HPBExpo heats up
Cinde Ingram -- Casual Living, April 16, 2011
THE HEARTH, PATIO & BARBECUE EXPO DELIVERED ON PROMISES OF HOT NEW PRODUCT S AND EMERGING TRENDS MARCH 3-5 IN SALT LAKE CITY'S SALT PALACE CONVENTION CENTER.
The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association welcomed more than 300 exhibitors and more than 6,000 attendees for the annual Expo, the largest indoor-outdoor living show in North America. Several vendors used the word "steady" to describe the show traffic; others said it was slow. Both groups agreed the Expo attracted fewer attendees, but serious buyers.
At the end of the Expo's second day, HPBA President & CEO Jack Goldman said there was a sense of optimism among buyers and sellers. "The number of buyers per group is higher than past years," he said. "It didn't hurt on the show's second day the national news announced that the unemployment rate dropped below 9%."
American Gas Logs President Scott Michaels also noted the makeup of buying groups. "The people who are here are the ones who are making the decisions," he said.
"All the important people are here - the ones who have money and are willing to spend money," said Nathan Wheeler, Onward Manufacturing Company, business manager, western U.S. Onward was among the vendors showing diverse product offerings, including its flagship Broil King line as well as Huntington, Broil-Mate, Grillpro, Fiesta and Blue Ember grills.
The Outdoor GreatRoom and Napoleon Gourmet Grills were among the few displaying outdoor furniture in addition to grills and heating products. Showing for its 21st year at HPBExpo, Telescope Casual gained attention as the sole manufacturer supplying only outdoor furniture.
"It's a great show for us, an excellent show," said Telescope Casual President Henry Vanderminden. "We see a lot of our current customers as well as new customers who are thinking about adding furniture to their stores."
Cal Spas expanded its Cal Flame product line, including the ultra modern indoor/ outdoor firepit Rays of Light and Top Gun five-burner convection grill, which features a prominent glass window on the hood and a striking programmable light feature on each stainless steel knob. Cal Flame also launched the Green Grill Conversion Kit, which uses catalytic technology to reduce harmful emissions, and release fewer toxins into food and the environment.
"The 2011 Cal Flame product line features award-winning products and cutting-edge features," said Casey Loyd, president of Cal Spas. "The dealers were thrilled about the new innovative designs and are looking forward to increasing their sales with our new feature-rich products."
Blue Rhino also was among the vendors addressing the eco-friendly niche as it introduced Lokkii 100% natural firestarters and charcoal. Lokkii products are made from wood waste and avoid the problems of leading instant light charcoal products, which contain petroleum and nitrates that can transfer chemical residue into grilled foods.
With electrical grills growing in popularity, Dimplex showcased its PowerChef line powered by a patent-pending EvenSear dual element cooking system. The technology allows a stainless steel upper grill to heat up to 650 degrees and sear food with direct contact, while the lower element uses powerful radiant heat to cook the food evenly. Other advanced features include an automatic cooking control system, automatic power saver, overcook protection, voltage compensation and automatic pre-heat.
Kicking off HPBExpo, the industry association announced promising sales with shipments of grills and smokers reaching more than 15 million in 2010 - a slight increase from 2009 - and positive returns from smoky economic conditions nationwide.
"From the grilling novice to the most seasoned chef, new innovative accessories and all-purpose add-ons give cooks more options to enjoy outdoor cooking throughout the year and for any occasion," HPBA Communications Director Leslie Wheeler said. "New time-saving technologies and innovative international cooking techniques offer something for everyone and make this one of the most diverse Expo experiences to date."
The Outdoor GreatRoom’s Tuscany Pergola creates living spaces outside the walls of a home. Consumers can complete the scene with its Cook Number grills, firepits, fireplaces, outdoor furnishings, lighting and more.
The Fuego Element Portable Gas Grill with red travel band gears up for tailgating and grilling on the go.
As the May-to-September peak outdoor cooking season approaches, consumers can expect to see grills, smokers and outdoor living products in high demand. HPBExpo unveiled the trends that will drive sales during 2011 and beyond including:
Expandables: It's easier than ever before to expand "grill-abilities" with the latest add-on products. For example, the new Gourmet Barbecue System from Weber-Stephen Products offers six affordable, separately sold, heavy-duty add-on grill features, including a cast iron wok and griddle that gives chefs new versatility. Weber consumers also can expand their grill spaces with the Summit Grill Center with Social Area; this new stainless steel, L-shaped build-out comes complete with cabinets that enclose a rotisserie system, a paper towel holder and a dual-ring side burner for an affordable addition to an outdoor grilling get-up.
Minden Grill Company's Roastmaster Grill features a new lid that consumers can open halfway. An expanded selection of cabinets, available through Minden's purchase last year of garage door maker Herche, has been selling incredibly well, said Clint Stanley, general manager, Minden. "It's going to be good for outdoor kitchens," he said.
