The second annual Gulf Coast Home and Outdoor Expo will be held at the Daphne Civic Center on Saturday, May 4 from 9 AM until 3 PM. This is an opportunity for homeowners thinking about improving their indoor or outdoor space to meet and ask questions to over 40 vendors who are experts in the business. It is a one-stop shop of everything you need to know to get those home improvement projects off the ground. 

Trish Thornhill, Director of Sales at WKRG in Mobile, and her team are the masterminds of the operation.“Last year, my predecessor, Michelle Kenney, came up with the idea and then ran into my office to tell me we were putting on a home and outdoor expo and our sales team was responsible for making it happen.” Trish immediately started to call home improvement companies along the Gulf Coast and saw that there was a lot of interest. 

Trish tells me she had some experience at her previous television sales job in Augusta, Georgia. “Back in the day, receiving a free health screening was more of a novelty and not easily accessible.  Augusta had a large healthcare community that was willing to offer free screenings.  The result was the Health and Wellness Expo, hosted and promoted by the local TV station. 

Today, most health screenings are offered at your doctor's office and covered by insurance. Once screenings became commonplace, the need for the Health & Wellness Expo was no more.  The home and outdoor expo concept works the same way. It’s about bringing people together to solve a need.”

The idea for WKRG to host a Home and Outdoor Expo is the result of their assessment of one of their largest advertising client categories - home improvement. “When COVID-19 happened, people began to focus on home improvement projects because that's where they spent most of their time. The home is our hobby, whether we are inside or out,” says Trish.  

She tells me that the Daphne Civic Center once hosted a home improvement event, but everything stopped during the pandemic. “We decided to bring back the concept last year. It was a big success. The response from both vendors and homeowners was incredible. Our message was, let us advertise your business and then let you meet your customers face-to-face.” 

One thing Trish mentioned is that it’s hard for working people with a home improvement project to schedule a time to be home during the work week to meet with a home improvement company to discuss a project and get an estimate. The home improvement expo concept solves that problem. “Whatever project, repair, or replacement you need, we probably have someone represented at our show.” She tells me people bring photos of their homes or of their ideas to discuss with the experts.

For the vendors, it works well, and this year’s Expo is sold out with over 40 vendors. WKRG heavily promotes the show leading up to the event, which this year is being held a month earlier on May 4. “We thought hosting the Gulf Coast Home and Outdoor Expo needed to happen before kids are out of school and everyone scatters doing summer vacation activities,” says Trish. “It’s also when everyone starts to get outside and get excited about improving their home.”

Trish, who moved to Fairhope from Augusta when she joined WKRG, knew the Daphne Civic Center would serve as a good venue. “It’s beautiful with a great staff that is very accommodating.  It’s well laid out with plenty of parking and easy to get to from Mobile or Pensacola since the Civic Center is relatively close to Interstate 10.” 

I asked Trish how she got into the broadcast sales business. She grew up in Augusta, Georgia, and earned her Broadcast Journalism degree at the University of Georgia thinking she would become an on-air talent. During her internship at the Augusta station, one of her mentors recognized her affable personality and her attention to detail and suggested she should go into sales, so she did, beginning her career after college.

At the University of Georgia, she met her husband, Mark, who played third base on the baseball team. She tells me she has loved baseball all of her life, and was a cleat chaser. “We lived in Baton Rouge from when I was 2 years old until the third grade when we moved to Florida and then to Georgia. My dad took me to all the LSU baseball games. I’m the middle child of three girls and was his “tomboy.” I have loved baseball ever since.” 

While attending Georgia, Trish tried out to be a bat girl for the Diamond Darlings. In 2001, Mark’s team made it to the College World Series, and he later proposed to her on the 50-yard line pregame show of the Georgia-Arkansas game in front of the entire Sanford Stadium crowd. Mark now teaches middle school algebra at Bayside Academy and coaches baseball and football.

Trish talks about the impact WKRG has on the Scenic 98 Coastal communities. “We have a holistic marketing approach. Through television, we can give advertisers a big voice in a large audience.  Our digital platforms are more targeted to specific audiences, people already looking and ready to purchase goods and services.”

She tells me General Manager, Jesse Greer, believes that news, sales, and promotion should work seamlessly. “Our on-air talent is out in the community every day. They are involved in all manner of community events. We are a community television station. We fill a need. The Expo is just one example of personal interaction between our advertisers and the people we reach. That’s what we are all about.”

At the Expo, you can expect to have access to pretty much any home improvement vendor for any project. Inside the home, there will be local home improvement companies showcasing appliances, mattresses, HVAC, bath remodels, air and water purifiers, painting, home security, and much more. Outside vendors will feature roofing, foundation repair, gutters, floor coatings, mosquito control, outdoor furniture, pergolas, and outdoor kitchens. 

Trish says, “Our presenting sponsor, Blackwell Realty, will also be on-site and can discuss how a specific repair or improvement can help with your home value.”

We moved to how Trish likes the Scenic 98 Coast area and talked about what she does in her spare time. She tells me her parents moved here over 20 years ago. “Mark and I moved here when I was offered a position with WKRG. That allowed us to be closer to my mom. We lived on Weeks Bay until two years ago and love the area.”  

For Trish, there is still a lot of baseball in her life. Her 11-year-old son plays travel baseball. Third base and catcher. “He’s got a good arm,” she says like a mom! They now live in Fairhope, a little closer to Bayside, and work at WKRG in Mobile. “I love the commute in the early mornings. The Bayway is so serene and peaceful,” she says.

What stands out to me regarding all the people I’ve met and interacted with at WKRG is that they are all positive, happy, and work together like a family. It’s impressive, and I have enjoyed getting to know them. 

Make plans to attend the Gulf Coast Home and Outdoor Expo at the Daphne Civic Center this Saturday. Meet Ed Bloodsworth, Bill Riales, Asher Redd, and your favorite WKRG friends. Trish and her team will be there to greet you with smiles on their faces. Guaranteed! 

May the Fourth be with you!

May 1, 2024
Community Endeavors

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