Metropolitan Offerings, Small-Town Flavor

The Billings Home Improvement Show

A recurring theme our readers will discover in Billings Lifestyle Magazine is what I call “International Quality” in Billings. I use this term to describe Billings businesses or organizations that are excellent or state-of-the-art, providing comparable quality to what is found in major national and global cities. Beau and Devon Hedin call it “Metropolitan Offerings, Small-town Flavor”. They are referring, of course, to the experience at the Billings Home Improvement Show, the largest trade show in a 5-state area, attracting 400 vendors to fill 650 booths, and drawing around 30,000 attendees every year.

Another theme you will hear often is to support locally owned businesses. Billings Lifestyle Magazine is all about supporting the community and the companies they own. In describing the Home Improvement Show, the Hedin brothers said it simply: “We are what we promote: a local small business. We Push Local.” The Hedin family’s success is a testament to the truth of their paradigm: on March 5-7, they will host their 38th Home Improvement Show. I was a little ashamed to admit that I’d never been to the Show myself, but the brothers were understanding because they know better than anyone: Billings is rife with events worth attending. When I asked them what the best part of Billings was for them, they quickly said the plethora of excellent and diverse entertainment and dining options.

As Beau and Devon filled me in about the show, I immediately wished I had started attending it regularly years ago. For them, “The whole point of the show is that it creates an opportunity for the public to see all that the community has to offer. A chance for people to learn about things they didn’t know about before.” At this point it is almost cliche to say, but Billings is home to innumerable fascinating and amazing things even long-time residents might not know about. Beau was especially passionate about the audio-visual offerings on display. Attendees at the show have been treated to state-of-the-art home theater systems, TVs that convert into mirrors at the push of a button, speakers that can be built directly into a wall, then painted and textured over, and smart countertops that can charge phones or self-illuminate with neon light.

The more I learned about the Home Improvement Show, the more it reminded me of the major international conventions I used to attend annually in Las Vegas. Metropolitan Offerings, Small-Town Flavor. The passion for excellence is exemplified by some of their regular vendors. When they walk into the MetraPark Expo Center, attendees are graced by the sights, sounds, and smells of spring in Montana: babbling brooks and live blooming flowers, brought to you by Billings Nursery.

When asked if there was anything they wanted the community to know about their event that they didn’t already know, and Beau and Devon had two answers. First, they reiterated their earlier statement: we are what we promote, locally owned small business. Second, every year the show is different: vendors always bring new and experimental products to demonstrate, so the show can and does change significantly from year to year. What doesn’t change, though, are their core commitments: The show is free to attend. The prizes are fantastic and also free. They offer a selection of activities for children, all of which are, once again, free. As the brothers said: “Happy kids mean happy mom, and happy mom means happy dad.”

Billings Lifestyle Magazine does its best to cater to all of our readers, from 5th-generation Montanans to those newly-arrived, so we always try to ask our interviewees if they have any advice for newcomers. Beau and Devon’s advice was simple: “Invest in the community. This is the Billings way.”

Something else that remains constant is the brothers’ desire to constantly innovate and improve the Show. They are always doing their best to improve logistics and upgrade technology - effectively coordinating events with hundreds of vendors and tens of thousands of attendees is anything but easy. Fortunately, as the Show has grown, so have their resources, so they now have the margin to implement significant projects. Most recently, they started handling all of their own Convention Services, which they used to contract out. The upfront investment in pipe, drape, and other equipment now allows them to streamline their operations and have better quality control.

Even if you’ve been a faithful attendee at the Home Improvement Show for years, you haven’t seen everything Rimrock Promotions and the Hedin family have to offer. There’s also the September show, and their summer Microbrew Festival: Montana Brews and Barbecue, featuring almost 100 varieties of beer, all made in Montana, and a great assortment of all-Billings food trucks.

Whether you’re a long-time attendee or a newcomer to Billings, don’t miss one of the Magic City’s foundational community events, March 5-7, at MetraPark Expo Center and Montana Pavilion.

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