Scenes from the Supershow: What a positive difference a year makes

It has been said that a successful International Builders Show translates to a good year for the housing market. A statement like this doesn’t apply in the same way to the Kitchen/Bath Industry Show, because it typically is held in the second quarter of the year when the housing market’s tone pretty much has been set. Now that both shows are simultaneously held early in the year – this year in early February, and in January 2015 – their combined success holds tremendous potential to influence the final 11 months of the year.

The good news for the housing market is that both shows lived up to the tremendous hype that built up for about a year leading up to opening day of this year’s shows. Co-located in Las Vegas, the combined shows attracted more than 75,000 attendees, blowing away previous years’ performances not only in numbers but in energy as well. While both shows last year were lackluster at best and made it easy for this years’ shows to surpass their failures, the 2014 shows far exceed the disappointment of shows only one year ago. The only complaint I heard this year was how exhausted everyone was from having so many conversations and fighting their ways through the crowds in the aisles.

As the builders, remodelers and designers who attended the shows return home across the country and the positive energy spreads throughout the homes and neighborhoods they design and build, expect a healthy year in the housing market.

The 75,000 attendees viewed thousands of new products from more than 1,000 exhibitors at the event, billed as the first ever Design & Construction Week. Two words come to mind that capture the spirit behind the development of those products: customization and options. Color choices, material options and advancements in technology contribute to the goal of differentiation; How can a builder, remodeler or designer help their client’s home stand out from others?

Two of the busiest booths were those of Houzz.com and HomeAdvisor.com: Houzz a site that allows housing professionals to showcase their best work, and homeowners to be inspired by that work; and HomeAdvisor, a site that connects these two groups. Both held crowded educational sessions designed to help professionals be their best. It’s clear that sites like these have cemented their place as drivers of interaction between professionals and homeowners. – Rob Heselbarth

 

IBS and KBIS 2014 was a heck of a show. NAHB estimates nearly 75,000 people flocked to Las Vegas to participate in the super show. As an editor, the idea of covering two shows in one trip was daunting. My co-workers and I spent considerable time dividing and conquering so as to see as many exhibitors as possible, as well as attend educational sessions and network with the wealth of professionals in attendance.

The biggest aspect that struck me about this year’s show was the sheer numbers. Navigating the aisles was a slow process because they were so clogged with people eager to see the latest and greatest. In past years I’ve been able to nearly run from booth visit to booth visit, but this year I had to take my time, dodge people and often stop to wait for the “people jams” to clear. Every single manufacturer I visited with told me how busy their booth was the entire show and how pleased they were. This is in stark contrast to previous years where the question of “How is the show going for you?” often was met with a “Very slow,” “Oh you know, times are tough,” or another version of “not good.” After so many down years, it was encouraging and refreshing to hear the positivity.

I also noticed technology ruling. Dacor exhibited a smart range that can be programmed to nearly any customization the cook can imagine. Through a smartphone or tablet, a user can remotely turn the oven on or off, preset the oven to various recipe-specific settings and the oven will even send a text message and switch to a warming mode when cooking is complete. Design software continues to become more powerful, with desktop and mobile versions often working in tandem.

Design-wise, many exhibitors spoke about the dominance of transitional design. Moen told me that according to the NKBA, transitional design overtook traditional design in popularity for the first time this year. Many product introductions reflected this trend. Color also was huge this year. Cabinet manufacturers had everything from the popular gray tones, to the typical neutrals, to a bold beautiful turquoise. Shades of turquoise also presented itself in door frames, tile and of course paints.

-- Laurie Banyay

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I was warned. All of the experienced editors I work with told me that the union of IBS and KBIS would be huge. So I did my best to prepare by studying show floor maps and arranging my schedule as cohesively as possible. I don’t think anything could have prepared me for the sheer size of the Las Vegas Convention Center, let alone the size of each of the halls. I was blown away.

I was also blown away by all the product offerings that I was able to see introduced and interact with. Technology definitely seemed like a common thread, whether it be using a mobile device, iPad or computer to interact directly with a product or making online tools available for remodelers and consumers to better plan a project. I also saw a lot of products that had green elements, such as recycled materials; many companies couldn’t specifically say that their green products were doing better for them, but many responded that it was just better business for them to be greener during production. Another thing that I saw in walking the floor of the shows was products being used in unique ways to showcase the many possibilities. For example, mouldings used to decorate a wall or countertops that can have charging stations for phones set into the tops.

All in all, though the show was something even my best intentions couldn’t prepare me for, I had a wonderful time. It was great to see the show floors so busy and having limited space available in booths because it meant that interest is high in building and remodeling (especially for kitchens and baths). I hope the business of the show will truly be a reflection of the direction of the industry. 

-- Kacey Larsen

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