Posted by Halsey Platt, President of Platt Builders
As the pace of change in our industry continues to accelerate, we, as professionals, must keep up. When I began in the residential remodeling industry 30 years ago what my grandfather taught me about home building was a good foundation. In the 80’s Audel’s handbooks were still a helpful reference to learn something new or tackle some remodeling issue. Now, building science is guiding us to new understandings from not only what I learned 30 years ago but also what we thought to be “good” 10 years ago. Combine this with the product proliferation that is present in our industry and a builder/remodeler can fall behind in just a couple of years – none of us can afford to stick our heads in the sand.
For the last decade, I have been attending the International Builders Show (IBS) every couple of years. This year, I took my entire sales and estimating team to Las Vegas to experience the 3-day show – we all came back exhausted but better educated. I will highlight three key categories of benefits.
- There are always small vendors that are bringing new and innovative products to the market. A few examples:
- This year a firm was there that make floor joist repair plates – did your framer put a joist right where the toilet is going – no problem – install this $65 tie plate – they provide the engineering for your building inspector and you keep going.
- Another firm has created a system of a room by room thermostats and motorized HVAC registers that you can put on an entire zone to warm up a too-cold room or to cool down a too-hot room – amazing!
- There were also a couple of thoughtful TV brackets that allow you to hide a client’s TV without all of those pocket doors of the 1990s.
- There are lots of large well-known vendors that have new products or have their product engineers there to carefully explain how their product can or cannot solve your particular issue.
- Stiebel Eltron is now selling a plug-n-play hydronic radiant system with circulators, mixing valves and controls that come pre-assembled for $3,000 to speed up your plumbers’ installation time.
- Halo is now manufacturing recessed lights that change color with the flip of a switch to 5 different color temperatures from 2,700k to 5,000k!
- Marvin Windows has re-named all of their residential windows: Essential, Elevate, Signature – Okay – good to know their new lingo. It was very helpful to be able to see all three lines of products adjacent to each other.
- Getting to know your regional or national sales representative for a product is another huge advantage of attending this show.
- During one of our custom home builds, we had an unfortunate experience with Kolbe Windows. Despite our previous efforts, we seemed to be going in circles with the manufacturer. At the show, I was able to talk with Dan Drost – the new Director of Sales – Eastern Region – and after spending some time explaining the situation, he reassured me he can help take care of the issue for our client. At a minimum, it is helpful to be able to know who to talk to higher up in the company and meet them face-to-face.
- For another project, we are wrapping the outside of a new home with Rockwool’s Comfortboard 80. Having met Dan Edelman, we were able to get his technical team into our offices to spend 90 minutes walking my people through installing the product so that it could go quickly, smoothly, and correctly! This sort of contact helps us sell projects.
Taking 5 employees to the show is an investment in our people but it is well worth it. We all came back with different fascinating experiences and new knowledge. Post-show we had a great debrief meeting with our Project Managers where we took them through the 21 pages of typed notes and an 870-picture slide show. Communicating about the innovative products we saw, client issues we were able to troubleshoot and the new connections made will prove invaluable for the whole Platt team.