Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue Expo 2020
The Hearth, Patio, Barbecue Expo is a gathering of manufacturers, dealers and distributors from around the world where they can show off their products and forge new partnerships. From elaborate outdoor kitchens to lump charcoal, if it involves indoor-outdoor living, the HPB Expo has it. The HPB Expo also allows different businesses to meet and network. This year, the 3-day event was held in New Orleans in early March.
We headed to The Big Easy in a time of uncertainty: with the Covid-19 pandemic ramping up in the U.S., it was still unclear how the Expo would unfold. But we’ve never shied away from the unknown.
Attendance this year was, understandably, lower than previous years. The positive aspect of this was a “quality over quantity” situation. Many FireBoard users were in attendance, and we had the opportunity to connect with them and hear feedback on a more personal level. The same goes for FireBoard dealers, and it was nice to “rub elbows” with some of the folks who help bring our product to consumers. As the Expo progressed and crowds thinned, we also had other exhibitors approaching us to learn more about our product and company.
One highlight of the show was the outdoor burn area which is always popular with the attendees. As we entered the area, we could immediately smell the enticing combination of smoke and lunch-time barbecue wafting through the air. One of the first exhibitors, a wood stove manufacturer, was demonstrating a hybrid fire-pit/grill and offering some incredible hamburger sliders. After that pit stop, we found the Kamado Joe tents. In no departure from tradition, the KJ crew were showing off an exotic grill style with a whole fish on the grate, temping everyone to reach in and tear off a piece. Rounding the end of the burn area and returning back, we found a New Orleans classic, Drago’s Charbroiled Oysters: it was a perfect ending to our burn area loop.
There are probably mixed feelings about the “success” of this Expo. The fact that some bigger brands chose not to attend meant we had a stronger presence, allowing us to interact with people in a different way than expected at events such as these. We consider ourselves small but mighty, and strive to be reliable when things are unpredictable. While we would have preferred the Expo occur without incident, it was a unique experience this year. Let’s do it again next year, but with everyone healthy. See you in Nashville!