Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A New Design for Twitter


Have you noticed that Twitter recently revamped its website, making it easier for new users to navigate their way through the site? The previous, rudimentary design layout now features a sleek design, and makes for easy use. Each profile now presents a “Facebook” style timeline, which includes recent tweets and accessible information such as followers, images, lists, and favorite pages.

The “Home” page provides all the old features, with a few new and improved updates. For example, each tweet in the news feed can now be opened, allowing you to view the intimate details of the tweet, including those who have re-tweeted the post. Also, at the top left corner, users will see two more new features, the @Connect and #Discover tabs. The @Connect tab allows users to view all interactions, mentions, follows for an account. Thus, making it easier to communicate with and follow new and existing users. The #Discover tab enables users to view trending Twitter topics in a whole new way, based on a user’s connections, location and language.

So why the redesign? ECPR has its own take on why Twitter revamped its social networking site. The new Twitter seems to look a lot like Facebook’s Timeline. And, with other social media channels, such as LinkedIn, becoming more popular, Twitter’s redesign comes at the right time. The new design seems to entice users to “tweet” from Twitter, rather than from third-party sites like HootSuite. In addition, the new design could be related to a user’s eye movements. Twitter designers may have strategically placed items in locations where users focus their attention the most, including the top left of a page, as well as photos within tweets (which are now viewable directly in the news feed). Also, along with the new features, Twitter has launched “brand pages” for companies who are advertisers. In creating these “brand pages,” Twitter is making an effort to increase revenue through advertisers.

What do you think of the new Twitter; is it more user-friendly, or simply a way for Twitter to increase profits from advertisers? Please post your comments below, we would be happy to learn your thoughts on the new Twitter.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It’s Poinsettia Season!

Poinsettias are a national phenomenon during the holiday season, but the history of these plants is not commonly known by consumers. In this blog post, the ECPR team will uncover the history of Poinsettias. Given the fact we have written about and publicized thousands of plants over the years, we thought a look at the story behind Poinsettias would be quite appropriate for our blog. We hope our friends and fans find the history of these holiday plants as fascinating as we do!

Poinsettias originate from the most southern regions of Mexico and Central America. Ancient Aztecs first discovered the plant species blooming in tropical highlands one winter, and named it Cuetlaxochitl, which means “flower that grows in residues or soil,” in the Aztec language of Nahuatl. Originally, the red leaves of Poinsettias were used to dye clothing and produce a form of cosmetics, while the milky-white sap was used to help reduce fever temperatures.
Photo courtesy of Foxcrawl.com
Poinsettias were first thought to be associated with Christmas back in 16th century Mexico. It is believed that a young girl, too poor to afford a gift for the celebration of Christ’s birthday, gathered weeds from the side of the road and placed them in front of her church altar. The crimson blossoms sprouted from the weeds into beautiful poinsettias. Later, during the 17th century, Franciscan priests, who resided near Taxco, located in the Mexican state of Guerrero, were said to have used full blooming Poinsettias as part of the nativity precession. The star-shaped leaf pattern is thought to have symbolized the Star of Bethlehem, and the red leaves were said to represent the blood sacrifice though the crucifixion of Jesus.

In 1828, Dr. Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first US Ambassador to Mexico, discovered the crimson-red plants while visiting the Taxco region. Enraptured by its beauty, Poinsett sent clippings of the plant back to his home in Charleston, SC. He then began propagating them in his greenhouses and sending samples to his friends. In 1833, German botanist, Wilenow gave the plant its botanical name of Euphorbia pulcherrima. It was in 1937 when the plant had been renamed to Poinsettia by William Hickling Prescott, wishing to honor Dr. Poinsett. Today, many professional growers cultivate Poinsettias, making them widely available to retailers and their consumers almost everywhere. Consider purchasing these beautiful plants this season for their gorgeous appeal as well as to support the growers who make them accessible.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Gearing up for the World of Concrete Show

The World of Concrete show is just around the corner. Set to take place at the Las Vegas Convention Center from January 24 – 27, 2012, the show is the industry’s only annual international event dedicated to commercial concrete and masonry construction suppliers. With more than 1,300 companies exhibiting at the show, approximately 50,000 attendees will be in search of the newest products and technologies on display. Industry professionals such as commercial contractors, concrete contractors, construction managers, designers and specifiers, general contractors, masonry contractors, residential contractors, precast/prestressed producers, architects, and more will be roaming the 50,000 square-foot showroom this year.

In addition to new product displays, a number of educational seminars, demonstrations, competitions and special events will take place throughout the duration of the show. Show goers will have the opportunity to learn how to lay concrete floors, repair concrete and measure performance and productivity as well as learn about how to use social media channels to customize marketing strategies. To view the full schedule of events and seminars taking place at this year’s show, click here.

The unlimited number of networking opportunities and educational experiences enables exhibitors and industry professionals to strengthen connections and capitalize on new trends for 2012. For those of you who are attending World of Concrete, visit the show’s website at www.worldofconcrete.com for detailed show information, travel and lodging suggestions and floor plans.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Redefining Public Relations

For those of you who don’t already know, The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) has set to out to redefine the term “public relations.” The term, last updated in 1982, is significantly out-of-date. With new methods of communication and technology, public relations has evolved into more than just one-way communication. For starters, social media has become one of the most prominent tools in public relations and marketing. With channels such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs and Flickr, companies have a way to interact and engage with consumers on a more “human” level. Thus, increasing brand personification, recognition and loyalty.

On November 21, 2011, PRSA began accepting definition suggestions from industry professionals, academics and students to help redefine public relations. For submission information, click here. Once the deadline closes (December 3, 2011), the top definitions will be chosen on December 5, and voting will begin.

In light of this opportunity to redefine the art of our profession, the ECPR team came up with our own definition as industry experts.

“Public relations is a series of strategic approaches, tactical campaigns, and disseminated messages purposed to build two-way communication that advances brand or corporate perception by key constituency groups.”

Friends and fans, tell us what public relations means to you. Do you agree with our definition? Please feel free to post your comments, ideas or questions below. We look forward to receiving constructive feedback. Also, stay tuned to our social media channels as we follow along on PRSA’s journey to redefine public relations.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Southern Living's 2012 Idea House Returns to Senoia, Georgia

Returning to Senoia, Georgia, for the second time, the 2012 Southern Living Idea House will be unlike any other. Why? Because instead of the house being built from the group up, the project is set to be a renovation of a historical farmhouse.

As some of you may already know, Senoia is home to classic movies and TV shows such as Driving Miss Daisy, Fried Green Tomatoes and, most recently, AMC’s hit series, The Walking Dead. But, more importantly, Senoia is gaining momentum by striving to be an eco-friendly community. With the town’s typical southern charm in combination with sustainability efforts, Senoia is proving to be a cozy place to settle down.
The 2012 Southern Living Idea House will be a revival of an early 19th century cottage-style farmhouse. Its makeover has been masterfully designed by the noted team of architects and place makers at Historical Concepts from the neighboring town of Peachtree City. Completing the team is John Bynum Custom Homes, Inc., one of the Atlanta area’s premier custom home builders, Senoia’s Historic Development Ventures, LLC, and nationally-recognized interior design firm, Tracery Interiors.

