Top Takeaways from 2024 IBS, KBIS, IRE, AHR Expo, and World of Concrete

Top Takeaways from 2024 IBS, KBIS, IRE, AHR Expo, and World of Concrete

Here are some initial takeaways we’ve gathered from 2024 trade shows to provide you with insights on where our industry may be heading this year and next. For starters, KBIS, IBS, IRE, AHR Expo, and World of Concrete all saw high attendance and high energy to kickoff 2024, and it only gets better from there.

With a new year comes a new season for building, home improvement and lawn & garden trade shows. Some are massive, covering anything and everything, such as the International Builders' Show. Others are targeted, focused on specific trades or categories, such as the International Roofing Expo.

The Farnsworth Group team members at International Builders' Show 2024; Adam Mowrey, Dave King, Grant Farnsworth, Taylor Pence

The Farnsworth Group is hyper-focused on the building, home improvement and lawn & garden industries, which is why we attend many of these events.

We attend trade shows for the following reasons:

  1. To understand traffic and sentiment: How well are these shows attended? Who is walking the floor? What is the mood among the attendees?
  2. To understand the customer: Which products and which exhibits are resonating the most? Why? What are the challenges are they are facing?
  3. To see products and trends: What are manufacturers showcasing? What design, installation or building trends are constant themes?

Here are some initial takeaways we’ve gathered from 2024 trade shows to provide you with insights on where our industry may be heading this year and next.

The Overall Building Products Industry Sentiment Is Positive

The 2024 International Builders’ Show was the highest attended show in the last 15 years, and the packed showroom floors reverberated with energy and excitement for the home improvement and building products industry. KBIS, The International Roofing Expo (IRE), AHR Expo, and World of Concrete also saw high attendance and high energy to kickoff 2024.

Aisles were shoulder to shoulder, which is always a good sign because it takes money to bring teams to these events. Energy was high and optimism was strong; our team spent time talking with many Pros who are busy and expect to be going forward. This boots on the ground sentiment aligns with what Pros have been reporting in the Q1 2024 Farnsworth Quarterly Contractor Index

Keep in mind the pros that invest in trade shows are often a self-selecting group that invest in their business and tend to have success. Even still, walking a show gives you a tangible sign of where our industry stands, and 2024 is looking bright.

Take into consideration, also, that manufacturers are beginning to receive price pressure from suppliers, specifically retail. How, when, who will be impacted is yet to be seen. Pros at least want pricing stability and would certainly welcome some price relief.

Contractors Are Looking for Software Solutions to Product and Labor Challenges

Navigating material pricing will still be top of mind 2024, but the solutions showcased at the spring trade shows were more directional towards solving operational problems for Pro customers.

Labor will continue to be a challenge for years to come. Manufacturers and Suppliers should be supporting contractors by developing innovative solutions to take to market that will solve for reduced counts of skilled labor providers and simultaneously help reduce labor costs.

Some manufactures, like Pella, did a great job releasing innovation that was clearly tied to labor efficiencies. While other manufacturers had labor saving innovation, the communication of its benefits were widely lacking, which is a core area of focus that manufacturers need to understand and resolve in order to increase.

Manufacturers and suppliers must be a solution in helping today's pro solve for labor challenges and time constraints. With any efforts your team makes here, be sure to monitor the role that platform plays in tool selection along with the impact labor may have on increased software adoption.

Booths like Simpson Strong-Tie and Builders FirstSource were showcasing digital tools designed to help builders be more efficient by delivering what’s important in today’s market such as online ordering, availability, order tracking.  Pros were very engaged with those providing easy to use tech that solves a real problem.

The technologies and software solutions that continue to gain utilization among Pros include solutions for logistics, ordering, fleet management, and on the job tasks, all because each helps them gain efficiencies and effectiveness in their businesses.

Big players in the industry are still working to define and refine what it looks like to offer an effective contractor loyalty program.

All Channel Stakeholders Are Looking for the Best Ways to Connect with Homeowners

Grant Farnsworth, President of The Farnsworth Group, presenting on a panel at the 2024 International Builders' Show.

Effectively selling building products through the channel means that each stakeholder in the value chain should be aligning efforts to improve the purchase journey of the end-customer.

Pros are looking for the right communication method to reach the right homeowner at the right time. Market research from our team at The Farnsworth Group shows the increased utilization of social media among younger DIYers and its impact on decisions. However, there is no one solution. 

Pros must position themselves in multiple marketing channels and provide multiple contact means to cater to various generations of homeowners. The Pros that build the right systems to bring Homeowners further in the funnel for conversion will have better job pipelines. 

The same goes for manufacturers and suppliers; every stakeholder in the building products industry value-chain needs to be providing various avenues for contact and servicing to their various customers.

