Two weeks ago, the chairman for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), Rick Judson commented on President Obama’s state of the union address by saying “NAHB agrees with President Obama that ‘the most important investment many families make is their home.’” Later he went on to say, “Nothing packs a bigger economic punch than home building. Building 100,000 homes creates more than 300,000 full-time jobs and $8.9 billion in tax revenues that are essential to help local communities build schools, hire police and firefighters, and fix roads.”
The President’s speech indicated a belief that the US housing market is coming back and this is confirmed by many other sources. So it makes perfect sense that a good metric to measure this comeback is to look at this year’s Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS), which has direct ties to the NAHB show with the two always occurring simultaneously and sharing space at the Las Vegas Convention Center. This year the show took place February 4-6. What did we notice? That attendance was high, exhibits looked updated and there was an overall feeling that things are looking better in the industry.
One example of this upward trend is that exhibitors who have been hurt by the economy and who have cut their trade show schedules down are beginning to return. Take Noritz for instance. They are a manufacturer of tankless water heaters, and after the housing bubble burst in 2008, they stopped going to KBIS. Until this year, when after a six-year hiatus, they returned. The exhibit was a 20’x30’ custom island that was refurbished from the original built in 2007. The exhibit was a triumphant return for Noritz. This was the story for other exhibitors at the show as well, and their return suggests an exciting future for the kitchen and bath industry and for the home building industry as a whole.
Another way in which housing market resurgence was apparent at this year’s show was the upgrades that many exhibits took. It is important to keep an exhibit current and in good condition from year to year, but this time around it felt like a little bit more was done. More polished, a little flashier and it gave a sense that companies were spending a little bit extra on some finishing touches that they might have gone without in previous years when the financial belt had to be much tighter.
DisplayWorks’ provided one such upgrade for our client, Eldorado Stone. The exhibit had many of the same components as in years past, but this time around they upgraded to a beautiful and eye catching sign. The sign attached to a wall constructed out of Eldorado Stone materials and had water cascading down onto beds of lush and vibrant plants and flowers. The sign brought new life into an already well-designed exhibit and served as a reminder that growth and change is in the air.
DisplayWorks also worked with a new client this year, LAUFEN, who was founded in Switzerland in 1892. This traditional brand is well known for high-quality craftsmanship and transforming bathrooms into vibrant living environments. Although over 100 years old, LAUFEN attended KBIS for the first time this year, lending further evidence to the fact that the American housing market is growing and encouraging European business to enter the American market.
LAUFEN is a great example of a trend toward environmental consciousness in the kitchen and bath industry because they value the conservation of natural resources and raw materials by producing products that allow water and energy to be used sparingly. This environmental concern is a central focus in all levels of the company from development to manufacturing to marketing and distribution. Companies like LAUFEN, with sustainable and environmentally friendly products are a part of the reason why big changes in the world of consumer products for the home are happening.
At KBIS, LAUFEN partnered with DisplayWorks to design and build a custom exhibit that embodies their company’s traditional values. The DisplayWorks team executed quick out of the box thinking to increase traffic flow by utilizing every inch of their exhibit space effectively with an organized product display board and creative graphics.
No one is certain of what the future has in store for the kitchen and bath industry or the homebuilding industry. With so many ups and downs over the last decade, it would be very difficult to make a prediction one-way or the other. Experts seem to be optimistic, however, and with this year’s KBIS show being an obvious and notable success, for now the future seems bright.