This farmhouse revival project is expected to draw as many as 40,000 visitors from across the country, and Southern Living is scheduled to feature it the August 2012 issue. The home will be open for tours from June to December 2012, Wednesday – Saturday, 11 AM – 5 PM and Sunday 1 – 5 PM. The Idea House will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Stay tuned as we uncover more details about the 2012 Southern Living Idea House via our social media channels.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Top Interior Design Blogs

No matter your level of expertise in interior design, industry professionals always need to be informed of the latest trends as well as research new and innovative ways to help clients reach interior design goals. Thus, the importance of interior design blogs has become increasingly more valuable to those in the industry. While there are many interior design blogs on the internet, the ECPR team has put together a list of five we believe you might find of interest. Each blog was selected because of its unique range of decorating tips, ideas, products, and more.


Launched in 2004 by Grace Bonney, Design*Sponge attracts a diverse demographic of readers. Currently, over 75,000 people read the blog on a daily basis; this number excludes RSS readers, Twitter and Facebook followers. As a freelance writer for top publications such as Better Homes & Gardens, InStyle and Everyday with Rachael Ray as well as having been a contributing editor for several home magazines, Grace’s experience in the industry makes Design*Sponge a credible interior design blog. In addition to sharing “Before and After” design makeovers, DIY projects and home furnishing products, Design*Sponge’s unique “Sneak Peek” series steals the show. The series of blogs are dedicated to sharing interior design styles from all over the world. No matter your client’s design preferences, design professionals can read up on regional and international trends for tips and ideas.
Freshome

Freshome is an online blog dedicated to sharing and uncovering the latest products and trends in architecture and design. With a primary focus on design inspiration, Freshome aims to give ideas on how to create beautiful, organized and healthy living spaces. Launched in 2007, Freshome has since been the “go-to” place for architects and interior designers. Blog topics range from furniture products, kitchen spaces and bathroom décor to blog posts about bedrooms, living rooms and even apartment layout ideas. Freshome is easy to navigate and provides informative information for those who want to keep up with the ever-changing world of creative design.
Apartment Therapy

Apartment Therapy is another great interior design blog. With emphasis on providing readers with the necessary tools on how to create comfortable, calm living spaces, Apartment Therapy shares basic design tips for readers. In addition to a “homepage,” Apartment Therapy also caters to regional areas across the country, such as Boston, New York, Washington DC, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Each individual location provides decorating insights home tours, store sales and events, as well as a daily “scavenger hunt.” Essentially, the “scavenger hunt” is a way for homeowners and design professionals to learn where the best places to shop for specific home furnishings and accessories in their area. Apartment Therapy’s blog approach to interior design is certainly unique and exciting.
PadStyle

PadStyle is a décor inspiration blog for homeowners and interior designers. On average, this site reaches between 40,000 – 50,000 readers a month and appeals to a wide range of age demographics. PadStyle shares information about how to decorate indoor and outdoor spaces. We included this in our top interior design blogs for its attention to detail and informative, easy-to-understand tips and ideas. Catering towards modern and traditional design styles, PadStyle offers readers design tips for living room, dining room, bedroom, patio spaces, kitchens, and more. Additionally, PadStyle features a “shop online” store that is broken down by living space. The online store enables homeowners and interior designers to shop hassle-free with secure online ordering.

decor8

decor8 was founded and launched in 2006 by Holly Becker, an American novelist, freelance journalist and interior design consultant, who currently resides in Germany. Her passion for interior design, coupled with her love of writing, enabled her to create a reliable blog about interior decorating. decor8 is updated daily throughout the week and features inside information from professional designers, home furnishing and accessory product reviews, store and home tours, and much more. In her blog posts, Holly covers an eclectic range of topics, including decorating ideas, tips for small business owners, travel, blogging and independent design. One notable feature of decor8, is that Holly and her team offer educational courses on how to create a successful, meaningful blog site, no matter your topic.

Friends and fans, we hope you found this post about top-level interior design blogs both helpful and educational. Not only are blogs useful tools to market products and / or services, but they also allow for a more personal approach to sharing information with your audience. At ECPR, we offer services to help companies in the home, garden and design industries to create meaningful, informative blogs. Thus, allowing for our client’s current and potential customers to learn about industry-related tips, trends, news, and more. For more information about our social media services, visit our website www.eberlycollardpr.com.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

One Way to Engage Customers via Facebook

In recent years, Facebook has become a revolutionary marketing tool. Companies are interacting more with customers, clients and industry professionals as a means to increase sales and brand awareness. But, some companies and organizations are missing the mark by simply creating Facebook pages because their competitors do. In many of these cases, marketing managers leave their newly developed Facebook pages unattended – i.e., an attempted online conversation with no dialog. We advocate and assist clients in creating valuable content as opposed to just being on Facebook because everyone else is. By offering content with valuation, fans will come to think of a Facebook page as a go-to source of helpful insights. The likelihood of consumers or clients “liking” company pages is dependent on whether the posts featured on Facebook are relevant and interesting enough to follow and engage in.
ECPR manages several Facebook accounts, including Ligne Roset Miami, a high-end, contemporary furniture company. Our team researches and writes Facebook posts directed toward the company’s desired demographics, with an ongoing goal of interfacing with the an ever-evolving fan base. Recently, we posted a photo album called “All-White Décor,” in which we featured a selection of modern home furnishings and accessories from Ligne Roset to appeal to the company’s clientele in Miami. More importantly, the photo album is not promotional, but rather is informative and educational. The narrative and captions accompanying the album provide a look at how to create a beautiful, clean interior that focuses on a streamlined white decor. This was one in a series of how-to, captivating posts implemented consistently over time. Essentially, our post strategy helps Ligne Roset Miami create new relationships with customers and appeal to potential clients through high-quality, engaging content on Facebook. After all, no Facebook fan is interested in one-way promotional messaging alone.

Our team of social media experts are constantly researching new and interesting ways to effectively communicate though social media channels. Thus, allowing us tailor posts to our clients’ needs. For more information about our social media services for companies in the home, garden and design industries, please visit our website at www.eberlycollardpr.com.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Ultimate Casement Window

Marvin Windows and Doors, a family owned and operated business, is a premier manufacturer of made-to-order wood and clad wood windows and doors. With the success of the company’s brands and products, Marvin Windows and Doors has launched a new product, the Ultimate Casement window, as part of the Ultimate collection.

The new addition to the Ultimate collection is proving to be one of the most innovative window designs on the market for builders, remodelers, architects, and homeowners. Most uniquely, the Ultimate Casement window features a revolutionary wash mode which allows the window to be cleaned on both sides, while standing indoors. In just three simple steps, homeowners can rotate the exterior glass, saving time, money and effort. In addition to the wash mode, the Ultimate Casement window offers commercial-grade hardware, to ensure the window operates smoothly and opens easily for high-quality performance. This new casement window is available in a variety of designs and sizes. The largest size is 40” wide and 92” tall or 36” wide and 96” tall, allowing for unobstructed views and maximum fresh air.


