Belgard takes great pride in paving the way for innovation in the hardscapes industry. In addition to maintaining a robust Research & Development program, Belgard and the Oldcastle APG family of brands recognize the importance of trade events in identifying and anticipating trends, challenges and needs for this ever-evolving industry. With that in mind, members of the Oldcastle APG team spent a considerable amount of time hosting industry events and attending first quarter trade shows to keep a finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the worlds of outdoor design and installation. For those who were unable to make the trek to any trade shows in person, the following recaps offers some key takeaways from a few of the larger shows.
International Roofing Expo – Nashville, TN
The largest and most influential trade event in the roofing construction and maintenance industries, this annual trade show showcases a wealth of innovations, resources and education opportunities. Key learnings from this show included:
- Labor challenges: As with other segments of the construction world, the roofing industry is suffering from labor workforce and training challenges. The Westile® rooftop paver pedestal installation system garnered a lot of interest for its ease of installation in converting commercial rooftops to usable plaza space. In addition, Westile offers a layout service that provides component counts and installation details to help reduce the training burden.
- Wearable communication devices: In general, the industry is relying on technology more with each passing year. The hottest trend noted at the show in this area was the increased use of wearable mobile communication devices for work crews.
- Estimating software: Another technology trend is the increase in demand for estimating software to improve jobsite efficiency.
- Sustainable design: The demand for eco-friendly construction materials continues to increase. For commercial roofing solutions, Westile is able to meet this need with IPE Bison Wood Roofing Tiles that are sustainably harvested from Brazilian forests and can provide FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) documentation upon request.
Southern Living Home Summit – Savannah, GA
The custom homebuilder program developed by Southern Living magazine is now in its 26th year. Their annual summit brings together builders and suppliers for two days of networking and educational opportunities on topics that range from design trends to marketing tips. The hot topics at this year’s summit were:
- Labor shortages: As this issue is also affecting the home builder industry, builders and developers were interested in learning about the amount of Research and Development that Belgard is currently putting into technologies to improve efficiencies. Belgard already offers multiple pavers that can be machine laid, with more styles in development. Another example of time-saving technology is the Belgard Design Studio, which can save design and estimating time for builders by providing 3-D Virtual Reality outdoor living designs that aid in product estimating.
- Stormwater management: This year’s summit was hosted in the city of Savannah, Georgia, which is currently dealing with a stormwater management problem and has implemented new initiatives in recent years to address the issue. Many of the builders in attendance also expressed concern regarding this issue in their own markets. Belgard provided an educational session on managing stormwater with permeable pavers, including an example of a home that was heavily damaged in the catastrophic Houston floods from Hurricane Harvey in 2017. The presentation included a video of local news coverage that demonstrated the effectiveness of the rebuilt home’s new permeable driveway during a heavy rain.
KHOU News Coverage on Permeable Paver Driveway
International Builders Show – Las Vegas, NV
Organized by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), IBS is the largest light construction building industry trade show in the United States. The three-day event focuses on the needs, concerns and opportunities that face builders. In addition to same stormwater and labor issues noted at the Southern Living Home Summit, the following trends were highlighted:
- Mixed-materials: Builders note an uptick in buyers looking for an eclectic use of mixed materials in outdoor design. With Belgard hardscapes and MoistureShield® composite decking under the same Oldcastle APG umbrella, the ordering process becomes simpler for designs that incorporate both elements, like a deck with a paver landing or a front porch with a paver walkway.
- Fire pits: It will surprise no one that fire pits are still a hot trend. However, this after-market trend is now making its way into new construction as a popular upgrade. Belgard meets this need with easy-to-install fire pit kits (with new styles in development), as well as a wide variety of retaining wall products that can be used to build custom fire features.
- Durable outdoor materials: Today’s homeowners don’t want to have to deal with maintenance issues—and with the shortage of labor, neither do builders who offer a warranty. That’s why of the 2,000-plus exhibitors, MoistureShield® Vision® composite decking was chosen by both LBM Journal and Family Handyman as one of this year’s hot new products from the show. This revolutionary product offers a natural variegated woodgrain texture in trend-forward color options with the added features of CoolDeck® technology and the durability to withstand being installed directly on the ground and even under water. MoistureShield was also featured on Las Vegas’ Morning Blend morning news show on KTNV.
Family Handyman IBS Highlight Video
Las Vegas Morning Blend
Northeast Hardscape Expo – Providence, RI
This annual show focuses on hardscape industry innovations, trends and business-building techniques. The two-day event provides valuable networking, training and continuing education opportunities. The following items were hot topics at this year’s show:
- Time-saving innovations: One way to address installer labor shortages is through time-saving tools, products and installation techniques. Paver-placing tools drew a lot of interest for their ability to both speed installation and reduce worker fatigue. Contractors were also interested in learning about products like the new thinner profile option of Cambridge Cobble® pavers, which can work together with Techniseal® DriBond™ dry mudset to overlay existing concrete and eliminate the time and cost of concrete removal for renovation projects.
- New paver color technologies: Visitors to the Belgard booth were intrigued by the new color technologies available. Examples include Belgard new TrueColor™ technology, a premium protectant integrated into several Belgard pavers that enhances the color and makes pavers more resistant to everyday wear. Attendees were also drawn to new Provence® Slab, made using Belgard’s new Satura™ color technology, which creates stunning tone variegations that result in the most natural-looking manufactured stone pavers on the market.
- Design trends: Contemporary “greige” tones and linear design elements drew the most interest at the show. Examples include linear fire pits, Madria™ Slab large scale plank-style pavers, new modular Brookshire™ Wall, and various styles of Belgard Porcelain Pavers.
- Hardscape lighting: More homeowners are looking for complete outdoor design packages that incorporate elements like hardscape lighting. Visitors to the Belgard booth were excited to learn about Belgard’s new partnership with Tru-Scapes Lighting to help address this need.
- OSHA Compliance: Belgard offered several well-attended education sessions at the show, but the session that peaked the most interest was Joe Raboine’s presentation on how OSHA’s new Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard affects business practices for hardscape installation contractors.