I attended the Hanley Wood Journal of Light Construction (JLC) LIVE show which was recently held at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence. I had heard about this show but hadn’t had a chance to attend until now. This is a residential construction show focused on installers, contractors, remodelers and builders that would be categorized as smaller businesses.
This event actually grew out of individuals sharing experience and best practices in common locations like coffee shops, diners and lumber yard parking lots. Fifteen years ago, it was adopted and expanded by Hanley Wood but they kept the original idea of peer-to-peer sharing of information stories and strategies. This show is networking, business education and skill-building at it’s finest.
On first walking into the event I was struck immediately with a reassuring “buzz” which tells me that building professionals, at least in this segment, are beginning to see some recovery in the industry even if it means changing or expanding their focus and expertise.
A highlight of the show was the product demonstrations and installations taking place at the exhibit booths as well as in key areas of the show. Attendance at the demonstrations was overwhelming. The sessions were on topics such as:
- Weatherization/Window Installation Clinic
- Deck Building Workshop
- Drywall Inside and Out Clinic
- Energy Audits for Contractors
The aisles were packed with remodelers looking to learn new skills or improve skills especially with standard products, not necessarily looking for new products. I noticed the shift back to the basics. Instead of granite countertops and stylish bathroom fixtures, the focus is returning to energy efficiency and adding more usable living space. The downturn in the construction industry has probably pushed some regular home builders into remodeling and this show was a great place to pick up knowledge and best practices with regard to product installations which they may have sub-contracted out in the past.
This show also gave building professionals an opportunity to connect with manufacturers directly. Most remodelers and builders generally work through distributors so having this face-to-face time with manufacturers is an added plus.
From a manufacturer’s viewpoint wanting to solidly connect with the contractors and remodelers who serve as ambassadors of our brand and products with the homeowner, this event is a must attend.
Eric Nilsson is Vice President, Corporate Marketing for CertainTeed Corporation.