Orlando 2012- International Builders’ Show Preview

Trade professionals and building product manufacturers gather at the International Builders’ Show every January or February to network, learn and share building industry stories. With the building industry going through so many challenges the past few years, 2012 looks to be the year of positivity and growth.

“Attendance is up over 20 percent from last year this time,” says Mark Pursell, senior vice president, National Association of Home Builders, which operates IBS.

To keep with the theme of positivity, attendees should consider attending the keynote speech by Aron Ralston, the American hiker who is known for amputating his own arm to survive a hiking accident. “I think he will resonate with builders who had to do a lot to survive the past year,” Pursell says. Ralston’s speech is on Wed., Feb. 8 at 8:30 a.m. in the Valencia Ballroom at the Orlando County Convention Center. Seating is on a first-come basis.

Continuing this year is networking “Centrals” which provide networking opportunities in five focus areas: 50-plus lifestyle, custom building, international, sales, apartment and condo, design and remodelers. These networking spaces were launched two years ago and have become a huge hit among IBS attendees. “It’s nice for attendees to have a home within the show,” Pursell says. “The areas have dedicated education nearby, exhibitors and events. There are also floor tours in the groups to see products.”

NAHB added an evening networking event on the first night of the show. The IBS House Party is held Wed., Feb. 8 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Howl at the Moon restaurant. Attendance is $30 and is a great opportunity to meet people who don’t know many people attending the show, Pursell says.

Also new at the 2012 IBS is a matchmaking functionality added to attendee registration. Attendees can sign up to meet with an exhibitor one-on-one using this new tool. The meeting then is populated on the MyShowPlanner which allows attendees to generate their show schedules.

Full registrations to the show also will include one-year access to all online educational content. “We tape all 167 seminars that take place at IBS and put them online. It’s a great opportunity for those who can’t attend sessions, or want to spend more time with content at home, or share it with their partners,” Pursell adds.

The housing industry may still have its challenges, but Pursell says NAHB is starting to see improvements. “When we started the Improving Market Index three months ago, it was improving only in 16 markets but now 30 markets are improving,” he says. “We still have headwinds with the economy and we will see it start to come out in 2012, and better in 2013 and 2014. IBS is a great place to get ready for that.”