October 3-4, 2023
CHESS—Chief Housewares Executive SuperSession— is IHA’s annual senior-level conference for industry leaders. This strategic education and networking event allows attendees to access high-profile industry experts directly and share information and ideas with other housewares and home goods decision-makers. Held every fall, CHESS attracts the chief officers of IHA’s most prominent member companies. The program includes keynote speakers, panel discussions, general sessions and networking opportunities—the most valuable part of the 2-day event according to past participants.
CHESS —Chief Housewares Executive SuperSession— is IHA’s annual senior-level conference for industry leaders. This strategic education and networking event allows attendees to access high-profile industry experts directly and share information and ideas with other housewares and home goods decision makers. Held every fall, CHESS attracts the chief officers of IHA’s most prominent member companies. The program includes keynote speakers, panel discussions, general sessions and networking opportunities—the most valuable part of the 2-day event according to past participants.
2023 Session Details
Transforming the Home + Housewares Business
After so much pivoting to adapt to a string of challenges—a pandemic, supply chain disruption, a sales slowdown, inflation, retail bankruptcies and more—the home and housewares business has emerged as a business transformed. CHESS 2023 will showcase strategic perspectives across several critical topics and issues that underscore the new ground rules for success in today’s changed marketplace. Moreover, it will present actionable insights to encourage the next wave of change for the home and housewares business, demonstrating how truly successful transformation never stops; it is a fluid process that rewards constant evaluation and adaptation.
Tuesday, October 3
Wednesday, October 4
Tuesday, October 3
10 – 10:15 A.M.
Presenter: Derek Miller, IHA president & CEO
10:15 – 11:15 A.M.
CHESS 2023 kicks off with the annual Housewares Hot Seat featuring key industry leaders. This year’s panel will examine how companies are identifying and executing brand and product diversification opportunities to optimize market reach, value to customers and growth prospects.
Moderator: Peter Giannetti, editor-in-chief, HomePage News
Panelist: Sal Gabbay, CEO, Gibson Homewares; Evan Dash, founder, CEO, StoreBound; Bill McHenry, founder/CEO, Widgeteer
11:15 – 11:30 A.M.
Presenters: Craig Brightup, CEO, The Brightup Group; Rafe Morrissey, president, Morrissey Strategic Partners
11:30 A.M. – 12:30 P.M.
This panel discussion will examine surging regulatory compliance topics impacting the housewares business, including PFAS chemicals, California Prop 65 and Americans with Disability Act (ADA).
Moderators: Craig Brightup, CEO, The Brightup Group
Panelists: Fran Groesbeck, managing director, Cookware & Bakeware Alliance; Thomas Lee, partner, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP
12:30 – 2 P.M.
2 – 3 P.M.
Executives from Circana, the market research and analytics company created by the merger of The NPD Group and IRI, will provide a complete view of the consumer by looking at the $4 trillion-plus in global consumer spending to help identify indicators of where consumers and retailers are heading and to pinpoint growth opportunities for home and housewares.
Speakers: Don Unser, president, Thought Leadership, Circana; Joe Derochowski, vice president and home industry advisor, Circana
3 – 4 P.M.
This panel discussion will examine how to make consumer reviews a more influential component of housewares marketing strategies. Learn the importance of generating more reviews from purchases across all sales channels and how to harvest directional insights from what consumers are saying about you and your competitors.
Panelists: Laura Kegley, chief revenue officer, North America, Revuze; David Rapps, president, Wholescale
4 – 5 P.M.
Overstock completed its strategic transformation to a 100% furniture and home furnishings e-retailer in 2022. With a strong business model but a name that didn’t reflect its focus on home, Overstock saw a unique opportunity in acquiring the Bed Bath & Beyond brand – which filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. As a result of the acquisition, Overstock rebranded under the Bed Bath & Beyond name, a widely recognized and admired banner synonymous with home.
