Volume 39, Issue 3, March  2004


Under the Builder’s Sun
Builders’ Show Had it All in One Place
by Max Perilstein

In late January, 104,000 people converged upon Las Vegas for the 2004 International Builders’ show. Luckily, I was one of them, because seeing this spectacle is the only way to believe it. As a veteran of boatloads of glass and aluminum industry shows, I thought I had seen it all. It is only now after the Builders’ Show that I have truly seen it all.

So Much to See
The first thing that jumped out at me, aside from the fact that 104,000 people were there and the show took up the entire convention center and parking lot, was the obvious fact that the residential homebuilding side of the construction industry is still plugging along without a problem. No way can you pull off an event of this magnitude and this expense without a booming business.

The contrast to our specific industry was pretty severe. While at some of our shows we’ve had celebrities like Cal Ripken and Dave Barry speak for a few minutes, this show had celebrities actually working the booths. At Silverline Windows, basketball hall-of-famer Bill Walton and retired baseball all-star Steve Garvey were there, decked out in company garb, passing out brochures and swiping attendees’ badges. Heck, in our industry, I thought Bob Price working a booth was royalty. You see, superstars weren’t needed for the opening session because former president George H.W. Bush was on hand to do that chore. As for musical interludes, 1970s favorites Foreigner and REO Speedwagon were live and in concert.

Everything Under the Sun
Now, I know the glass industry is just a small offshoot and this show encompassed everything that goes into a house, but I still could not believe the excess. Monstrous booths, some more than 2,000 square feet in size and three stories high, dominated the central hall. In fact, at one of these monster booths I was told it would cost $4,000 to have the carpet swept. At another booth, which was actually on the smaller size compared to the monsters, I was told that their company’s cost for doing this show was close to $1.2 million. If our industry did that, the fuel surcharge the primary manufacturers charge would be raised to $10,000 a truckload. The booths featured tons of products and samples, which were simply amazing to see on such a temporary stage. No corners were cut, no expense spared. There were so many cutting-edge products in so many segments that I’d need ten pages to break it down. 

With mostly every major building component company in the world on hand, there were close to 2,000 exhibitors. The window industry was very well-represented with 79 different companies showing. USGlass magazine was there, though the throngs that visited the booth struggled with the supreme disappointment that Lyle Hill was not in there working and signing autographs like NASCAR racing champ Matt Kenseth who was in the nearby DeWalt Tools booth. 

The Show
One of the other things I got from this trip was learning that the Builders’ Show is The Show. The builders, though there are many classes and styles, are not splintered like our industry is with trying to reach the architects. Please, can we just have one show for the architectural community instead of four or five? Then we could all gather at one place, once a year, for four solid days, with all efforts concentrated and centralized. Who knows how good that could be? But, like me actually winning anything at the casino, that concept will never happen. But for four days in January, with 104,000 of my closest friends I could see the possibilities, along with everything under the sun.


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