Danver, a stainless steel cabinetry maker, was attracting mostly existing customers, but Mitchell Slater said it was important for the Wallingford, Conn.- based manufacturer to be at the Expo. "We want to take advantage of a market that is growing," Slater said.
Showing for the first time in the United States, Italian-based Ronda Outdoors displayed its modern outdoor kitchen components, including insulated drawers designed to keep food and drinks cold.
Generation Grill: With the outdoor cooking arena constantly evolving, manufacturers continue to rethink convention. This year, Carson Rotisseries brings the technique of Brazilian slow-turn barbecue to the traditional American grill for the first time with the Brazilian BBQ. And for personalizing meals, the Poco Pizza Oven from Bull Outdoor Products features a stainless steel oven with smokestack, designed for pizzacooking perfection. Or try The Ace of Hearts BBQ Specialties' The Pony Express Smoker and Grill, which allows real pitbarbecue flavor via a unique damper control cooking environment. From Fahrenheit Technologies, the Grilla sets itself apart from the pack with its new innovative wood pellet grill and smoker, including 16 smoke settings, NeverFlare flame disk, KeepHeat chamber door and quick-change pellet drawer.
Grill-ovative accessories: New accessories are keeping outdoor cooking fresh and fun. Moistly Grilled from The Companion Group is a two-piece cast iron vessel and vented lid, an innovative gadget that adds humidity to the grilling environment. Just add water - or any other cooking liquid - to make the most succulent, flavorful grilled meat. Or for grilling made easier, Fire Wire offers the Fire Wire Entrée Skewer, a bendable skewer perfect for grilling single-portion meals and adapting to any cooking surface. A perfect accessory to any meal, Memphis Barbecue Sauces and Rubs from Hearthland Products will entice taste buds with its zesty Memphis-mix of natural, premium ingredients.
Portable and compact: Perfect for tailgates, picnics and backyard barbecues, portable grills bring the heat on-the-go. Fuego North America offers the Element Portable Gas Grill this year as part of its contemporary line of gas grills - which all include a handy roasting lid and dual zone burners. The new Cuisinart Petit Gourmet Portable Gas Grill by The Fulham Group offers a versatile table-top grill that combines portability with ample grilling space. And from Empire Comfort Systems, Broilmaster's new Broilmaster H3X Deluxe Grill with stainless steel rod cooking grid is compact, a convenient entry-level stand-alone grill that fits into tight spaces.
Clean up in a cinch: Making clean up less of a chore, Grill Pillow from Grill Pillow is a new biodegradable pillow that absorbs drip pan grease from outdoor grills, making the removal of unwanted grease easy and mess free. The new Hydro Grill Blaster and BBQ Stone Cleaning Kit from Mr. Bar-B-Q cleans and sanitizes with the help of steam; the trigger action of the Hydro Grill Blaster allows you to control water flow while the BBQ Stone is a soft-pumice that deep cleans your grill.
Turn up the heat: Patio heaters and outdoor fireplace options continued to emerge from existing and new sources. Lennox Hearth Products' Montebello See-Through Fireplace creates the ability to have one side facing indoors and the other outdoors with tinted exterior glass for privacy and ceramic logs with electronic ignition shaped for a realistic flame. "With the uptick in the U.S. housing market, combined with unrest in the Middle East raising fuel prices, our dealers generally benefit," Don Kaufman said. "We're excited about the opportunities. The people we hoped would be here are here, and the overall mood/mentality is much more positive."
Infrared Dynamics was on hand with products that were pioneers of the patio heater category. Well Traveled Living, Ecosmart Fire, Inforesight and Lava Heat Italia presented new designs for outdoor heating. New to the U.S. residential market were Australian-made Bromic heaters with modern ceramic glass screen fronts and one-touch electronic ignitions. Also new were Mensa Heating's under-the-table heating strips with motion sensors that automatically shut off when people leave the table; distributor GreenChance was explaining that innovative German- designed energy efficient radiant heater.
AZ Patio Heaters built on its success from last September's Casual Market. "This show has gone remarkably well for us," said Bo McMillen, vice president of sales and operations.
"We're rocking and rolling and selling all day."
HPBA committee chairmen Steve Magnotti of The Fireplace & Patioplace, Pittsburgh, and Marc-Antoine Cantin of Stove Builder International, Quebec, wield an ax for the official show ribbon cutting.
The TBQ Electric Grill from Dimplex offers an EvenSear dual element cooking system that reaches 650 degrees and provides precise, even heat to lock in flavor.
Grill shipments remain strong with gas grills continuing to top the charts as the most popular type of grill, followed by charcoal and then electric. Many remote control ignition options were introduced to help make grilling easier.
Total Gas Grills Shipments (57% of sales) - 8,553,500
Total Charcoal Grills Shipments (41% of sales) - 6,232,500
Total Electric Grills Shipments (2% of sales) - 276,600
May is National Barbecue Month and the kick-off to the peak grilling and smoking season. Retailers see their highest sales during the warmer months and HPBA forecasts continued growth this summer.