Thursday, December 4, 2014

Build It (with Products of Excellence) and They Will Come

ECPR’s Top-Pick Building Products of the Year...and New Year!

The construction industry saw a sharp uptick in 2014, and all indications are that this persistent rebound will continue in 2015. As builders and remodelers anticipate more design-build projects and begin the involved product sourcing and planning processes, our team of construction / building industry writers and publicists has rounded up some top building products, specifically ones we have seen select clients specify for residential or commercial jobs, along with few of the newest and most novel in the industry. 

Riverlite Expanded Clay Lightweight Aggregate

Weight should not compromise design or efficiency, which is a concept Big River Industries, an Old Castle Architectural Products Group company, took to heart when it first produced Riverlite, the lightest expanded clay aggregate (LWA) in North America. Companies and organizations in the construction, concrete, structural concrete, geotechnical, engineering, green roof, and filtration industries benefit from this structural aggregate’s low unit weight, high angle of internal friction, low-thermal conductivity, and high fire resistance.

The key to the LWA’s success resides in its base material: Clay that is mined, fired, calcinated, crushed, and graded.

What we admire most about Riverlite expanded clay lightweight aggregate is that its uses are innumerable; the aggregate is used in a variety of concrete products including structural lightweight concrete for buildings and highway bridges or decks; concrete masonry block; bio-swales, landscapes and green roofs; just to name a few.

Saving 50% in time and labor costs, Riverlite was used to manufacture lightweight masonry (E-lite) blocks for the development of the Maryland Science Center.

For this project and many others like it, the lightweight factor helps contractors and builders complete projects sooner rather than later, so they can generate revenue from the projects earlier, which is better for the property owners as well. In construction, we all known time is money, and if property owners can reduce the number of days it takes to construct a building, it helps them easily project when it can be rented or sold and begin earning revenue.

Haute and Hot 

Superior DRT2000 Merit Series Direct-Vent Fireplace

Fireplaces add visual and aesthetic appeal to any home and many commercial and hospitality spaces. With that said, we are heated up for Innovative Hearth Products’ Superior DRT2000 Merit Series direct-vent fireplace.

Builders, designers, remodelers, and contractors can take pleasure in knowing their clients will bask in the warmth and comfort of this fireplace’s traditional style without compromising quality or design. This highly efficient fireplace is perfectly sized to suit most any space or room, while offering a host of standard features, heightened performance and state-of-the-art technology to ensure its elegance and warmth last for years. Notably, Superior DRT2000’s specifications include a direct vent, optional remote, and a front view style.

Also offered in a contemporary style, the DRT2000 is an ideal solution for builders or architects looking to provide clients a high-end and modern design approach at an affordable price.

Floors with Flow 

DESSO Transitions Fuse Carpet Tiles 

Embrace movement and creative expression in the office with DESSO® Transitions Fuse carpet tiles. This striking carpet tile fluently meshes two contrasting yet complementary colors to separate large open spaces like those in offices. The carpet tiles allow an interior layout to transition from a large space into a smaller or more private area and are available in seven different color combinations.

DESSO specializes in producing high-quality, durable carpets and carpet tiles that are long lasting and easy to install in commercial settings ranging from offices, banks and retail stores to public buildings, schools and healthcare centers.

At first look, we were floored by the product’s high-tech traits and attractive design, and have known more than one of our design-build clients to specify these types of carpets when designing flexible and open spaces. Rather than adding walls and doors to close off a space, the sense of transition yielded by the placement of these tiles supplies an open office environment that is more collaborative and productive.

Made in the Shade 

Phantom Screens

We know just how disappointing it can be to have outdoor relaxation stymied by insects and blazing sun, among other things. With Phantom Screens, making the most of outdoor living spaces is a breeze. Beneficial for both residential and commercial screening projects, Executive screens provide extreme comfort by delivering shade, insect protection, natural ventilation, and privacy at the touch of a button.

Executive motorized retractable screens by Phantom are ideal for screening patios, decks, lanais, and other large outdoor areas. Executive screens can be incorporated into various architectural styles and offer homeowners or business owners the enjoyment of using every inch of their exterior areas.

One of the best things about these screen systems is that wall mounted switches or hand-held remotes can be programmed to lower or retract them whenever the owner needs some time in the shade. Executive screens can be recessed from view, or mounted on existing structures. Even better, the screens can be integrated into most any type of structure, including wood, brick, stucco, natural stone, and concrete.

Down with Dust

National Gypsum Company’s ProForm XP® Ready Mix Joint Compound with Dust-Tech

Another product that has certainly caught our eye, but won’t send sawdust into it, is National Gypsum ProForm XP® Ready Mix Joint Compound with Dust-Tech.

This product is an all-purpose, vinyl-based joint compound specifically formulated to reduce airborne dust while sanding. With less mess, builders can minimize the time spent cleaning up following these kinds of jobs. The XP Joint Compound with Dust-Tech can be used for all phases of drywall finishing, texturing, patching, and renovations. Among its various uses, the product is designed for tape application; faster spotting; complete joint finishing of gypsum board; to repair cracks in plastered walls; add texture to surfaces; and laminate gypsum board to other surfaces.

Two noteworthy features of the XP Joint Compound with Dust-Tech include the fact it reduces airborne dust by 60 percent and offers first-rate mold resistance per ASTM G 21 with a score of 0, the best possible score- which both contribute to minimizing impact on indoor air quality. This product also sands without clogging sandpaper; has a low VOC content; and is GREENGUARD Children and Schools Certified- making it perfect for commercial and residential use in spaces frequented by little ones and those who are environmentally conscience.

Builders and building product manufacturers, send us your feedback and information about must-have building product resources, and we just might feature them in a future blog post or include one or more of them in an upcoming media tour for our editor and reporter contacts in the field.

Learn about our integrated marketing services on our builders and building product manufacturers on our website.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Going BIG at the Smithsonian

Beginning in 2016, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. will undergo a proposed 20-year renovation. The master plan gives new life to the Smithsonian castle, adding expanded visitor services, new mall-facing entrances to the National Museum of African Art, and the Arthur M. Sackler gallery. Site enhacements will also include improved visibility and access from the Freer Gallery of Art to the Hirshhorn Museum and its neighboring sculpture garden. 

