NKBA Celebrates 50 Years of Leadership through Learning

April 16, 2013

The National Kitchen & Bath Association is celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 2013, marking a half-century of leadership through learning.

The American Institute of Kitchen Dealers (now the National Kitchen & Bath Association) was founded in 1963 at a time when kitchen planning was beginning to emerge as a specialty. Then a small group of kitchen dealers, inspired by a manufacturer’s rep, met near Philadelphia, contributed $463, and formed the Association.

The founders set goals that remain the cornerstone of the NKBA today. “If you look back and see the goals of the NKBA 50 years ago, compared to today, you’ll see that they are essentially the same: education, consumer awareness and networking. What has changed are the tactics,” said 2013 NKBA President, John K. Morgan.

From its first meeting, Association members called for national training schools, accredited colleges, certified designers, design contests, research and public relations programs to increase consumer confidence in members.

The first kitchen school was held six months after the Association was founded. The first conference was in 1964 in conjunction with the Mid-Atlantic Lumbermen’s Association, followed by an independent convention and trade show the next year. The first design competition was in 1965, while the first kitchen designer was certified in 1968.

Over the past half century, the Association — which changed its name to the National Kitchen & Bath Association in 1983 — has encouraged the growth of the kitchen and bath industry. “The biggest accomplishment of the association has been connecting the industry, reaching out to all segments and communicating, sharing and learning from each other,” said Morgan.

As the NKBA celebrates its anniversary, it looks to serve the industry in new and innovative ways. Learning remains the NKBA’s number one objective. “The need for quality education has never been greater – the Association is making significant investments in learning, KBIS conferences and other growth opportunities to build the right support for future member benefits,” said Morgan.

The NKBA is taking a 360-degree approach to learning starting this year. It is offering career paths in eight competency areas through its Learning Management System (LMS). The focus moves beyond a single course to a structured knowledge path that includes beginner, intermediate and advanced levels.

The competency categories include Design, Talent Management, Communication, Adapt & Innovate (Change Management), Focus on the Consumer, Business Management, Leadership, and Sales & Marketing.

NKBA is also laying the groundwork for a new industry event – Design and Construction Week – in 2014. “A year after the Association was founded, they put together a kitchen show that was important to providing member benefits for the next 49 years,” said Morgan. “This new grand event, Design and Construction Week, is our opportunity to support members for the next 50 years.”
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