Home IHA’s CHESS Returns in October to Explore Post-Pandemic Strategies
August 17, 2021

IHA’s CHESS Returns in October to Explore Post-Pandemic Strategies

By Debbie Teschke

Contributing Editor

CHESS, the Chief Housewares Executive SuperSession by the International Housewares Association, is set to return with an in-person event October 5-6 in Rosemont, Illinois.

CHESS is presented as a strategic networking event for industry leaders and top decision-makers at IHA member companies.

The two-day event will feature sessions on critical post-pandemic issues and growth strategies for the home and housewares business, including supply chain and tariff relief actions; the new retail environment and the consumer journey; workplace changes because of the coronavirus; brand marketing; and retail trends.

“One of the key benefits of CHESS has always been the ability for senior-level home + housewares executives to meet face-to-face, exchanging ideas and strategies,” said Derek Miller, IHA president. “After two years without live events, we are excited to bring our members back together this October.”


Day 1 Sessions


The CHESS 2021 program opens Oct. 5 with a State-of-the-Industry report from Miller and Yvette Laugier, managing director, Peugeot Saveurs North America and incoming IHA Chair for 2021-22. They will provide an update on IHA, The Inspired Home Show and new member services that have expanded IHA’s year-round support of the industry in a post-COVID marketplace.

The IHA State-of-the-Industry report will be followed by the Housewares Hot Seat, a panel discussion focusing on “The New Beginning” and examining post-pandemic growth strategies for suppliers. Veteran industry editor Peter Giannetti, now with IHA and editor-in-chief of HomePage News, will moderate the panel of Glenn DeStefano, president, StoreBound; Kris Malkoski, business unit CEO, Home Solutions, Newell Brands; and Mike Otterman, president & CEO, Lodge Manufacturing. These veteran housewares executives will share their ideas and best practices for success after the pandemic.

IHA’s Washington representatives will provide an update on legislative and White House actions during the session “The View From Washington: A Progress Report on Supply Chain & Tariff Relief Action.” Craig Brightup, CEO, The Brightup Group, and Rafe Morrissey, president, Morrissey Strategic Partners, will explain what Congress and the Biden Administration are doing to relieve skyrocketing shipping costs and related supply chain disruption, and the continuation of widescale import tariffs.

Other Day 1 sessions include:

  • “The New Retail and Consumer Journey” — “New Retail Model” pioneer and retail futurist Michael Zakkour will demonstrate how delivering the 4Cs (consumer centricity, convenience, customization and contribution) in the New Retail and Unified Commerce Era will spoil consumers and grow a business in the coming 3D Retail Metaverse. Zakkour is founder and chief strategist of 5 New Digital, a global digital commerce and new retail ecosystem company.
  • “Tracking the Return to Normal: How High-Frequency Data Offers Insight Into Consumers’ State of Mind” — Marketing experts from global intelligence company Morning Consult will reveal insights from “Tracking the Return to Normal,” a weekly interactive series featuring Americans’ changing comfort levels when it comes to shopping, dining, travel, socializing, entertainment and more. This session will help housewares executives learn the predictive power of high-frequency data in better understanding consumers and their purchasing habits.
  • “The New Hybrid Workplace: How Your Company Can Avoid Hiccups and Earn Hurrahs” — With the coronavirus changing the nature of the workplace, David Michael, a partner at Gould + Ratner and chair of the firm’s human resources and employment practice, will review the latest labor and employment issues arising from working at home and what may be the new “hybrid workplace,” where employees split time between the office and working at home.


Day 2 Sessions


Day 2 of CHESS kicks off Oct. 6 with a look at the financial health of the retail landscape. In the session “Retail is Alive and Well,” Dennis Cantalupo, partner, Riemer+ and CEO, Pulse Ratings, will review and analyze the evolving retail landscape, focusing on how the pandemic has specifically impacted the housewares category.

Other Day 2 sessions include:

  • “Expanding Your Reach: Leveraging Digital to Your Advantage for International Expansion” — John LeBaron, chief revenue officer at Pattern, will examine the newest digital platforms and strategies companies are using to enable growth outside the U.S.
  • “Revisiting Post-Covid Retailing” — Don Unser, chief retail strategist at The NPD Group, will explore what retail trends have remained and what has changed post-pandemic.
  • “Telling Your Brand Stories to Create Customer Karma for Life” — Customers decide emotionally and justify rationally, according to acclaimed “Brand Zen” Arjun Sen, CEO, ZenMango. Drawing from 30 years of success stories and recovering failures in the corporate world, Sen will share real-life secrets on how to discover and tell brands stories to truly connect to customers’ emotions.


Networking breaks, luncheons and a cocktail reception and dinner also provide time for CHESS attendees to meet with speakers, industry service providers and their colleagues.

Further information on CHESS sessions, speakers and registration is available on the CHESS website at TheInspiredHomeShow.com/chess.

In the absence of a statewide mandate, IHA is asking all unvaccinated CHESS attendees to wear masks and follow social distancing guidelines. Vaccinated attendees are not required to wear masks at this time, according to IHA. This policy is subject to change if a statewide mandate is implemented. IHA will provide additional information closer to the event.

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