International Builders’ Show 2023
Article Date: February 9, 2023
A Conversation with BLDers Who Attended
The 2023 NAHB International Builders’ Show® (IBS) drew 70,000 construction professionals to the Las Vegas Convention Center last week, making it the most attended IBS since 2008.
BLDers Dave Sladack, Jeff Jones, and Jeff Donaldson were among the attendees. Here is their collective take on what they saw and heard.
What struck you the most about this year’s show?
Dave Sladack, President
This was the busiest IBS show in recent memory. One thing that stood out was the emphasis on skilled labor. There were a number of booths dedicated to recruitment and training. It’s long been a problem, but this is the first time I remember seeing more focus on promoting solutions.
Jeff Jones, Director of Account Management
The level of energy on the show floor was pleasantly high and definitely upbeat. People I spoke with were optimistic about the year ahead even amidst the potential market headwinds.
Jeff Donaldson, Senior VP of PR/Content Marketing
I was struck by the expanse of exhibitors from around the globe and the massive array of products and solutions that are out there to consider on any construction project—from the smallest bolt or fastener to the largest wall configurations. Building product manufacturers of all kinds are finding new and inventive ways to bring their unique solutions to the table, and many are pushing the boundaries of what was once considered impossible.
Based on the conversations you had during IBS, what trends are emerging for stakeholders in the building and construction industry?
I spent time with a building products manufacturer that has a play in residential home construction. There remains an X factor for that segment with interest rates continuing to rise. Housing starts are naturally impacted. At the same time, parts of the residential market are still showing positive signs. This is particularly true for the high-end home builders ($1 million-plus homes) and for multi-family dwellings. In addition, the string of wildfires and severe weather we’ve seen across the nation has construction professionals more readily seeking out solutions – particularly for exterior cladding – that can speak to these forces. How will the cladding I choose for the house I am building resist flames? How durable is it in high winds, or a hurricane, or the relentless power of the sun? These have become even more important considerations for builders and homeowners.
There is a positive sentiment about business activity in 2023, despite the ongoing concerns with the economy, rising interest rates, and inflationary concerns. Folks I spoke with expect a decent year of performance. Second, supply chain issues continue to exist, and project backlogs are still a thing. Third, there continues to be more and more pre-fab solutions—in part to overcome the skilled labor shortage, and because prefab can save builders time and money. I saw a new concrete pool prefab solution that installs like a traditional fiberglass method. It’s already popular in the south and west of the U.S.
As the market adjusts to potential headwinds created by higher interest rates, there are still ample opportunities for growth. One emerging angle is to be geographically strategic with marketing and sales efforts, hyper-targeting market hotspots, building awareness, and pursuing a path to gain market share. The generation of leads and digital tools to capture them was a reminder of how much the pandemic has driven more digital adoption. Nary a business card was handed out. This reality means more leads will immediately go into a CRM-digital ecosystem. Companies that craft a deft and finely tuned post-show follow up – combining a personal response with an automated nurturing process – stand the best chance of converting new contacts into stronger relationships, and ultimately close deals.
What emerges as the greatest benefit or takeaway for building product manufacturers if they choose to exhibit at a show such as IBS?
The ability to connect in person after several years of remote interaction was a shot in the arm. The immediacy of the product demonstrations and ability to ask and receive answers in the moment was a nice value add, too.
While communication has become more efficient with the adoption of smart technology, in-person engagement is truly the best opportunity to develop deeper relationships. That said, if you are going to make the investment in a show like IBS, have something clear and interesting to feature, and plan it out strategically to ensure you see a more tangible return on the investment.
At BLD Marketing, we constantly advocate the development of a digital marketing ecosystem to our clients, a finely tuned marketing matrix that is aimed at developing marketing-qualified leads and transforming them into sales-qualified leads. This is essential for every building products brand that seeks to gain traction in the marketplace. At the same time, that one-on-one interaction with customers and prospects at a show like IBS remains an important component of a good marketing program. It’s hard to replicate what you can learn when you are on the ground and driving conversations with the people who are poised to buy your products and compare you against your competitors. You can come away with critical intelligence.
BLD Marketing is a results-based, digitally-focused, full-service strategic marketing firm exclusively serving the commercial and residential building materials category.