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North America’s National Kitchen and Bathroom Association are coming to the InstallerSHOW

The NKBA is the all-encompassing body that represents the KBB sector of North America, an industry worth an estimated $173 billion. Their interest in the InstallerSHOW was piqued by the introduction of kitchen and bathroom areas at the event and we were naturally interested to become one of NKBA’s strategic alliance partners. With NKBA having a presence at InstallerSHOW for the first time this year, Andy Bishop recently had a chat with NKBA’s Global Connect consultant Sherry Qualls to find out more.

Hello Sherry, thanks for taking the time to talk to me today, please can you give me a little background about the NKBA.
The NKBA was first established 61 years ago to represent the KBB sector in North America (USA and Canada) and we have grown and grown ever since. We have 15000 active members, and we represent the industry as a whole; manufacturers, distributors, retailers, showrooms and installers.

Having been around for so long we are conscious that we always have to move with the times and stay relevant and whilst we are the only ‘all industry’ association, we appreciate collaborating with other vertical associations like the American Home Appliance Association and the Natural Stone Institute (NSI) who are so important to our industry with their emphasis on compliance, education and more in specific vertical sectors.

In such a massive market, how do you keep your members in touch with what’s going on?
Professional development for us is huge and education is key. Our professional programmes include certification, educational units, showroom specialist education, new products, professional resource library (PRL) and more

Each year the NKBA also conducts extensive proprietary market research that includes data on current and future economic factors, design trends, sustainability etc all of which is available in annual reports for all of our members.

The NKBA covers a vast area, your work must be pretty challenging?
We do indeed, and we work extensively to ensure we represent as much of the industry as possible. The U.S. has many different climates and cultures, even more when including Canada. Every year we bring the industry together with our KBIS event in Las Vegas that features over 600 exhibiting companies showing thousands of products, so this helps us (and everyone else) to keep abreast of what’s happening. Plus, we collaborate with other organisations like the High Point Market Authority, Chicago Merchandise Mart (the MART) and the Architects & Designers Building to host events that bring together KBB professionals and the design community in other  cities like Chicago or New York. We also break down geographical areas across North America into 70 chapters who host regional events and design awards. There are literally hundreds of NKBA Chapter events across North America each year.

How are the NKBA represented outside of the U.S. and Canada?
For decades we have seen international brands come to the U.S. and fail in their attempts to break into the market – through lack of knowledge of the regions, lack of connections etc. Despite sometimes huge investment, they would ultimately be unsuccessful which is not a good situation for anyone. So, seven years ago we launched an initiative called Global Connect to assist global manufacturers to establish themselves in the American market.

So internationally you work as a Consulting company for KBB brands?
Yes.  The NKBA, our Global Connect Advisors and we have extensive and deep knowledge of the industry.  Our North American KBB market relies heavily on interior designers, architects, kitchen and bath designers to create the spaces in which we live.  It’s unlike anywhere else in the world, our reliance on these specifiers and influencers.  Consumers – especially those with higher budgets – engage a designer and/or architect as part of their remodelling process.  For manufacturers, making connections with these professionals is very important.  Additionally, understanding the role of how the design professionals engage with showrooms, dealers, fabricators and other fitters is also critical.

We have established a thoughtful strategy that offers access to subject matter experts through our Advisors and Consultants, access to the NKBA market research and tracking data, and concierge support for programs and activations leading up to and including KBIS.  Currently we are working with about 80 international KBB manufacturers.

We mentioned earlier that the InstallerSHOW is now one of NKBA’s Strategic Alliance partners – who else do you work with around the world?
In the UK we have excellent relationships with the BMA, Lyrical Communications and BiKBBI plus great contact across the world including Asociación de Mobiliario de Cocina in Spain, VDM and AMK in Germany, Centro Rochas in Brazil and CEIR for the EU. We are very excited about these relationships as we can and do share insights and realities about each other and our market opportunities and challenges.

Finally, what can we expect from NKBA at the InstallerSHOW?
Firstly, we are very excited to be taking part in the event this year, it has come about through our close contact with InstallerSHOW’s David Ventris Field and Tom Reynolds at the BMA. We will be presenting a seminar at the BMA bathroom stage all about understanding the American market. Content will include design trends, economic factors, lifestages and lifestyles in North America. We will also be revealing new findings of this year’s research and lessons learned from the recent KBIS event.

25th June at 11am – BMA Bathroom Stage – Understanding the American Market
Elsewhere at the InstallerSHOW we will be hosting some round table discussions on the BiKBBI stand where those interested can come to chat about the U.S. market. We also have a stand at the show with NKBA representatives available to discuss opportunities in North America. Please be sure to come and say howdy!

For more information head to nkba.org.

Find the NKBA stand at the InstallerSHOW at 4A18.

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