The July 2014 issue of Appliance Retailer magazine includes our annual feature surveying the industry’s brightest minds, AR’s now famous Mid-Year Report Card. Since the idea was conceived for our July 2012 edition, it’s grown from 18 interviews to 23 and now 31.

On a personal level, it’s especially edifying that a project dreamed up while walking to work one April morning has borne such fruit. The vast majority of contributors to the Report Card are managing directors or CEOs, and this is often the only time these hard-working, time-poor executives speak to the media.

It’s an arduous task chasing up the stragglers, transcribing and sub-editing the interviews and laying out the feature for print and I will admit that I gave up my Queen’s Birthday Long Weekend holiday in order to make sure the job got done so the magazine would be out on time.

Reading back over contributions and interviews this past week, a lot of the more coded messages have started to make more sense to me. When you are totally absorbed in a project, making sure every comma is in the right place and every headshot matches the individual, sometimes the actual content can wash over you.

For example, Sampford IXL GM of sales Peter Breen gave only a 2-word answer when asked what the biggest threat to the industry was: “Low margins”. On face value, that seems very laconic. Read it in the context of his answer to a separate question — what opportunities exist for growth — and you start to see the full picture. Breen says Sampford IXL will be improving its offer to retailers and, in return, its expectation is for its business to grow. Suddenly, the comment about low margins seems a bit deeper than on first reading.

Similarly, Lambro Skropidis from LG says that “confusion around new technologies” is a major threat in the industry. I suspect he may referring to one particular rival’s persistence in using ‘4K’ to describe its TVs, instead of the industry standard, which is ‘Ultra HD’.

Then there’s Michael Jeanes, managing director or Miele Australia and New Zealand. Never one to mince words, the straight-talking Jeanes said the biggest threat to ongoing prosperity was not outside the industry but within, citing new brands in the market (I wonder who…) that “promise all [but] deliver nothing new”. Yep, I think I have an idea of who he’s referring to!

To read these and the other 29 interviews in full right now, pick up a copy of Appliance Retailer, make yourself a nice cup of coffee and settle in for an entertaining afternoon. This issue also contains our annual Father’s Day feature, which is packed full of great gift ideas for Dad, as well as news on industry sales figures, Google’s new Chromecast device and a special news feature on the disappearance of sales reps. All in all, over 100 different brands are mentioned!

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be publishing interviews from the Mid-Year Report Card on this website as part of our online Influencers series, beginning today with Peter Breen. I hope you enjoy reading this series as much as I enjoyed compiling it.