The lead architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) recently released renderings of the completed project mentioning, “The centerpiece of the proposed South Mall master plan is the revitalization of the iconic Smithsonian castle.” 

Bjarke Ingels Group reveals Smithsonian master plan for Washington, D.C. 
Image courtesy of BIG / The Smithsonian Institution.

In addition to updating the castle, another goal of the project is to instill more cohesion between the 11 museums around the National Mall by establishing more retail, cafe and public gathering spaces. BIG founder and the lead architect Bjarke Ingels believes these additions will “resolve the contradictions between old and new, and [help] to find freedom within the boundaries of strict regulation and historical preservation.”

Ingels plans to execute this by producing new links between the various specialized, planned, operational, and managerial requirements that will usher the Smithsonian South Mall campus into the future, while maintaining its firm historical origin.

The castle as seen from the entrance of the National Museum of African Art.
Image courtesy of BIG / The Smithsonian Institution.

As a whole, the estimated cost of the project is $2 billion, which will be funded by private and federal investments. Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution Wayne Clough says, “Bjarke Ingels Group has given us a plan that will…visually attract visitors who will have an unparalleled experience.”

The redesign seeks to establish clear entrances and connections between the site’s various museums and gardens. Image courtesy of BIG / The Smithsonian Institution.
The Smithsonian Castle, which opened in 1855, currently serves as headquarters of the institution as well as a visitor’s information center. The Smithsonian Institution is the world’s largest museum and research complex. Located in Washington, D.C., the national landmark consists of 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park and nine research facilities. 

For more about the renovation, click here to visit the Smithsonian Institute project profile on the Bjarke Ingles Group website.

Daylight will shine into the visitor center for the first time.
Image courtesy of BIG / The Smithsonian Institution.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Corian® Countertops to Champion Cellphone Charging

Designers, builders and architects, as professionals, we know that no one likes the feeling of having a dying smartphone battery while out in public for the day. One faces the choice of going without a phone for the rest of the day or the hassle of locating an outlet and a spare charger. Needless to say, it’s not convenient to operate without the smartphone to which you are accustomed, in today’s need-to-be-connected world. 

Imagine entering your 3 p.m. meeting with 10 percent of your battery left. You take your seat in the meeting area, place your phone on the counter, and by the time your meeting concludes an hour later, your phone is fully charged. For that, you can thank DuPont!

While smartphone users have weathered rapidly draining batteries and inconvenient locations of outlets, DuPont has heard their cries for help, and brings a remedy of convenience and sheer genius with its newest Corian® solid surfaces.

Image via Engadget

DuPont and Power Matters Alliance (PMA) have joined forces to create wireless charging solutions for our increasingly mobile society by revolutionizing countertops. Wireless chargers will soon be integrated into DuPont™ Corian® solid surfaces as the company’s first consumer electronics venture. Charging pads from Powermat will be embedded under the surface of the countertops and supply power to both smartphones and tablets. Meeting rooms, hospitals, research labs, and a variety of other public and private spaces are among the many predicted sites for charging countertop installations.

Designing a Kitchen with Corian® and Zodiaq®

Though Corian® solid surfaces have been both well-known and integral parts of households for decades, DuPont’s executives are enthusiastic to evolve the product, making it even more functional and practical. “Now we aim to bring this level of performance to new heights, while meeting the emerging needs of industries and consumers to remain powered up throughout the day,” said Ruslan Yusupov, global marketing director of DuPont Building Innovations.

With the convenience factor and more than 30 patterns and colors of Corian® solid surfaces, these countertops may be the perfect fit for a tech-savvy client or even your own office space. An availability date for the charging surfaces has not yet been made public, but for more information, visit PMA.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Gaze Into the Abyss

Interior designers, we are sure there have been times when you struggled to find that one amazing focal piece for a space. If you are in this state now, then allow us to help! Let your clients and their guests explore the depths of the deep blue from the comfort of their living rooms.

London-based designer Christopher Duffy is known for creating cutting-edge, statement home décor with functional purposes. One of his latest projects merges the beauty and mystery of the world’s oceans with a common household staple, the coffee table.

The Abyss Table is a mesmerizing mix of glass, color and woodwork, complete with convincing topographical features. Reminiscent of an underwater cave, this conversation piece is a sight to behold. As a limited edition item, the Duffy London team took more than a year to develop the Abyss Table. By layering sculpted glass with Perspex and forest wood, they recreated the concept imagined by Duffy.

For your affluent clientele, The Abyss Table could stand alone or be a purposeful, yet exclusive, addition to most living spaces. Click here for more information and photos of The Abyss Table and Duffy London.

The Abyss Table by Duffy London, shown here in a loft space,
 is made of glass and wood, creating an interesting
contrast in the textured materials of the photo.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Renowned Architect and National Magazine Editors to Speak at BOLD Summit

As our blog readers and social media followers / fans know well by now, our ECPR team is a collaborative partner for the BOLD Summit. The following information and news stems from our current press release campaign. We welcome your comments and questions. ~ Jasmine Gurley. 

The Business of Luxury Design (BOLD) Summit, formerly known as the Business of Design (BOD) Conference, has announced high-level additions to the event’s line-up of presentations. The two-day event, set to take place Aug. 28-29, 2014, at the Wynn Hotel, Las Vegas, will feature celebrated architect Richard Landry and esteemed editors from national consumer home and industry-related trade publications.

Richard Landry, owner and founder of the award-winning, custom residential architecture firm Landry Design Group, Inc., based in Los Angeles, Calif., will be a keynote speaker at the 2014 BOLD Summit. His presentation will focus on nurturing designers’ passions while building thriving businesses. Landry will share educational insights for personal business growth and development from start-up to present-day.

Richard Landry of Landry Design Group
Named as one of Architectural Digest’s “AD100: Top 100 Designers” five-times since 2000, Landry has designed luxurious statement homes for celebrities such as Eddie Murphy, Mark Wahlberg and Wayne Gretzky. His BOLD Summit keynote presentation will take place Thursday, Aug. 28 at 10 a.m. PDT.

