KBIS 2014: A Show Transformed

When the decision to co-locate the 2014 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show and the International Builders’ Show was first announced, industry reactions were mixed. Some kitchen and bath professionals were convinced that this would be just the right move to revitalize both shows and give the industry a boost, while others were less optimistic.

Indeed, in conversations with dealers, designers and manufacturers, we heard comments ranging from “Best decision ever!” to “Let’s wait and see” to “Does combining two struggling shows create one successful show, or do you just have two struggling shows in one place?”

The latter question was asked and answered last month as the two shows, collectively named Design & Construction Week, took Las Vegas by storm with what has been widely seen as the most successful KBIS in years. While no official numbers have been released yet, it’s been estimated by those in attendance that there were as many as 80,000 people between the two shows.

And the buzz on the show floor was overwhelmingly positive. Heavy show floor traffic was evident throughout both halls, kitchen and bath industry “Tweetups” raved about the upbeat vibe that permeated the halls, and manufacturers reported doing plenty of business on site. Walking the show floor, it was clear that KBIS and IBS had been completely transformed, the show floor revitalized by an energy that has been missing from this industry for far too long.

Nor was the busy show floor the only draw; the “Voices of the Industry” educational conference was completely sold out.

Beaming at the crowds on the show floor during a live ForResidentialPros.com video interview, NKBA President John Petrie enthused, “I think Design & Construction Week is a great venture between NAHB and NKBA. You have two great shows, one floor pass and you can see over 1,500 exhibitors over 600,000 square feet of space. Dealers are coming back, members are coming back, there are new products to see…it’s just a fabulous opportunity!”

NKBA Past President John Morgan, also interviewed live on the show floor, concurred: “I can tell you there are lines everywhere…the biggest problem we’ve have this year at KBIS is working our way down the aisles because there are so many people!”

Morgan was especially excited by the many learning opportunities at this year’s show, noting, “I think the last time we were in Las Vegas, we had four conference sessions…this year [there were] over 95 conference sessions. and each of them was sold out. The learning has been a true highlight. People are engaged, they’re having a wonderful time, they’re learning, and you see some really good business going on.”

On the show floor, though, Petrie said the new products were the big story. And there were plenty of products on display, showcasing new technology, new color palettes, new style trends and enhanced functionality – all indicative of an industry that is, as Petrie sees it, “on a nice upward climb.”

He continued, “I see it in my showroom and I hear it from our members, that traffic is up in their showrooms. I think consumers just have their confidence back about investing in their homes, and in their kitchens and bathrooms.”

Morgan, too, felt the show was indicative of an industry that is finally growing again. “I think everybody sees that the industry is rising again. All markets across all brands are going up, and most importantly, people are looking forward and seeing it continuing that way.”

That’s certainly confirmed by a recent Houzz consumer survey (see related story, Page 32), which sees bathroom remodeling on the rise. And it’s not just about function anymore, either. Consumers want to upgrade the look and feel of their baths as well as the functionality, and they’re willing to invest to make it happen, according to the survey results.

In his Successful Selling column (Page 22), Bryan Reiss also sees positive changes as consumers begin to move toward kitchen and bath projects with bigger scopes – and bigger budgets.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t still plenty of challenges ahead. Even positive changes create new challenges, and in an industry that is constantly evolving, kitchen and bath professionals must be constantly reinventing themselves to remain successful.

But if this year’s KBIS is any indication, the future is looking bright indeed.


Editor’s Note: To see the full interviews with NKBA President John Petrie and NKBA Past President John Morgan, visit our Web site at www.ForResidentialPros.com.