When we started planning our NeoCon 50 coverage, we wondered if there was anyone who had experienced all previous shows. We were delighted to connect with Dick Resch, Chairman and CEO of KI, who has been identified as the one person who would get the attendance award — if The Mart awarded one!
There are not many people who have attended all 50 shows. Thinking back, how do you think the show has evolved and what are the main reasons it has survived and thrived?
Well, my recollections of the first shows are a bit blurry! We had a small 10’ x 10′ booth and showed three products in a hallway. Those first products included a folding chair and an industrial stool. I remember walking around and being impressed by the showrooms of some of the larger manufacturers. I think the show has evolved from one that just exhibited product to one that features conceptual ideas and what is “new” and may be coming into the pipeline as the market changes with how people are changing up the spaces where they work. Now the show is as much about ideas as it is about product.
You have a unique perspective as one of the original exhibitors, how has KI changed its approach to the show over time?
Engaging with our customers and having the opportunity to get their input for some of our new ideas. We are looking forward to seeing what they have to say about our “Tattoo” introduction, this year. We get great feedback from designers and clients who experience the showroom and have the chance to see the furniture in person.
What is your favorite part of attending Neocon?
I enjoy looking at the direction other manufacturers are taking with their product lines, and what trends are front and center. Our design team and I like to check out the temporary exhibits to see what emerging and international companies are promoting. The pop-up spaces may yield a potential partner for tech components or other resources.
The best part is more personal, this is my opportunity to connect with my peers in the industry. This is our senior leadership networking opportunity. Over the years I have been fortunate to get to know others in the field and NeoCon puts us all in the same place at the same time to share ideas and just catch up with each other. It is also good to spend time with some of the new, younger CEOs for counsel and mentorship. There is always room in the industry for new ideas and manufacturers.
If you could look 50 years in the future, what do you think NeoCon 100 would be like?
How about if I just forecast 10 or 20 years ahead? I think we are seeing a more global market. The show will evolve as a more international market as US companies have a larger presence and exposure in other markets. We are seeing a greater influx of international companies showing at NeoCon each year.