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Lessons drawn from first expo

Organizer says Biz@Home was prototype to learn from, plans more seminars, cities in the future

Posted: February 21, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: February 21, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Speaker Maurice DiMino leads a seminar at the Biz @ Home Expo held at the Hyatt Regency Valencia in Valencia on Saturday.

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The first Biz@Home Expo held at the Hyatt Regency Valencia was lightly attended over the weekend even as it attracted firms from outside Southern California and the state.

A mix of some 15 businesses occupied the exhibit booths; ranging from home-based businesses, to small firms and business opportunities.

“It’s always a challenge for a first-time event,” said Bunny Feranda at the Valley Industry Association Promotionals booth.

Attendance at the 24 business seminars held on Saturday and Sunday depended on the subject. On Saturday, motivational speakers Maurice DiMino — “The Sicilian Mentor” — and Craig Duswalt of RockStar System for Success attracted the biggest groups, along with the marketing seminar led by Teresa Todd of Point of View Communications and Will Sherwood of The Sherwood Group, said Gary Buterbaugh, the event organizer and owner of High Impact Event Resources.

“I heard very favorable comments on the Biz@Home University sessions and the Biz@Home Showcase sessions,” Buterbaugh said. “Many said the university sessions alone were worth far more than the price of admission.”

Buterbaugh kept the admission prices low for the event’s debut and said most attendees of the educational seminars characterized the content and presentations as very good and very helpful for the businesses they were starting or currently operating. Those who attended five University sessions received a free home occupation permit from the city, valued at $41.

The Showcase presentations also featured the motivational speakers, along with a representative from the Small Business Administration Los Angeles office and Helen Woo of Self-Aid Success Stories.

“Every Showcase attendee I interviewed found the presenters excellent and the presentations useful,” Buterbaugh said. “I even heard words like ‘inspiring’ and ‘energizing.’”

Other organizations also had exhibit booths and were on hand to assist small businesses, including the SCV Chamber of Commerce, Small Businesses Development Center, Small Business Administration and the city of Santa Clarita’s Economic Development Department.

“In one of the two-hour shifts, we gave out three membership packets,” said Rhona Jukes at the chamber’s exhibit booth.

Out-of-area exhibitors were hoping to make contacts locally. Richard Pauli with Legal Shield drove down from San Mateo to participate, but said the turnout for the new event was disappointing as they’ve exhibited at similar events in their area that were more heavily attended.

Expo attendees who purchased their admission online were eligible to win 200 California Super Lotto Plus Quick Pick tickets for a jackpot estimated to hit more than $14 million in the Wednesday drawing. Joseph Morrison, of Santa Clarita, won the tickets and was excited about the prospect of potentially becoming an instant millionaire.

Michael Watson of Post-Net won a free exhibitor’s booth at the next Biz@Home Expo.

The first-time event was a prototype to learn from, Buterbaugh said. He thought he might place more emphasis on the educational seminar tracks and offering business opportunities at a future event.

“I did the Home and Garden show for the first time three years ago and had only 37 paid spaces,” Buterbaugh said. “Now, we’re going to have 160 this year.”

And that success has presented a new challenge for Buterbaugh, who said space in the hotel has sold out. Exhibitors for the Home and Garden show were then assigned exhibit space in the garden area and now he believes space in the parking lot will have to be used for exhibitors, as well.

As for the Biz@Home Expo, Buterbaugh wants to eventually take this kind of event to other cities, as well, but he wanted to bring it first to his own community.

“I spoke with each exhibitor and discussed how we could make the next show better,” Buterbaugh said. “They offered great ideas and more than half expressed an interested in being in the next Biz@Home Expo.”


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