This year’s BOLD Summit will also feature a media / editor panel dedicated to sharing vital insight for designers and architects regarding the evolving design preferences of today’s consumer as well as trending themes for design-based editorial and photo content. Panelists to date include Amy Elbert, senior architecture editor for Traditional Home; Michela O’Connor Abrams, president at Dwell magazine; Lori Bryan, editor for Robb Report Home & Style; and Katie Kervin, managing editor of Hospitality Design. Others will be announced prior to the August event.

The panel will be moderated by our own Don Eberly and Jeff Collard, co-partners for the BOLD Summit and co-owners of Eberly & Collard Public Relations. The session “How to Serve as a Strategic Editorial Resource - Building Relationships with the Media,” will take place Friday, Aug. 29 at 3 p.m. PDT.

The BOLD Summit is designed to provide interior designers, architects, design-build professionals, landscape designers and architects, and other luxury design service-providers with resourceful information and networking opportunities, to powerfully align their strategic development and company positioning in the luxury marketplace. The event’s new host, Julia Molloy, founder of Molloy Management Group, brings over 20 years of business operations management experience to BOLD’s rebranded conference. Serving as BOLD Summit’s educational program director, a full spectrum of sessions and topics Molloy will be leading at BOLD Summit will be released in July.

For more information about the BOLD Summit and to request an invitation to attend, visit

Friday, June 20, 2014

Five Must-haves for Landscapes this Summer

The season to celebrate the great outdoors is upon us and moving quickly. We know as landscapers and outdoor room designers, you want to find the best tools and products that will get the job done quickly, and help your clients enjoy their outdoor living spaces to the max.

From saying goodbye to slithering things to paving the way to a more usable patio, we have highlighted five must-have products that will make the most out of the 2014 summer season.

Deer, Wildlife & Insect control:

Keep your clients’ homes and gardens free from unwanted snakes with Dr. T’s Snake-A-Way®. This fast-acting repellent starts working immediately after application. It temporarily disrupts the snake’s sensory receptors, called Jacobson’s Organ, which causes the snake to slither away disoriented and unharmed in search of fresh air. Snake-A-Way comes in granular form, making it easy to apply only to certain areas, and with its time release formula, it gives long-lasting protection.
To learn more click here.

Patio / Deck Furniture:

Summer is the perfect time to relax outdoors. With an outdoor bed designed by Floating Bed, create an outdoor living space that may just become your clients’ favorite place for down time. The versatility of the Floating Bed gives room to hang it anywhere in a backyard. It comes in a variety of colors and styles that will fit any family’s needs. The Floating Bed even comes with a canopy option that will protect homeowners from the elements, making it available to use nearly every season.
To learn more click here

With pavers from Nantucket Pavers, creating a unique walkway, patio, pool area, or backyard retreat has never been easier. Hardscapes are becoming more popular because of their low upkeep and easy maintenance. Nantucket Pavers carry a variety of sizes and colors of its blocks and stones to accent the whole garden design. They can be used to build a free-standing wall, a decorative wall around a fire pit or Jacuzzi tub as well as a uniquely designed patio.

To learn more click here.
Shade Systems:

Bring family and friends together with the Sonoma 12 Douglas Fir shade system. With expert design, the pergola is precision-cut and requires moderate assembly upon delivery. The optional lattice roof and wall kit can provide privacy as well as protection from the elements. The 12 feet x 12 feet size can accommodate large parties. The Sonoma 12 Pergola offers outdoor living spaces that are both functional and beautiful.
To learn more click here.
Landscaping Tools:

Black & Decker’s 22-inch cordless hedge trimmers keep lawns and gardens looking clean and polished. The long blade makes cutting in hard to reach places quicker and easier. The hardened, machined-steel blade stays sharp and provides the durability to maintain a perfectly manicured yard year after year. The powerful rechargeable 18V battery provides landscapers with the long runtime needed to go anywhere without being limited to the length of a cord.

To learn more click here.
What's "Hot" this Summer? Landscapers, tell us about your top tool and outdoor space products and why you like them. Also, Retailers, chime in with your best-selling landscape / exterior product options that you see as hot-selling trend-setters this summer. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Urban Agriculture Reformed: Gotham Greens’ Rooftop Greenhouse

The demand for locally grown food is increasing, but how can an industry meet this need? We see community gardens sprouting up across many neighborhoods of densely populated cities, but what about the masses? Gotham Greens has figured it out. Since its founding in 2008 as an urban greenhouse business and beginning production in 2011, it has become a global innovator in the urban agriculture industry, especially as one of New York State’s top suppliers of high-quality, pesticide-free vegetables and herbs.

The company opened its second of three greenhouses in New York City atop the Whole Foods Market in Gowanus, Brooklyn. Co-founder Viraj Puri explained how their operations worked to the Huffington Post:

“This facility uses the hydroponic technique, meaning plants receive nutrients from their water supply and are grown without soil -- a technique well-suited to urban agriculture where arable land and high-quality soil are scarce… Since the crops are sloped at a gentle angle, all irrigation water is reused…It's actually the most water-efficient form of agriculture in the world because we’re recycling all of our water… As droughts become a more consistent issue, especially in places where our food comes from, I think you’ll start to see more applications of this type of technology.”

As Americans are becoming more health-conscious, the demand for higher-quality foods is greater, which is why consumers are willing to pay more for better quality. For this reason Puri believes “urban agriculture will only get bigger, and will only complement and help our food system get more sustainable.”

Click to learn more about Gotham Greens and its initiatives.

From left to right: co-founders Viraj Puri and Eric Haley
with Chief Agriculture Officer Jennifer Nelkin Frymark.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Luxury Design Manifested at Hotel Hugo: Doors Open in Downtown New York

Hotel-Hugo Exterior – Hotel-Hugo website.
A luxury boutique property, Hotel Hugo is the product of a partnership between real estate developer Matthew Moinian and Fortuna Realty Group, LLC. Located in Hudson Square, the hotel’s appeal lies with its close proximity to shopping and cultural destinations offered by Soho, TriBeca and the West Village. Hotel Hugo is 20 stories high and features 122 guest rooms, including two must-stay top-floor suites and a must-see rooftop lounge that offers a 360-degree view of New York City.