In this special keynote, veteran Overstock leader Jonathan Johnson, CEO of the new Bed Bath & Beyond, will offer CHESS attendees an update on the company’s home-centric transformation, the relaunch of Bed Bath & Beyond and what’s ahead for the leading furniture and home furnishings company.
Wednesday, October 4
8 – 9 A.M.
ESG, an acronym for Environmental, Social and Governance, is a three-pillar framework for measuring the sustainability and ethical impact of a company’s operations. As a growing component of how companies are evaluated by certain sectors of lending institutions and investors, ESG has become a flashpoint for debate across industries. In the balance, the cost and time consumption of addressing ESG considerations versus the potential reward of successful execution. This session will lay out the viewpoints from all sides of the topic while illuminating consumer perspectives on key issues crucial to determining your company’s position and strategic initiatives on this growing concern.
Speaker: Tom Mirabile, founder, Springboard Futures and IHA consumer trend analyst
9 – 9:15 A.M.
Presenters: Rafe Morrissey, president, Morrissey Strategic Partners
9:15 – 10:15 A.M.
Because housewares is an industry that relies on stable sources of working capital to fund its operations and growth, it is important to understand the significant shifts that have occurred in the lending markets since 2020 that, in the wake of the Silicon Valley and Signature Bank collapses, are continuing to evolve today. A global pandemic, government subsidies, supply chain influences, regulatory failures and economic fluctuations have all played a role in influencing the availability of sources of business financing. A panel of secured finance experts will unpack these events, providing data and insights to help you understand what this means to your business today and going forward.
Moderator: Richard Gumbrecht, CEO, Secured Finance Network (SFNet); Jenn Palmer, CEO, JPalmer Collective; Brian Martin, regional manager, CIT Commercial Services
10:15 – 10:30 A.M.
Gauging retailer credit risk is a mounting challenge in the post-pandemic housewares marketplace, which has seen some high-profile retail bankruptcies while some others confront ongoing financial uncertainty. Scott Friedman, chief credit officer at Pulse Ratings Inc., will provide CHESS attendees with an overview of the retail business and its debt risk before taking a deep dive into credit factors affecting some key retailers.
Speaker: Scott Friedman, chief credit officer, Pulse Ratings, Inc.
11:30 A.M. – 12:30 P.M.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and chatbots powered by generative pre-trained transformers (GPT) are transforming the way businesses communicate and interact with their customers. These technologies offer unprecedented opportunities to create personalized, engaging and efficient experiences for their adopters. However, they also pose significant risks and challenges, such as being overly reliant on AI, losing human touch or falling for hype and false claims. In this executive leadership Q&A moderated by Aaron Conant of BWG Connect, Jordan Brannon, president and COO of Coalition Technologies, will share his insights and expertise on how to leverage AI and chatbots for business success while avoiding the pitfalls and perils of these emerging tools.
Speaker: Jordan Brannon, president & COO, Coalition Technologies
Moderator: Aaron Conant, co-founder & chief digital strategist, BWG Connect
Speaker: Peter Giannetti, editor-in-chief, HomePage News
- The Economic Outlook
- Retail Executives Outline Transformation Strategies
- Deciphering the Consumer Mindset
Note: IHA will provide updates as additional sessions and speakers are added.
Exhibiting – $1,000
(Additional Attendees $800)
Non-Exhibiting – $1,500.00
(Additional Attendee $1.200.00)
Exhibiting – $2,000
Non-Exhibiting – $3,000
Become a CHESS Sponsor
President & COO
Jordan Brannon is the president and COO of Coalition Technologies, one of the largest privately owned and operated digital agencies in the United States. He co-founded the company in 2009 and has since led its growth and success in delivering exceptional results for hundreds of clients across various industries. With more than a decade of experience in both the execution and management of digital campaigns for housewares brands, he has a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities in this sector. Brannon is also an avid user and advocate of AI technologies, applying them to enhance his agency’s services and performance. He is an exceptional resource for conversations around the benefits and risks of AI in today’s business landscape.
