Mark Conacher, director at installation specialist Liberty, looks back on his trip to Las Vegas visiting the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show 2023. So – was it worth the investment?
In the US kitchen and bathroom industry, one of the biggest annual events is the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) which this year was held in Las Vegas, Nevada. Organised by the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) this really is a world-class event. For installers, the added bonus that running at the same time is the International Builders Show next door, for which your entry is included – that's just the icing on the cake.
Having first visited this trade show back in 2019 when it was last in Las Vegas, I knew what to expect and it didn't let me down. So why on earth should a UK installer consider visiting a KBB trade show in the US? For any installer, that’s a huge investment. But notice I use the word 'investment' and not 'expense' – because that’s how you need to view it – it's an investment in yourself.
Kitchen and bathroom installations are obviously among the most important aspects of any home renovation. With both these rooms playing such a significant role in a property, it’s essential for any installer to have access to the latest and greatest products and technologies in the KBB marketplace. Touching and feeling different products is important, along with seeing what’s new and innovative.
Yes, there are KBB trade shows in the UK and they are just as important, but with KBIS, it’s a whole other world to learn about. There’s no getting away from it, homes in North America are different, but adding to that, the people are different – they think differently and what they are looking for from a kitchen or bathroom is very different.
But that’s the beauty. By being here and learning how things are done on this side of the Atlantic, by speaking to other professionals, by listening to the various presentations, it can't help but give you that edge to take home and be different. To stand out from your local competition and offer something a little different to your customer.
The professionals you will meet here are at the forefront of the KBB industry in the US and have a wealth of knowledge and experience to share with you. North Americans by nature, are very positive and by embracing this energy, it can rub off on you and you start to understand the value in what your chosen career offers to the homeowner.
As an installer you begin to understand the challenges that we face in the UK, with an ageing workforce and the need to bring young blood into the industry – these are exactly the same set of problems they have here. You'll gain an insight into the ways in which the NKBA is encouraging youth back into the trades.
Overall, my lasting impression of this trip to KBIS is extremely positive. The message of show up, engage, and connect has been said to me in many guises and different ways over the last four days, from designers, to suppliers and speakers. It's such an important message.
I'll be back.