Architect Marcello Pozzi, based in Beverly Hills, Ca, served as the project’s architect and designer. Beginning with the exterior, he implemented a sleek modern finish with exposed concrete that mimics the neighborhood’s 20th century, industrial-style warehouses. The interior includes 104 rooms with king-size beds and 18 rooms with two double beds; the two top-floor suites allow a double room to connect with a king room. 

Hotel-Hugo Guest Room – Hotel Design Magazine.
With custom-made Italian furnishings in each room, Pozzi offers a sophisticated residential-like design to ensure guests feel right at home. All rooms come with a great view, and guests can choose to view the Hudson River or the downtown skyline.

For the hotel’s entrance, Pozzi and his team installed a 17-foot glass façade that leads into a two-story lobby where guests are greeted by an environmentally friendly green wall behind the check-in desk. Vertical gardens can be found throughout the ground floor leading into the restaurant’s private dining room, which has an expansive skylight and uber amounts of gorgeous foliage. 

Hotel-Hugo Front Desk – Hotel Design Magazine.
In keeping with the thematic design and feel of the project, Pozzi used authentic woodwork by Italian craftsman throughout the hotel’s common areas and guest rooms, making this stylish get-away well-suited for vivacious city vacays or booming Manhattan business trips.

To learn more information about the new Hotel Hugo and Pozzi’s design inspiration, read the full article about the project on Hotel Design magazine’s website by clicking here.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Four Ways to Have Your Design / Architecture Expertise, Projects, Services or Architectural Products Published in the Media.

Being co-owners of an international public and media relations firm specializing in publicity for architects, designers, builders, and many products specified for residential and commercial structures, the number one question people ask us is…

“How do we have our just-completed architecture (or design-build) project or architectural products published in the media?”

Whether you have executed full press release campaigns or simply had a hand in attempting to contact an essential publication’s editor regarding your business news, you probably know there are near-countless nuances that come with pitching the staffs of consumer magazines, trade publications, mainstream newspapers, and significant journalists and bloggers.

There are rules and best practices that apply to media outreach for any type of company, and following these few, vital tips will give you a jumpstart on your public and media relations program:

1. Relevancy is Key: Editors and reporters seek and desire truly relevant news and information for their articles and other publishable content. Ask yourself (and your C-level management team) if your news and happenings hold tangible value for the media, and, for that matter, for your client or customer base.

Brainstorm pertinent information and angles for journalists – i.e., events or occurrences that will positively affect the industry or mainstream market at large; first-time architectural product break-throughs or enhancements that are (truly) significant; and, by all means, completed design, architecture or building projects with wide appeal and exceptional characteristics, to name a few.

2. Messaging is Critical: You may get one chance to connect with media members and editors at times when your company has product news or design-build project case-studies to submit. Make certain the message is on target, brand-sound, concise yet clear, germane for the editor’s audience; and is not too self-serving.

Remember, the media’s job is not to tout, hype or flaunt your news, but rather to report relational, engaging and relevant (ah, there’s that word again) information to their readers, followers or viewers. Give them the information they need to do so, while you serve as the quotable, expert and knowledgeable source.

3. Jargon is Out: If your company’s written press releases, articles, white papers, product launches, and project overviews are not crafted following the Associated Press (AP) style guidelines, stop submitting them to the media. Nothing is more inconvenient to an editor than receiving a document entitled, “Press Release” that reads and looks nothing like one.

While it is fine to incorporate industry-specific language in your releases, always write about your company, products, or services in accurate, well-founded, and unpretentious terms; and (for formal submissions to editors) always, always adhere to AP style. Otherwise, the journalist might click the “delete” key in no-time flat. If nothing else, he or she may move onto the next submission, one that follows editorial best practices and narrative content and style rules.

4. Outsourcing is Productive: If your company’s press coverage or branding publicity is under-performing, there are reasons. Usually, this stems from lack of understanding or internal resources for developing press campaigns and maintaining media contacts. Utilizing the services of an experienced PR firm leads to productive and proactive publicity. The right firm will manage communications between your company and the public (the media, your trade sectors or clients / consumers) to promote favorable relationships and portray a desired brand image.

This includes strategic communications with the community, business-to-business and / or business-to-consumer targets, investors, and other partisans. In contrast to advertising, these outsourced PR campaigns can glean exposure through public or customer / client interest and news, rather than paid advertisements, to give their messages third-party endorsement.

In closing… If you or your company leaders seek to be regularly quoted as experts in the publications and websites your customers, clients or prospects read…and your products or design or architecture projects are missing out on promotion or publicity, contact us for a free assessment of your integrated public / media relations needs.

Don Eberly and Jeff Collard

Co-owners / Founders, Eberly & Collard Public Relations

Friday, May 16, 2014

Internal Curing Holds Water

The February / March 2014 issue of Concrete Contractor features a byline article written by our team at ECPR, which is story that sheds light on our client, Big River Industries, and the company’s high-tech architectural product, expanded clay lightweight aggregate.

The story involves Colorado engineers saving project time and money while installing a second water tank for Denver Water, a public utility company that serves high-quality water and promotes its efficient use to 1.3 million people in the city of Denver and many surrounding suburbs. The installation was made possible by using the internal curing of concrete. Internal curing (IC) of concrete using lightweight aggregate increases hydration, which prevents shrinkage and cracking, improves durability, and ensures better quality, while ultimately reducing costs, according to the ASTM Standard Specification for Lightweight Aggregate (LWA) for Internal Curing of Concrete.

“Internal curing results in only slightly higher initial costs; however, when considering the extended service life, these costs are far outmatched by the value IC concrete provides,” says Jeff Speck, vice president of sales and marketing for Alpharetta, Ga.-based Big River Industries, the nation’s largest producer of high-quality expanded clay lightweight aggregate (LWA), called Riverlite. Speck chaired the ASTM Subcommittee C09.21 on Lightweight Aggregates and Lightweight Concrete.