The Brightup Group
Craig Brightup, CEO of The Brightup Group LLC, a government relations consulting firm, leads the International Housewares Association’s Government Affairs office in Washington D.C. Brightup has worked for more than 20 organizations since 2009, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and he is a founding member of E Street Partners, a bipartisan consortium providing public policy services to corporations, associations and coalitions.
Previously, he was vice president, government relations, for the National Roofing Contractors Association and before that headed congressional relations for the Federal Trade Commission by appointment of President Reagan. In 2000, he was named to Fortune Small Business magazine’s POWER 30 list of “influential insiders” in Washington, and recently served as president of the Washington Industrial Roundtable.
Partner & Chair
Aaron Conant is co-founder and managing director of BWG Connect, a networking and knowledge sharing group used by thousands of brands to collectively grow their digital knowledge base and collaborate on partner selection. Advising more than 500 brands each year and hosting over 250 in-person and virtual events, Conant has a real-time pulse on the newest trends, strategies and partners shaping growth in the digital space. He is the host of “The Digital Deep Dive” podcast which brings in the top digital experts from multiple industries to answer the most relevant questions in ecommerce on a weekly basis.
After a successful career in retail, Evan Dash and his wife, Rachel, founded StoreBound in 2010, focused on creating a culture of innovation and transforming how products are conceptualized, designed and brought to market. StoreBound built the industry’s largest organic social media following, earning billions of marketing impressions and accolades while distributing products in North & South America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
StoreBound was recognized on the INC list of Fastest Growing Businesses for four consecutive years; in the Top 100 of the Entrepreneur 360 list; and among Crain’s Fast-50. In 2017, the Dash brand was named a “Next Great Consumer Brand” at the NASDAQ. The company has initiated several socially conscious initiatives and charitable partnerships. In 2020, Groupe SEB acquired an interest in StoreBound and supports the organization with its innovation engine and global operating capabilities.
Dash has served on the board of directors of the International Housewares Association and is a member of the executive committee of the Housewares Charity Foundation.
Joe Derochowski is vice president and home industry advisor for Circana, the new market research firm formed by the merger of IRI and The NPD Group. An expert at parsing data, Derochowski has been helping product developers and retailers for more than 30 years to identify growth opportunities through innovation, marketing, sales and merchandising.
Chief Credit Officer
Pulse Ratings, Inc.
Scott Friedman joined Pulse Ratings as chief credit officer in June 2023. Prior to joining Pulse, Friedman served as the principal at Scott Friedman Consulting/Olympus Peak Consulting since 2009, providing in-depth credit analysis, financial market insight, insolvency valuation work and credit risk mitigation alternatives to clients that include some of the world’s largest consumer product companies. He also served as the head of trade claims and a member of the investment team at Olympus Peak Asset Management, a credit fund with assets under management in excess of $1.7 billion. Prior to starting his own firm, Friedman was a vice president in the Trade Claims and Vendor Finance group at Avenue Capital, a global fund with assets under management that exceeded $15 billion. Before joining Avenue Capital, Friedman was a vice president at F&D Reports.
Peter Giannetti joined IHA in March 2021 as director, editorial, content and education. In his role with IHA, Giannetti directed the development and launch of HomePage News, the authoritative B2B news platform for the home and housewares business, and has helped create exclusive IHA research reports, including the IHA Occasions Report, HomePage News Consumer Outlook Report and the just-released HomePage News InSight Trend Index.
He has reported on the home and housewares business since 1990. Before joining IHA, Giannetti served for 14 years as editor-in-chief and 14 years before that as editor of HomeWorld Business, a leading B2B print and digital publication.
Cookware & Bakeware Alliance
In 2021, Fran Groesbeck was named managing director of the Cookware and Bakeware Alliance (CBA). She has spent her career in the housewares world, with a special passion for the retail side. She began at Willams Sonoma and Pottery Barn stores, moving on to product manager for Tools of the Trade at Macy’s/Federated Product Development. After Macy’s she became brand manager of Hard Home for Frederick Atkins, which led to an opportunity at Whitford Worldwide, a leading nonstick coating company.
