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The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) showed once again that its annual Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) remains the destination for kitchen and bath design professionals, designers, builders, technology integrators, dealers and kitchen and bath showroom professionals. More than 600 exhibitors presented their best to an enthusiastic audience at the Las Vegas Convention Center, February 19-21. Early, unverified estimates suggest an increase in attendance over the 2018 edition — the sixth consecutive year of attendee growth.
“NKBA is an all-industry association, and KBIS provides a platform for virtually everyone to have a voice,” said NKBA CEO Bill Darcy. “Over the three days of the show, the NKBA offers professional development, industry panels and experiential events that allow brands to showcase their products, educators to mentor and everyone to network and come away with renewed inspiration.”
“This year’s show introduced a number of new initiatives,” added Suzie Williford, executive vice president of industry relations and chief strategy officer, NKBA. “The Association is committed to its professional development programs, and our Voices From The Industry Conference, which runs concurrently throughout the show, was particularly robust this year. We also introduced our Specialty Badge program, which offers micro-credentials in a number of disciplines, and kicked off our #NextUp program that aims to build awareness of the opportunities in skilled trades.”
The NKBA booth showcased the association’s strategic imperatives: membership, marketplace and professional development. The booth featured a retrospective display of the history of the bath.
NKBA Highlights from KBIS 2019
The NKBA threw open its doors on the eve of the show’s first day with an opening party featuring the NKBA Design Competition and Industry Awards. This year, NKBA paid tribute to three members marking 50 years of certification in 2019, honored past and present chairmen, and inducted three members into the Kitchen & Bath Hall of Fame, including Williford. Also inducted were William “Skip” Woodall and, posthumously, Ann Morris, CMKBD. Host Kelli Ellis presented awards to winners of the professional and student design competitions, as well as the Innovative Showroom Awards. For a complete list of 2019 Professional Design Competition winners, visit the NKBA website.
The standing-room-only State of the Association address and State of the Industry panel discussion kicked off with NKBA CEO Bill Darcy speaking to the latest NKBA research study — the 2018-2019 NKBA Kitchen and Bath Market Outlook confirmed an industry of $158 billion in 2017, which is forecasted to grow in both 2018 and 2019. Darcy then welcomed a panel of experts who discussed issues of critical interest to the industry. Fox Business News Anchor Melissa Francis moderated the panel. She was joined by Dr. Markus Miele, Miele Group; Kevin Murphy, Ferguson Enterprises; Nick Fink, Fortune Brands; and Mark Stoever, 2020.
The keynote speaker was a return engagement by Interior Design magazine Editor in Chief Cindy Allen. This year, she brought three experts to join her in a lively discussion: designers Laura Bohn and Alison Damonte and architect Adam Rolston. For more information, visit the NKBA website.
The NKBA held two press conferences. Speakers Elle H-Millard, CKD, CLIPP, NKBA’s editor at large and a 2019 Insider, and Tricia Zach, the association’s market research analyst, presented the 2018-2019 NKBA Kitchen & Bath Market Outlook and the 2019 NKBA Design Trends. Then, Zach and Ryan Herd, a smart-home technology expert and 2019 NKBA Insider, presented the NKBA Kitchen Technology Awareness & Usage Report.
The 2019 NKBA Insiders and the 2019 Thirty Under 30 made their debuts on the KBISNeXT Stage. The Insiders program is part of NKBA’s continuing efforts to inspire, lead, and empower the kitchen and bath industry by hand-selecting thought leaders to represent the association, each with their own specialty. To meet the 2019 NKBA Insiders, visit the NKBA website. The 2019 Thirty Under 30 class, the future rock stars of kitchen and bath, made their first appearance as a group. Each year, the newly inducted class is tasked with a project at KBIS. This year, they chose the winners of the inaugural 30s Choice Awards. The class was split into 10 teams of three and combed the show floor in search of the best products and innovation in a range of categories. For a full list of the Thirty Under 30 Class of 2019, visit the NKBA website. For categories and awardees, click here.
NKBA hosted the first Certified Designers Luncheon, a networking event that drew more than 100 certified designers. The featured speaker was Ellen Cheever, CMKBD, ASID, CAPS, CLIPP, a longtime member of the NKBA, a designer, textbook author, teacher, researcher and 1992 inductee into the Kitchen & Bath Hall of Fame. The luncheon will return to KBIS 2020. For more information, visit the NKBA website.
Professional Development Programs
The NKBA unveiled its newest initiative as part of the comprehensive NKBA Education is Genius program — Specialty Badges. This micro-credential program is a form of focused learning that is available to all NKBA members. The first five specialty badges released at KBIS 2019 were Living in Place, Remodeling, Floor Plans & Specifications, Cabinetry and Sales & Marketing. To learn more, visit the NKBA website.
The Voices From The Industry panels were filled to capacity each day; 80 speakers held sessions on topics including Growing Your Business; Kitchen & Bath Specialty Training; Design; Management; Customer Service; Sustainability and Wellness, and Living in Place. The NKBA is accepting proposals for Voices From The Industry sessions for KBIS 2020 through May 17. For criteria and submission form, visit the NKBA website.
The Living In Place Institute, a strategic partner of the NKBA, presented the Showcase for Living In Place. A number of brands and design professionals presented programs and products designed to deliver a better quality of life for anyone regardless of physical ability and reducing accidents in kitchens and baths. The institute offers educational and certification programs to design and construction professionals desiring CLIPP certification (Certified Living In Place Professional), available exclusively through NKBA.
Skilled Labor/NKBA’s #NextUp
The NKBA hosted a number of initiatives at KBIS celebrating the next generation of industry professionals. At the KBISNeXT Stage, the association again partnered with This Old House, supporting its Generation Next campaign—a program that encourages and empowers young people to join the skilled trades. A panel discussion, moderated by Richard Trethewey, plumbing and heating expert for “Ask This Old House TV,” discussed the importance of addressing the skilled labor crisis and encouraged the audience to support efforts that entice the younger generation to consider skilled labor trades as a career option. Following the panel was a Cheers for Trade Careers cocktail hour and raffle; proceeds went to the Skilled Labor Fund.
Separately, the NKBA invited 150 local high school students to attend the NKBA #NextUp event. The program included a panel discussion moderated by Karl Champley, an Australian master builder and TV personality who is currently appearing on “Ellen’s Design Challenge.” The panel featured design and construction professionals who have pursued and been successful in a skilled trade. Following the discussion, students toured the show floor to see first-hand the fascinating products and innovations the industry has to offer. Afterward, the students were treated to a networking lunch.
As a founding member of Design & Construction Week, and in collaboration with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), KBIS co-located with the International Builders’ Show (IBS) for the sixth consecutive year. KBIS 2020 will return to Las Vegas Jan. 21–23.