Last week I presented at the International Window Covering Expo (IWCE) in Charlotte, NC. This is a major trade show for our industry with hundreds of exhibitors from all over the world. The show also offers dozens of classes and seminars in all areas of our businesses such as marketing, installation, fabrication, sales techniques, coaching and so much more. I always look forward to learning about new products and services as well as making new friends and reconnecting with existing ones.

If I had to summarize the show in one word it would be Motorization!

Hands down, our industry definitely has embraced the power of automation. A very close second place would be networking. Social media has eliminated geographical distance. Connections and interactions between peers from all over the globe are something common these days.

Below, I am going to share some major takeaways from the show that I believe were worth the investment of my time and money.

Bond Bridge

As mentioned earlier, remote-controlled window treatments are not new anymore. Virtually every manufacturer offers automated lift options for their products. However, if the client falls in love with products from different vendors, it may create a nightmare for the dealer. Let’s be honest: it is not convenient to bring multiple brands under one project, especially when you need different remote controls for each brand.

Thank God, The Bond Bridge solves that problem. This hub connects several manufacturers under its app and offers a very smooth interface to the consumer. In other words: the Bond Bridge will “translate” different motor languages into one universal language that talks to dozens of different manufacturers.

And they offer additional products that can be connected too such as fireplaces, ceiling fans, and more. I highly suggest that you learn more about it here.

Spider Tools

In one of my classes, “What’s in my toolbox?”, I was sharing ways to have a drill handy and readily available for the installer. Some of my examples were the Monster Hook, a drill holster, and a clip.

One of the students suggested that I should check out the Spider Tool Holster company and I did. This company offers a locking system for tools that you can attach to your tool belt very easily and safely. Once you slide the tool into a groove, you can only release it with an intentional flip of the lever. As people say, a picture is worth a thousand words, so here’s a video to demonstrate the product in action.

The Power of Networking

I would not have come this far in the industry if it wasn’t for the support and knowledge shared by hundreds of peers and colleagues over the years. People are genuinely willing to help in this industry. It is so magical, that even potential competitors are willing to help a colleague out with knowledge and even on a job site. For that reason, several years ago, I created a Facebook group called Free Speech Window Covering Pros. Currently, we have more than 1,000 strong members sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Members are willing to pick up the phone at odd hours to rescue from a tough installation or steer you in the right direction from a product perspective. Our friendship grew so strong that a few years back, we decided to host a Free Speech Dinner during the IWCE show.

This year was no different and more than 50 members showed up for a great night of laughter and camaraderie. If you feel alone at times in this industry, I highly suggest that you join our group. It is a fantastic way to learn from some of the best pros in the industry. It’s completely free and open 24//7. You can check it out here.

As I say, we should always learn from each other, because nobody has time to make all the mistakes on their own. Investing time and money in yourself and your business always pays back dividends and recognition from family, peers, and clients.

I hope to see you next year at the convention and always remember: Never Stop Learning!