Do you, your team, or agency partners use the term postmortem when talking about reviewing a trade show once it is complete? This seems a bit harsh, so let’s call this IBS + KBIS: What is remarkable? It seems more appropriate since these shows demonstrated a great response to the new year. Here is our review of what we found remarkable from the show.
We arrived at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Monday for a meeting with our clients in their booth. As we entered the Central Hall our first impressions are the manufacturers had decided to go big with their investments in their exhibits. Beautiful exhibits are being constructed in large footprints. The exhibits themselves are impressive. Hearth and Home Technologies are building an inviting great room with a magnificent U-shaped fireplace and two halls of fireplaces and a countertop to gather around.
Huber Engineered Woods is building a large stage surrounded by product displays and demonstration. No one has a bigger presence than Westlake Royal Building Products with their sister companies Westlake Royal Roofing Solutions and Stone, and DaVinci Roofscapes. This exhibit is massive with beautiful vignettes for each business. It features interior setting for the stone products, outdoor gathering places for the siding, trim, and decking products, and hands on experiences with the roofing products.
Walking through the four halls of the convention we found amazing exhibits that state a confidence by manufacturers in the building marketplace in 2023 and beyond. Kohler, Moen, Delta Faucets, GE Appliances, Monogram, Café, and Whirlpool all brought out their biggest and best as a statement to the industry.
NAHB and NKBA report more than 110,000 people attending this year’s show. This is obvious from the minute the show started on Tuesday. The halls and exhibits are full of builders, architects, designers, and contractors. The energy is electric for both the attendees and the exhibitors. The fear and reservations from last year are gone and the conversations are plentiful.
IBS + KBIS are back and so are the challenges of having more than 100,00 people in one place. Transportation to and from the convention center is a nightmare the first day. It appeared most people are able to find their way in days two and three. There is this cool underground tunnel of Tesla cars that drives you from one end of the convention center to the other in only 2 minutes. It is The Loop. A snapshot of what the future may bring.
Researchers v Builders
When we begin talking about the future, we look to the research pundits and their data and compare it to the conversation we have with the builders. This year these conversations are remarkable unto themselves. The pundits talk about the decline in the market based on comparisons to the market the past couple of years.
The builders are talking about being fully committed to projects through early 2024 and some even longer. Supply chain issues are resolving themselves either through increased inventories or alternative sourcing. Builders are keeping an eye on the mortgage rates but as more than one builder shared “You can always refinance if the rates improve.”
The interesting difference between the researcher and the builders is the point of view. For the researchers, they point to the decline from an overheated market while the builders look at the market returning to normal demand levels. For the record, normal is 1.1 million housing starts.
IBS + KBIS 2023 is full of surprises like the attendance and the confidence of both the manufacturers and builders. The surprise we did not see coming was the introduction of new products from 2020. Several manufacturers explained they held new products developed in 2020 for two years waiting out the pandemic. One manufacturer explained it was the quarantine of the product development team that prevented them from going to market. We will see if new products are developed in 2023 if there is truly a recession.
The return to a healthy IBS + KBIS feels good. The conversations in person with people seems more important than ever. One of the things we notice more during this show than any others recently is how many people touched the products being displayed. It would be interesting to record this and learn the actual number of touches. We know this is missing in many different areas of our lives during the pandemic. We wonder if the attendees are making up for the loss during the show.
The desert did not disappoint. The air is dry and the need to hydrate is constant. We suspect people are consuming more water in a day than they would typically. Our gift bags of custom lip balm (Thank you, Jessie Greenberg, make artist to the stars) and Olive and June cuticle and heel balm are well-received and greatly appreciated. We believe it is a part of our mission as an agency partner to pay attention to the details and take care of our clients, and, in this case, future clients.
By most all accounts, IBS + KBIS 2023 is a remarkable and successful event. We sincerely appreciate and thank all those people who work hard for months planning and delivering this experience.