Things You Should Know About the HIRI Insights Conference

Past speaker and frequent attendee Grant Farnsworth, director of business development at The Farnsworth Group, caught up with us to share why he thinks the Insights Conference is a can’t-miss event for home improvement industry professionals.

HIRI: Who should attend the HIRI Insights Conference?

GF: If you work for a business connected to the home improvement or remodeling market, or if you want to improve your position within these markets, HIRI’s Insights Conference should be on your short list.

HIRI does a great job providing thought leadership content that applies to multiple areas of business. Whether you focus on marketing and communications, product development, customer insights or internal initiatives, this conference has something for you.

HIRI: What makes this conference so valuable for people in the home improvement industry?

GF: Two things come to mind.

First of all, the networking aspect is unparalleled. If you work in home improvement, you probably feel like you already juggle too many conferences. But the format of this event allows you to connect with other industry colleagues on an intimate level. In the space of a couple days, you can hear from some of the most renowned home improvement experts and catch up with your counterparts and competitors on a one-to-one basis.

Second, this conference offers a rare opportunity to hear from a comprehensive collection of home improvement thought leaders who come to share not just what’s happening in our industry today, but also a preview of the future.

HIRI: What do you love about it as a previous speaker?

GF: It’s easy to understand the audience because of its focused interest. This conference is all about residential home improvement. As a speaker, I’ve always felt like I’m speaking to a group of people who are there for the same reason and have a singular, shared focus, regardless of the role they serve within their company or organization.

HIRI: What do you love about it as an attendee?

GF: I love learning how other people in the home improvement industry approach our business, from product development to communications and industry forecasts. The HIRI Insights Conference gives attendees a broad perspective of the coming years.

The networking aspect is great, too. I love large conferences like the International Builders’ Show (IBS) and Pacific Coast Builders Conference (PCBC), but they have a different vibe. At IBS and PCBC, I spend a lot of time on my feet, walking the floor. I move from one conversation to the next in a high-energy, high-traffic environment. HIRI is different because it’s intimate. It isn’t about selling to builders, contracts or retailers. It’s about learning the home improvement space and connecting with others.

HIRI: Why is networking so valuable?

GF: It’s easy to get stuck in your own bubble, which is why we have to remember to step outside and talk to others about what they’ve seen or experienced. It’s always comforting to observe similar challenges outside your own work, and sometimes peers can provide creative suggestions.

HIRI: What are some of the most pressing issues for the home improvement industry today?

GF: Labor continues to be a hot button. And it’s no longer about determining whether it’s a real issue — I think it’s clear that it is — but rather about understanding the implications for our industry and coming up with viable solutions.

Technology is another hot topic. That goes for manufacturing — how we make the products and homes we sell — in addition to product technology and smart homes.

Cost is a big one. Labor, land and material come to mind here, as well as tariffs.

Overall, I believe product discussions and processes are becoming better and stronger, and that’s really cool. As an industry, we’re taking a closer look at how we work, knowing we’ve done things largely the same way for 100 years. We’re beginning to talk about changing processes that no longer work in today’s landscape. Smart companies and leaders are turning to technology and product development innovations in order to change the narrative on process and address issues like labor and cost.

HIRI: What are some encouraging signs?

GF: Data continues to play a larger and more direct role within manufacturing and retail, and industry leaders are increasingly leveraging data to inform their decisions. This is an industry that has a deep history of operating on gut, but that’s changing. Information fuels healthy competition, but it also brings fresh eyes and thinkers into the space to challenge the status quo and invent new solutions.

I think we’re also beginning to take a closer look at the process of new construction, remodels and repairs. How do we do that work? How does the process play out for the homeowner, supplier and installer? Where do we connect the dots? Much of this is driven by technology. We have people coming into home improvement without any background in the industry, yet they understand technology and how to leverage it to create disruption in a space that needs it.

HIRI: How does the Insights Conference prepare industry professionals to leverage those things that are happening?

GF: If you come to this conference, you’ll get instant access to concrete data and case studies to enhance the anecdotal conversations likely happening in your office. You’ll get an education on healthy home products and how they affect the human condition, existing home sales data and driving factors and how you can take advantage of digital solutions to generate B2B leads.

HIRI: Tell us about the talk you’re most interested to hear this fall.

GF: I can’t wait to hear Andrew Obendorf from SOM architecture. His presentation, “How Innovation Impacts Building Products and the Home Improvement Process,” stretches past the typical smart home conversation to dive into the actual process of homebuilding. When we leverage technology, how far can we go? What is the future of construction? Obendorf and his team at SOM architecture are involved in that work, and they understand that while we don’t have to be the Jetsons, we can come up with a better way to leverage the capabilities we have today.

HIRI: Is a HIRI membership something everyone in this industry should consider? Why?

GF: Yes. In fact, it’s a no-brainer. The networking component is a huge value add, but HIRI members also receive exclusive, member-only access to research that’s otherwise extremely expensive. When they utilize it, entire organizations can benefit greatly from HIRI’s work — from analytics and consumer information teams to executive management and sales. The cost to join HIRI is a drop in the bucket compared to just a few studies purchased on a one-off basis.

I think it’s also important for people to know that unlike most, HIRI is a member-driven organization. This means the members get to decide what research and other initiatives HIRI pursues.

Ready to register for the 2018 HIRI Insights Conference in Chicago, September 18–19? Register Now