Continuing to add to the Ultimate line, Marvin Windows and Doors has also recently introduced a retractable screen option. This creative, concealable screen glides side-to-side on a smooth track and can be stored in the window jamb when not in use. The retractable screen comes in a variety of wood species to match the interior of the window. Moreover, the screen is exclusively available in Marvin Windows and Doors’ Hi Transparency mesh. The screen’s fine mesh is made from a durable fiberglass material that is tear- and dent-resistant. 

Marvin Windows and Doors’ Ultimate Casement window and retractable screen option adds a premium component to new homes and buildings on the market. Builders, architects and remodelers designing with and using these innovative products can enhance construction projects to appeal to owners. For more information on Marvin Windows and Doors and the Ultimate Casement window, visit www.marvin.com.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Amerimix Chromatics Colored Mortars

Amerimix, a brand of Bonsal American (an Oldcastle company), has launched a line of colored mortars called Chromatics. The company’s brand new product line has certainly captured the attention of the ECPR team. The line includes 23 colors, available in either pre-blended Portland cement, lime and sand (AMX 405C) or pre-blended masonry cement and sand (AMX 505C). Both are factory blends engineered to provide long water retention, exceptional workability and superior bond strength over masonry substrates. The company’s pre-blended, colored mortars can be custom made to match any desired color. Amerimix colors are able to match, complement or contrast interiors and exteriors.

To ensure color accuracy, the company uses computerized color matching and verification. This unique computerized color system uses spectrophotometric technology during the batching phase, which allows company technicians to evaluate and account for color variations that always occur naturally in cement and aggregate. Having this knowledge before reaching the intended jobsite is critical, giving way to a new level of efficiency.
In addition to being color consistent, Amerimix Chromatics have other quality features. For example, high bond strength and extended mortar board life. Also, these colored mortars have increased yield, compared to typical field mixed mortars. Another advantage of Amerimix colored mortars is the fact that they are available in Types M, S and N. In combination with the features listed above, Amerimix Chromatics have the ability to reduce the amount of labor time and enhance productivity. Conveniently, the mortars have already been pre-tested to ASTM specifications.

All Amerimix mortars are engineered for load or non-load bearing construction. They are available in small or bulk bags, depending on the size of the job. Residential and commercial builders / contractors as well as distributors, if you are interested in learning more about Amerimix Colored Mortar or other Amerimix products, contact a local sales representative by clicking here. Also, visit Bonsal American’s website at www.bonsalamerican.com for information about the company’s other brands and products.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Our Client Goes Digital

One of our clients, Terra Nova Nurseries, has launched new social media channels as well as a mobile site and QR Codes. With new technology on the rise, the company’s decision to launch new social media and interactive platforms was to allow information and insights to be more accessible to customers. In addition, creating multi-platforms, participatory communications with growers, retailers and consumers; and engaging with various online communities, enables Terra Nova Nurseries to better understand and reach out to more diverse demographics.

Thus, the ECPR team has been working with Terra Nova Nurseries to develop a series of channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and a blog, all to evoke online collaboration. The company’s social media channels are designed to develop interactive relationships as tools to better assist and encourage deeper, more meaningful conversations with horticultural experts, media members and consumers.
Our work with Terra Nova Nurseries has included a new Facebook page, which is being used as a social-networking site where fans can view plant and nursery photos, and converse with Terra Nova staff members through posted comments and questions. Friends and fans can also find valuable insights like plant and collection introductions, breeding highlights, liner availability specials for growers, support content for retailers, and even how-to articles and tips for home gardeners. For more lengthy, in depth information and articles, Terra Nova Nurseries’ fans can tune into the company’s new blog. A variety of topics include a range from current plant availability, personnel bios and company news to grower tips / benefits, media coverage and trade show events. Conversely, we worked with Terra Nova Nurseries to launch a Twitter channel that features short, informative “tidbits” of news and updates for more frequent, and timely interactions. This method of communication enables staff members and those who follow the feed, to receive information “on-the-go.” In addition, a Flickr channel was created to share photos of new plants and series as well as photos from trade shows, speaking engagements and garden tours. Since Flickr is indexed in search engines, this makes finding and sourcing posted images in an organized fashion a simple task.

With the addition of Terra Nova Nurseries’ social media channels, the company has most recently set up a YouTube channel. The brand new videos, co-produced and hosted by Dan Heims, showcase information such as breeding advancements in Cyclamen, Echinacea, Sedum, Coreopsis, Penstemon, Trailing Tiarella, Trailing Heucherella, and reblooming Kniphofia. Other videos showcase the company’s prized on-site gardens and all there is to know about the Heuchera Crisp Series.

With Terra Nova Nurseries’ focus on building online engagement, QR barcodes linked to smartphone applications have also been developed. Intended to tighten the circle between plant branding and point-of-sale for retailers, the QR codes supply consumers with interactive access to plant information through their phones. The codes have been added to Terra Nova’s plant tags. Each plant variety has been assigned a QR code which has been linked to a new mobile website that mimics the company’s main site. The codes are also linked to individual online plant profile pages, making plant characteristics and growing conditions readily available for all smartphone users no matter their locations.

As we have done for Terra Nova Nurseries, ECPR offers social media services for companies desiring to develop deeper relations with their own clients and customers. With technology advancing and methods of communication changing, the need to develop social media channels has become not just an added bonus, but more of a necessity. At ECPR, we specialize in P.R. 2.0., assisting companies in creating and maintaining social media channels and traditional public relations. Our team agrees it is time for more companies to realize the importance of social media and how it can help companies grow and enter the digital world of online communication. For more information about how we can assist industry-related companies with social media channels and to learn more about P.R. 2.0., visit our website by clicking here.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Apples to Oranges; Why Consumers Buy What They Do

The Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit International Convention and Exposition is just around the corner. Retailers, suppliers, importers / exporters, wholesalers, growers, trade press, and more, will be attending this year’s show in Atlanta, Ga., from October 14-17. The show will highlight some of the newest trends in the industry as well as provide exhibitors and show goers great networking and business opportunities.

As a useful tool prior to the show, the National Grocers Association (NGA) released the 2011 Consumer Survey Report, to help industry professionals better understand consumer wants and needs. On behalf of the NGA, www.supermarketguru.com conducted a survey between November 2010 and January 2011 in which 1,718 chief household shoppers shared their supermarket purchases, experiences, eating habits, purchase influences, and nutritional concerns on www.supermarketguru.com’s online consumer panel.

To view details about the 2011 Consumer Report, visit our Facebook page by clicking here. Also, for additional information about Fresh Summit, including a full list of events taking place, visit the show’s website at www.freshsummit.com.

Note to Exhibitors: Send us your press releases regarding industry insights, new products and trends, as we will be writing a number of articles for our blog and several trade magazines following the show.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

GAF, A Team of Innovators


Founded in 1886, GAF has become one of North America’s largest manufacturers of commercial and residential roofing. GAF roofing products have been featured on a number of well-known and respected television programs, including CBS, Discovery Channel, Women’s Entertainment, Fox, PBS, and A&E. The company’s success is based on helping homeowners and architects choose the best roofing options as well as assist distributors and roofing contractors build business and avoid hassles.

