1) Who, What and Where: (Your name, and your role/job title at Show Ways Unlimited and how it relates to manufactured housing)
Dennis J. Hill, President and CEO of Show Ways Unlimited, Inc. a trade show organization that specializes in producing industrial trade shows for the manufactured housing industry since 1978.
2) Background: (Educational/Professional before entering the factory-built housing arena)
Graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelors of Arts degree in 1966. Served two years in the US Army from 1966 to 1968. Entered into the industry in 1968.
3) When and How: (When and how you get started in manufactured housing, and the various positions you held before Show Ways Unlimited)
In 1968 I began working in the manufactured housing industry with the Georgia Manufactured Housing Association. In late 1968 I left the Georgia Manufactured Housing Association and went to work for the South Eastern Manufactured Housing Institute. I later became President of the South Eastern Manufactured Housing Institute (South Eastern Region). In 1978 I left association work and began Show Ways Unlimited, Inc. as a trade show producing specializing in manufactured housing shows.
4) Tell us how you got started in trade shows and some history on Show Ways Unlimited.
I started out with the production of my first trade show in 1968 from scratch. I knew nothing about trade shows, as a matter of fact, that was the first question I asked my boss at the time, “What is a trade show?” when he said I was going to do a trade show. After spending 10 years in producing trade shows from 1968 to 1978, I felt it was time to go out on my own and do that which I really enjoyed. Trade shows had a significant fascination for me. I think it has to do with trying to bring rhyme or reason into chaos and the challenges that represents.
5) Tell us how many different trade shows you've been involved in with manufactured housing? For example, what cities and states, how large a show where they and so on?
South Eastern Manufactured Housing Show, Atlanta, GA. This show used to have well over 200 homes and more than 100 supplier booths.
North Carolina Show, Winston-Salem, NC. Regional trade show sponsored by the North Carolina Manufactured Housing Institute.
New Jersey Show sponsored by the New Jersey Manufactured Housing Association, Atlantic City, NJ.
Nashville Show, Nashville, TN., sponsored by the South Central Manufactured Housing Institute. The largest trade show our industry has produced throughout the years.
Kansas City Show, Kansas City, KS, a regional show sponsored by the North Central Manufactured Housing Institute.
North Carolina Show, Charlotte, NC, sponsored by the North Carolina Manufactured Housing Institute, a regional show.
Louisiana Manufactured Housing Show, at the Superdome and NOCC, a regional show sponsored by the Louisiana Manufactured Housing Association.
Gulf Coast Show, a regional show, sponsored by the South Central Manufactured Housing Institute.
Omaha Show, Omaha, NE, sponsored by the North Central Manufactured Housing Institute.
Great Southwest Home Show, Tulsa, OK, sponsored by the Manufactured Housing Association of Oklahoma.
Louisville Show, Louisville, KY, regional show sponsored by the Midwest Manufactured Housing Federation.
Tunica Manufactured Housing Show, Tunica, MS, sponsored by the South Central Manufactured Housing Institute. This one is currently our nation’s largest manufactured housing trade show.
6) To be successful with a Show like Louisville or Tunica, it takes a team of professionals working with you, right? Perhaps you would like to mention some of those, contract or staff, that you work with and what they do behind the scenes that makes these shows possible?
It would be foolish of me to think that everything that happens at Show Ways Unlimited, Inc. is only done by me. I have been very fortunate to have good people here in Atlanta and at the show site backing me up in every possible way. It truly takes dedication from everyone’s part to make a trade show turn out well.
7) Many thought the Louisville Show would never return after being canceled in 2010. But you personally stood behind the Show and fought for its come back. Obviously many others are always in the mix in an any Show, but what made you believe it could be done? With all the accolades you have had since the 2013 Show, is there a feeling of contentment and vindication?
I stood behind the return of the Louisville Show in 2011 because I truly believe that a show that has been around for over 50 years deserves another chance. I would like to think that everyone would now agree that Louisville is needed and deserves to go forward. This industry deserves successful, regional trade shows. I was very pleased after this year to see the progress we have made in such a short time in bringing Louisville back.
8) The Tunica Show is coming up fast. Give people an idea of what has to happen for a show to come together, and why they should be in Tunica at the end of March.
I hope everyone will attend the Tunica Manufactured Housing Show, March 27th – 29th, as it is coming up very quickly. I hope that Tunica will have the same positive attitude that we saw in Louisville. It was very rewarding to see that we had a significant increase in attendance and that everyone had a good attitude about being in Louisville. Professionals can learn more about Tunica at the link above.
9) Part of your philosophy of a trade show is to keep it positive. For example, you may have business building seminars on the financing available, but steer clear of a study of Dodd-Frank, right? What are some of the 'secrets' like that of making a trade show a success?
Everything needs to be kept positive, not negative. People do not want to come together for trade shows and have negative issues put in front of their face. Our educational seminars, which we sponsor at trade shows, as well as the trade show it self, needs to be kept on an upbeat note.
10) Are you confident that manufactured housing will continue the come back that began two years ago, and if so why?
I am very confident that the manufactured housing industry will come back. This will happen because the nature of our industry ties into the very fabric that makes this country strong. Everyone needs a good, safe, and comfortable place to live. Our industry has the ability to provide this to anyone who seeks it out.
11) Kindly tell us about any awards you have had that acknowledge your professional MH career.
I was the 1998 Journal “Person of the Year.” I was also inducted into the RV/MH Hall of Fame in 2004.
12) Dennis, do you want to share any closing thoughts?
If I am proud of anything that I have been able to accomplish through the years, it was to take trade shows from the days of “wine, women, and song” to the professional events they have become today.
Hope to see all of you in Tunica!