Notes from the Closets Conference & Expo
By Carrie McConkey, www.carriemcconkey.com
Virtual conferences were a great way to keep industry professionals connected during the pandemic, but there’s nothing like the networking, education, and fresh ideas that spark from an in-person gathering. The 2021 Closets Conference & Expo, a national event for closet, garage, and organized storage professionals, gave hundreds of attendees from across the country the chance to meet face-to-face for three days in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Knoxville’s own Chris McKenry, President and Storage Design Specialist at Closets by McKenry and Designer Garages, was there.
“While we are a locally owned independent closet business, that doesn’t mean we’re isolated,” said McKenry. “These conferences bring us to a national level through networking with colleagues and exchanging ideas with some of the most successful leaders in the closet industry.”
McKenry established new relationships with major manufacturers in the closet and storage business and caught up with representatives from many of the current manufacturers of doors, garage cabinets, designer hardware, and accessories for Closets by McKenry and Designer Garages.
Along with keynote speeches, panels, and workshops discussing storage design trends and best business practices, three plant tours of locally based manufacturers gave conference attendees an inside look at the products they bring to their clients every day. “The tours were the highlight of the first day,” said McKenry. “The Closets Company gave showroom tours, Ultrapan Modern Finishes showed their process for manufacturing high gloss panels for closets and cabinets, and Doormark shared their production of what goes into making door and drawer fronts.”
Full-size displays of modern home offices, practical mudrooms, and LED-lit dream closets provided creative inspiration as the design professionals wandered through the exhibit hall of the conference. More than 80 companies were in attendance, showcasing hundreds of products and accessories that attendees could see, touch, and watch being demonstrated.
McKenry will be bringing many of these new innovations to Knoxville, such as pull-out wire pantry baskets for storing wine, spices, and dry goods; “smart” safes for your valuables that secure through your thumb print or cell phone; and a customizable carousel that quadruples your storage in a small footprint of space.
“We’ll also be offering the winner of ‘Most Innovative Product’: An angled shelf bracket that allows rods and shelving to be installed on sloped ceilings or slanted walls,” said McKenry, “as well as expanding our wine cellar options with an award-winning line from the show.”
Backstage tours, new and familiar faces, and innovative products all point toward a bright future in the world of storage and closet design.
“It has been a challenging year, and we are not back to ‘normal,’ but the mood is very positive in our industry,” reported McKenry. “I’m pleased to bring connections, knowledge, and products back to Knoxville, and I welcome folks to visit the Closets by McKenry and Designer Garages showrooms to see how they can bring these exciting new national closet and storage trends into their own homes.”