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VOL. 117 | NO. 39 | Tuesday, February 25, 2003

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Home Expo features latest in goods, technology

Home Expo features latest in goods, technology

By STACEY WIEDOWER

The Daily News

From up-to-the-minute home technology to the latest in landscape design, prospective homebuyers, current homeowners, curious passers-by and members of the trade can gather information about all aspects of home building and design at this years Home Expo, an annual event presented by the Memphis Area Home Builders Association.

The show, which runs from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday at Agricenter International, 7777 Walnut Grove Road, features about 200 vendors who will showcase products ranging from countertops to audio-visual equipment to bathtubs.

We hope that we can cover any persons needs, whether theyre looking to remodel or just looking for ideas, or even just wanting to come and see what the latest trends are in home design and products for the home, said Jessica Brown, MAHBA marketing and development director.

Anything you really want to know about home design or home building can be answered at our show.

The show has been offered in Memphis for more than 30 years, and is sponsored this year by local building firm Chamberlain & McCreery. It kicks off Thursday with Builder Night, a preview event for MAHBAs builder members.

It gives builder members an advantage, Brown said. They get to come in and see the latest designs before the public does. And, they get to see the vendors and talk to them one-on-one before the Expo is open to the public.

That opening night provides a marked benefit for firms such as Acme Brick, Tile & More, which gains much of its customer base from within the home building market, said Kelley Atkins, a residential territory manager for Acme and chairman of this years expo.

The majority of our business does come through residential home building, Atkins said. As residential home building goes, so goes Acme Brick Co.

He said the general weekend crowd provides great benefit to exhibitors, as well.

The weekend brings about 15,000 to 20,000 in attendance, he said. Thats a huge retail exposure for anyone in the market who does remodeling or home building or anything of that nature.

Gary Hoefler, co-owner of Home Technology Plus, a home-based business that offers home control systems, audio-video distribution and low-voltage control systems, said the expo offers a creative environment and a place where serious buyers come to examine goods and services.

It gives us exposure to a number of clients who otherwise we wouldnt get to see, said Hoefler, who has participated in the expo for three years.

The types of products his company displays are a major draw for the show, as attendees always are excited to see the latest and greatest high-tech gadgetry, he said.

The industry has evolved from the time when people were satisfied in homes to be able to have a television in a room and a telephone in some rooms to now, when wiring structure has evolved and the capacity of the infrastructure is much more capable in not only speed, but in preparation, he said.

His company has run anywhere from 3 miles to 25 miles of low-voltage wiring in homes, and has installed systems ranging from standard surround sound to high-end digital light projection rooms, he said.

Technology-driven vendors in the past have enticed visitors with dramatic light and sound, Atkins said.

They have their surround sound going on, and you can hear them booming throughout most of the Agricenter when theyre cranking up some of their displays, which often include fully assembled home theaters, he said.

Other vendors displays are equally elaborate.

Bartlett Landscapes booth will include an arbor, fountain and loads of pictures of projects completed by the design, build, landscape and pool company, said landscape designer and consultant David McGittigan.

He said the expo provides not only a backdrop for attracting new residential customers, but also an essential networking tool.

You get to see new ideas and you can say, Hey, come on in here and lets see how we can work some of your new product into our business, as well, he said. From a networking standpoint, its very advantageous.

He added that the expo provides access to qualified customers, and generates a tremendous amount of sales leads.

Generally, what Ive found from the expo is that customers are on a mission, McGittigan said. Theyre looking for sashes, or theyre looking for landscape, or theyre looking for countertops.

It just gets people who are direct and know what they want, who are definitely interested in certain aspects of the home a more qualified customer.

Barbara Spahn, co-owner of sunroom installation firm Rooms with a View, said the expo and similar events provide the companys primary source of advertising.

People usually seem to be pretty interested if they bother to come to the show theyre already in the mood to renovate, or theyre building, said Spahn, who has showcased her companys sunroom products at the event for 10 years. They certainly get a lot of ideas, and they get to compare products.

In addition to building-related firms, vendors include real estate agents, mortgage lenders, furniture suppliers and other home-related companies.

Atkins said the products and services showcased at the expo draw a diverse crowd.

All the companies, through technology advances, come out with new and innovative products that year after year become more creative and better in general, and thats what keeps people coming back to the show because there is always something new, he said.

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RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 77 77 11,602
MORTGAGES 79 79 13,506
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 0 1,858
BUILDING PERMITS 96 96 24,260
BANKRUPTCIES 53 53 7,526
BUSINESS LICENSES 31 31 3,943
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 4,681
MARRIAGE LICENSES 20 20 2,564

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