Visualizers and softwares are being introduced by more and more suppliers as they up-level existing capabilities and as some companies also bring in new talent from outside industries.

Product Category Specific Takeaways


The 2024 AHR Expo also brought in high attendance and positive sentiment was shared among many HVAC contractors. Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is still front and center along with control integration. Smart, healthy homes are homeowner requirements not nice to haves.

Building automation systems (BAS) also continue to gain traction in the marketplace, as they have for several years now. Despite adoption of technological advancements, there is still a distinct need for indoor air quality related training and certification program adoption in the HVAC industry.

Power Tools

Power tool manufacturers have been emphasizing the value of primarily two of their product attributes among Pros - speed and battery.

Speed - exhibiting product manufacturers were emphasizing the speed of install, speed of changing blades, etc. This equates to reduced labor on the site, which equals cost reduction and need for less labor. Pros will continue looking for time saving solutions, especially when demand returns towards the end of 2024 and beginning of 2025.

Battery - It’s no surprise that battery powered product options continue to increase in power tools. DEWALT, Milwaukee Tool, Bosch Professional Power Tools and Accessories, Makita U.S.A., Inc. were all showcasing the power of their battery platform with some new product launches. 

Larger format machines are getting in the battery operated mix as well as customer perceptions of battery vs. gas powered outdoor power equipment continue to become more positive over time.

One thing we’d suggest you consider: pay attention to the importance of 'Power'. At what point is it ubiquitous and the category is forced to find other ways to differentiate?

Doors and Windows

One can’t help but notice when walking the central hall of the International Builders’ Show the sheer number of door and window exhibitors, and this year, even more attention was draw due to the sheet size of many of their displays. Many window and door manufacturers are going big and bulking out product lines with large door and large window solutions, designed to capture current market demand for the integration of indoor and outdoor living spaces.


Sales reps on the show floor were pointing out the integrated docking stations and docking drawers that cabinet designers have been adding to various cabinet lines. Sales people are reporting these features to be more of an added bonus for homeowners who are undertaking remodeling projects. This aligns with what our researchers are seeing as trends in the cabinet market. Consumer demand for space-saving storage that makes the most of small spaces is expected to continue to drive cabinet product demand as well.

Paint and Coatings

Hues of natural color palettes were seen throughout the product categories, but were especially showcased by kings of color including Sherwin-Williams. Many exhibitors showcased their product line use in exterior painting projects, which makes sense as data from The Home Improvement Research Institute shows a 44% increase in demand for exterior painting projects, but a 33% decrease in demand for interior painting projects over the past decade.

Tiles and Countertops

Natural stones are in, and, similarly, large slabs are being preferred by architects because of a penchant towards more seamless designs. Designers and architects are happily using these vogue materials in their design specs; a possible challenge for actual installation may be the manpower required on the job site to handle the large slabs and heavy materials, which could result in some value-engineering during the build phase of projects.

Plumbing and Electrical

Homeowner interest in products that help them monitor for issues has continued to drive product innovation, integration, and iteration. It’s not just a matter of having the sensors either; controls integration is a critical component for aligning with use cases and acting as a purchase driver.


Grant Farnsworth Presenting on the Home Improvement Industry Fundamentals at International Roofing Expo 2024
Grant Farnsworth Presenting on the Home Improvement Industry Fundamentals at International Roofing Expo 2024

Especially at IRE, we saw more solar options, but not as much advancement in this area from manufacturers already producing products. Solar options are delivering on homeowners' aesthetic desires by being more seamless and blended into the roof line.

Beyond, solar, metal roofing options continue to gain sales and take share of the roofing market. Like solar, metal roofing is meeting homeowner requirements for improved aesthetics but also providing value add. Many metal roofing manufacturers are leveraging sustainability as that added value and reason for consideration.

Rough Building Materials

Several exhibiting manufacturers that provide rough building materials focused their displays heavily on different kinds of educational displays for the Pros that were in attendance, which helped keep show attendees at the booth while waiting to speak with a sales rep at the booth.

Modular Home Construction

Another solution for the labor challenge has been the reintroduction of modular solutions at category levels, like in the decking, fencing, and railing space, but also at a whole home level.

“At the ProBuilder Show Village, the modular home product was prominent and has made some big leaps over the years going from a "box" for $60k to full homes for $199k. It will be interesting to see how modular advances.” - Adam Mowrey, The Farnsworth Group

Positioning Your Brand to Capture Market Demand

Determining how to position your building products among various Pro and Homeowner segments is a constantly moving target. Conducting regular market research to understand your buyers, evaluate your brand messaging, and determine your best go-to-market strategy will remain increasingly important.

While the above are generalizations of what we’ve observed and confirmed while at various building products trade shows, we’re keen to discuss with you how customers are responding to specific forces within your building product category. We can discuss customer, market, and channel changes when you book a consultation.