KBIS Reclaims its Crown as a Must-Attend Appliance Event

BrandSource merchants Grant Hancock (left) and Paul Roth (right) check out the new Load & Go top load washer with Whirlpool’s Mark Hecht and Jennifer Johnson.

By Alan Wolf, YSN

Unlike past years when appliance exhibitors were few and far between, last month’s Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) once again earned the mantle of preeminent showcase for America’s white-goods wares.

The event was held Jan. 21-23 at the Las Vegas Convention Center where it piggybacked with the International Builders Show (IBS), the definitive market for flooring, lighting, plumbing, cabinetry and other home construction products. This year YSN accompanied the BrandSource merchandising team of Chad Evans, Vice President; Director of Merchandising Paul Roth; and e-Commerce Director Grant Hancock as they made their show floor rounds to help discern the latest home appliance trends.

Celebrity Chef Curtis Stone takes center stage at the Bosch booth.

Chief among them:

  • the move toward column-style form factors and compact footprints for the growing ranks of urban apartment dwellers;
  • counter-depth and flush-mounted appliances for a custom-installed look;
  • new, more colorful variations on stainless steel finishes;
  • air fryers and heat pump dryers galore;
  • and of course, a bevy of smart features for a new generation of connected kitchens.

As BrandSource member Mark Patterson of Knoxville, TN’s Patterson Appliances observed, “Everything’s going pro-style,” pointing to the new-for-2020 fleet of heftily knobbed ranges and column fridges. Like most attendees, Patterson said he traveled to KBIS to preview the latest products and pick up on the newest market trends.

Operations Manager Ken Hungerford (center) and the Albert Lee Appliance team cross paths with BrandSource merchandising execs Chad Evans (rear) and Grant Hancock (far right).

The agenda was somewhat different for Merchandising VP Evans. While he and his team were also on hand “To see what’s new before it hits the market,” the merchants were equally busy finalizing group programs for the upcoming Summit buy fair in March, and reaffirming relationships with vendor partners.

While much of the latter took place in exhibitor booths, bonds were also bolstered over brews and bites at a BrandSource KBIS reception, co-sponsored by Don’s Appliances at the Yard House tap house, located along the LINQ Promenade off the Vegas Strip.

BrandSource capped Day 1 of KBIS 2020 with an evening bash co-hosted by Don’s Appliances. On hand, from left, were Shane Rehm and Kevin Dexter of FisherPaykel; Don’s Appliances principal Tim Hillebrand; Leadership Team members Tom Bennett and John White; and Electrolux’s Ryan Schwede.

Back on the show floor, attendees were dazzled by a stunning array of glass and metal, as each vendor sought to outdo the next with the most innovative product lines and the largest, most well-appointed booths in which to spotlight them. Here are a handful of KBIS highlights:

Electrolux: The Swedish supplier infused its flagship double wall oven with Electrolux Connect Technology, allowing users to preheat, monitor temperatures and cook times, and keep meals warm remotely via phone or tablet. The product also boasts steam cooking, built-in air frying, and air sous vide function for more consistent and flavorful results. The wall oven was complimented by a new French door refrigerator featuring a customizable drawer with a temperature range of -6 to 45 degrees; crispers with auto-humidity control; and an extra access door and an auto door-close function. Both products will begin shipping in the third quarter. 

GE Appliances: With some 22,000 square feet between its GE, Monogram, Fisher & Paykel and Haier booths, the company was the king of KBIS real estate. Taking center stage was its updated Kitchen Hub, a combination OTR microwave, vent hood and interactive display, and GE Profile’s Wi-Fi-connected 9000 series wall ovens and 30-inch slide-in range, which feature in-oven cameras, true European convection and the now obligatory air fryer mode.

Miele’s David Karigaca walks the BrandSource team through the 2020 lineup.

Miele: Among a host of product launches, the family-owned German luxury brand debuted a Performance Plus line of commercial-grade laundry pairs. The new “Little Giants” feature an 18-pound capacity; a new intuitive touch display; a 49-minute Express cycle that saves water, electricity and time; and a newly improved and redesigned honeycomb drum with additional perforations in the rear panel that ensures better drenching of fabrics in the wash cycle.

Samsung: The brand, which claims top U.S. major appliance share, was back in Vegas with a new collection of slide-in ranges, some with digital assistant voice control; its first Family Hub smart fridge in a side-by-side configuration; and a personal care AirDresser that uses steam technology to smooth out wrinkles, remove odors and sanitize clothes.

Sharp Electronics: Following a major return engagement earlier in the month at CES 2020, Sharp Electronics Marketing Co. of America (SEMCA) was back in Las Vegas with its newly complete kitchen suite. The ensemble includes the company’s first counter-depth refrigerator, 24-inch dishwasher and 30-inch, 1.5-cubic-foot Easy Wave microwave oven, along with its signature Easy Wave IoT microwave drawer and SuperSteam+ superheated steam and convection oven with Alexa integration.

Signature Kitchen Suite: LG Electronics’ luxury brand returned with a 36-inch version of its dual-fuel Pro range replete with sous vide, induction cooking and gas burners. The range shared booth space with 36- and 48-inch Pro cooktops offering 23,000 BTUs of gas cooking power along with built-in sous vide and an induction option. SKS also touted an advanced, 24-inch undercounter wine column refrigerator that can help protect 41 bottles of wine from vibrations, temperature fluctuations, light exposure and humidity.

Whirlpool: The appliance giant has long shunned the Kitchen & Bath show but made up for lost time last month with a multi-brand booth. Among the marquee products was Maytag’s smart front load laundry pair with an “Extra Power” button to boost stain-fighting performance, and Whirlpool’s compact washer and ventless heat pump dryer, a space-saving, 24-inch laundry pair with Quick Wash cycle and X-Dry features.

YSN is published by BrandSource parent company AVB Inc.