January 27th, 2020
Seven Takeaways from the International Builders’ Show
It’s been a long time since I have done one of my annual trade show lists, but my time at the International Builders’ Show (IBS) this week has given me plenty of fodder for blogging. So, after three days of viewing dozens of trade show booths related to doors and windows, here are the major takeaways.
- Big Doors and Windows are here to stay. But who is installing them? First, a shameless plug: This past Sunday I celebrated 22 years at Key Media & Research—parent company to [DWM]. We started the magazine almost 20 years ago—so that’s a long time of me covering this industry—and attending IBS. For at least the past eight years, I always come back from IBS and talk about the trend of big doors and windows. It’s not a trend anymore. It’s here to stay. But this year it really hit me: As these doors get bigger, and it gets harder and harder to find good installers, who the heck is putting them in? According to many people I talked to, it’s glazing contractors. It makes total sense, as they are the only ones who have the proper equipment to install these heavy pieces of glass.
- Companies are doing everything they can to make things easier for the customer. It’s something I heard from many of the booths I went to; companies are doing everything they can to make things easier on builders. “We tell builders ahead of time the weight and only select dealers who have the right equipment,” said Vanessa Mina, manager, integrated content strategy at Marvin, speaking about the massive weight of its door and window products.
- Exhibitors showed off products from recently acquired companies. It was great to see many putting products from companies they recently acquired front and center—reinforcing those decisions. Jeld-Wen prominently featured products from LaCantina, while the Weiland brand from Anderson was center stage with a massive pivot door—a definite show stopper.
- Black is here to stay—but is Bordeaux moving in? Contemporary styles are here to stay and sleek modern lines with black profiles are still all the rage. But some pops of color are making their way in as well. Bordeaux is a new color seen at a few booths throughout the show. Still a darker hue, but it was nice to see some new shades breaking in. Also interesting, were some exhibitors talking about lighter shades becoming more popular. But what are those shades? Light gray—so not too far off from predominant black.
- Assume nothing. Two of the companies I spoke to reminded me of this simple fact. Just because you have always offered a particular product, for example, doesn’t mean your customers remember. Remind. Remind. Remind. Brad Loveless, marketing and product development manager for Simpson Doors, talks about continually reminding customers that the company can design any size or shape of door. “We have to continually push this message,” he said. Similarly, Cindy Bremer, vice president of marketing at Kolbe Windows and Doors, said customers still need to remind homeowners of the importance of retractable window screens—or just remembering to offer them to homeowners. Even such an established option!
- Preventing Water Infiltration. We all know this is important, but I can’t remember a time when I heard so much about preventing water infiltration so many times at a show. And companies aren’t assuming anything—for example, that installers are doing a correct job with flashing the product correctly, to begin with. “We are trying to make this as fool-proof as possible,” said Dominic Truniger, president of Sierra Pacific Windows and Doors.
- Social Media Surprises. Sierra Pacific Windows and Doors is very social media savvy—and promoted their Instagram at IBS. But even they learned a thing or two this week. A YouTube personality came by, with hundreds of thousands of followers, and told us we should be posting things on Tik Tok, said Jennifer Sinclair, marketing communications manager. If you have kids, you know what I’m talking about. Apparently, this forum isn’t just for a younger age group. Who knew?
But what really made me think was when Sinclair told me that that the company is getting an abundance of inquiries and quote requests via Instagram—and they are responding to them here as well. “People aren’t going to the website,” said Sinclair.