Recently, GAF exhibited at the 2011 CONSTRUCT Show in Chicago, and part of our team interviewed company representatives on site to uncover exactly what makes their products so unique. At the show, the company showcased one of its newer products, EverGuard Extreme™ TPO. This revolutionary product is a single-ply membrane, engineered to protect roofs from extreme heat generated from solar panels as well as from highly reflective architectural structures on adjacent buildings. Regular single-ply roofing membranes are constructed from organic polymers, and over time, organic polymers are subject to damage from extreme heat, sunlight and UV. Additionally, solar panels can create heat temperatures up to 190 degrees on roof surfaces, exposing single-ply membranes to intense heat. Thus, leading to cracks in membranes as well as damage to building rooftops.

GAF’s EverGuard Extreme TPO provides a wonderful solution. Company scientists have created a new grade of TPO single-ply membrane designed to withstand extreme heat to prevent cracks and damages. EverGuard Extreme™ TPO uses proprietary stabilizers and UV absorbers to achieve weathering performance far beyond current standards. During testing phases, the company’s product far exceeded standard TPO single-ply membranes. EverGuard Extreme TPO was exposed to accelerated weathering and aging tests, the results were remarkable. The heat-aging tests were conducted at 280 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature well beyond the most rigorous ASTM tests. The strength and durability of EverGuard Extreme TPO is through the roof, pun intended.

Needless to say, GAF’s EverGuard Extreme TPO is one of the most innovative and effective single-ply membranes available. For our trade magazine editor friends and contacts, please contact us if you have questions or interest in sharing this information with your readers. To learn more, visit the company’s website at www.gaf.com.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Color Trends for 2012

The new year is approaching, and 2012’s color trends are poised to be bold and daring. From neutrals to earthy greens and brilliant oranges to calming blues, 2012’s color trends are sure to be a hit among outdoor room designers, interior designers, retailers of home products, and others.
  1. Neutral colors are the “in” thing right now. They generate an ambiance of tranquility and serenity, for a soothing effect. As noticed at this year’s Casual Market, tan, light brown, beige, and sand colors are a huge trend among the fabrics used in many of the new casual outdoor furnishings. 
  2. Earthy greens create a feeling of enrichment and sustainability, allowing for one to connect with nature and blend with the surroundings. This spectrum of colors can add warmth and comfort to living spaces, encouraging family and friends to feel at home. For example, Pantone’s color report for 2012 says “Margarita” will be a popular color. As seen in the photo below, “Margarita” is a soft green color, ideal for adding warmth to outdoor rooms as well as interior walls in living rooms, dining rooms and bedroom spaces.
  3. Calming blues are also in 2012’s color forecast. Inspired by rippling, dark blue waters and bright blue skies, these bold, blue hues are a designers’ dream palette. No matter the shade of blue, this primary color is a classic favorite in modern and traditional home styling. Jackie Jordan, director of color marketing for Sherwin-Williams, was a keynote speaker at this year’s Casual Market. Her presentation, sponsored by Casual Living magazine, used Sherwin-Williams’ Colormix 2012 to highlight trendy colors for the upcoming year. In her speech, Jordan mentioned one popular color trend for outdoor furniture includes blue denim fabrics.
  4. Brilliant, juicy oranges and pinks are among 2012’s color trends. These vibrant hues aim to refresh and enliven dull living spaces. When paired with neutral colors, oranges and pinks stand out among the crowd, showing true personalities. Retailers, take note, homeowners will soon be seeking splashes of oranges, pinks and even reds on pillows; in accessories to add touches of brightness; as well as on lighting products with red accents, cording and beading.
To our friends and fans, which 2012 colors are on the top on your list? 

* To enlarge, select each individual photo.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Down with Dust

National Gypsum Company showcased one of its newest products at the CONSTRUCT Show this year, and it certainly caught our eye as we were scouting for trends and insights for various articles. The company’s ProForm XP® Ready Mix Joint Compound with Dust-Tech was the talk of the show. The product, recently named by Professional Remodeler as on the Top 101 products for 2011, is an all-purpose, vinyl-based joint compound specifically formulated to reduce airborne dust while sanding, and save time with quick and easy clean-up. XP Joint Compound with Dust-Tech can be used for all phases of drywall finishing, texturing, patching, and renovations.

ProForm XP® Ready Mix Joint Compound with Dust-Tech
One notable feature of the XP Joint Compound with Dust-Tech is that it reduces airborne dust by 60%, thus minimizing its impact on indoor air quality. The product also offers superior mold-resistance, and has achieved the highest mold-resistant scores on industry tests.

The product has many applications. It is designed for tape application, faster spotting, complete joint finishing of gypsum board, and can also be used to repair cracks in plastered walls, to texture surfaces, and laminate gypsum board to other surfaces. Several advantages of using the XP Joint Compound with Dust-Tech is that not only does it reduce airborne dust, it also sands without clogging sandpaper, has a low VOC content and is GREENGUARD Children and Schools Certified.

The National Gypsum Company is one of the largest gypsum board producers in the world. Based in Charlotte, N.C., the company has over 40 operating plants throughout the United States and Canada. In addition to producing gypsum board, The National Gypsum Company also produces a wide range of products such as interior finishing products and cement boards. To view the company’s full product availability, visit www.nationalgypsum.com.

Trade magazine editors, contact us with your questions and feedback.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What Twitter Topics are Buzzing in Home, Garden and Design? ECPR Examines

Specializing in home, garden, design, agribusiness, and architecture / building, ECPR team members are devoted to following breaking news in these industries, as well as stories that are part of daily conversations via social media. In addition, our work for clients involves managing their presence and involvement via public relations and through social media. One tool we use to stay up-to-date about topics of relevance is the microblogging service, Twitter. As many of you know, Twitter instantly connects users to what's most important to them—friends, experts, business professionals, favorite celebrities, and news. It is also a great resource for determining the latest industry trends and topics. Our team compiled a select list of what is trending on Twitter in a few of our PR specialty categories. We've also included examples of tweets that are indicative of the evolving trends.

It is important to note, our findings are based upon strategic observation and monitoring of Twitter trends. If you're interest in important and common Twitter subject-matter is peaked after reading our insights, you can follow various statistical Twitter trends at websites such as Trendsmap or Trendistic. Without further ado, here is our list of timely trends divided by category, and, as always, we welcome your comments!

Interior Design and Furniture

Ladylike Luxe – Ladylike design is in. Recently, designers and interior design magazines have been highlighting more feminine home accent ideas on Twitter, from poppy florals to hand-painted furnishings. According to current Twitter trends, design writers say this updated Victorian influence can help infuse coziness and softness into contemporary spaces.

