In January, BC Wood participated with one of its member companies in the BAU fair in Munich, January 14th -19, 2013. While the turnout from BC Wood members was disappointing, the fair itself was probably the best show I have attended in two or three years. The BAU fair, held every two years, is the largest building materials trade event in Europe. Other shows, especially those in Asia, claim larger numbers; however, their numbers are pumped up based on the practice of allowing the general public access to the show. The BAU fair is a strictly trade-only event and this past event attracted over 240,000 visitors to the six day show.
The BAU fair has a strong international draw with over 60,000 of the attendees coming from countries outside Germany and the bordering Western European countries. This year saw strong contingents from Russia, Ukraine, Latvia, Estonia, Scandinavia, Turkey, Dubai, and other countries within the Middle East. The BAU fair lived up to its reputation as the “architects fair” with close to 50,000 attendees coming from architectural, planning and, design offices.
The size of the BAU fair is staggering with the 180,000 square meters of occupied exhibition space spread over 14 different exhibition halls that showcased the products and services of 2060 exhibitors. In total, 41 different countries where represented in the BAU exhibition halls. The halls were arranged by product categories. BC Wood was located in the “wood building systems” hall along with another 75-80 exhibitors. This arrangement works well as it tends to concentrate the buyers with a wood interest into two halls, ours and the one next door showcasing wood doors, windows, and flooring systems.
The traffic at the BC Wood booth was busy, many times a crowd two or three deep were in front or our booth waiting to talk to someone. This fact was a little astonishing considering that we did not have a display that was anywhere near as elaborate or as large as some of our neighbors. I think the fact that the Canadian flag was prominent and that we had a cross section from a cedar log home on display helped to pull the buyers in. People felt drawn to come into the booth to touch and smell the cedar. Many people did not even know the name of the species, but they did know that they liked it and the conversations started from there. I also think flying the “maple leaf” was important as our booth attracted a far higher proportion of attendees from outside of Germany. Almost 50% on the visitors to the BC Wood booth were from outside Germany. The vast majority of inquiries we responded to were related directly to Western Red Cedar and log home and timber frame projects. The market for these two product categories remains strong within Western Europe, but, particularly, in the new emerging markets of Central and Eastern Europe.
So, to say that I was impressed with the BAU fair and the level of interest that BC Wood received at the fair would be an understatement. I would urge BC Wood members manufacturing log, timber frame, pre-built homes, and any Western Red Cedar products to seriously consider participating in the BAU fair when it comes around again in January of 2015. For more background and some additional observation on the BAU fair, please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.