Records were set for exhibitors and attendance as the industry gathered in Knoxville, Tennessee, on January 24-25 for the third annual Garage, Shed & Carport Builder Show.

Almost 70 manufacturers, suppliers, and companies dedicated to all things regarding the construction of small residential buildings were exhibiting. There were well attended educational sessions, a happy hour with a great mid-Southern meal, and a positive vibe all around.

“I would like to thank the exhibitors and attendees at this year’s show for making it the best Garage Shed & Carport Builder Show to date,” said Missy Beyer, Shield Wall Media’s Director of Events. “We strive to make sure our shows are profitable on both sides of the aisle but also to allow for a fun and family friendly atmosphere to network within the industry. I believe we hit the mark with this year’s show. Our next event is the Post-Frame Builder Show in June, hosted in Branson, Missouri. I hope to see you all there.”

The show set a new bar for attendance, beating the previous best by 30%, and as always at a Shield Wall Media show, almost all those attendees were decision-makers and budget-managers. 

“This event was impressive, and it was well attended by both contractors and companies. An audience that was interested in what we had to share,” said Jason Heifnar, Director Operations, Best Buy Metals. “It was also good to meet members of the event team from Shield Wall as well. Best Buy Metals and American Pole Barns by Best Buy Metals greatly appreciated the opportunities this show provided.”

What makes these Shield Wall Media industry events different than most is that they are about relationship-building, and that includes being family-friendly. As a result, you wind up with features like the Rest Stop area where families including children can stay busy during the event, and there’s a great Happy Hour event on the show floor the first night of each event, featuring music, great food, and free drinks.

“I would like to give credit to Missy and Kathy Budsberg [SWM Executive Advertising Assistant] for the idea of the Rest Stop,” said Gary Reichert, SWM CEO/Publisher. “Having a place for kids and family to relax and hang out is a fantastic idea and frankly something that would not have ever occurred to me. We have a great team.

“Our happy hours always seem to turn out great. Good food, music and beverages help lighten the mood and present the chance to get to know customers and peers on a different level. Our shows are about actually doing business and sometimes I think more happens in the Happy Hour than on the trade show floor.”

Attendee Reactions

Paul Rankin lives in Minnesota and wants to become a shed builder. He’s not sure where he’s going to live and what he’s going to build, but he’s now farther along than he was before the show. “The show was great not only in presenters but the manufacturers, and also the people who were there,” he said. “I spoke to manufacturers. It was a good experience all the way.”

Alex Walker of Walker Buildings said the show is primarily a networking event for him but he also learned a lot. “I thought it was very educational,” Walker said. “We use these shows for networking and as a great tool to meet the right people and make connections.” A highlight of products and ideas that he saw on the show floor came from BETCO, which makes rollup self-storage doors. “One of the coolest things that I saw was a bolt-on motor for the rollup doors that would really be useful for a lot of our customers,” said Walker, whose company sells metal buildings nationwide. “They’re also the manufacturer that we buy our doors from, so it’s supported with the rollup doors that we’re already using.” 

Jeremiah Martin of Sloping Ridge Structures in Tennessee is a builder/manufacturer who builds onsite and ships to the local region. The company uses Central States Metal protected by Central Guard and painted by Valspar, and Piva windows. He said his goal for the show was to “meet new suppliers and connect with existing suppliers. Our walk-through doors are from Midco and I wanted to see them again. And I wanted to meet new suppliers.”

Martin said he and his wife “enjoyed it and we felt it was worth the time. It was a long day; it was 15 hours and 10 minutes [including travel]. But we felt it was worth it and walking away from that show, it’s getting better each year and the staff works really hard.”

Educational Sessions

Robbie Ward of Ascential Buildings has retail locations in Virginia and West Virginia. Ascential sells sheds from Pine View Buildings in Statesville, N.C., and metal from several companies. He said his company had a successful show walking the floor and attending the educational sessions.

“The objectives were to find sales training to implement, and to network with other dealers, and looking into marketing,” Ward said. “We have a full-time marketer but we’ve been looking to outsource our website.”

Given that sales advice was his goal, it’s not surprising that Ward said his highlights were in the educational sales sessions, including back-to-back sales sessions by L.J. Obenauer and Andrew Boyle of Making Sales Simple. Another goal was learning how to offer financing to customers, so he spoke with RTO National and a couple others on the show floor about improving that area of his business. 

Put it all together, and Ward likely found a sales training program at the show, a financing/RTO partner, and a website management company. Not bad for a day and a half of walking a show. 

Ward added that the show and this magazine are critical to his business. “It is a closed market and (the show and magazine) help branch it and pull us all together,” he said. “So we cling to this stuff.”

Corey Stephenson of Ozark Portable Buildings, which has locations centered around Missouri and Illinois, said the education sessions were just that, educational. He mentioned a social media marketing program run by Barbara Garcia of Shed U, which he called the best class he’s attended. “She was very specific with the details that she gave, including actual advertising budgets,” he said. He said Garcia went into specifics with LinkedIn on how to reach dealers and potential customers. 

Added Jonathon Steinsultz of Ozark Portable Buildings, “I learned how to build forms to generate leads, and how to create ads to solve problems for your customers to tailor the solutions they need.” Garcia recommended quarterly ad campaigns on LinkedIn, and then changing to a new ad every quarter.

Show Floor Highlights

Among the highlights on the show floor were post-frame structures erected by Best Buy Metals and True Metal Supply that centered around metal trusses. Other products that would interest builders and contractors included the Wall-Lift system for more easily lifting walls during construction, and a couple roofing products from Neil’s Roofing (a roof ladder, and a PVC vent).

In addition to the show’s exhibitor booths and educational sessions, Shed University presented its programming to shed lot owners and salespeople on January 23-24 (the days leading into the GSCB show, in the same conference center).

The next Shield Wall Media show is the Post-Frame Builder Show in Branson, Missouri, June 19-20, followed by the Construction Rollforming Show in Grand Rapids, Michigan, September 18-19. Learn more about the company’s shows at For exhibitor information, contact Missy Beyer (920) 216-3007 or send her an email at [email protected]. RF