For three days last week, the Charlotte Convention Center buzzed with the collective energy of storage industry professionals and suppliers swept up in a decidely upbeat groundswell of business renewal. If you didn't experience it you obviously did not attend the Closets & Home Organization Conference & Expo.

But I did and as a result I can offer these four intial observations:

1. To borrow friendly advice from one of the Closets Conference keynote presenters, Jim Matthis, "The economy is not down, it's different?" In other words, Mr. Matthis suggests that we get over the recession and stop crossing our fingers in hope that the business landscape will return to 2007. Instead, we should accept the way things are and move forward with a different mind set to take advantage of the new opportunities that will emerge.
  
2. Double-barrel certification started at Charlotte. Both the Association of Closet and Storage Professionals and Cabinet Makers Association announced accredited certification for their respective professions. The ACSP will soon spin out the first-of-its-kind certification for closet design professionals this spring. The CMA began offering CEU (continuing education credits) ar the Custom Cabinet Conference in Charlotte as part of a new accreditation program for cabinet professionals. The program will formally be rolled out at the AWFS Fair in Las Vegas this July. We'll publish additional information of each program as additional details become available.

3. More people were in the house. The number of exhibiting companies was up 50% from 2010 in Long Beach and attendance was up better than 10%. Most exhibitors we spoke with were more than pleased with the quantity and quality of attendees. Not alone was the statement by Don Raymond, vice president of marketing of Uniboard, "Great show. You can quote me on that."

4. Anyone who doubts that I am a hopeless romantic, consider this. My wife, Jane, touched down in Charlotte just in time Friday to make it on the bus tour to the high-tech panel processing showrooms of Biesse America and Holzma U.S. As someone at the closing general session of the Closets Conference aptly noted, "Nothing says love like CNC." I prefer to say, "Our love isn't down, it's different."

Until next week.

Read more of Rich Christianson's blogs.

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