Big Business
Laura Van Zeyl

Leave it to the market venue that opened one of its buildings with a performance by Rod Stewart — and had President Bill Clinton as a keynote speaker two years ago — to bring in some more heavy hitters for its winter 2013 edition. The World Market Center Las Vegas arm of International Market Centers (IMC) does things as big and bold as any marquee on the Strip. But this time, it’s not simply about showmanship; it’s all about business.

IMC partnered with gift and home industry veteran Randy Eller of Eller Enterprises, who has consulted for the organization as it transitioned to incorporate key home furnishings exhibition properties in High Point as well as Las Vegas, to produce the first Gift & Home CEO Summit. The two-day summit hits at the tail end of the Jan. 28-Feb. 1 buying event and is aimed at top executives of home décor manufacturing companies.

The slate of speakers is impressive. Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich will address international currency and geopolitical issues. Former U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman Jr. will localize his vast expertise about a manufacturing giant for the gift and home industry. ABC News Senior Contributor Claire Shipman will explain how women are changing the workplace, drawing from her co-authored book “Womanomics: The Workplace Revolution That Will Change Your Life.” And Jim Grien, President of TM Capital, and his team will talk about a range of economic topics, from growing private equity interest in gift and home décor and, of great interest to me (and you, I would imagine), the “long-term case for indepenent retailers.”

That’s a pretty powerful program. By focusing exclusively on the information needs of upper management at global vendors, I believe Eller and IMC have created a compelling draw for that segment. Traditional conferences tend to be so democratic — appealing to a range of business types, sizes, experience levels, job functions and interests in the cumulative agenda — there is sometimes very little tangible take-away for the top tier. Kudos to IMC for thinking big with this new event at a critical juncture in our economy. What other summit-style sub-events might make sense alongside the existing forums that already bring us together? Or targeted tracks to keep certain sectors engaged, like the under-40 efforts made by the American Lighting Assn. (ALA) and ART - The Creative Home Furnishings Network? 

IMC is rewarding its tenants by offering a sliding scale on registration for its summit, which is $895 for non-exhibitors, $595 for exhibitors at IMC properties in either High Point or Las Vegas and $395 for IMC exhibitors in both cities. For more information, visit

About this author

Laura Van Zeyl

Laura Van Zeyl is the Publisher/Editorial Director of Residential Lighting and Home Fashion Forecast magazines, and has been covering the lighting and home furnishings industries since 1993. In 2014, she was named one of "100 Women of Inspiration" by Today's Chicago Woman magazine.

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