We've seen some crafty repurposing of doilies recently and this charming pendant lamp is no exception: http://bit.ly/ruedOq
--Apartment Therapy


Outdoor Furniture

“Living Rooms” for the Great Outdoors – Forget flimsy, nylon-strap furniture on a concrete slab. Today, it's all about creating a well-designed patio that could be thought of as another room of the house. More U.S. families are investing in outdoor rooms where they can unwind amid mood lighting, water features and fully equipped kitchens. As a result, outdoor retreats have also become a hot topic in Twitter feeds as homeowners, designers and writers seek out and share ideas.

Weekly faves! Check out the outstanding #outdoor #rooms inspiring me lately! http://casasu.gr/18871182
--Casa Sugar


Garden and Landscaping

Edible Ornamentals – To maximize the space of their yards, many consumers are turning to plants that can perform double-duty: plants that are both beautiful and edible. Recent Tweets have drawn attention to frilly-leafed herbs, compact veggies and ornamental melons and peppers. Creating a kitchen garden is also economical, as food prices continue to rise.

She's all about cooking with fresh food from the garden. @DigginFood is our #blogoftheweek. Check her out:http://ow.ly/6dv1Q #gardening
--Birds and Blooms


Construction

Eco-responsibility – Green building has gone mainstream, and many products used by green builders are becoming the industry standard. In recent years, green-minded individuals in the construction industry have turned to Twitter to share resources, tools, media, and inspiring content. Some of the recent Tweets we've noticed have included solar heating, drought-tolerant landscaping and composite siding.

In Seattle, work starts on 'greenest' office building http://bit.ly/q0eZb1
--Modern Eco Homes

Stay tuned for more social media trends from the ECPR team.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Atlanta Event Captures Life after Devastation in the Gulf Coast

Photo courtesy
of Emily Harris
Six years after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, New Orleans is still recovering from the disaster, which wiped out homes and tore apart the economy. Years later, the disastrous BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico cast another dark shadow over the region. The spill killed wildlife, sea life and the local bayous and swamps. This in turn impacted local fisherman living and working in the swamps. Upon visiting New Orleans for the first time after these devastations, photographer Emily Harris paid a visit to the swamps. In her series, "Marais Sombre Rouge" Harris captured the swamps using a red scale 35 mm film to portray the dark and dreary life these areas have lived through. The images are displayed in a light box installation to further illuminate the idea. 

Harris' work will be displayed at the Carroll St. Café through the month of September. A reception will be held later this month on Tuesday, Sept. 27 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. The event is part of Atlanta Celebrates Photography, a non-profit arts organization.

Where: Carroll St. Cafe, 208 Carroll St. SE Atlanta, GA 30312
Hours: Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Sun: 8 a.m. to 12 a.m.
Fri, Sat: 8 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Phone: (404) 577-2700

ECPR’s Jeff and Don Travel to the CONSTRUCT Show

While continuing their trade show tour in Chicago, ECPR’s Jeff and Don made their way to the CONSTRUCT Show at McCormick Place. The two-day, commercial building event presented by Hanley Wood is geared towards architects, specifiers, engineers, facility managers, building owners, general contractors, designers, and other industry-related professionals. Exhibitors at the show are showcasing revolutionary products, services and technologies ranging from building systems, roofing, lighting, and energy products to finishes, stone / tile, stairways, elevators, concrete products, and much more.
While visiting booths on the tradeshow floor, Don and Jeff stopped to watch a demonstration at National Gypsum’s exhibit. Mundise Mortimer, LEED AP, Manager Technical Marketing, presented a demonstration of the company’s Gold Bond Brand eXP line of products. The line features several products such as the Gold Bond eXP Tile Backer; Gold Bond eXP Extended Exposure Shaftliner; Gold Bond eXP Extended Exposure Sheathing; and the Gold Bond eXP Extended Exposure Interior Extreme.
In addition to touring the tradeshow for new, ground-breaking products, Jeff and Don have been attending a selection of educational seminars. As seen in the photo above, the pair sat in on the High-Performance, Continuously- Insulated Rain Screen Wall Systems seminar presented by Dow and Knight Wall Systems.

Stay tuned for follow-up details and articles for both the CONSTRUCT show and Casual Market soon.

Enlarge the photos by selecting each individual photo.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Casual Market Kicks Off

ECPR’s Don and Jeff are in the Windy City for this year’s International Casual Furniture and Accessories Market. The pair have been scoping out the newest, most innovative outdoor designs and products in the temporaries and permanent showrooms. With over 250 exhibitors at the show, products range from manufacturers of outdoor accessories, hearth and heating products, outdoor lighting, shade systems, outdoor furniture collections, and more.

Jeff and Don have been exploring featured areas such as The Garden Accessories Courtyard. With 10,000 square feet of space, this courtyard features beautiful accessories such as pillows, rugs, pottery, lighting, and tabletop products for outdoor living areas. Additionally, they stopped by the New Product Gallery. The gallery is designed to present a comprehensive overview of new casual furniture and outdoor accessory trends for 2012. Here, Casual Market show-goers are viewing the latest designs, color and fabric trends, innovative accessories, and much more.

To enlarge the images, select each individual photo.
The Garden Accessories Courtyard
Jeff Collard in the New Products Display

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Terra Nova Nurseries Featured in Pennsylvania Gardener

Our client Terra Nova Nurseries was recently featured in the September / October issue of Pennsylvania Gardener. The article entitled “Sustainability: Right Plant, Right Place,” written by Maria Zampini, educates readers on how to plant sustainable gardens. Essentially, a sustainable garden requires little or no maintenance, all the while being eco-friendly. Zampini encourages gardeners to choose native, non-invasive plants that are adaptable in a range of growing conditions and can provide a healthy habitat for wildlife.

In the article, Zampini mentions that hellebores are a favorite plant choice for sustainable gardens, specifically Terra Nova Nurseries’ Winter Jewels Series including ‘Amber Gem’ and ‘Peppermint Ice’. The Hellebore Winter Jewels Series bred by Marietta O’Byrne are double flower strains featured in individual colors rather than mixes. ‘Amber Gem’ is an apricot dream. The blooms are yellow infused and blushed with red, like a ripe apricot; perhaps the rarest of colors in hellebores. This winter plant is deer resistant and shade tolerant, making it an ideal plant for a sustainable garden. ‘Peppermint Ice’ has fluffy, light pink flowers with a rim of dark pink edging; the dark pink on the back of the tepals adds to the appeal. Like ‘Amber Gem’ this plant is deer resistant, drought tolerant and performs well in shaded areas.

To read the full article about sustainable gardening in the September / October issue of Pennsylvania Gardener, see the photos included in this blog post. To enlarge the photos, simply click on each individual photo. Media members, if you’re interested in learning more about Terra Nova Nurseries’ Hellebores Winter Jewels Series for an end of the year article, please contact us by clicking here.



Wednesday, September 7, 2011

QR Codes, Business Information Right Here, Right Now

They've been spotted on movie posters, business cards and on printed business and product collateral. Similar to Facebook URLs and websites, mobile barcodes are regularly popping up in advertisements and all manner of places where online content is desired. The widespread use of barcodes is to help satisfy consumer demand for immediate access to relevant information. No longer do consumers have to wait to get home to find specific information about products they see at retail stores. Recently, comScore, a company that measures digital marketing, found Quick Response (QR) code usage has been on the rise. In the month of June, about 14 million Americans scanned QR barcodes, which comes to a bit over 6 percent of all mobile users in the U.S.

