Engagement. It’s a concept we talk about a lot. From engaging customers in-store, to engaging prospects online and in advertising, and even engaging staff to take pride in their job. Improving engagement is something worthy of all of our time. And it’s something the NRLA will focus on during the next nine months leading up to the historic 125th annual LBM Expo, in Boston, Feb. 6-8, 2019.
What began 125 years ago as a “can’t-miss” week-long event attended by 10,000-plus lumber dealers has been impacted by the same closures, consolidations, and competition that is affecting the rest of the industry. It’s safe to say—after reviewing the candid feedback from retailers and exhibitors—that the LBM Expo needs some updating.
We received feedback from retailers that they love the networking and educational opportunities LBM Expo offers, but they need more. Retail attendees have told us they are looking for a more engaging experience on the show floor as well as show specials that will give the roughly 75% of retail attendees with buying power something to bring home with them.
From our exhibitors, we heard that the show is too long, and they would like to see more staff who are directly working with and selling their products. Exhibitors feel that if they can see those retail staff members, they can better educate them on their products, which will help retailers upsell customers.
It’s heartening to see that so many people care about the Association and the LBM Expo that they would provide such meaningful feedback. So, what’s next?
Well, it’s been a lot of information to sift through, but our staff and volunteers are excited to share with you the new vision for how we will be changing LBM Expo to make it the most valuable, engaging experience you and your team will have all year. Moving forward, NRLA’s LBM Expo is giving retailers the opportunity to “Experience the Future” through hands-on learning, world-class education, and valuable time with exhibitors that will help position all NRLA companies for future success.
Here are just a few of the changes for next year:
Our late-morning kick-off event—125 years in the making—will bring together retailers and exhibitors, providing insight on the future of our industry. At the event, you’ll hear from amazing speakers and learn what’s new at LBM Expo and some tips to get the most value from the show.
From Launch to Lunch
After the kick-off event, all attendees will be brought to lunch on the show floor. The informal lunch setting will give retailers and exhibitors a chance to reconnect and tease some of the new offerings they have in their booths before the show floor opens at noon.
All Hands on Deck, Plus Siding, Doors, Windows, and More
LBM Expo will be working with exhibitors to create the hands-on experiences retailers are asking for. But in addition to what will happen in-booth, we are excited to announce the addition of three interactive demo zones that will be located throughout the show floor.
Work Hard, Play Hard
We’ll close out the day with a cocktail hour before the show ends at 5 p.m. No activities
will be planned for that evening, allowing retailers and exhibitors to get together without any conflicts.
We know you are early risers, so Business Connect will again be held before the show floor opens. This event brings retailers and exhibitors together for one-on-one discussions and received excellent reviews last year.
Back to Business
When the show floor opens at 9 a.m., you’ll be ready to get back to business. We will have different interactive demo zones, a student recruitment fair, a celebration of our industry’s young lumber executives, and even some great Boston-area entertainment for your spouse, all before the show floor closes at 5 p.m.
The Big Event
After hours, the industry will come together to celebrate NRLA’s 125th Anniversary. The 125th Anniversary Task Force is planning an unforgettable event at the Marriott Copley.
The event will feature a big-name comedian, fantastic food and drink, and more (hey, I can’t give away all our surprises yet).
Eggs and Education
On Friday morning, retailers and exhibitors will have one more chance to experience world-class education, gather with old friends and those they met during the show, and have an excellent breakfast.
We’ve decided to keep the show floor closed on Friday. Exhibitors’ crates will be waiting at their booths first thing in the morning.
I hope you can see from these changes that the LBM Expo Committee, NRLA’s 125th Task Force, and many other hard-working volunteers and staff are not only listening but are enthusiastic about the improvements being made to LBM Expo. I look forward to sharing additional details about our plans with you over the next nine months. These are the first of many steps to evolve with the industry and the landscape of trade shows.
Finally, I wanted to thank you for your continued support of the NRLA and for giving us the opportunity to serve you.