While there were thousands of manufacturers on hand showing off the latest in hardware and home improvement products at the International Hardware Fair in Cologne, Germany, for American retailer Tim Buchheit, browsing the exhibition halls is only a small part of why he attends the show.
“I don’t just look at the International Hardware Fair as a place where I get to see products,” says Buchheit, who operates Missouri-based Buchheit Enterprises and has attended the last two International Hardware Fairs. Buchheit operates general store-style home improvement stores in Illinois and Missouri.
“For me it is also an opportunity to engage with manufacturers, retailers and other members of the global home improvement community on a much more personal level.”
At this year’s show, Buchheit was able to have meaningful meetings with a number of suppliers as well as retailers from around the globe, he says.
“After attending the event two years ago I really got more involved in some of the international organizations like the International Hardware Association (IHA) and I recognized the value this kind of relationship can bring to my business,” he says.
Buchheit, who serves on the board of directors for the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA), also recently became involved as the North American representative to IHA.
“The networking through organizations like NRHA and IHA has really paid dividends for my business,” he says. “At first, the value in attending an international event like this might not be so apparent, but for me, the meetings and networking alone make it a value to attend. Had I not attended the International Hardware Fair two years ago, I don’t know if I ever would have gotten involved with IHA and I would have missed out on the benefits of that relationship.”
The International Hardware Fair takes place every other year in Cologne, Germany, and is among the largest home improvement industry trade shows in Europe. This year the event ran March 6-8. For more information, visit www.eisenwarenmesse.com.