At Whitford, Groesbeck created the Worldwide Retail Marketing Program to provide retailers with the information and tools they needed so they could specify the ideal coating with precision. This program was expanded to other countries and other industry partners, including importers and brand owners.
Secured Finance Network
Since 2017, Rich Gumbrecht has been CEO of the Secured Finance Network, the leading trade association for the $5 trillion secured finance industry. He is a 30-year veteran of the commercial finance industry, having led diversified lending platforms at GE Capital, co-founded a successful equipment finance company and scaled the commercial finance platform for a mid-sized bank. He served as the chairman of the Equipment Leasing and Finance Foundation (ELFF) Board of Trustees from 2013-2015.
Bed Bath & Beyond/Overstock
Jonathan Johnson is CEO of the new Bed Bath & Beyond. Under his leadership, the iconic consumer brand was brought back to life online when it was acquired by Overstock.com, a leading home furnishings and furniture e-commerce retailer. In August 2023, Johnson rebranded the company under the Bed Bath & Beyond name.
Johnson, who became CEO of Overstock in 2019, positioned the company as more than just an ecommerce website – streamlining its widespread merchandising interests into a concentrated strategy focused on home furnishings. He has been an integral part of the company’s growth – from a start-up in 1999 to publicly traded with over $2.5 billion in sales and approximately 1,000 employees. When the former Bed Bath & Beyond went bankrupt in 2023, Johnson saw an opportunity to combine the best aspects of both Overstock and Bed Bath & Beyond.
Currently a member of the board of directors, Johnson has held various positions within Overstock since he joined the company in 2002, including chairman of the board, executive vice chairman, president and general counsel. He is also a member of the board of directors of The J.M. Smucker Co.
From 2016-2021, Johnson served as president of Medici Ventures, a former subsidiary which invested in blockchain technology and fintech businesses. In early 2021, under Johnson’s leadership, Medici’s portfolio companies were transferred to a limited partnership managed by venture capital firm Pelion Venture Partners.
Prior to Overstock, Johnson worked for TenFold Corporation, practiced corporate law in Los Angeles and served as a judicial clerk at the Utah Supreme Court.
Laura Kegley, an 18-year revenue growth tech executive, is chief revenue officer for Revuze, whose AI-powered solution provides detailed consumer insights from online reviews for products in more than 200 industries. Revuze enables companies to monitor the e-commerce market, identify emerging trends and assess product strengths and weaknesses. Before joining Revuze last March, Kegley led and scaled sales teams at NetBase Quid, Malibu Design Group and Nordstrom, covering a wide range of businesses including SaaS software, healthcare and retail designer fashion.
Thomas Lee is a partner in the Energy, Environment and Infrastructure Practice Group for the San Francisco-based law firm Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner. Lee lead’s the firm’s PFAS and Proposition 65 practices. He advises clients on a range of environmental topics, and regularly works with clients in a variety of industries including real estate investment and development, food and agriculture, retail and consumer products, chemical manufacturing and distribution.
Lee is the founder and editor of the firms’ Emerging Contaminants/Emerging Solutions blog, and he regularly writes about California’s Proposition 65 and the developing regulation of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Lee’s deep understanding of the ever-changing PFAS regulatory environment has made him a trusted counselor for companies evaluating their PFAS risk in transactional, regulatory and litigation contexts.
CIT Commercial Services
Brian Martin has more than 35 years of experience providing secured financing and factoring services to North American-based companies that have financing needs that are not fully met by traditional bank financing. As regional manager at CIT Commercial Services, Martin is responsible for overseeing client acquisition and retention, strategy, growth, risk management and staff across the 30 states in the central and southeastern regions. Before joining CIT in May 2022, Martin was with Wells Fargo for 17 years in positions of increasing responsibility, including national underwriting manager for the factoring, key account purchase and supply chain finance businesses, regional manager of factoring for the Southeast and national portfolio manager for the factoring unit. He previously served as executive vice president of Action Capital Corporation, a privately held commercial financial institution based in Atlanta.
