We've exhibited at the Building Industry Association of Lancaster County's Spring Home Show as long as I've been involved with our business. It's always a great event for us for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, it's a great opportunity to talk to homeowner customers who are making plans for projects in the year ahead. We also get to check in with other exhibitors – many of them are customers of Penn Stone and are there every year, so it's a good opportunity to take a pulse of what's going on with others in our local construction economy.
One of the other valuable aspects of this show has to do with what we choose to do with our display. For the past several years, we've had a four-booth-square layout, which provides a large blank slate for us to work with. When we plan what to show each year, we focus on showcasing new products and products that we think customers will connect with. Planning for this show forces us to take a step back and decide what small number of things are important enough to include in our display. And once the show opens, we're often surprised at what gets the most attention.
If you had asked me before the show started what was going to attract the most attention, I'd have said our Semco boulder fountain, a beautiful Brentwood natural stone bench, Tropitone's UR Comfort chair, and our Solair retractable awning display. The awning definitely got people's attention, but along with that we spent most of our time talking about the Big Green Egg, our biotethanol outdoor fireplace by EcoSmart Fire, and a new teak dining set from Barlow Tyrie. For a number of years, I would try to steer people to the things I thought deserved the most attention, but anymore I love using this show as a weekend-long focus group to refine our idea of what customers are most interested in for the year ahead.
But perhaps the best part of this show is the jump-start it gives us for the upcoming season. This year, that was less-true that many others, because with the mild winter our customers have been thinking spring since January, but in the past we've set this show up when there's been snow on the ground, and especially in those years, spending a weekend talking with people about outdoor living projects reminds me that it won't be long until we're crazy-busy.
So now the show's over, and things are mostly back to normal for us, but with a bit more insight into what customers might be looking for in 2012, and a renewed burst of enthusiasm for another good, busy spring season.