The benefits are evidenced by Colorado engineers’ successful water tank installation for Denver Water in 2012 as well as three additional tank installation projects using IC concrete on the schedule for 2014. The project entailed challenges and well-thought solutions on the part of the project team, leading to an interesting outcome. Click here to view the full online version of the Concrete Contractor article here.


Thursday, May 8, 2014

'Titanic' Begonias Blossom and “Sail” Again

Many know the tragic story of the Titanic ship that sank on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City. Over the past few decades, many artifacts have been retrieved and salvaged from its resting place at the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean. In 2010, salvage operator RMS Titanic, Inc., accidentally, recovered a container of 400 2,000-seed “trade packages” of Primadonna begonia, which were being shipped by the German breeder Ernst Benary. 

After finding documentation connecting the container packets to Benary, the company regained possession of the seeds. The mere fact the seeds were recovered from the site of the most historic shipwreck in modern history was astounding enough to the Benary team, but then came another shocking and almost impossible discovery. Gudrun Rufeger, a seed technology specialist, brought up the idea of germinating the seed to see if it was still viable. Given the fact that the container was kept at low temperatures of 32-35 F and high pressure of 5,557 psi at 12,500 feet below sea level, the seeds were preserved almost cryogenically.

Gudrun Rufeger analyzing Titanic Begonia liners.
Rufeger, along with two professors from the University of Hoenheim, based in Stuttgart, Germany, Karl Schmid and Albrecht Melchinger, successfully grew out the begonia seeds in 406-count plug trays and 24-count, 84-size liners, another astounding feat in this intriguing horticulture story! With sales beginning on April 14 of this year, the 102nd anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking, the plant was named the “Titanic Begonia,” according to Benary co-managing director Matthias Redlefsen. As for quantities and prices, Matthias joked, “Very low, and very high!”

This one-of-a-kind recovery story does not come often for the horticulture industry, but it surely is one worth publicizing! Congrats to Ernst Benary and its [kind of] new ‘Titanic’ Begonias!

Ernst Benary - 'Titanic' Begonia

Friday, May 2, 2014

Raves for a Romantic Home and Talented Designer

For interior designers, the competition for securing new interior design projects as well as having completed projects published in print and online is steep. With residential, commercial and hospitality building and renovation on the rise, active interior designers, design firms and design-oriented contractors vie for jobs among the proliferated competition. Landing new projects is almost always foundational upon having a vast portfolio of relatable design work and a trusted reputation that stems from publicity.

Rave reviews, being published, social media interaction, design awards, and design-event participation all add up to a comprehensive toolkit that becomes a designer’s most valuable marketing asset- one that leads to creating a trusted brand for a designer or design firm. At Eberly & Collard Public Relations, we help our interior design-based clients reap new business and sales by generating published articles and feature stories that showcase their services, capabilities and design expertise.

Our synergistic backgrounds in both design and design-oriented media relations make our team a natural fit for taking clients from static and reactive marketing to proactive integrated marketing and results-oriented public / media relations.

We recently secured a feature article and photo spread for our client, Knotting Hill Interiors, in the April 2014 national print issue of Romantic Homes. The magazine showcased the CEO and principal designer Kimberly Grigg’s own home, making this a much more personal experience for readers.

Our team attained and facilitated an editorial interview for Kimberly and assisted the editor with writing portions of the design case-study, which revealed great ideas from Kimberly for bringing charm and elegance with a touch of southern flair into the home of the featured homeowner. Of course, having an artistic client such as Kimberly, whose design skills and knowledge are parallel to none, makes our media relations campaigns for her a ton of fun as well.

Read and view the entire feature via the below slideshow.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Modern Burial at Lakewood Garden Mausoleum

As the economy steadily improves, more consumers and businesses are investing in landscaping. Immediately, we may think of office buildings or residential homes, but here we find a cemetery in Minneapolis, Minn. that sought an update. Ron Gjerde, president of the Lakewood Cemetery Association, stated that the association was worried about cemeteries “retaining relevancy” with the increase of cremations in recent years. “Here, future families can come and learn about you, learn who you are…We encourage people to use a cemetery for remembrance,” he says.

During the design and reconstruction of the Lakewood Cemetery, one question was kept at the forefront of the involved parties’ minds: “How do we connect the community and do future burials that respect modern ideals of death and dying?” One does not often think of cemetery or mausoleum grounds as personable to visitors. To alter this way of thinking, the premises were renovated into an “unabashedly contemporary” space under the collaborative efforts of the Boston-based landscape architecture office Halvorson Design Partnership and the Minneapolis-based architecture firm HGA.

The new facility exquisitely intertwines the indoor and outdoor spaces, visually and physically, while still maintaining the historic elements of the property, such as the chapel built in 1909, garden crypts of the 1960s and the mausoleum of 1967. New additions included a green roof, reflecting pool, knot garden, refinished gathering space, and another mausoleum with a reception center.

From both functional and aesthetic standpoints, the architecture and landscape create a place where one can reflect on passed loved ones in peace. Click through the photo gallery to view the Lakewood Cemetery and Mausoleum.

Photo Credit: Landscape Architecture magazine / Paul Crosby

Project Credits:

Landscape Architecture: Halvorson Design Partnership, Boston
Architecture: HGA architects & Engineers, Minneapolis
Civil & Structural Engineering: HGA architects & Engineers, Minneapolis
Cemetery Planning Consultant: Elizabeth Vizza Consulting, Brookline, Mass.
Fountain Design: Commercial Aquatic Engineering, Eden Prairie, Minn.
Horticultural Soil Scientist: Pine & Swallow Environmental Groton, Massachusetts.
Mausoleum Consultant: Carrier Mausoleums Construction, Ville Saint-Laurent, Quebec.
Owner’s Representative: Nelson, Tietz & Hoye, Minneapolis.
General Contractor: M.A. Mortenson Company, Minneapolis.
Landscape Contractors: Aloha Landscaping, Mendota Heights, Minn.; Sterling Arbor, New Germany, Minn.