Bill McHenry founded Widgeteer in 2009 with a mission to develop and market original home and kitchen goods. Collaborating with European housewares companies, as well as designers and manufacturers around the world, Widgeteer has grown to offer a wide range of housewares and tableware brands, including MoHa kitchen gadgets; Tognana tableware, cookware and serveware; Sagaform tableware and giftware; Snips food storage; and Jeanne Fitz entertaining serveware.
Prior to starting Widgeteer, McHenry worked for 20 years in sales, marketing and business development with Nestle, 3M and Philips, holding senior level sales and marketing positions. His experience includes managing business activities of more than $100 million annually. He was recently elected to the board of directors of the International Housewares Association.
Morrissey Strategic Partners
Rafe Morrissey has more than 20 years of public policy experience. Before starting Morrissey Strategic Partners, LLC, he managed legislative and public policy issues on behalf of clients for EnGage, LLC, primarily in the areas of postal affairs, consumer privacy and regulatory matters. In 2012, he was promoted to vice president, public affairs for the Greeting Card Association.
Before launching MSP, Morrissey served as senior vice president, government relations, for Evans Capitol Group, a public policy firm specializing in corporate, non-profit and trade association representation. He managed a wide range of issues including labor and employment policy, tax, trade, telecommunications and Internet privacy issues.
Tom Mirabile, principal and founder of Springboard Futures, also serves as consumer trend analyst for the International Housewares Association and HomePage News. A former trend forecaster, product developer and merchandiser for Lifetime Brands, Neiman Marcus Group, Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, Mirabile now informs and empowers the home and housewares industry with world-class perspective, insights and research on quickly changing consumer trends and aspirations.
Jennifer Palmer is a finance industry veteran with 20 years of business expertise in helping small and mid-sized businesses. She is founder and CEO of JPalmer Collective, funding high-growth companies that do not fit the traditional lender’s criteria, including women-led companies and consumer brands focused on conscious consumers, sustainability and inclusivity. Palmer is the former CEO of Gerber Finance, for which she grew its asset-based lending portfolio by more than 140% and during the pandemic achieved the firm’s second most profitable year in its 25-year history. She increased Gerber’s portfolio from 34% to 56% women-owned and -led businesses. Palmer also serves as president of the Secured Finance Network (SFNet).
David Rapps is president of Wholescale, the fastest-growing consumer product ratings and reviews platform. Rapps co-founded Wholescale in 2022 to serve national brands and private-label suppliers with its unique suite of consumer data, content and analytics solutions. Rapps also leads Calego International Inc., a developer and distributor of luggage, travel bags and accessories. Rapps has grown Calego’s revenue and market share through strategic retail partnerships and proprietary brand development, including iFLY. Calego earned Walmart’s Supplier of the Year in the Home department in 2018, and Rapps led sales growth in 2020 and 2021 despite the negative impact of COVID on travel.
Don Unser leads thought leadership for Circana. Unser’s expertise in consumer and retail trends spans a wide range of categories, making him a trusted advisor to some of today’s most successful brands. He is a frequent guest in the C-suites of companies such as Target, Apple, Best Buy, Newell and many others that rely on him for insight into industry and category performance, the state of retail and winning strategies of best-in-class companies. He is a member of the Retail Industry Leaders Association board of directors. Prior to joining Circana, Unser was a 20-year veteran at Hewlett-Packard and held a variety of positions with the company, including vice president, retail sales.
CHESS is being held at The Hilton Rosemont/Chicago O’Hare. IHA is pleased to partner with The Hilton to bring you a reduced nightly rate of $209. Book now.
Hilton Rosemont/Chicago O’Hare
5550 N. River Road,
Rosemont, IL 60018
Presentations from CHESS are now available for download for event attendees.
