LAS VEGAS, NV -- More than 75,000 builders, remodelers and suppliers packed the aisles at Design & Construction Week last week at the Las Vegas Convention Center. For the first time, NAHB's International Builders' Show, the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) and the International Window Coverings Expo co-located to offer an unparalleled exhibition and education program for all facets of the residential construction industry.
IBS exhibitors filled 440,000 square feet of exhibit space with everything from millwork to marketing services, a significant leap from last year's total of 355,000 square feet. In all, Design & Construction Week offered attendees more than 650,000 square feet of exhibit space.
How was the show? "Fantastic," said exhibitor Joe Dote of KP Building Products in Holly Springs, La. "The way it was laid out, the leads, the crowds - everything was fantastic."
"Fantastic," agreed Frank Thompson, of Sweetwater Builders in Cranberry Township, Pa. "I had one guy tell me he needs twice as much space next year for his booth. I even had someone say there were too many people in the aisles - but that is such a good thing."
"It's the energy," said Jake Whittaker of Delaware Siding Company in Bear, Del. "It's just a world of difference from the last several years. You could just tell when you walked in the hall."
"It's great to see the economy coming back, the exhibitors coming back and the members building again," said Randy Strauss, chair of the NAHB Convention & Meetings Committee, who gave the IBS report to a jubilant Board of Directors on the show's last day.
Strauss reported that plans are already under way to incorporate more residential construction suppliers and their trade shows into next year's Design & Construction week, which is set for Jan. 20-22, 2015, again in Las Vegas. "This thing is getting better and better."
While most home builders continue to see their markets brighten, IBS euphoria was tempered by the remaining headwinds preventing a full recovery. Tight credit conditions, building supply price increases and the limited availability of buildable lots are three obstacles, and one builder from South Dakota warned of a fourth.
"We saw a lot of good people leave the industry during the downturn," and it's getting harder to find skilled labor to fill needed construction jobs, said Dwight Bickett of Bickett's Construction in Rapid City. "We're becoming a complete industry of older people and young kids," with skilled middle managers and trade partners harder to find, he said.