Returning to the gambling capital of America proved a winning bet for the 2019 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS), the three-day trade show that’s been undergoing an impressive resurgence in the face of steady industry growth.
The largest North American event for the kitchen and bath trade, KBIS returned in February to the Las Vegas Convention Center after two years in Orlando. The show, which is owned by the National Kitchen & Bath Association, was co-located for the sixth consecutive year with the International Builders’ Show (IBS) as part of “Design & Construction Week.”
According to show organizers, Design & Construction Week witnessed a sharp increase in attendance over last year, attracting a combined total of more than 100,000 kitchen/bath dealers, designers, home builders, residential remodelers and related trade professionals. Floor space also increased, featuring more than 2,000 total exhibitors – and expanding to more than one million net square feet of indoor and outdoor venues – between KBIS and IBS, event sponsors said. More than 600 exhibitors displayed a wide range of products and services at KBIS, which also featured a series of special events, networking opportunities and educational sessions.
“KBIS 2019 was a banner year for us,” said Brian Pagel, senior v.p. of show producer Emerald Expositions. “The energy was palpable between the exhibitors and the attendees. New products were being introduced by virtually every exhibitor, and the numerous programs, panels and events drew standing-room-only crowds.”
That momentum, Pagel said, is expected to continue into next year. Indeed, show officials said, more than 400,000 net sq. ft. of floor space has already been secured for KBIS 2020, set to return to Las Vegas Jan. 21-23.
“We’re committed to producing a show that provides something of value for everyone,” said Suzie Williford, executive v.p./industry relations and chief strategy officer for the NKBA.
“The kitchen and bath industry remains strong, so it’s imperative that we provide not only a showcase for innovative products, but for professional development and networking opportunities,” Williford said.
“Our community of manufacturers, design professionals, technology integrators, showrooms and builders now have the momentum to carry them through the year.”
CITING NEW PRODUCTS
Another highlight of the three-day show was the presentation of the 2019 “Best of KBIS Awards,” a prestigious annual program that recognizes the most innovative new products introduced at the show.
The 2019 Best of KBIS Awards were sponsored by Meredith Corp., publisher of consumer shelter titles such as Beautiful Kitchens & Baths, Traditional Home and Dream Kitchens & Baths.
The following products were named as winners in each category:
- Best of Show: Blade 3D Printed Faucet, DXV: American Standard;
- Kitchen Gold: 48″ Dual-Fuel Pro Range with Built-in Sous Vide: Signature Kitchen Suite;
- Kitchen Silver: HydroTap by Zip Water: Culligan International Co.;
- Bath Gold: Flotation Tub With Zero Dimension: TOTO;
- Bath Silver: PowderRain: Hansgrohe;
- Smart Home Technology: Flo by Moen: Moen Inc.;
- Outdoor Living: Arcadia Series Outdoor Kitchen Cabinet: Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet;
- Impact Award: Sink Dishwasher, Ningbo Fotile Overseas Kitchen Appliance Co., DBA Fotile.
The Best Overall Booth award went to Samsung. Other winners included:
- Best Booth Large: GE Appliances, a Haier Company;
- Best Booth Medium: SHKL;
- Best Booth Small: Woodworks by Ted Todd;
- Best Booth Large Honorable Mention: Sicis North America;
- Best Booth Medium Honorable Mention: Cutler;
- Best Booth Small Honorable Mention: Hammerton.
The NKBA kicked off KBIS with its annual Design Competition and Industry Awards ceremony. The opening-night festivities honored NKBA’s history, including the contributions of three designers who are marking 50 years of certification. The trio included:
- Robert M. Baker, CKD, who was a member of the board of the NKBA from 1966 to 1980, helped start three local NKBA chapters and served as national president from 1977 to 1979.
- Peter Knobel, CKBD, whose family’s company, Kitchens and Baths by Knobel, was founded by his father in 1933, joined NKBA in 1968, and is still a member. Knobel has been active in the Chicago Midwest chapter of NKBA and has held several offices, including chapter president. He has also served on the national Board of Directors.
- Theodore Bogusta, CKD, started his business, Bogusta Designs Bathroom & Kitchen Remodeling in Hawthorne, NJ, and was an active member of the Northern New Jersey Chapter.
The NKBA also inducted three new members into the association’s Hall of Fame, honoring the individuals for their contributions to the growth and professionalism of the NKBA and the kitchen and bath industry as a whole.
