Touted as the most successful show in its 62-year history, 2017 International Roofing Expo (IRE) took place in Las Vegas, NV from March 1 to 3. While exploring the packed show floor, it’s hard not to notice the positive, upbeat atmosphere.
IRE is a relationship show. There’s a mutual understanding that both roofing manufacturers and contractors are there to network. While there was a small area for new products and innovation, an overwhelming majority of the booths were built with one common goal — starting a conversation.
Manufacturers made it their mission to meet with their contractors — and prospects — to tell them about how they can make their jobs easier. Whether it was through install demos, education or happy hours, strong, lasting relationships were built.
Here are six takeaways from this year’s show.
1. Relationships, Relationships, Relationships
Since its start, IRE has always been about fostering relationships between roofing manufacturers and contractors. It’s built into every aspect of the show. From the accessible schedule to the lively locations, the IRE team wants its attendees to have fun.
Held from 11 am to 5 pm, unlike typical all-day shows, guests and vendors had time to walk the show floor and take in all the activities inside Mandalay Bay and still have time to explore Sin City. The show hours are conducive to relationship building. It wasn’t uncommon for the beer carts to roll out in the booths around 3 pm. Contractors sipped on cold ones while chatting with the manufacturing teams in a more relaxed environment.
After hours, attendees headed to networking events hosted by the manufacturers and had some fun with their industry pals.
Next year, IRE takes place in New Orleans, LA. The goal is to hold the event in a city that’s filled with fun activities so manufacturers and contractors can connect outside the primary venue.
2. Highest Attendance — Ever
One of the biggest takeaways is the show’s attendance. It was the highest attended expo since its start 62 years ago.
It was also the biggest show in recent history in regards to guests, booths, square footage and companies.
2017 Las Vegas
Net square feet
There wasn’t a general consensus regarding the reason for the spike in attendance, but one thing is for sure — people love this show. It’s always a good time and a great opportunity for industry professionals to connect on a deeper level.
3. Innovation Wasn’t the Focus — But It Wasn’t Forgotten
The goal of IRE is to build relationships. New products and innovation are not the focus. Sales reps weren’t touting the latest and greatest inside their booths. Rather, they were sharing information about programs and warranties while encouraging conversations.
As a result, it was surprising to see a separate area for new products. This was a new section and it didn’t draw too much traffic.
In addition, Owens Corning took a unique approach and added innovation on the show floor by re-introducing its Shingle of the Year campaign. Owens Corning, an Interrupt client, is leading the roofing industry from a trend perspective by focusing on shingle color and how it plays into the overall curb appeal of a home. They’re looking at roofing from a fashion and color perspective. The goal of the campaign is to inspire homeowners to think differently about their roof, which makes up more than 30 percent of a home’s exterior. Colored shingles can play off siding and exterior décor to give homes a unique and personalized look.
4. Drones Made an Appearance
A few of the booths featured drones. Despite the lack of a definite purpose from the manufacturers’ sales teams, it’s fair to speculate that drones are used for photography and troubleshooting.
The Interrupt team uses drones to capture images that were previously inaccessible, which presents great opportunities for roofing manufacturers. Drones are the perfect tool for providing easy-access roofing estimates to homeowners and capturing marketing images and video content from a different perspective.
5. Demos Draw the Crowds
IRE is also known for its regular install demos and educational events. Walking the show floor, there were a number of manufacturers using their space to show off best practices and their products in action.
The goal was all about demonstrating and teaching contractors the latest tips and innovation in roofing installation.
Guests could also step outside and view an impressive crane demo from Lifting Equipment Solutions.
6. Let Me Tell You About Our Programs
It’s all about the programs at IRE. Manufacturers connected with their contractors on a personal level to spread awareness about the tools they use to make their jobs easier. Whether discussing warranties or loyalty programs, manufacturers made it their primary goal to inform their audience.
The expo also presented opportunities for manufacturers to connect with new contractors and educate them on their tool kits, special offers and marketing materials.
Overall, 2017 IRE was, once again, a relationship show. Manufacturers showed contractors how to install, talked about their consumer marketing materials, showed their products in action and taught them about their warranties, programs and toolkits. The end goal was to connect with contractors and give them resources to streamline their efforts in the field — all while having a lot of fun.
After attending the AIA Conference on Architecture 2018, I put together my key takeaways from the show floor. All in all, manufacturers need to take more steps to invest in innovation and conceptual ideas. The brands that do this are standing out amongst the crowd. Also, education is huge but it’s all about providing real knowledge, not product benefits. Make architects understand why these products help them with their projects. Keep reading to find out more.
Based on the energy and conversations coming out of some of the industry’s key shows, there’s a lot to look forward to for the rest of the year. First, we look at how to prepare for the inevitable ups and downs in the marketplace.