What is a QR code?

A QR code is a 2-D barcode that can be scanned by a smart phone's camera. Once the code is scanned, it could direct users to a website, offer a coupon from a local retailer, show a movie trailer or video and just about anything else that can be linked online. Manufacturers with a lot of product information can now produce proliferate web pages in complete harmony with their product tags. QR barcodes were invented in Japan and have been actively used there for more than a decade. They are making their way throughout North America, with many furniture stores, garden centers, hardware retailers, and other home / garden outlets catching on to the craze. The barcodes look like this:
If you already have downloaded one of the available QR code reader apps to your smart phone, you can use the phone to scan the above code. In doing so, you will be directed to our website’s section regarding social media as an example. Now, imagine the barcode was printed on a tag attached to a new dining table at a home design retail store or to a plant container at a local garden center. Consumers could use their smart phones to scan the QR code, linking them directly to specific online information about the product, its various applications or uses, and related how-to or design insights – all provided to them in an instant from the brand behind the product. Now, that’s Point-of-Purchase strategy like we have never seen it!

How are mobile bar codes applied to marketing?

Mobile barcodes can be useful to businesses by connecting people with each other and to brand-related content. Because QR codes are still relatively new to the U.S., most current ads or printed collateral that contain these codes still have to explain how they work, and the steps the viewer needs to take to access the additional information. The codes can be added to print ads, posters, invites, store front displays, T-shirts, and even to the merchandise itself. The linked information can be specific to a brand or product, containing information such as product details, how-to insights, event details, contest information, customer feedback forms, and so on.

In one retail example, Pottery Barn added a QR code to its fall catalog on a page that featured the Manhattan Leather Armchair. When scanned, it directed consumers to a video that showed the history of the chair and how the designers were inspired by chairs they found in Parisian flea markets. More recently, Home Depot introduced new, interactive plant tags. Buyers can scan a QR code and get in-depth information about the plant, such as how much sun it requires, before they decide to take it home. Mobile barcodes could also be used to build communities on social media channels. For example, some businesses have generated codes that “like” the company’s Facebook page.

As with any successful campaign, a good strategy is key. QR barcodes should provide viewers with a brand experience that is dynamic, exclusive and interactive. The codes should also be easy for consumers to locate and quickly scan. And, certainly, attaining the services of an informed consultant or firm helps create a synergistic approach with all facets of a marketing plan. Let us know, what are your thoughts and questions about QR codes? Do you think they have staying power? Be sure to add your comments below.

Staying up-to-date with the latest digital innovations and trends is important to us, as it helps us better serve our clients. At ECPR we specialize in PR 2.0—as we define it—the convergence of traditional public relations and modern social media networks. To learn more about our social media services, be sure to click here.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Lightweight vs. Normal Weight

How do lightweight concrete blocks (CMUs) differ from normal concrete blocks? Jeff Speck, VP of Sales & Marketing for Big River Industries, the nation’s largest producer of expanded clay lightweight aggregate, sheds light during an interview featured in the April / May issue of The Concrete Producer.

In the interview, Jeff Speck talks about when to use lightweight concrete blocks and when to use normal concrete blocks. Essentially, lightweight blocks can be used at any time, with the exception of very high compressive strength requirements. Lightweight CMUs that meet the requirements of ASTM C90 have all the structural properties of normal weight load-bearing units. The next interview topic includes the comparison of performance between the two, including acoustic properties. Speck talks about the two different measures of acoustic properties, Sound Transmission Class (STC) and NRC (Noise Reduction Coefficient) in relation to wall thickness and how well a wall absorbs the sound.

Additionally, the interview covers the issue of sustainability. Because Lightweight concrete (LWC) solutions offer improved energy performance, reduced volume of materials, reduced transportation requirements, improved service life, and lower life-cycle costs, the product is more sustainable and green than normal concrete solutions. The next interview topic deals with costs. Lightweight blocks are thinner and lighter, meaning a reduced volume of materials and more efficient costs. The final interview question pertains to how internal curing improves the performance of concrete and how it relates to sustainability.

To read the full Q & A article, view the photos below. Enlarge the photos by clicking on them. Also, the online version is available at http://bit.ly/p93xl5.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Casual Market “Sneak Peek”: EcoSmart Fire

EcoSmart Fire works with a number of designers to create and produce environmentally friendly fireplaces for indoor spaces as well as outdoor living areas. This year the company will be showcasing the Stix fireplace designed by Hiroshi Tsunoda at Casual Market. Now based in Barcelona, Hiroshi Tsunoda graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design, one of the top design schools in the United States. His recent works have been displayed at the Salone Satellite in Milan and at the design festival, Designersblock in London. As head of Hiroshi Tsunoda Design Studio, he aims to bring practical and functional designs to everyday consumers.

The Stix fireplace provides a contemporary twist on traditional campfires. The outdoor fireplace consists of varying-sized tubular stainless-steel “sticks” that are secured around an efficient three liter burner. Stix is powered by clean-burning, environmentally friendly bioethanol. Bioethanol or simply ethanol, is a renewable energy source produced by fermenting the sugar and starch components of plant by-products. Thus, the Stix outdoor fireplace does not produce smoke, soot or ash. This stylish, elegant fireplace creates the perfect ambiance for a cool summer evening on the beach or backyard patio. The dancing flames have the ability to captivate users for up to eight hours.

The award-winning and innovative Stix outdoor fireplace is a must see at Casual Market this year. For more information about EcoSmart Fire’s bioethanol fireplaces, visit www.ecosmartfire.com.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Casual Market “Sneak Peek”: Homecrest Outdoor Living

Indoor furniture collections made for the outdoors. The new Bungalow Collection by Homecrest Outdoor Living puts a luxurious twist on outdoor living spaces. The collection features a slipcover that is applied over a custom designed and engineered aluminum frame. The seat is fitted with a foam core for durability, and then wrapped with a polyester fiber. A water-resistant ticking protects the core material.

The line includes a sofa, loveseat, chat chair, swivel rocker chat chair, and a dining Parson’s chair. The complete collection offers homeowners a stylish, sophisticated outdoor furniture seating area for everyday use or guest entertainment. Bungalow’s slipcover is offered in a large selection of washable, UV protected fabrics for carefree maintenance. Season trends and colors will come and go; with Homecrest Outdoor Living’s Bungalow Collection, homeowners simply have to change the slipcover to stay abreast of color trends!

Retailers, industry trends show dealers and customers are looking for products made in the United States. Homecrest Outdoor Living’s products are made on American soil, offering product customization, quick shipping and safety assurance. Visit the company’s booth at Casual Market to learn more about the Bungalow Collection. To view Homecrest Outdoor Living’s large selection of outdoor furniture visit www.homecrest.com.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Casual Market “Sneak Peek:” Pride Family Brands

Flecks of light dotting the dark sky. Friends gathered in a circle to share highlights of their day. Nearly everyone is aware of the unique ambiance provided by a dancing flame. Not to mention, fire pits have become one of today's hottest trends in backyard recreation. 

