press release -
International Housewares Association

Contact: Deborah A.Teschke
Senior Manager, Public Relations & Communications
Email Debbie Teschke

“Blackhawk Down” Ranger to Give Keynote Presentation at 2012 Chief Housewares Executive SuperSession Blue-Ribbon Industry Panel to Answer Tough Questions on Day 2

ROSEMONT, IL  (June 13, 2012)— Keni Thomas, U.S. Army Ranger veteran of the “Blackhawk Down” mission and award-winning country music artist, will give a motivational keynote address, titled “Train as You Fight, Fight as You Train,” at the 2012 Chief Housewares Executive SuperSession (CHESS) Oct. 16 - 17 in Rosemont, Ill. The two-day strategic and networking event for industry leaders will be held at The InterContinental Chicago O'Hare, Rosemont, Ill. It is designed for chief officers of all IHA member companies and their top decision-makers.

A member of the Army’s elite Ranger Task Force that participated in the mission that resulted in the feature film “Blackhawk Down,” Thomas will share stories of his experiences and the courage he saw demonstrated under the most dire of circumstances, illustrating how to develop leadership in any situation, especially in business.

On day 2, a blue-ribbon panel of industry leaders will keynote the day’s program in “Housewares Hot-Seat: Tough Questions for the Industry’s Top Influential Decision-Makers.”  The panel will be moderated by Peter Giannetti, editor-in-chief of HomeWorld Business, and include Jeff Siegel, president & CEO, Lifetime Brands Inc., and Peter Cameron, CEO, Lenox Brands. Among the topics they will discuss: how to be developmentally assertive while staying fiscally conservative; how to finance growth in today’s market—organic growth vs. acquisitions; optimizing sourcing challenges and opportunities; and balancing brick-and-mortar and online strategies.

Closing CHESS 2012 will be Ken Harris, CEO at Kantar Retail Americas Consulting, who will explore digital marketing in the housewares industry,  in his presentation, “Digital Marketing: Time to Hit the Easy Button or the Panic Button?”

The two-day program also features sessions on critical business issues including: an overview of global markets and trends, critical dot-com strategies, MAP pricing, a business climate forecast and updates on the 2012 election and industry issues. The mix of general and breakout sessions includes Q&A time with speakers after each session. Networking breaks, luncheons and a cocktail reception and dinner also provide time for attendees to network and meet informally with speakers, industry service providers and their colleagues—the most valuable part of the program according to past participants.

Speakers and topics include:

  • “Business Climate Forecast: How Will Changes in the Global Economy & Washington Affect U.S. Business & Consumers?” by Bill Norris, managing director and chief investment officer, The PrivateBank.
  • “Critical Dot Com Strategies.”
  • “The Uncertain Future of Healthcare Reform” by Kevin Kuhlman, manager, legislative affairs, National Federation of Independent Business.
  • “MAPs, Clicks & Bricks: How to Navigate Antitrust Laws & Protect Your Brand” by Wendelynne J. Newton, partner, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC.
  • Two breakout sessions: “Partner With Export Now to Drive Sales to China” by Frank Lavin, former U.S. Ambassador to Singapore and founder of Export Now; and “Brand Protection & Product Pricing: The Antitrust Devil’s in the Details” by Wendelynne J. Newton.

To register for CHESS or for more information, visit the CHESS website at or contact Judy Colitz of IHA at

EDITORS NOTE:  If you would like to attend CHESS 2012, please contact Debbie Teschke at or call 847.692.0110.

The International Housewares Association is the 74-year-old voice of the housewares industry, which accounted for (US)$301.9 billion at retail worldwide in 2010. The not-for-profit, full-service association sponsors the world's premier exposition of products for the home, the International Home + Housewares Show, and offers its 1,700 member companies a wide range of services, including industry and government advocacy, export assistance, State-of-the-Industry reports, point-of-sale and consumer panel data through Housewares MarketWatch, executive management peer groups, a unique Web-based community at and group buying discounts on business solutions services.