January 18th, 2010
Pre-Builders’ Show Thoughts
This week marks the beginning of the International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas, which is always an exciting event for the industry. Not only is the Builders Show the biggest industry-related event of the year, it’s a chance to see new products and catch up with old friends. The other aspect of attending the Builders’ Show in person is that it provides a pulse of the industry in miniature. The attendance numbers will rise or fall versus the prior year. The general tone of attendees will speak to the tempo of the overall industry. Even when the number of attendees at the show falls, exhibitors often report that “the right people are attending the show.” By this they usually mean that the core buyers from attending companies are still present and that the show contains the same buying power as it has in the past. At GlassBuild 2009, I took note of the fact that it was the strongest level of traffic on the final day of the show that I remembered. Normally, the last day of GlassBuild is very empty, but there was still excellent foot traffic on the last day in Atlanta. I’m hoping for similar positive signals about traffic at IBS.
I was interested to learn that a number of private equity (PE) professionals will be attending this year’s show. Our activity in this industry segment leads me to believe that these PE investors are attending to interact firsthand with customers of the portfolio companies in which they are already invested. I believe, however, that a number of them are also scouting for new investments while at the show.
The Builders’ Show this year will march onward, despite the decision of several large companies not to exhibit because of the price. It will also see numerous large companies exhibiting in far smaller spaces than in the past. Because of the groundswell of positive momentum that is accumulating in the industry, I believe this is the last year in which we’ll see this retrenchment. I think the Builders’ Show in 2011 will welcome the return of all of the usual suspects and the large booths we’ve seen in the past. Until then, here’s hoping we come away from IBS with additional signs of the recovery.