The use of outdoor fire pits has evolved as homeowners search for new ways to enhance their yards and patios. Consumers who want to maximize their time outdoors will naturally look for a way to bring warmth to their outdoor spaces. Some of today's fire pits have also come a long way from the humble, traditional wood-burning models. Designer versions, such as Pride Family Brands' Castelle fire pits, offer modern, creative and elegant options. 

Casual Market-goers can learn more about Castelle fire pits by visiting Booth 1747 next month. The fire pits come in two sizes, 48-inch round and a 32-inch by 48-inch rectangular model, and are designed for weather resistance and ease of use. Both sizes include a signature hand-woven aluminum base in combination with six of Pride Family Brand's most popular cast top designs.

The bases feature a door for easy access to the propane storage area. For convenient igniting and extinguishing, the control valve is located on the outside of the base. High quality burners, rated to produce 60,000 BTUs, provide a welcome amount of warmth and ambiance. To learn more about the benefits and features of Castelle fire pits, visit www.pridefamilybrands.com. There, you can also find the latest tips and trends in the world of outdoor living from Pride Family Brand's own Resident Lifestyle Expert, Jamie Sorcher.

Casual Market “Sneak Peek”: Poly-Wood Inc.

The new Euro Bistro Table from Poly-Wood, Inc. will be making an appearance at this year’s Casual Market show. Since 1990, Poly-Wood co-founders and owners Doug Rassi and Mark Phillabaum have been developing outdoor casual furniture made from plastic lumber. Poly-Wood's plastic lumber is made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE), UV-inhibited pigment systems, foaming compounds, and selected process additives. The HDPE primary raw material is derived from bottle waste, such as milk and detergent bottles or other HDPE post industrial material. Since HHPE products are made a with a single, purified polymer they have exceptional resistance to corrosion, oils and fuels as well as insects, fungi, salt spray, and much more. Thus, Poly-Wood Inc.’s outdoor furniture collections are durable, long-lasting and ideal for all-weather environments.

The Euro Bistro Table is beautifully designed and aesthetically pleasing. The table’s aluminum frame is complemented with Poly-Wood slats for a contemporary, eco-friendly design. The frame is available in three different colors while the slats are available in 13 colors. Additionally, the Euro Bistro Table comes in three heights, dining, counter or bar height. The possibilities are endless with this customizable dining set. Retailers, stop by Poly-Wood Inc.’s booth at Casual Market to learn more about the company’s eco-friendly outdoor furniture collections. Also, visit the company’s website at www.polywoodinc.com for more information.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Casual Market “Sneak Peek”: Designing Fire, Inc.

Fire tables are going to be a hot new trend at this year’s Casual Market. The Oriflamme Fire Table from Designing Fire, Inc. will be one of the show’s highlights. Portable and easy to assemble, this self-contained natural gas fire table sits at coffee table height to maximize heat and seating comfort. Easily a conversation piece, the Oriflamme Fire Table is a focal point for any backyard, patio or resort setting.
Made in the U.S., the fire table provides up to 60,000 BTU’s of heat with a burn time of 10-12 hours. The flames and heat are easy to adjust and control, perfect for a cool spring evening or a cold winter night. Most notably, Designing Fire’s environmentally friendly fire table does not leave behind soot, ashes or ember. The Oriflamme Fire Table can be customized to suit buyer preferences. Available in square or round tops in granite or Tuscan, buyers have a choice of seven different burner designs and 24 colors of artistic glass for a more personal flare.

Retailers, the Oriflamme Fire Table is ideal for customers looking to add a bit of warmth and ambiance to outdoor spaces. Stop by Designing Fire’s booth at Casual Market to learn more about the company’s natural gas fire table. For additional information, visit the company’s website at www.designingfire.com.

Casual Market “Sneak Peek:” Caravita USA, Inc.

With user-friendly, sophisticated technology and high-grade materials, Caravita USA, Inc. exudes shade innovation. International Casual Furniture & Accessories Market attendees can have a look at seven of the company's collections, as they exhibit for the first time this year. 

Among the collection is Caravita's most innovative cantilever umbrella, Belvedere. Structural and sleek, the umbrella features a distinctive folding mechanism. Closed, it stands upright and saves space with a middle mast shape. With the smooth opening lever, the shade can be opened and closed with a single arm movement. Additionally, Belvedere can be customized with more than 200 powder finishes and hundreds of solution-dyed acrylic awning fabrics to select from.

This unique umbrella can also shift from modern to classic with a few simple design details. From a traditional design of flowing or attached valances, to venting details like wind roofs and hoods the Belvedere can be designed to fit any outdoor living space. Base and in-ground applications make umbrellas versatile by being portable or permanent.

Caravita's shades are built to last and distributed through a network of specialty retailers worldwide. Retailers, media members and outdoor space designers and can view all 7 collections of umbrellas and pavilions at this year's show. Principal Michael Caravita said he’s looking forward to meeting with existing and new retailers at Casual Market and getting a pulse on the marketplace. It will also be an opportunity to uncover new trends. One prominent trend today relates to accessories, he explained, such as heating and lighting options being incorporated into shade products.

This fall, Caravita’s 2012 catalog will be released with more images, specification details and luxury accessories. The company’s website is another excellent resource, which allows users to compare shades, view design details, find upcoming events, and more. See for yourself, at www.michaelcaravita.com.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Casual Market “Sneak Peek”: Patio Renaissance

The California-based Patio Renaissance is a casual furniture manufacturer to watch. Since 2006, the company has created unique resin wicker furnishings that bring style, comfort and life together in functional and elegant products. Last September, the company opened a permanent showroom at the International Casual Furniture and Accessories Market and has already expanded its presence there in time for next month's market. 

Currently, the three best-selling Patio Renaissance collections are their latest: Catalina, Monterey and Naples, which launched last year. Catalina and Monterey are deep-seating, all-weather wicker collections, while Naples features tubular aluminum frames finished to look like wood. The Catalina line includes a sectional, club chair, swivel rocker, sofa, love seat, round ottoman, and more. It also features a natural look with fibers that are textured in both shape and color.

Patio Renaissance is a relatively young company but it's already making a big impact. Gradually, the company has expanded its reach across the country and has grown from offering six furniture groups to about 20. The parent company, Sunlord Leisure Products, has been producing custom furniture out of its vast manufacturing facility in China since 1992. To learn more about Patio Renaissance products as well as the company itself, visit http://www.patiorenaissance.com/.

