Question: Kitchen & Bath Design News recently posed the question to dealers and designers in the kitchen and bath industry: “Will your firm be attending more industry events , such as trade shows, in 2011? Why or why not?” Following are some of their responses:
The decision on where to focus my time, money and interest in 2011 has definitely been impacted by the economy over the last few years. After having attended every trade show I could possibly squeeze into my work schedule for more than 14 years, I decided to take a break from trade shows for the past few years. The extra time allowed for me to explore more specialized product research and design disciplines. Staying updated with current product was done with the internet, local showrooms and representatives providing the necessary information needed for product lines I currently specify.
That said, I plan to attend more trade shows that cover a variety of disciplines that will give me the resources to design and/or work with a design team for a ‘whole house’ project, inside and out. Product design is of great interest to me as I seldom find exactly what I’m looking for, especially in the area of furniture design.
Researching trade show vendors lists is a priority in deciding what shows to attend, now more than ever. As much as I love my materials library and the Internet for design influence, I am looking forward to getting out of the office and experiencing a trade show that I can walk away from talking about the great new product and design ideas that I saw.
Karen Bieszczak, CKD, owner
BZAK DESIGN GROUP
I believe that partaking in industry related events is the key to our survival. Building relationships is what it’s all about, and if you just continue to do business as usual, then you will just remain where you are.
We just returned from KBIS in Las Vegas, and last week we attended a local NKBA event as well as a local ASID event. We also just booked one of our designers to go to the Brizo factory next month for training, while another one is going to Bain Ultra, and another is going to the Viking factory. I've been to some of these, and they are great way to train our staff and say ‘thank you’ at the same time! Personally, I will be attending both the FORTE and BKBG conferences this year, and we plan on someone on staff going to the annual DPHA conference.
We also believe in hosting charity events for the community. We’ve recently hosted about 75 people for a local charity called Henderson Mental Health Center, as well as another 150 people for a separate Leukemia & Lymphoma fundraiser in our showroom. These events not only bring in influential people throughout the community, but it also gives us the opportunity to invite our clients, both current and past, to our new showroom. On average, we are hosting about two events per month. The exposure and marketing it has given us is invaluable. There's no doubt that the events that we do for the nonprofit community [and our overall participation in industry events] is one of the key factors why we beat out so many of our competitors.
Bill Feinberg, president
Allied Kitchen & Bath
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Due to the cost, mainly with traveling expenses, we’ve scaled back this year on attending the national shows. We’ve decided to make that a bi-annual expenditure. However we are still regularly attending NKBA meetings in our region. It is a great way to know what is going on in our region. We are also very active in our local homebuilders association meetings and events here in Lexington and also the Remodelers Council. We attend those events regularly. The key is to stay visible and stay in touch with the professionals in our industry. One interesting thing that has also happened is a lot of appliance distributors are reaching out to us and offering to send us for training on their product. That is something we are taking advantage of more now than we may have in the past.
Tom Shirley, designer
Cabinets and Designs
We have not increased our attendance at industry events this year. I am a member of the BKBG Buying Group so I will be attending that conference in the fall. At that conference I get a lot of the education and networking opportunities that help my business. This year I am doing more networking at local events and reaching out to interior designers and builders, so we are definitely doing more of that this year. I am also planning on hosting a networking group later this year in our new showroom so that will also increase our exposure. Overall, we are maintaining our level of attendance at industry events as compared to past years.
Marlene MacDonald Ketchen, president
The Cabinetry Kitchen Design Studio
In 2011 we’ve already attended several industry events. For instance, we’re actively involved in NARI [National Association of Remodeling Industry] and attend the monthly meetings. We also are a member of the SEN Buying and Design Group and attend the SEN conferences, which are held twice a year.
As far as next year is concerned, I will not be attending KBIS 2012, as the time and financial commitment is just too much in this economy. Events held on the East Coast or even in the central United States require two days just for travel and then you need a minimum of three days for the show. It makes it very difficult to attend the show every year.
Overall, I would really like to be attending more of the NKBA meetings for our local chapter, but because our chapter is so broad it’s hard to get to a lot of them when they are located hours away. In summary, my decision on what to attend is based on time, money and our level of interest in the topic.
Susan Lund, owner
San Anselmo, CA