Friday, April 4, 2014

A BOLD Event for Designers

The ECPR team is excited to share we have partnered with Julia Molloy, founder of Molloy Management Group, for the Business of Luxury Design (BOLD) Summit. Formerly known as the Business of Design (BOD) Conference, the annual event’s new approach to luxury design education and networking is set to take place Aug. 28-29, 2014, at the Wynn hotel, Las Vegas.

The BOLD Summit is designed to provide an exclusive group of elite interior designers, architects, design-build professionals, landscape designers and architects, and other luxury design service-providers with resourceful information and networking opportunities to enrich their business operations and success in a ground-breaking and renewed fashion.
As the BOLD Summit’s official public relations firm, we will be working diligently to promote the event to target audiences, by way of strategic traditional and social media campaigns. This includes press releases with up-to-date information about the BOLD Summit as well as regular updates on our Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and blog channels.

Serving also as a business partner and sponsor, our team’s role involves collaborating with Julia and the other partners to help shape the event’s schedule, content and overall experience for attendees, sponsors and media members.

Our team of experts will also be working closely with our good friend Julia on securing corporate and media sponsors. Potential corporate sponsors include furniture manufacturers and showrooms, kitchen and bath appliance manufacturers, home furnishings retailers, design and market centers, among others. Possible media sponsors include both high-end trade and consumer shelter publications.

The two-day event has been created specifically for business owners in the design field whose professional knowledge has outgrown other industry events, having found them to be too basic or cursory for their particular needs as luxury service providers. As the event’s new host, Julia Molloy brings over 20 years of business operations management experience to BOLD’s rebranded conference.
The BOLD Summit’s intense course aims to provide a dynamic and collaborative learning experience for design professionals to help build personal wealth and company success. Event presenters will enlighten attendees on critical business topics such as developing profit centers, luxury brand development, wealth development, and marketing in the new age of design. Attendees will participate in actionable training workshops with technical tools and financial analysis for their firms.

A very important benefit of attendance, BOLD will also feature revolutionary resources like worksheets and business planning documents that will be available for download and completed in real-time during the conference as well as a take-away DVD of the presentations.

This year’s BOLD Summit will feature a selection of seminars with top industry leaders and icons:
  • Julia Molloy, Molloy Management Group and BOLD Summit host
  • Mike Peterson, publisher of Luxe Interiors + Design South Florida magazine
  • Christopher Kennedy, luxury interior designer and furniture line designer
  • Frank Mastronuzzi, MBA, CPA and former chief financial officer of Michael Smith, Inc.
  • Chris Ramey, founder of the Home Trust and the Luxury Marketing Council
  • Kim Kuhteubl, authentic branding expert
  • Lloyd Princeton, founder of Design Management Company
  • Our own Don Eberly and Jeff Collard, co-owners of Eberly & Collard Public Relations
Don and Jeff will be co-moderating a panel about the benefits of marketing and building brand awareness. The panel will feature key editors from some of the nation’s top shelter publications, who will offer an insider look at media trends and editorial topics with relevancy to designers.
The event is a bold new and exciting endeavor for our staff, and, collectively, our firm couldn’t be more inspired about being a business partner, sponsor, publicist, supporter, and enthusiast. For more information about the BOLD Summit, visit

Interested in attending, editorially covering or sponsoring BOLD Summit? Media members, luxury furniture / appliance manufacturers, showroom owners / managers, design center marketing directors, and others desiring to know more about media or corporate sponsorship opportunities, contact us at 404-574-2900.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Hand Up, Not a Hand Out!

Keeping the tradition of American craftsmanship alive, Brian Preston founded Lamon Luther in 2009. It specializes in producing handcrafted, high-end home furnishings and accessories such as one-of-a-kind dining tables and cutting boards. The company is dedicated to supporting its craftsmen and helping them sustain a better life. The carpenters use their talented wood-working skills to design beautiful furniture made from reclaimed wood. And, behind each piece there’s a story to be heard.

Lamon Luther first started recruiting builders and craftsmen who had found themselves homeless and living in a forest near Douglasville, Ga. due to the financial crisis in 2007. As the company evolved, it was able to hire more craftsmen who had fallen on hard times. They currently feature eight artisans who specialize in anything from crafting with their hands to welders.

For more about Lamon Luther and the company’s amazing efforts to help those in need, please watch the video below.


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Architecture for Education: A Case Study

As one of Architectural Record’s chosen case studies of “Schools of the 21st Century,” the new early-childhood education building, Earl Shapiro Hall, at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, is a marvel of sleek design and utility. Founded by John Dewey in 1896, “Lab,” as it is colloquially known, stresses the approach of “learning by doing” and demonstrates this unique style in the architecture of its newest addition.

Architectural Record - April 2014
A staunch departure from the neo-Gothic architecture of the Lab’s main campus, designer Joe Valerio of Chicago’s own Valerio Dewalt Train Associates, with FGM Architects, took a very modern approach to the building. Several blocks east of the Lab’s other facilities, Valerio was challenged with working outside of the rest of the school’s architectural framework. In reference to the many differently scaled rooms, “Really controlled space is pretty deadening,” said Valerio.

Architectural Record
Therefore, classes share small adjoining rooms meant for extracurricular activities, and outdoor “playscapes” are perched atop the roofs. Though it still strikingly resembles the University of Chicago’s traditional Collegiate Gothic style, the expansive truss-supported interior is very welcoming. However, Earl Shapiro Hall’s modern influence is also evident in the cantilevered library that rests over its steel-framed administration wing, completing the structure’s flashy outer features. These include cream-colored brick, reflective energy-efficient glass and perforated aluminum fins arranged in a variation of the Fibonacci sequence.

Architectural Record
The school’s “learning labs” have glass walls that provide expansive views of the city and are meant for cooperative lessons between classes. The open feel to the rooms is meant to foster social development, bringing children “outside” and pushing their boundaries. Though Lab School director David Magill admits the building does not have “that hugging space” of older buildings built to smaller scales, 13-foot ceilings and rooms of every shape give children the space they need for their minds to run wild.

“Not many buildings have been built for our youngest children,” said Magill. “To build one from scratch…is something you could only dream about.”

