The Importance of Attending Trade Shows

I believe, if you are standing still and not investing in yourself, in your ideas. If you sit in the knowledge that you know enough. If you are not feeding your creative flare and searching for what’s new. You will find that you are actually going backwards. You are going backwards because designers that are chasing and learning about new innovation, designers that are seeing and touching the future, designers that are out there networking with like minded professionals, they are the ones that are moving forward and you may find yourself left behind.

BiKBBI booth at KBB Birmingham 2020

With trade show season in full swing, there has been opportunities to attend shows like KBB Birmingham at the NEC and earlier in the year in Las Vegas, Nevada, the North American version KBIS. The chances to advance your thinking and learn are out there and the best part about it, they are free to attend.

Yes, there is always the cost of travel and accommodation but that has to be seen as part of the investment in yourself. I am a great believer in “you get out, what you put in”. The more you invest your time, your money and your dedication into your craft, the more you can’t help but reap the benefits.

In January of this year, myself and my business partner took a trip to Las Vegas, to visit The Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS). With the decision to invest in ourselves taken almost a year before it wasn’t one that wasn’t taken lightly, as due to location, it obviously came with a rather hefty price tag. But we felt, at what cost if we didn’t go?

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For three days, we pounded the hallways and we plundered the booths, searching for everything that was exciting and new. Looking for ideas that we could bring to our customers. We spoke to countless kitchen and bathroom professionals, all delighted to teach us about the extraordinary benefits of their product. It didn’t matter that we were from the UK and unlikely to be buying from them. In fact that seemed to inspire them more. “You’re going to love this”, “Let me show you what this does”, “Come and take a look at the future.”

Attending the KBISNeXT sessions gave us access to world renowned interior designers like Kelli Ellis. Multiple hour long discussions and Q&A’s with numerous award winning designers on every aspect of design along with social media, brand building and business growth. You just can’t help but walk away, awakened and inspired.

We had the pleasure of listening to NKBA, CEO, Bill Darcy, giving the annual state of the association address, followed by Fox News Business anchor Melissa Francis chair a state of the industry panel discussion. It was mind blowing when listening to what everyone had to say and then to realise that two countries, the UK and the USA, so far apart and so different in size, yet both having very similar industry difficulties. Namely a shortage of skilled trades. Something that the NKBA are very actively addressing. It was also fantastic to see the UK’s own BiKBBI, CEO, Damian Walters there. Damian who was a guest of the NKBA, spent a lot of his time in discussions with them and this collaboration and relationship can only be a good thing for the KBB industries on both sides of the Atlantic.

Left to right at KBIS 2020 in Las Vegas
Damian Walters (CEO of BiKBBI)
Thomas McAuley (Director of Liberty Fitting Service Ltd)
Mark Conacher (Director of Liberty Fitting Service Ltd)
Christopher Hackett (Managing Director of Senstec)

Design is endless and ever evolving and taking timeout to immerse yourself in everything that your industry has to share that’s new and exciting has to be time well spent. Attend a trade show and meet other designers, better designers. Learn from them. Go there and take the time to meet with installers, talk with them and learn first hand the problems they come across every day and how to work together to make design work better for everyone. After all without installers all you have is a pretty picture.

Installers can bring your vision to life.

See and touch the products of the future and feed off the passion that the manufacturer has for their product.

So step out that comfort zone, you know that nothing amazing ever happens there.

Get yourself to a KBB / design trade show and remember, you are, who you hang around with.

This article was first published in Kitchens & Bathrooms News in April 2020 (pg 39)

Published by markconacher

Born in Toronto, Canada - Raised in Dundee, Scotland - Living in Vancouver, Canada

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