Are You Going to the Remodeling Show?

John G. Swanson
October 15, 2013
THE TALK...

Back in the ’80s, the annual NARI exhibition was arguably the largest window and door show in North America. The exhibitor list included all the major wood window manufacturers—many still focused on wood at the time—as well as several dozen vinyl replacement window manufacturers. Suppliers of window and door manufacturing equipment, components and industry-specific services were also regulars.

Many years ago, the NARI show changed ownership—first to NAHB and then to Hanley-Wood—and was also renamed the Remodeling Show. This year’s edition opens tomorrow in Chicago. As has been the case for the past decade, our industry will be represented—I count about 20 industry exhibitors—but the event is clearly no longer a “must” for many window and door manufacturers or dealers.  

And I would say that was true even before the beginning of the Great Recession. Given the importance of the remodeling and replacement markets to our industry, however, this has puzzled me. So I’d like to hear from you. Whether you recall the heyday of the NARI show, you’re a past attendee or exhibitor that no longer finds the event worthwhile, or you’ve never gone, post a comment and tell us why.

 

Survey Results as of 10/22/2013:

 

The Remodeling Show:

Is not really needed by our industry.

  

 

44%

 

Could be a good event for our industry with some changes.

  

 

33%

 

Is still a solid event for our industry.

  

 

23%

 
 

Close to half our respondents this week don't see the Remodeling Show as a necessity for our industry.  That position is easy to understand for some.  I don't have any specific knowledge of how attendance breaks down at this event, but my guess is that for window and door manufacturers that sell to general remodelers, it provides a good audience.   For those catering more to specialty window and door dealers and window replacement specialists, I suspect it offers less value.

I reach that conclusion by comparing the current Remodeling Show with the event in its heyday, when all types of window manufacturers exhibited.  The window and door industry has evolved significantly in the years since. Most notably, with consolidation, there are fewer manufacturers out there today.   

But the Remodeling Show has changed too.  First, organizers put a lot of effort into bringing more kitchen and bath exhibitors to the show–something they were never very successful in doing.  More recently, the current show owners–Hanley-Wood–have partnered with the North American Decking & Railing Association to co-locate the Remodeling Show with Deck Expo.  That arrangement has proven to be much more successful, and decking and railing products now appear to account for about half the floor space at the show. 

Reports from last week's Remodeling Show in Chicago suggest that attendance was down and the overall feeling was that the event didn’t reflect the market.  Industry exhibitors reported that their customers were seeing an increase in business and were feeling optimistic, but those customers weren’t walking the floor.  Several people voiced concerns about the future of the show and whether or not it would last.

Personally, I'm still in the camp of poll respondents who say the Remodeling Show could be a good event for our industry with some changes.  I still have good memories of a show that attracted all types of window and door manufacturers as exhibitors and all types of window and door dealers as attendees.  It wasn't as hectic as the International Builders' Show, so you also had more time to talk to people. 

I'm not sure what changes might help bring more of our industry back to the Remodeling Sohw, or if there's enough demand for it out there.  I do think, however, many of us could benefit if it happened.