Hall of Fame inductees included Suzie Williford, NKBA’s executive v.p./Industry Relations and chief strategy officer; Ann Morris, CMKBD, CAPS, honored posthumously for her career as a designer and color expert, and William “Skip” Woodall III, longtime president and CEO of Vent-A-Hood.
NKBA’s outgoing Chairman, Lorenzo Marquez, also presented the annual “Chairman’s Award” to John Petrie of Mother Hubbard’s Custom Cabinetry.
The Chairman’s Award, formerly known as the “President’s Award,” was created in 2009 to recognize companies that have had a positive impact on the NKBA and its initiatives, and that share a commitment to the industry.
EDUCATIONAL & SPECIAL EVENTS
KBIS 2019 also presented a wide range of learning opportunities at a conference that featured more than 80 speakers representing various segments of the kitchen and bath industry, as well as broader sessions offering insights in sales, marketing, management, technology, design, customer service and other topics tied to professional development.
Among the premier educational events were the following:
- Sponsored by HomeAdvisor, “KBIS NeXT Stage” programming included 18 panels on a variety of topics including color trends, women in design, the evolution of luxury design, innovations in sustainability, wellness/living in place ideas and the integration of design and technology. Panel sponsors included JSG Oceana, Control4, Hansgrohe and Kohler.
- The return of the DesignBites presentations, where 10 brands are offered three minutes to impress an audience of industry media and design VIPs, drew a standing-room-only crowd. Participating brands included: Control4, Franke, Infinity Drain, LG, MAT Inter, Native Trails, Titus Group, THOR Kitchen, Samsung and Signature Kitchen Suite (SKS).
- The “Showcase for Living In Place,” sponsored by the Living in Place Institute, cast a spotlight on the importance of making homes accessible, comfortable and safe, regardless of occupants’ current or future needs. Fifteen presentations were centered on care for veterans, fall prevention and technology for safer living. The Living in Place Institute also featured a product showcase featuring products by Monogram, TOTO, Rev-A-Shelf, Cosentino, Viega and Control4.
- New in 2019 was the “Salon by KBIS,” a tented exhibition area located outside South Hall. The boutique-style space featured exclusive, design-forward brands curated by Modenus Media and Design Milk. Along with exhibiting brands, the Salon included the DMMTalks Lounge, KBIS THINK and the Lightovation Pavilion and Lounge, which featured programming with experts in illumination, resources from the American Lighting Association and an interactive virtual reality experience. DMMTalks Lounge sponsors included Signature Kitchen Suite, Kohler, The House of Rohl, Ann Sacks, Control4, CEDIA (The Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association), Tarkett, Stikwood, Mio Systems and Minted.
- Hosted and sponsored by Signature Kitchen Suite, the invitation-only event “KBIS Uncorked” replaced the “Champagne & Cupcakes” event from prior years. The networking and cocktail hour celebrated the industry’s most influential voices. Invitees included top kitchen and bath social influencers, media and other VIPs who gathered in the SKS Booth on day one of the show.
ATTRACTING NEW TALENT
The NKBA remains “committed to providing support for initiatives that speak to the growing need for skilled labor in all segments of the residential design and construction industry,” said NKBA CEO Bill Darcy, noting that KBIS offered a forum for numerous panels, tours and events “that shone a light on the need to develop programs to help train and develop anyone interested in a career in the industry.
“The NKBA is striving to build awareness about the plentiful, lucrative opportunities within our industry, and provide the next generation of kitchen and bath professionals with knowledge surrounding skilled-labor careers,” Darcy said. “Our association celebrates the opportunity to pursue a multitude of paths in design, showroom sales, skilled labor and more.”
To that goal, the NKBA hosted 150 students from Las Vegas-area high schools for a half-day program that included the sharing of stories and journeys of residential design and construction professionals. Following the panel, students met NKBA executives, practicing designers and other industry professionals while touring the KBIS show floor.
The NKBA, This Old House and the Skilled Labor Fund teamed up once again to honor the industry’s mission to inform brands, channels and educators about the numerous paths to success that are alternatives to traditional university/college options. The “Cheers for Trade Careers: Skilled Labor Panel Discussion” featured a diverse panel who shared ideas about how the industry can get involved to address the skilled-labor shortage in the residential construction market.
“Being a part of this important initiative and offering a forum to continue dialogues about opportunities and needs is an important part of our Association’s advocacy work,” said NKBA CEO Bill Darcy, who sits on the board of the Skilled Labor Fund. “We are committed to bringing all parties together to drive awareness for the need, but also to help make things happen.” ▪