Rob Heselbarth, Editorial Director
Based on the unscientific method of guess-making, attendance at this year’s Remodeling Show and DeckExpo appeared better than when it was in Baltimore two years ago, but roughly the same as it was in Chicago last year. Regardless, manufacturers were pleased at attendance and the quality of the remodelers visiting their booths and inquiring about new products.
Thankfully the event is co-located with the DeckExpo, which buzzed a little louder than the Remodeling Show side of the show floor. The DeckExpo included more attendees and more new products than the Remodeling Show event, and there’s no obvious explanation for this observation. One possible reason is the popular belief that homeowners are improving their outdoor living spaces since they can’t sell their homes. Or, it could be that so many good outdoor living products are being introduced to the market.
In general, it appears that many manufacturers are postponing product introductions until the International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas in January 2013. Asked specifically if they were doing this, many of the exhibitors said yes. It made for a slightly lackluster experience in Baltimore last week, but is generating excitement for what’s to come at IBS.
Two international exhibitors showcased new product worth mentioning, including one from Canada and another from Korea. From the Great White North comes the Friendly Wall from Finium (Finium.ca), which consists of long, narrow decorative panels that make an interior wall look like beautifully dry-stacked pieces of wood. Then, from Seoul comes Wood Square composite decking from WAPS (Waps-korea.com/en) that looks so real you simply must touch it to believe it’s not.
Also on the show floor was plenty of RRP products including sanders, test kits, vacuums, dust containment systems and more. Hopefully, as life with RRP drags on, more and better products will continue to enter the market, making life easier for the remodeler.
Laurie Grant, Managing Editor
While preparing for the Remodeling Show in my hotel room one morning, the movie “Seabiscuit” was on TV, which happens to be one of my favorite films. I’ve always enjoyed when Tobey Maguire quotes Shakespeare, saying “Though he be but little, he is fierce,” in reference to Seabiscuit’s relatively small size for a racehorse. I got to thinking that the same held true for this year’s Remodeling Show. Although it seemed smaller than last year’s in Chicago, that didn’t make it less effective or less powerful.
The DeckExpo seemed to have a stronger presence than the Remodeling Show did. Deck manufacturers are introducing more and more design options, including decking boards with variegated colors and fasteners that color match the deck colors. I also noticed region-specific design. For example, one manufacturer was introducing a railing that they had designed with the West coast in mind.
Many exhibitors were happy to chat with me about how business has been this year (largely good) but told me to come back and visit them at IBS in January to see the new products they plan to launch. Overall, remodelers and manufacturers I spoke with were optimistic and although hardly raving about business, were pleased with a steady inflow of jobs and adjusting to what they now consider normal.
Ken Betz, Senior Editor
Slicing, Ripping, Bending
A number of job-specific tools were displayed at the show, each designed to be a simple solution to a specialized task. None of them plug in or require batteries or a Wi-Fi connection.
Following are a few of them:
If you’ve worked with blue jean insulation (as well as similar types), you know it’s difficult to cut cleanly – unless it's compressed, that is. Bullet Tools of Hayden, Idaho, (Bullettools.com) has device that addresses just that problem. The Magnum Shut-N-Cut compresses the insulation, holds it place, and has a slot for a specially designed insulation knife to slice cleanly through the compressed insulation. The company also has a tool that looks like an oversized pizza cutter but slices instead through rigid foam board. Neither tool employs an electric motor.
Angel Guard Products, Worcester, Mass., (Angelguardproducts.com) has a manually operated tool, the Deck Demon, for ripping up decks – without ripping up existing joists. Minimal damage is done to the existing decking material, so it may reused, the company says. The 44-inch handle provides the leverage needed to make the job easier.
Another deck tool, the BoWrench from Cepco Tool Co. (Cepcotool.com) is a self-locking device to bend deck boards into alignment and hold them in place, hands-free, while they are being fastened. The tool also may be used as a tongue-and-groove joining tool. Again, no power cord required.
Andrea Girolamo, ForResidentialPros.com Editor
Meeting our readers is the best part of any trade show experience and this year’s Remodeling Show provided another great opportunity to touch base with the people we serve. I had the chance to speak with a number of remodelers in and around the halls, many who stopped by the Qualified Remodeler booth to chat or to pick up a copy of our magazine. My common question to all was, “What are you enjoying here at the show?” More than one said they were delighted to have the opportunity to take advantage of the wealth of educational offerings prior to and during the show. NAHB’s Business Skills Boot Camp and its slate of notable presenters seemed to hit the high notes with attendees.