August 21 at the Georgia World Congress Center, heard from an impressive lineup of industry experts on a variety of topics including how to grow your business, how to use PR effectively, the latest in European trends, the evolution to manufacturing and business tips, the business of design and the rise of multifunctional living spaces.
 
Lisa Carlquist, president of Artisan Custom Closets, located in Marietta, Georgia, discussed her business and how she grew the firm from zero sales to nearly $9 million in about seven years.
 
David Biggs, digital media manager at Woodworking Network; Amanda Eden, director of public relations/media strategist at Stoner Bunting; and Michaelle Bradford, editor of Closets & Organized Storage magazine gave attendees tips on how to attract media attention and gain coverage of your firm with effective PR strategies using digital marketing and social media.
 
Michele Weitzel, the business development manager for Northern Contours and manager of the Home Organization Channel for the company, shared her thoughts on trending colors and materials from Europe and how to apply these trends into a successful business strategy for the North American market.
 
Phill Hunt, VP and co-owner of North Carolina-based Dream Closets, a custom closet/cabinet manufacturing and installation business that has been in operation since 2003, discussed how Dream Closets evolved from a dealer to a wholesale manufacturer of closet systems, cabinet components and furniture.
 
Phill Hunt later joined Eric Marshall, owner of Kitchens and Closets by DEA and Mike Carson, the Chicagoland manager of Inspired Closets - a brand of The Stow Co., on a panel that debated the pros and cons of manufacturing versus outsourcing as well as best practice tips on how to make your business a success regardless of the model.
 
Keith Morgan, owner of Bespoke, a high-end, luxury custom woodworking firm located in Iowa, shared his philosophy on the importance of having design-oriented professionals from the front office to the shop, as well as how to work with wealthy clients and the need to employ professionals that understand market-viable design and long-term design trend history. 
 
The full-day symposium ended with Eric Pothier, director of sales and marketing at Richelieu Hardware, speaking on the impact of micro-living and multifunctional spaces due to Boomers downsizing and Millennials preferring smaller living spaces, especially in urban areas. 
 

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