EDISON, NJ –Custom cabinet and closet professionals flowed through the aisles of the 2013 Cabinets & Closets Expo in droves. Attendance for the inaugural “Total Storage Solutions” event, held Feb. 27-March 1 in Edison, NJ, was double that of the 2012 Closets Expo in Austin, TX, validating for exhibitors that the business climate for attendees has changed for the better.

“The nation’s economy and that of the cabinet and closet industry continue improving,” said Rich Christianson, associate publisher of Woodworking Network and general manager of the event. “Adding cabinets, close relatives of closet organization systems, expanded the show’s audience and really grew attendance.”

The Northeast proved to be just the right location for the launch of the newly structured event, which incorporates Closets Expo, run annually for eight year’s before this year’s successor show.

The Northeast continues to be a hotbed of remodeling and reconstruction activity in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

While drawing heavily from the densely populated region, participants came from 38 states and four Canadian provinces. The allure was the opportunity to inspect products ranging from wood screws and hinges to wood components and woodworking machinery; connect with leading industry suppliers; participate in the Cabinets & Closets Conference; and network with peers from all over North America.

Mucho Kudos
The show received widespread acclaim. Said Debra Behring, president of JB Cutting, “The vibe at this year’s expo was full of energy! The location and setup proved to be seamless, which gave us more opportunity to connect with old friends and meet new ones. I look forward to next year!”

“I’ve attended several of the conferences over the years, beginning with Santa Clara in 2006 and have gained valuable connections, information and support at each one,” said Patrick Layne, VP at Valet Custom Cabinets & Closets. “Upon my return to work this week, I’ve been reaching out to new contacts, new vendors and renewing commitments and relationship with continued industry partners – all extremely important to my business and me personally.”

Jeff Blair, closet and lighting business manager of Rev-A-Shelf, said, “The Cabinet and Closet Expo had an upbeat tempo that was a refreshing change of pace compared to some of the past events I’ve attended. I applaud the industry leadership for stepping out of their comfort zone and making positive changes to inject new life into an industry that needs guided direction.”

Cabinets & Closets Conference
The event got off to an early-bird start on Feb. 27, with the Association of Closet and Storage Professionals (ACSP) overseeing Executive Forums & Mixer. The forums included a presentation on “How to Fire and Not End Up in Court,” but a highlight was a session,“Preparing Your Business for Sale,” led by Mike Carson and Paul Donahoe, former owners of Closet Works and Ridgeway Closets, respectively.

The event formally opened on Feb. 28, with the full-day Cabinets & Closets Conference co-sponsored by the Cabinet Makers Association (CMA), Custom Woodworking Business, ACPS and Closets. Highlights included a general session featuring keynote presenter Robert Reiss, host of the “CEO Show with Robert Reiss,” and a presentation of new research on the custom cabinet and closets markets by Laurel Didier, group publisher of Woodworking Network.

Following separate education tracks, one dedicated to custom cabinets led by the CMA and the other focusing on closets led by the ACSP, the conference culminated with a hustling and bustling networking reception featuring presentations of the CWB Design Portfolio Awards and Closets Top Shelf Awards. DeVoe Martin, co-owner of Affordable Closets Plus of Bangor, PA, was the night’s big winner. He took home four first-place trophies, including one for best overall.

Cabinets & Closets Expo
The Cabinets & Closets Expo, held at the New Jersey Exposition & Conference Center in Edison, was loaded with extras.

In addition to product displays by more than 80 exhibitors, the expo featured seven interactive presentations at the Expo Demo Stage. The most popularly attended was one by Annie Nozawa of Houzz.com. Nozawa presented highlights of Houzz’s second annual consumer remodeling study. Other presentations included the “Benefits of Before & After Photos” by designer and consultant Denise Butchko and a “Sneak Peak” of Ligna Hannover, the world’s largest woodworking event taking place May 6-10 in Hannover, Germany, by Catherine Childress Leon of Deutsche Messe. A pair of “Food for Thought” breakfast meetings served by Osborne Wood Products, a presentation on LED cabinet lighting by Hafele America and a demonstration of new cabinet and closet software by KCD Software rounded out the Demo Stage playbill.

Corbin Clay also was in the house, fresh off of winning $100,000 in a contest sponsored by Kettel One and GQ. Clay, owner of Azure Furniture and now famous for crafting fine furniture out of pine beetle-ravaged wood, held court at Eveready Hardware’s booth, talking to fellow woodworkers and demonstrating Festool products.

A showroom tour of Transform, Hafele America and Closet Factory – sponsored by Hafele – and a plant tour of Artisan Custom Interiors and Canary Closets & Cabinets – sponsored by Stiles Machinery -– capped off the three-day event. Other Cabinets & Closets Conference & Expo sponsors included Osborne Wood Products, Eveready Hardware, EdgeCo, KCD Software, JB Cutting and Drawer Connection.

Catch all of the news and videos from the 2013 Cabinets & Closets Conference & Expo at CabinetsandClosetsExpo.com.

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