If there were a theme song for this year’s International Builders Show (IBS), it might be Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days.” Except in this case, they aren’t passing by so much as they appear to be returning. After a tumultuous experience with a virtual format in 2021 and a subdued in-person turnout in 2022, the show started on a winning streak this year in Las Vegas. First-day crowds appeared to resemble pre-COVID (glory) days.

“We’re definitely back,” said Jill Fuller, marketing communications coordinator for Simonswerk. “We aren’t seeing the impacts [of COVID-19] anymore,” Fuller said. “We’ve also noticed a lot of doors here this year,” she added, referring to the Las Vegas Convention Center’s central hall, where most door and window companies are located. “Normally our guys are gone for half the day, walking from hall to hall. It’s a shorter walk this year because we have all of our door companies right here.”

IBS marks an opportunity for manufacturers to test interest in various prototypes, including this door in Therma-Tru’s booth.

With most door and window manufacturers within eyeshot, it’s clear to see that many of the same trends turned up this year as in years past. Oversized doors and large expanses of glass—most trends have hung around, some on sexy new pivot hinges. But in some cases, material choices have changed, including a trend toward thermally broken aluminum. As a result, more doors and windows resemble the thin, steel profiles that adorn historic industrial buildings, yet offer thermal performance that resembles vinyl products. As a result of this trend, Brent Simpson, a sales representative for Quaker Windows & Doors, said his company has seen strong demand for its Quartz brand products, including in markets such as Tennessee and the Carolinas. This year, Quaker dedicated its booth to Quartz, which the company refers to as “luxury windows and doors.”

The trend toward aluminum has even drawn Therma-Tru out of a decades-long focus on fiberglass entry doors, said Lisa Fink, the company’s brand manager. The company unveiled a new Veris collection, which follows a similar vein to Quaker’s Quartz lineup, including sliding, folding and pivot-style doors with narrow aluminum profiles.

Quaker chose to focus on its Quartz line of “luxury doors and windows.”

After monitoring the market for trends, “We noticed this continual theme running throughout [the industry],” Fink said. As a result, “This marks our first foray into a different material,” she added.

Just as Therma-Tru looks to capitalize on the trend for aluminum, officials for Waudena are eyeing an opposite direction. While the company has long offered a lineup of steel doors that lean on inkjet printing technologies to replicate the look of wood, Waudena now plans to add the same techniques to fiberglass doors. With a prototype on display, “It’s about showcasing our capabilities,” said Austin Akers, territory manager for the Southeast region. The company plans to introduce its fiberglass doors with printed finishes later this year, Akers said. It’s also working on a technique that adds woodgrain textures.

In this way, IBS often serves as a testing ground for new ideas and products—some of which represent brand new concepts. In Glass-Craft’s booth, the company displayed an entry door that allows parcel packages to be delivered into a homeowner’s residence without opening the front door. For its latest offering, the company teamed up with a startup called Parcel Vault, to offer doors with a pull-down flap akin to the design of public mailboxes. The idea arrived out of necessity, said Jonathan Plummer, Parcel Vault’s founder and president. “My dad sent us some Christmas gifts one year and they were all stolen from our front porch,” he said. “I said to myself, ‘We have to fix this.’”

At IBS, concepts also work the other way around: builders tell door and window manufacturers what they’re looking for in the market. In Drutex’s booth, two attendees were drawn to the company’s retractable, roller shutters, which it offers as an add-on option for windows.

“Are these storm shutters?” one builder asked, adding, “Because we really need that—desperately.”

While builders aren’t a primary target for glass testing, there was no shortage of interest in EDTM’s tools.

But inquiries aren’t always about products, said Mark Imbrock, co-owner and vice president of Electronic Design to Market (EDTM), a company that makes equipment for testing glass and glass coatings.

“We’ve had at least half a dozen builders stop by today, asking, ‘Can we call and ask you questions?’” Imbrock said. Builders aren’t a primary target for his company, but high-end builders are drawn to testing equipment to prove that the glass in their homes performs as advertised for homeowners. Others look to add Imbrock’s company to their contacts for when they have technical questions about glass.

If attendance from day one of this year’s show is any indication, he might need a dedicated line for dishing out answers.

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