K+BB EXCLUSIVE: IBS and KBIS to Join Forces in 2014 Mega Event

A new show aims to energize the residential design and construction sector
By Alice Liao
January 22, 2013

Although the idea to co-locate the International Builders Show (IBS) and the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS), two cornerstone events for the residential design and construction market, had been tossed about in casual conversation for as long as industry veterans can remember, its realization seemed steadfastly anchored in the realm of “what if?”

That is, until today. As announced by Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and John Morgan, president of the National Kitchen & Bath Association, at IBS in Las Vegas, both will come together next year in the Las Vegas Convention Center to create the first of three annual mega-events that will reinvigorate an industry hard hit by the economy and unleash new opportunities for its members.


Scheduled to debut in February 2014, the new mega-event, Design and Construction Week, promises to benefit both exhibitors and attendees alike. While IBS and KBIS will remain separate events with separate conference programs, attendees, for example, can access both show floors with one ticket, exposing them to a greater breadth of exhibitors, products and information. As William Darcy, NKBA CEO noted, “Kitchen and bath professionals will be able to see products that impact their day-to-day business but are not traditionally exhibited at KBIS.” And the products will be many, as trends for both shows indicate a total of 2,000 companies will display their wares at the mega-event.

Of course, for manufacturers, Design and Construction Week will offer the convenience of one setting to “hit both the design and construction segments of their markets,” said Gerald M. Howard, NAHB CEO. “The kitchen and bath exhibitors we’ve already spoken to about this are very excited about that opportunity and the efficiency that it brings to them in running their businesses.” The co-location of the two shows will also eliminate the guesswork for companies that are new to or less familiar with the North American market and are unsure about where best to exhibit.


Furthermore, with the event expected to draw an estimated 75,000 attendees, networking opportunities between kitchen and bath professional and homebuilders will abound and hopefully lead to new relationships and new ways of conducting business—an example of which has been set by both NAHB and NKBA as they turned what had long been an industry pipe dream into reality. “The market is changing,” Darcy said. “No matter what industry, what you do, it’s time to look at your business differently.” The plan to launch the mega-event next year is all the more remarkable given the cultural differences between the two organizations and their respective shows, as well as all the financial, legal and logistical details that required attention. According to Howard, negotiations, which even addressed such minutia as the placement of signage, were intensive, “and I’m telling you this from the perspective of a tax lawyer.”

Both he and Darcy expressed appreciation and praise for the other’s organization, which reflects the collaborative spirit that not only enabled an agreement to be reached and finalized but also allowed it to happen in just three short months. While initial conversations occurred early last summer, discussions only became serious in the fall, “when we realized we were negotiating on the actual practicalities of doing this,” Howard said. “The leadership exhibited by Bill Darcy at the staff level and the elected leaders of NKBA has been absolutely crucial to our ability to get this done for both parties.” In echoing the sentiment, Darcy noted, “The mutual respect for each other’s organizations is why we could pull this off as quickly as we did. It’s frankly amazing.”


Although the contract between NAHB and NKBA is for only three years, after which time both organizations will re-evaluate it to determine if the relationship is to be continued, the vision behind Design and Construction Week suggests a longevity beyond what’s possible by merely having two events in one venue. “We’re hoping the other trade shows involved in the residential construction space will see the benefit and join the NKBA and NAHB in creating a larger, mega residential and design event,” Howard said. “We’re hoping it will bring other shows to the table so the whole industry will have a place and a time to gather every year for the purpose of coalescing around new business opportunities, new policy initiatives. We think this could strengthen the whole sector.”

As to be expected, a separate announcement about Design and Construction Week will be made at KBIS, which will take place April 19-21 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. This year’s event will not only unveil a newly robust educational initiative with such programs as “Voices of the Industry” and “30 Under 30,” but also celebrate the NKBA’s 50th anniversary, the symbolic import of which—though coincidental—is not lost on Darcy, who incidentally took office only last year. “We’re kicking off our 50th year and will be making one of the biggest announcements in the history of the association,” he said. “We want to honor the past, but our leadership is also focused on the future. We want to show the industry where the NKBA is going and that we’re looking at the market and adapting to its needs.”

Click here for more on this monumental agreement and here for remarks delivered by Rutenberg and Morgan at IBS 2013.
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