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SPECS 2018 Update


Planning is underway for Chain Store Age’s 54th annual SPECS conference, which will be held March 18-20, 2018, at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine (Dallas), Texas. The event will have attendees that are retail and foodservice executives involved in the planning, design, construction and maintenance of stores and restaurants nationwide.

Taking an active role in planning the conference is the SPECS Advisory Board, which is composed of 46 industry executives from leading retail companies and key supplier organizations. The board members are charged with advising and directing the educational program for the 2018 conference, which will feature a packed slate of workshops, roundtables and panel presentations covering a wide range of emerging and evolving issues. As industry insiders, the board members are integral to the development of these components.

Five veterans were selected as Executive Advisory Board members, charged with team leadership and overall program direction. They are: Richard Elkins, Firehouse Subs Craig Hale, HFA Lori Koeppe, The Buckle Lisa Smola-Hollo, Ulta Beauty and Wendy Whetton, Harbor Freight Tools. (Titles are provided with board listing.)

The SPECS 2018 Advisory Board met in June in Chicago to start planning next year’s sessions. The group is currently putting the finishing touches on the program.

SPECS 2018 Ambassadors Club

  • Aaron Ancello — VP, regional facilities manager, TD Bank

  • Bruce Brock—Director of real estate, Hungry Howie’s Pizza & Subs

  • Bill Chaff—VP, real estate and construction, BD’s Mongolian Grill and Flat Top Grill

  • Sara Craven—Former corporate design and construction regional director, Avis Budget Group

  • Dan Garneau—Site development manager, Kum & Go

  • Lindsey Garza—Director, health and wellness innovations, Walmart

  • Eric Johnson—Director of store planning, Brookshire Brothers Inc.

  • Alan Norton—Senior manager, health and wellness innovations, design & formats, Walmart

  • Doug Pellock—VP, construction and purchasing, Marcus Theatres

  • David Shotwell—Senior director of construction and facilities, Cook Out Restaurants

  • Kent Swank — Senior director, construction, The Home Depot

  • Parke Wellman — DVP, store design, construction, visual merchandising, Helzberg Diamonds

SPECS Session Highlights

This year’s program includes some 30 workshop sessions — not including the keynote and Main Stage presentations. Here’s a sampling of just a few of the workshops:

  • Eco-friendly home improvement retailer — and innovator — Treehouse gives a behind-the-scenes look at the world’s first energy-positive big-box store.

  • A panel of retailers examines the challenge of doing business in a smaller footprint.

  • Top female retail executives from store design and construction and facilities discuss their battles and triumphs as they worked their way up through the ranks.

  • A look at the growing impact of ADA lawsuits on retail and restaurants.

  • Rapid-fire sessions about the top trends in remodeling, lighting, construction and facilities management technologies.

Chain Store Age’s new logo for SPECS 2018 is designed to reinforce the event’s positioning as the leading authority on the design, construction and maintenance of physical stores. SPECS’s commitment to the segment is reflected in the program agenda, which includes a full slate of sessions for design, construction and facilities management professionals in the retail and restaurant industries.

What else is on tap for SPECS 2018? Here is a small sampling:

  • Retail speakers who are leading the way in brick-and-mortar expansion

  • The first-ever Glass Ceiling awards, presented to senior-level female executives who have risen to the top of retail

  • Main Stage presentations throughout the conference

  • Enhanced networking receptions

  • Breakout Retailer Awards

  • An interactive and demo track designed to explore new technologies

To pre-register for SPECS 2018, visit

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