2022 Schedule & Speakers
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 22
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 23
10:00 — 10:30 AM
Speaker: Derek Miller, President, International Housewares Association
10:30 — 11:30 AM
Successful and enduring housewares companies were adaptable long before the pandemic made pivoting so fashionable. Yet after the sudden and unforeseeable life and business disruption of the past two years that set off a series of new challenges, today’s housewares industry, from the smallest to the largest players, seems best served by companies astute enough to anticipate multiple scenarios and nimble enough to alter the course as needed. In this year’s Housewares Hot Seat panel discussion to open CHESS 2022, HomePage News Editor-in- Chief Peter Giannetti will sit with leaders of housewares companies to examine how they are implementing strategy and building organizations to remain more proactive in a reactive marketplace.
Panelists: Luke Peters, President & CEO, NewAir
Jacob Maurer, CEO, The Americas, The Cookware Company
Moderator: Peter Giannetti, Editor-in-Chief, HomePage News
11:30 AM — 12:30 PM
Speaker: John Dick, CEO, CivicScience
12:30 — 2:00 PM
2:00 — 3:00 PM
The vast majority of brands want to grow sales and other online marketplaces in a profitable manner. The challenge, however, is that channel dynamics often prevent their ability to do so. Without a clear channel-control strategy in place, brands will see their value erode, lose sales to unauthorized sellers, fail to capture optimized ROAS and experience disruption across all business channels. Brands can take back control of their destiny, and vastly improve performance, with a holistic channel-control strategy that focuses on driving the majority of sales through their desired Amazon GTM strategy — whether Amazon 1P, their own 3P storefront or another authorized 3P seller — in a manner consistent with their hard-earned brand value, while simultaneously stopping unauthorized sales and improving business in traditional brick and mortar channels. In this session, Whitney Gibson will discuss each of the components brands must implement for a holistic channel-control strategy in the eCommerce age.
Speaker: Whitney Gibson, CEO, Co-Founder, Vorys eControl
3:00 — 4:00 PM
There have been growing concerns, especially in recent months, about companies’ ability to justify their valuations. This has driven a renewed focus on understanding whether businesses that may not be profitable yet have a path to profitability and, if so, how long that path might be. Daniel McCarthy will show how an award-winning customer value-driven framework can help you more accurately assess the underlying forward-looking profitability of your business and will provide actionable drivers you can leverage to accelerate your profitability in the future.
Speaker: Daniel McCarthy, Co-Founder, Theta Equity Partners; Assistant Professor, Marketing, Emory College
8:00 — 9:00 AM
Speaker: RJ Hottovy, Head of Analytical Research, Placer.ai
9:00 — 10:00 AM
As we move to the endemic phase of COVID-19, there are many macro-economic variables, changes in consumer behavior and spending and innovations at retail that are creating unique challenges and opportunities for the home and housewares industry. Marshal Cohen and Joe Derochowski will discuss these topics and more as we look to the future.
Speakers: Marshal Cohen, Chief Retail Advisor, The NPD Group
Joe Derochowski, Home Industry Adviser, The NPD Group
10:00 — 10:30 AM
11:30 AM — 12:30 PM
Web 3.0 is upon us. Many of the companies that were slow to onboard at the outset of the Internet, Web 1.0, embraced social media and digital marketing in Web 2.0. Today, with the changing landscape of digital engagement, data privacy, new immersive technologies and the promise of the Metaverse, organizations are eager to jump on board to Web 3.0 but they are challenged to find how their brand, products and value proposition will change with the shift to the Owner Economy.
Learn how to convert those challenges into opportunities from David Lucatch, serial entrepreneur, marketer, tech evangelist, speaker and contributor to leading publications such as Forbes, Rolling Stone and Cointelegraph. Lucatch has worked in the technology, entertainment, sports and consumer marketing arenas, simplifying the complexity of technology, marketing and the evolving digital and physical environments and helping senior executives and companies drive more value for their brands and engagement with their customers.
Speaker: David Luctatch, President & CEO, Liquid Avatar
12:30 — 1:00 PM
Speaker: Peter Giannetti, Editor-in-Chief, HomePage News
1:00 — 2:00 PM