The Builders show is always a great reminder of how much I love builders. They always seem to have just the right mix of do-goodness and can-do-it-ness.

While in Las Vegas last week, I split my time between the show floor and a number of carefully curated education sessions hosted by the NAHB. My goal? To interface with BUILDER readers and find new stories to share.

My personal "Best of IBS" goes to Mollie Elkman’s out-of-the-box Builder-to-Builder Tell All: Around the Country in 60 MinutesElkman understands that builders are most eloquent when frank. Encouraged by the rapid-fire nature of the session, the speakers delivered digestible and actionable takeaways for any builder in attendance. 

At the front of the room sat Ronda Conger, of Idaho-based CBH Homes; Rachel Flint, of Iowa’s largest builder Hubbell Homes; and Serge Goldberg, of Richfield Homes in Boulder, CO, all vibrant examples of forward-thinking leadership in the industry.

Conger, a natural presence on stage, sparked the most memorable grand finale I’ve seen at a trade show. When asked to expand on her remarks about company culture, #FlashMobIBS erupted around us. Did I dance in my seat? See for yourself!

Days later, however, what has me still reeling is the discovery of several ridiculously inspiring women in this industry. Virtual high-five to Rachel Flint, who cut through the proverbial glass ceiling in the room by sharing her experience of rising to leadership in a male-dominated industry. It was a brave moment that set the tone for a transformational session.

This year, I had ears out on the questions that keep us BUILDER editors awake at night. How can we make lovely places out of B and C sites? How can we make energy efficiency work for our business? And does anyone actually prefer induction to gas?

One theme that returned in 2015 with renewed fervor was the idea of builders as educators. As home sellers, we educate buyers on how to make the best investment (Hint: drop the acronyms). As home builders, can-doers are stepping into the educator role to guide municipalities toward smart land use. In their session Creating Community, Christopher Grady of Denver-based KEPHART, and Michael K. Medick AIA, of Alexandria, Va.-based BSB Design armed attendees with examples of projects that set a precedent in common sense.


I also had a part to play last week on the Hanley Wood products team Show Floor Attack plan. On Day 1, GE Appliances lured me to a kitchen demonstration on the promise of breakfast. Watching the Keurig I was reminded of a simple truth that may well drive the future of smart home technology: the human tendency toward laziness can inspire some of humanity’s greatest innovations.


More to come this week on lessons learned from IBS 2015, the cutest canine in Las Vegas, and more. Stay tuned.