I just returned from Orlando, Florida, the site of the 63rd International Builders Show. The National Homebuilders Association Convention is the second largest in the nation. Of course, it was relatively warm in Orlando but the real warmth came from over 110,000 fellow registrants, all associated with the homebuilding industry. Over 37 acres of exhibits, with aisles stretching almost twelve miles if you were to visit all the exhibitors. Over 250 educational programs and policy making committee meetings. Here's some highlights that made a strong impression on me personally.
I arrived to conduct two Pre-show educational courses. The University of Housing's presentation of IRM 1: Understanding Housing Markets and Consumers had forty-seven learners. Co-instructor Henry Thomas and I had actually never taught together before and students commented that we weaved our presentations together seamlessly, as if we had rehearsed for hours. I introduced Howe & Strauss' theory of generational identity milestones and it brought to life the course's section on demographics. If economics is classified as the dismal science, demographics is often labeled the dry science. But learners were challenged to know more when it became clear that if they are selling to the 50+ market they are likely to encounter three distinct generations. A presentation that works for one may offend the other, and vice versa. On the day before the show, the Train the Trainer program was sold out. This intensive course delivers presentation skills to subject matter experts who ever have to present in front of a group. It consistently rates among the highest of all courses offered by NAHB.
Three other events stand out: the Best in American Living Awards (BALA) showcased regional winners amongst the silver, gold and platinum award recipients in various categories. A new category, Best Smart Growth Community, really caught my eye. The following evening, The Nationals, the Oscars for the National Sales and Marketing Council, spotlighted excellence in sales and marketing in 54 categories, from Best Logo to Best Neighborhood. What really impressed the judges this year was a positive approach that used creativity. And the two highest personal awards from the Institute of Residential Marketing and the National Sales and Marketing Council were announced. Jean Ewell, MIRM, St. Louis, won the IRM's Trina Ripley Excellence in Education Award and Bonnie Alfriend, Pebble Beach, received the Bill Molster Award, the NSMC's lifetime achievement milestone. The morning of opening day, the IRM Induction Breakfast highlighted 47 new MIRMs, the largest graduating class ever and the new class of CMPs (Certified Marketing Professionals) and MCSPs (Master Certified New Home Sales Professionals) were given their pins. There are now 562 active members of the Institute of Residential Marketing.
Christians await the Second Coming of Jesus. If you were Muslim, one of the tenets of your faith would be that at least once in your life, you would visit Mecca. For Jews, the cry for thousands of years has been, "Next Year in Jerusalem." If you are in the building industry, you must attend the Builders Show at least once. Next year it's in Orlando before moving to Las Vegas for 2009.
I returned to my home base on the Outer Banks of North Carolina and the temperature hovered around the freezing mark. But inside, I still was warmed by the body heat of tens of thousands of fellow contributors to one of America's most vital industries, the homebuilding industry. Catch the fire in '08 between February 10-13. It's the peak of our industry, and as Zig Ziglar says, "I'll see you at the top!"