January 24th, 2011
Impressions from the Builders Show
There are two primary reasons that most people attend the International Builders Show – products and people. My primary focus at IBS is talking to people. This gives me a chance to hear from the trenches impressions of what is happening in the market. The tone of conversations this year was decidedly more positive than last year. I talked to a number of companies who, believe it or not, did quite well in 2010 and are off to a good start in 2011.
Skeptics will say that we only had visibility on the first three to six weeks of the year by the time of the show (depending upon the length of a company’s lead times). However, I’m willing to call that a significant data point in a post-energy tax credit environment. There’s a small credit now, but nothing along the order of $1,500. How are these companies doing it? They’ve gone back to the basics of adding new dealer customers and making proactive calls on anyone that has bought from them in the past. Other companies told me that their dealers are “giving” the tax credit to customers in the form of a discount. Consumers hate the thought that they missed a deal, so what would be a small percentage discount on a large order leaves the customer delighted. I’m told that other dealers offer to pay the customer’s heating bill the month of the install to lessen the winter lull. Whose parents didn’t admonish them not to leave a door or window open in the winter, lest we attempt to “heat the whole neighborhood”?
With regard to new products at the show, I noted with great personal satisfaction the preview of the SecuraSeal™ Patio Door by Haddon Windows. This soon-to-be-released product secures a patio door by engaging the door on two sides along the entire length of the jamb. This greatly increases the security value of the patio door, an opening prone to break-ins. The product is based on technology developed by Speyer Door & Window, which was acquired by Haddon Windows early last year. By way of full disclosure, I represented Speyer in that sale. The central point is that the acquisition and the pending product launch highlight two important factors in the current market – the importance of making investments in R&D and the power of acquiring companies with new technologies. Both factors will be extremely important during the coming recovery.