To learn more about this architectural marvel, click here, and to view additional photos, click here.

Architectural Record

Thursday, February 27, 2014

2014 Building and Construction Product Trends

As a public relations firm with clients in the building, construction and architecture industries, it is necessary for us to stay current with the latest trends, news and products within these markets. Builder magazine is one of our go-to resources - from its magazine, website and e-newsletter – we receive daily updates that help keep our team and, in turn, our clients informed. Below, we have provided a few new product innovations and manufacturers for builders. 

Air Vent Inc.

Air Vent Inc. manufactures a full line of attic ventilation products, including durable, high-performance ridge vent systems. Its Pro Flow™ Vented Drip Edge combines venting with a drip edge and is used to provide intake ventilation in homes with little or no soffit area. Air Vent also offers The Edge™ Vent, a shingle-over roof-edge component that provides proper intake ventilation with little or no overhang. It can be used to supplement existing soffit or undereave vents. Both products supply 9 square-inches of net-free vent area per lineal foot.

Air Vent The Edge™ Vent
Azek Decking and Trim

Azek offers low-maintenance products that are impervious to moisture and insects in efforts to limit the hassles associated with traditional wood decking and trim. Its limited lifetime warranty is against fungal decay, blistering, peeling, flaking, cracking, splitting, cupping, rotting, and other structural defects. As an all-encompassing product, Azek’s low-maintenance trim was featured in Money magazine’s “The Carefree House” article and has received rave reviews from various builders and decking companies.

Azek Decking & Trim
Icynene ProSeal Eco

Since 1986, more than 300,000 residential and commercial projects have utilized approximately 3 billion board feet of Icynene spray foam insulation. In response to the demand for more eco-friendly blowing agents, one of its newest product developments includes a 100-percent water-blown, medium-density, closed-cell spray foam for its portfolio of SPF solutions. Icynene says ProSeal Eco is a smarter and more environmentally sound replacement for chemical-based, closed-cell spray foam insulation builder products. 

Icynene ProSeal Eco
If you have used these products before, let us know your experience in the comments below. Also, take a look at our Pinterest page for more great products across all our specified industries.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Three High-Impact Web Necessities to Engage Sales Leads and Prospects

In today’s high-tech world, an increasing number of businesses are advancing into the digital age in order to appeal to younger generations or more tech-savvy audiences. In addition to the aesthetic appeal of a website, there are major characteristics that are either unknown or overlooked when developing (or redesigning) a website. A few of our many services at ECPR include graphic design, website copy and website / blog development to strategically build clients’ websites to be more marketable. As helpful tools, below, our team of experts sheds light on three little-known yet high-impact, website provisions to consider.

#1: Be mobile-friendly for Millennials, and Just About Everyone Else on the Web

According to Cisco Systems, the number of mobile Internet users is expected to reach 1.9 billion by 2015. This means the Millennial generation may not “hear” you if your website is not “responsive.” And, in all reality, nearly all web users today are savvy enough to seek their needed information through multiple digital formats – from desktops to handhelds.

What do we mean by responsive? Our peers at describe responsive as the ability for a website to automatically format itself based on the device on which it is being viewed. As sales increase for tablets and smartphones, so increases the demand for mobile-friendly web design. Now, the question to ask is, “Do you need a mobile web design or a responsive web design?”

With a mobile web design, a devise-user will be automatically forwarded to your mobile-compatible webpage when they attempt to view your main website. This may be useful if you only want to limit capable actions through mobile devices, similar to the differences between online banking websites and their corresponding mobile apps. A responsive design will adjust the main website to fit the device being used. This model is easier to maintain and is a great option for companies that update content often, such as news sites or online retailers.
Photo Credit:

#2: Boost Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

This is a race to the high SEO finish line! Webopedia defines SEO as “a methodology…used to increase the amount of visitors to a website.” SEO can be visually defined as a website’s “placement” or “ranking” when the URL is inputted to a search engine. The sites that appear on the first “search results” page have the highest quality of SEO. So, how does a website achieve high SEO?

First, make sure your site is accessible via search engines by using appropriate tags, Meta tags, and commonly searched words within your industry. Meta description tags appear in search engine results pages and give the web surfer an overview of what your site contains. Your Meta tags should be created, generated and posted via Google and other search engines for most, if not all, pages of your website. Title tags appear in the title bar of the browser and are one of the factors used by search engines to determine the content of your page. Using “keyword rich” title tags within a 60-character limit will help search engines locate and rank your page appropriately, according to the web surfer’s search criteria.

Note: Do not excessively tag each page with the same keywords and phrases. This will cause search engines to identify your site as spam, and it could lower your SEO ranking. Make each page unique with relevant content on the page. The content needs to be exclusive within the pages of your site and in comparison to others, especially your competitors.

If writing descriptive tags while using commonly searched words for search engines is not one of your strengths, outsourcing with a company that specialize in web development and copy writing, such as our ECPR team, will benefit you greatly in your SEO improvement initiative.

Click here to learn more about SEO from "SEOman!"

#3: Get Interactive with Lead Capture Systems

Your website’s primary purpose is to create new business or evoke sales, correct? Our tip 3 addresses the fact you can only gain new clients or customers through your website, if the site equates to connectivity and engagement. This is where implementing various forms of lead-capturing systems comes in to play. These systems drive activity between you, your website and its visitors. This method provides two results:
  • Establish and maintain your presence. You do not want your website to become the “click-and-go” site that is easily forgotten. Encourage your site’s visitors to sign-up for your emails, newsletters and whitepapers; follow your social media channels; or to contact you with one-click-to-email for a free consultation or assessment of their needs. This method will make your presence offer value and sustain reoccurrence. Also, when you link your website to your social media channels, or your followers share your information on their own social media pages, it will greatly increase your SEO. Search engines consider it to be a “recommendation” or “verification” of credibility, therefore, moving your company higher on the SEO ranking. So, invite, entertain and encourage interaction on each and every URL you own.
  • Increase consumer or client trust and investment. Consumers or clients display an amount of trust in a company’s competencies when they register to receive e-mails or follow social media pages. There is trust that a service will be provided, whether in the form of informative e-newsletters or blogs, free resources, classes or webinars, videos, or just pure entertainment. Building that trust in these services can affect a new client’s potential to invest in (or purchase products or services) from your business, which is the overall end goal.
    Photo Credit:
Although web development can be daunting, investing in the assistance to create the best website possible for your business will only benefit your company in the long run, and possibly open up a whole new communicative means to reach sales prospects and leads. If you are a business owner or marketing manager interested in learning more about our web development services or other public relations and integrated marketing offerings, please visit and contact us through the ECPR website. Or, add your comments or questions below this post.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Digging into the 2014 Farm Bill: How the Bill Affects the Agriculture, Horticulture, and Floriculture Industries