Casual Market “Sneak Peek”: Groovystuff

Groovystuff, a wholesale manufacturer and supplier of traditional, rustic home furnishings, will be exhibiting at Casual Market in the fall. A Dallas-based company, Groovystuff is committed to sustainable manufacturing and environmental accountability. Founded in 1998 by Chris Bruning and Jeff Singleton, the company designs, produces and distributes unique reclaimed teakwood home furnishings for indoor and outdoor spaces.
This year, Groovystuff will be showcasing a new product collection from Appalachian State University student Michelle Walbert, in collaboration with Chris Bruning. The Deschutes bench, made from reclaimed teak from Thailand, was specially designed for Casual Market. Featuring large, sturdy I-beams and sustainable outdoor teak flooring, the Deschutes bench has all the appeal for a rural, country setting. The sustainable harvested teak flooring makes up the Deschutes frame and horizontal flats, while the dramatic I-beams run the length of the bench. A flat, lacquer finish softens the two-tone teak bench for an elegant, eco-friendly indoor / outdoor piece.

Targeting Generations X and Y, the Deschutes bench is one of Groovystuff’s new products for retailers. The collection aims to bridge the design trend gap between emerging young adults and established consumers. Show goers won’t want to miss out seeing this company’s booth (8-4046) at Casual Market. Visit Groovystuff’s website at www.groovystuff.com to view additional outdoor and indoor pieces.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Combos Made Easy

For several years, the German flower breeder-producer, Dümmen, has taken the guesswork out of combination plantings with its RED FOX Confetti Garden. Released in 2007, and introduced to growers for the 2008 spring season, Confetti Garden products contain two or three skillfully selected varieties of up to three genera. The norm is verbena, petunia and calibrachoa. Each combination is coordinated for color, timing and growth to ensure growers can offer plants that bloom beautifully and consistently. An ongoing brand standard, Confetti Garden takes the guesswork out of creating combinations.

Beautiful and easy to grow, Purple Cleopatra blooms from May until frost.
New variety introductions and genera have helped Confetti Garden capture the interest of growers and retailers year after year. The company offers 29 different mixes in the North American market. The largest sellers are two of the original mixes, Purple Cleopatra and Hot Pink Jazz, both featuring Dummen-bred Aloha calibrachoa, Empress verbena and Sweetunia or Potunia petunias. Some of the new mixes for the 2012 growing season include Water Wonders and Elegance.

How are the mixes available to growers, you ask? RED FOX Confetti Garden products are offered in rooted or un-rooted cuttings. Rooted cuttings are prepped by Dümmen rooting station partners regionally, and then shipped to growers as Confetti Garden liners in trays. Un-rooted cuttings are shipped directly to growers who prefer rooting their own cuttings; these arrive in a “Confetti in a Box” package, with all un-rooted cuttings and tags ready for sticking.

Most of the cuttings are produced in Dümmen's owned and operated "Las Mercedes" farm in El Salvador. Dümmen USA also offers growers a True Grower Guarantee to offer more confidence in planning their seasons, something of importance in today’s economy where there is no room for error. The guarantee is notable in that it promises Confetti Garden's rooted cuttings with all three genera rooted in the delivered liner.

Water Wonders includes an elegant trio of blue, white and
pink flowers and is a new mix for the 2012 growing season.
Dümmen has built an international reputation during its 40-year history as a grower and producer of quality young plants. At the core of consumer accessibility, Confetti Garden mixes aren’t difficult to find. They can be found at many independent garden centers, general merchandisers or grocery stores that sell plants as well as mass merchant retailers. To learn more about Confetti Garden products, visit the company’s website at www.dummenusa.com.

Friday, August 12, 2011

On the Look-out for Trends, Products and News

More than 1,000 vendors and the who’s who of the garden world! Where, you ask? It’s the Independent Garden Center Show in Chicago, Aug. 17-19. The 5th annual trade show for independent garden center owners and their employees draws thousands under one roof for tours, seminars, a trade show, and serious networking.

This year, attendees can look forward to the newly extended trade show hours as well as the debut of the IGC University Educational Conference— a garden center seminar program, featuring 40-plus actionable ideas for profit in seven focused tracks. Apple iPhone users will also be able to download an IGC App, which includes buying resources, a real-time floor plan and personalized conference agenda.

 Growers, retailers and media members headed to the show, there’s a good chance you’ll see ECPR's own Jeff Collard. He’ll be visiting with exhibitors and industry leaders to survey the latest trends and must-have products for the 2011 gardening season. As our vice-president and co-owner, he will also be reporting his findings on new products and industry trends to our media contacts who may not be in attendance via our social media channels. So be sure to check back for updates and coverage of IGC 2011. And, if you are an exhibitor and have a new product release you’d like Jeff to consider for possible inclusion to one of our articles or social media channels, you can reach him at jcollard@eberlycollardpr.com.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Casual Market “Sneak Peek”: Hearthland Products, LLC

Casual Market show goers, in the market for outdoor grills this year? Stop by Hearthland Products’ booth (8-3018) to see the company’s new line of Memphis Grills. Hearthland Products’ core company values include product innovation, high-quality craftsmanship and customer service satisfaction. The company’s environmentally friendly products such as the stainless-steel Memphis 3-in-1 Outdoor Cooking Centers are sure to make a positive impact at this year’s show.
Memphis 3-in-1 Outdoor Cooking Centers have a one-touch digital Intelligent Temperature Control (ITC) which automatically sets and maintains precise temperatures from 180 to 650 degrees. This grill is perfect for year-round grilling; smoking up to 48 hours unattended; and cooking flavorful, juicy meats. Additionally, a meat probe was added this year to further enhance grilling convenience. The probe can simply be inserted into meat, and set to the desired internal temperature. Thus, the grill will automatically reduce to a warm holding temperature when the meat has reached the intended temperature. 

Hearthland Products’ award-winning Memphis 3-in-1 Outdoor Cooking Centers are designed to recreate a natural wood-fired flavor. The ITC automatically controls the fuel of 100% natural wood pellets to produce savory BBQ flavors. Uniquely, the grill is ideal for searing, baking, roasting and smoking.

The dual-walled, sealed cooking chamber and convection cooking system is a must see. To learn more about Memphis 3-in-1 Outdoor Cooking Centers, visit Hearthland Products’ website at www.memphisgrills.com.

Casual Market “Sneak Peek”: la-Fête, The Scene Outdoors

California manufacturing company, la-Fête, The Scene Outdoors, specializes in modern outdoor furniture. Most known for its strikingly unique structural designs and lightweight, weatherproof materials, la-Fête, The Scene Outdoors designs and creates ultra sleek outdoor furniture for lounges, resorts, decks, roof gardens, spas, clubs, and pool-sides. The distinctive, ergonomic designs feature recyclable materials to support the sustainability movement.

la-Fête, The Scene Outdoors’ newest product, the POD, will be showcased at Casual Market. The POD’s modern, circular shape is definitely an impressive piece. Its dramatic shape offers a cocoon-like setting, ideal for solitary confinement or a cozy, romantic place for two. The POD can be used in tandem with additional designs in the modular collection or as a bold statement piece. Made from strong structural foam combined with comfortable cushioning foam encased with a waterproof membrane, the POD comes with a protective, all-weather cover.

Retailers and designers looking for contemporary outdoor styling for hospitality or residential customers, stop by la-Fête, The Scene Outdoors’ booth at Casual Market this fall. Visit the company’s website at www.lafetedesigns.com to learn more about the POD and additional products in the modular collection.