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Our Take: IBS 2024

International Builders’ Show 2024

Article Date: March 6, 2024

BLDrs Offer Insight on International Builders’ Show® in Vegas

With the latest in everything in interior design and home fixtures to exterior cladding, insulation, windows, doors, and more, the 2024 edition of the International Builders’ Show® (IBS) took over the Las Vegas Convention Center last week. Sponsored by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the industry’s largest trade show included 1,800 exhibitors.

BLD Marketing was also on the show floor.

Here is a retrospective round-up from Dave Sladack, Jeff Jones, and Jeff Donaldson.

What was your biggest takeaway from this year’s show?

Jeff Donaldson, Senior VP of PR/Content Marketing

I spent most of my time supporting one particular brand, but I did have some time to walk the show floor. What struck me the most is that building products manufacturers of all kinds are pushing the envelope on innovation and finding new, inventive ways to solve challenges for the building and construction community. It runs the gamut – from the smallest piece of hardware on a door to novel approaches to moisture management and insulation. It’s a competitive environment for building products marketers in every sector of the business, which means they need to find a way to stand out and tell a compelling story if they want to be part of the consideration set for architects, designers, builders, and specifiers.

Dave Sladack, President

Modular/prefab is really gaining traction. In previous years, there were a few brands presenting, but this year, you could see that the idea of prefab/modular design is becoming a mainstay. You are seeing it as both a total home building solution and as a prefab component that is manufactured and delivered as part of the home. A lot of building materials brands we talked to have a modular/prefab initiative or are planning to do so.

Jeff Jones, Director of Account Management

My biggest takeaways from this year’s International Builders’ Show are that the construction industry is primed for more growth, and that – from a well-attended international trade show perspective – we’ve moved beyond the post-COVID malaise. The show floor was packed and busy with engaged conversations across the booths.

Talk more about the dialogue and types of conversations you had. What is top of mind for construction professionals in 2024? What challenges are they facing?

Dave Sladack

There is a positive vibe in the industry. Folks we spoke with are feeling good about 2024. Despite the residential challenges around lending rates, it seems that consumers are starting to accept where interest rates are today and are engaged with builders. Perhaps it’s the anticipated rate cuts the Fed has called for in 2024.

The other insight is that supply chains seemed to be normalizing and are even better post-pandemic. The feeling here is that many building materials brands were forced to pay closer attention to logistics because of the pandemic and now have better mitigated risk with a focus on reliable suppliers and also relying on more than one supplier.

Jeff Donaldson

Several of the conversations I had centered on the challenge of finding skilled labor across the construction sector. With many older workers choosing to retire, there are too few young workers entering the profession to replace them. The ripple effects for construction projects of any kind – from a single-family home to a massive, multi-use commercial real estate development – are palpable. A shortage of workers can negatively impact quality, can drive longer completion timelines, and can create general cost pressure on the overall project. It’s a challenge that will likely take some time to sort out, and most analysts suggest it’ll take a multi-pronged approach.

Jeff Jones

One of the challenges I heard was the ongoing need to hire and retain top talent, especially in the trades. There is work to be done, and money to be made, if the right people can be trained, incentivized, and retained for the long-term.

Why should building materials manufacturers consider exhibiting at a show such as IBS? How can they benefit?

Jeff Jones

For those in the building materials space, the show can provide an opportunity to reach a broader audience and have more individual discussions about needs and trends. In an increasingly digitally connected world, the ad-hoc conversations can bring serendipitous insights and a different perspective.

Dave Sladack

[IBS] is a remarkably large trade show where almost all building materials brands that have a focus in the residential, multifamily, and light commercial markets have a presence. I spoke with several brands who did not have a booth but came to the show to see what was there and to network. Some of them of them held sales meetings or client events. Vegas is the best destination for a show like this. The builders and contractors are motivated to attend and even extend some time to visit in the world’s largest adult playground.

Jeff Donaldson

The advent of the digital age might cause some building materials manufacturers to rethink their trade show investments. It’s always valuable to take a discerning look at the money your brand spends on trade show engagement. The key is to maximize your investment in the shows where you will be an exhibitor. Create a marketing program that highlights your commitment at the show. Plan product rollouts or announcements that coincide with your participation. Ensure your booth tells a story. Make sure you are capturing leads. You also want to gather content at the show that can be merchandised on social media and elsewhere. And when you return, execute a plan to re-engage prospects and customers that visited your booth. This will help drive awareness and business at the same time.

BLD Marketing is a results-based, digitally-focused, full-service strategic marketing firm exclusively serving the commercial and residential building materials category.