By Daryl Holmes
Over 1400 exhibitors were present at this year’s show, which continues to grow in size and attendance. This show is a one-stop shop for anything and everything related to the sustainable construction and green building industry. The timber zone was much larger than last year indicating that the profile of timber use in construction is becoming more and more prominent in this marketplace. Many countries local to this market boasted large pavilions showcasing their products. BC manufacturers were represented in collaboration with a combined Canadian Pavilion which featured companies from all across Canada.
The following information summarizes the show and my market observations as they pertain to the value added wood industry beginning with the core feedback that directly impacts you the member.
Where do the sales prospects lie?
The timber zone at the show was visited by a wide spectrum of key industry members including architects, designers, developers, planners, and builders. Our display focused on showcasing Engineered Wood Products, Log Home and Timber Frame structures, PreBuilt Housing, and Remanufactured Products. While these products were of primary interest to the attendees who visited us, I also received interest in high-end millwork and high-end furniture products. Yes, distribution of some BC products is already mature and well established in the UK; however, it was interesting to speak with a number of industry professionals who were interested in dealing direct with the manufacturer to develop project based relationships and partnerships.
Attendees from all across the UK, Ireland, and Europe were present at the show and in particular geographic areas like Eastern Europe, the Emirates, and Middle East were well represented. I spoke to a number of project managers and resort developers who were interested in making contact with Canadian companies to discuss upcoming construction plans. On the local UK scene there remains an appetite for wood products and due to the focus of the show, there is no surprise that timber and timber products lead the pack as the first choice in construction. In this market, building industry professionals and consumers alike extol the virtues of Timber. The viewpoint in the UK is: Timber Products = Natural, Traditional, Sustainable, and Climate Friendly.
How do I access these opportunities?
Gaining access to these opportunities is not easy and by no means a short-term outcome. The key to having your products and services gain profile in this competitive marketplace is to invest in a market strategy that puts you and your products in the path of these key decision makers and sales opportunities. Resources in today’s marketplace are scarce and it is difficult for local BC manufacturers to reach every offshore market. However, there are cost effective solutions that enable you to maximize your financial resources. By participating in BC Wood programs, you will be able to gain first hand access and engagement in this marketplace. For those of you not able to travel to the market, the most crucial component of your market access strategy is to secure local representation on the ground in this market. Whether you choose to hire a local representative or to partner with your peers, the engagement of a local industry professional is essential to getting your products exposure to the key people in Europe. Based upon the feedback and results from this show, I cannot emphasize enough how important this is. Relying on your website, word of mouth, and repeat sales alone will not enable you to expand your scope of sales opportunities in this large geographic market.
Does EcoBuild Deliver?
Attendance at trade shows is a much talked about subject amongst you and your peers. As an industry member for many years I have attended many shows of which some have been well worthwhile and others, well, let’s just say they have not lived up to the hype of the show organizers. To assist you in your efforts to make well informed decisions on how to plan your marketing strategy, I offer some feedback on this show.
The show’s reputation as a signature event on the trade exhibition calendar was evident as we hosted visitors at the booth from all over Europe. London is a huge hub for development, design, and project planning. Along with qualified contacts from all over the UK and Ireland, attendees from France, Germany, Norway, Estonia, Ukraine, Belgium, The Netherlands, Latvia, Austria, Finland, Spain, and Italy showed interest in products from BC’s value-added manufacturers. As mentioned earlier, we spoke to professionals from UAE, Eastern Europe, and Middle East as well. We were busy at the show, the aisles were full and those whom we spoke to were predominantly qualified contacts. My goal at each show is to access the gate keepers and decision makers. These individuals were at this show and were not just kicking tires.
A bonus of this show is the fact it is a 3 day event which allows you, the member, to conduct pre and post show meetings and site visits with prospective clients, and only be away from home for 7 days. Would this be a show I would recommend? Yes. With the right amount of planning, industry partnership, and pre-show engagement in this market, you would gain valuable business to business sales opportunities; enough for sure, to gain a return on your investment.
Upcoming events in the Europe market include TurkeyBuild (May 2-6), Holzhaus, Moscow (Nov 9-13), and BAU, Germany (Jan 17-20, 2012). For more information, contact BC Wood or email me at email@example.com