I attended the International Builders Show last year in Las Vegas. They hosted over 1700 exhibitors to include ones from the Kitchen and Bath Show (KBIS). This year due to COVID-19, the show is online with just over 300 exhibitors. I remember hearing whispers about COVID-19 when I was at the show in Vegas last year. However, I had no idea what the rest of the year was going to be like. Fortunately, I interviewed quite a few amazing vendors so I could create some videos for my clients. The primary purpose was to talk to key manufacturers about products that my clients need for their houses. I got lucky. Those interviews got over 100K views over the past year. This year I was invited to attend with a “press pass.” I am also interviewing for our sister company and green building directory- Rate It Green.
Even though there are less exhibitors, it is still impossible to see all 300+. When there was 1700, I was barely able to talk to 100 or so and had to walk miles to even accomplish that feat. This time, I get to do all of these interviews from the comfort of my home office. The main thing that I miss from last year is the catered food and after hours events.
This year’s show is online for obvious reasons. I did hear that the first day was pretty rocky due to some technical glitches, however, I did not notice. I was fortunate enough to have interviews lined up off the platform before the show started. Here are a few of the highlights of the video interviews that took place on February 9th.
All of these will be posted on our YouTube channel once they are edited.
The first interview was with Johnathan Brill of Infinity Drain. It was a great start to the day, especially since they had such a great story to tell. Aside from being a great product, they had several key points that resonated with me.
Made in the USA
As a Veteran, this gave me goosebumps. The trend is for many manufacturers to take their production overseas. Fortunately, some of them found it more advantageous to stay here in the US. A term that is used quite often in the green building world is “resilience.” While this is commonly applied to buildings, this is the application to companies as well.
Jonathan told me that other manufactures were struggling with supplies since their operations were global. Due to their ability to source and manufacture in the US, Infinity Drain did not experience these same supply chain issues. Since they are made in the US and the materials are also US-based, they could keep up with contractor demands in 2020 and 2021.
In addition to not having supply chain issues, they also introduced some bold initiatives. They created a “next day” custom program for many of their products. This is especially important for showers that are designer grade and need a linear drain that does not have a reveal around it.
Taking care of their neighbors
As we all know, this pandemic has impacted many families, and as a result, “food insecurity” is more of an issue. We only had a short period of time for our interview. Regardless, Jonathan used a large part of that time to talk about community outreach instead of sharing the benefits of their product.
You would think that their commitment to “Made in the USA” was enough. No- they want to feed their neighbors as well. Jonathan was restless, seeing the news that his neighbors were hungry, so he had to get involved. His company now helps prepare 1000 “warm” meals/ month to be delivered to those who need it.
Good job Infinity Drain!
Cradle to Cradle
Their shower pans are made from stainless steel, which is 100% recyclable. They repurpose 100% of the scraps in the manufacturing process. When you renovate the space decades from now, you can either send the metal back to Infinity Drain, OR you can recycle it at a local scrapyard.
Just like Infinity Drain, Broan-Nutone manufacturer in the US, or North America. I was even reminded of this on our YouTube channel comment section by several of their workers when I reviewed another similar ventilation project. The sense of pride is strong with their staff, which means they care about quality and innovation.
David Jones, Senior Marketing Manager for Broan was kind enough to share some of their newest product lines with me. They’ve been busy, especially with new ways to keep your air clean in your house. They have a new bath fan that kills bacteria, an ERV that is self-balancing, and sensors that monitor for bad air.
OVERTURE Connected Indoor Air
These sensors monitor bad indoor air quality (IAQ). They can detect microparticles, CO2, and humidity, to name a few. Most sensors give you the data, and you have to take action. These not only give you alerts, but they also take action. They are connected to the exhaust fans in your house and will turn on the nearest fan to immediately exhaust the bad air out of the space.
Disco Bath Fan
David took the time to go through all of their social media channels and mentioned that they were not on Tik Tok (yet). Neither is SawHorse. The next slide in his presentation was a bath fan that changed colors to encourage kids to use it. It is called the NuTone® ChromaComfort™ w/ Sensonic™ Stereo Bluetooth® Speaker. I forgot to mention that it also has a speaker! I’m pretty sure this will be the first item showcased when they launch their Tik Toc channel. Check out this video describing it.
Here is a link to what it looks like on Amazon with a full description. I see that it is blue tooth enabled, so I wonder if you can control it when you are not in the bathroom. It sounds like you can create a “custom experience” for your guests.
Broan® AI Series™ 160 CFM Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV)
David also told me about one of their newest products that can help bring fresh air into your home. I wrote a piece on how ERV’s work for Rate It Green just in case you are not familiar with them. Broan’s video below does a great job explaining the benefits of this ERV. It can also be connected to the OVERTURE IAQ sensors that I described in the first section.
When I first agreed to this interview, I was expecting to see another floor that you can use to heat your bathrooms only. I was NOT expecting the amazing talk that I had with Monica Irgens, the Electro Plastics president.
Her husband developed a self-regulating PTC semi-conductive polymer. What did he do this? It was not to help us keep our feet warm in the winter. It was in response to a death in a car that caught fire when the seat warmer malfunctioned. Now they have expanded into other markets such as heating floors and boats with this amazing technology. They are even helping keep critical components warm in frigid climates for “Uncle Sam.”
How is it self regulating?
Once we edit and share the video, you will see Monica doing an amazing job explaining exactly how it works. My takeaway is that when their product expands, it does not heat up as much. This allows for it to be safe in applications where there is wood or carpet, unlike other metal resistance coils. It is also much more energy efficient to operate than standard heated floors.
I’m not going to lie- we had a great interview for 60 minutes with James Sanduski, president at SHARP Home Electronics Company of America, and Peter Weedfald, SVP of Sales and Marketing SHARP Home Appliances. We covered all of the features of their kitchen appliances and how they are energy efficient. We also spoke about some of their air purifiers that help filter and reduce indoor air pollution. There will be 4-5 videos later just on what they talked about.
They saved the best news for last
At minute 60 min mark in the interview, I commented on how our boys love to cook popcorn in the microwave. They replied that theirs are Alexa enabled. I could imagine my 9-year old telling the microwave what to do from the next room!
When they heard that, they said that they have been coordinating with the brand, Orville Redenbacher, to create the perfect microwave popcorn experience. Once where the popcorn does not burn or where the microwave does not leave an excess of unpopped kernels.
Yes- I did like their new appliances designs and IAQ. However, how can you beat perfect popcorn?
We are meeting with another 15 or manufacturers during the show and will share their stories this weekend.
Looks out for new videos on our Youtube channel over the next few weeks documenting some of these unique and exciting products. We will also be creating pieces related to all-electric homes and healthy homes for Rate It Green.