On February 8, 2014, President Obama signed the Agricultural Act of 2014, commonly known as the Farm Bill, into effect. A new Farm Bill is passed approximately every five years and the latest bill, comprising a staggering 1,000+ pages, will yet again have a major effect on the agriculture, horticulture and floriculture industries, particularly the farmers and growers whose life work is harvesting the crops on which the country depends.

While many in these industries have been keeping a watchful eye on the status of the bill, the complexity of government legislation may have left some without a thorough understanding of its influence on their day-to-day businesses.

Photo credit: Michigan State University, The State News
Farmers and growers, review this concise overview which covers a few of the essential, major components of the Farm Bill our team believes to be most applicable, and learn how it will impact you.

Agriculture: Both farmers and consumers will be affected by the 2014 Farm Bill. The reduction of food stamps has brought about mixed reactions, yet the progress in the food industry delivered by the bill is notable.
  • SNAP, most formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, will be decreased to some citizens. However, those still able to utilize the program will have better access to more nutritious food, as SNAP benefits have been doubled at farmer’s markets under the Farmers Market Promotion Program. Addressing the critical issue of nutrition and public health is vital; this program, and others, will drive revenue for regional farmers and lead to expansion.
  •  With only 2.2 million farms producing our nation’s food, and less than 2 percent of the U.S. population working them, the uncertainty of crop yields can deal a detrimental financial blow to farmers. What many experts consider the bill’s biggest attribute to be is a new insurance policy, which will support farmers in times of loss and help risk management. 
Photo credit: Reuters
Horticulture / Floriculture: The reach of the 2014 Farm Bill will go beyond farmers of food; those in the nursery and floriculture trade will see increased funding to several beneficial programs.
  • Are you a grower of Christmas trees? A battle in the long-fought war against artificial trees was won with the signing of the bill by President Obama. A 15 cent tax will be placed on every tree sold and the funds, estimated to total $3 million in the next five years, are being directed to research and marketing to further promote the live tree industry. 
  • Several diseases have plagued the nursery grower industry in recent years, including the fungicide-resistant impatiens downy mildew disease, the quick-spreading boxwood blight and new invasive insects. The Farm Bill will lend millions of dollars more to pest and disease research, among other programs that safeguard nursery production. 
  • Along with fruits and vegetables, horticulture and nursery crops are designated as specialty crops by the U.S Department of Agriculture. The Specialty Crop Block Grant and Specialty Crop Research Initiative will both work to help enhance competitiveness for these crops against staple and highly lucrative crops such as soybeans, rice and corn. The block grant will involve both state and regional industry associations on marketing campaigns, while the crop research aspect will bring the necessary attention to the organic agriculture and horticulture industry. 

Overall, citizens of the United States have a right to nutritious food and healthy crops of all kinds. While some people may not agree with the Farm Bill in its entirety, it is hard to deny the need for funding that will improve public health and wellness. This new legislation is allowing average citizens the ability to buy healthy food and granting hard-working farmers the capacity to grow that food, along with successful plant cultivation that aid to environmental and human well-being.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Evolution of the Residential Kitchen

The growth of several industries is leading to major advancements in residential kitchen designs. With the consistent growth of the organic farming and food market in the United States, homeowners are becoming more and more conscious about their diets, which is also affecting their food prep spaces. In addition, the surge of available “smart appliances” and sustainable building materials in commercial kitchens is evolving even the most basic kitchen appliances, and has crossed over into the residential market. Thus, builders and designers are working to help their clients fashion chic, upgraded and functional kitchen spaces with new and innovative technologies.

K+BB January 2014

In its January 2014 issue, Kitchen + Bath Business shared the latest in commercial-style, sustainable, efficient and wireless technology now being found in residential kitchens.

Double ovens were once exclusive to major restaurateurs and caterers, but now the appealing features of LED screens displaying recipes, cooking guidance and customizable cooking cycles have reached home culinary enthusiasts.

Along with cutting-edge features, luxury and conveniences normally reserved for fine dining are also appearing in residential kitchen designs. While wine refrigerators are not necessarily new to residential kitchens, wine dispensers are providing a new experience for wine connoisseurs. No longer do wine lovers have to anguish over spoiling an unfinished bottle; their favorite Sauvignon Blanc can be easily stored and kept at the perfect temperature, ensuring that it is readily available at the touch of a button.

As all architects, designers and builders know, materials used for the home must fit the specific needs of the client. When it comes to kitchens, countertops are easily the most substantial element. Commercial kitchens have long ago adapted to be both heat- and scratch-resistant, and now both natural and synthetic sourced materials are becoming stylish options for homeowners who wish to utilize this commercial-like durability.

K+BB January 2014 - Residential Kitchens Are Taking a Page from Commercial's Playbook

Keeping up with the latest in home products and technologies to recommend to clients is imperative, and there’s no better way to accomplish the task than attending industry conventions and events.

KBIS, the leading kitchen and bath industry show, and IBS, the largest annual residential housing construction trade event, will co-locate during Design & Construction Week, beginning February 4 - 6, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nev. This year will mark the first time the two premier shows and associations have joined together to exhibit the latest industry products, trends and technologies.

Designers, builders and retailers, don’t miss this opportunity to experience the newest offerings from top brands for all home needs and learn about high-tech and innovative products that can upgrade your clients’ kitchens.

Click here to read the full K+BB article and here to learn more about KBIS.