What Happened at the 2019 Builders’ Show? #IBS2019

It was another warp-speed experience at this year’s International Builders Show. Adam, Megan, and I taught, learned, and experienced our way through the week — talking shop and having fun.

If you’ve never been to the show, I can’t stress how much you should make the trip next year. This was my tenth consecutive IBS, and I owe countless friendships and many more business introductions to being there. I’ve never been fond of the term “expert”, but you’ll find them all in the hallways of the show, and they will all graciously welcome your handshake and conversation.

Arriving to Las Vegas a day late, I spent time on Sunday and Monday attending National Sales & Marketing Council Board of Trustees and committee meetings. Like me, if you’ve participated in your local SMC for many years, I’d encourage you to attend the next NationalSMC meeting. This is the beginning of only my second year on the Board of Trustees and thanks to Christy Beck, Joe McGaw, Anne Ladewig, and many others, I’ve learned a lot about how the NSMC contributes to local guidance and opportunities.


On Monday morning, Adam and I were treated to an amazing personal tour of Zappos HQ and the Downtown Las Vegas project by their amazing Culture Maestro, Ryo Hanalei Zsun. Ryo was also a featured “Game Changer” speaker on Tuesday at IBS. My session overlapped with Ryo’s, so it was great to be able to soak up his insights a day early.

Adam and I absorbed so much during our time with Ryo, I’m decided to share it all in a separate upcoming post.

#SpoilerAlert: I think Zappos’s evil plan is to have you walk so much on their tours that you have to order a new pair of shoes once you’re done :).


We started a new tradition this year and hosted an IBS kickoff party at Top Golf. Together with Brandon Patterson and the good people at Iowa Skilled Trades, we packed four bays at Top Golf with people coming out to have some fun, get warmed up for the show, and support the noble work being done to help workforce development. If we missed you this year, make sure you join us in 2020.

Click for more photos in the Facebook gallery

And just to clarify, actually golfing is optional. I know nothing about golf, except that my golf swing is so embarrassingly bad it belongs in a viral shaming video. I avoided making a fool of myself and instead spent the time enjoying drinks and great conversation with old and new friends. It was an exceptional way to “tee off” the show. Did I say that right?


When two of my favorite people get on stage together, it’s hard to pick words that don’t sound too sappy. Megan English, an integral part of ONeil Interactive and our clients’ success since 2010, and Cindy Plackmeyer of Wormald, a dear friend for many years, took the stage to share their retargeting ads expertise with a room full of eager marketers. Attendees were engaged and had lots of questions for them; sticking around after the presentation to dig deeper on the possibilities.

Clash of the Titans “Season Two” happened in the afternoon. Despite the ego implied in that session title, ego is nowhere to be found when I collaborate with this team. Kevin Oakley of Do You Convert, Will Duderstadt of M/I Homes, Lucy Wohltman of Zillow, and I took the stage for what Kevin describes as “part SNL skit, part serious debate” on some big topics — including when to pull back on marketing, when to use an agency, and nerdy topics like attribution models. Personally, I think I might enjoy being part of this session too much. My co-presenters are pros in whom I have absolute confidence, and I get to laugh so much it doesn’t seem fair.

After working up a hunger by crushing all of my debating opponents ;), I got to watch Will and Kevin react to their first taste of chicken feet. I’d like to say I had them do this because they lost their debates to me, but they actually decided to do this on their own. Watch the video to see how it goes.


I was more excited about this year’s Super Sales Rally than any other in recent memory. Mike Lyon, Meredith Oliver, and Jeff Shore did not disappoint. The room was packed, and it’s not hard to see why.

Later on Wednesday, Adam and I had dinner with some new partners to discuss some exciting new things coming to Homefiniti. Plus, I was reminded how beautiful it is inside the Venetian.

Megan was the first of us to hit the always happening Builder VIP Party, while I showed up just in time for it to end. The Brooklyn Bowl venue was an amazing choice — huge dance floor, bowling lanes, a live band, and plenty of room to move, too.

Our invites came courtesy of friends at NewHomesDirectory.com and Graphic Language. As an example of the relationships that are possible to make from attending IBS, it’s remarkable that I can call Rick and Alex from Graphic Language very good friends, despite being a regular competitor. It comes from a mutual respect and admiration for the other’s work and a “big pond” world view. I was thrilled when they came to our Top Golf event, and they graciously invited us to their party.

Later that night, Adam obtained video proof of everything I’ve ever heard about the NAHB Young Professionals Party.

#Fact: Each year after the age of 40, one’s ability to last in this environment decreases by 50%.


Thursday morning came early, but it was worth it. This was my first visit to a Hash House A Go Go, and I had heard the legends of their portion sizes. I opted for biscuits and gravy — which I estimate to be about a pound-and-a-half of solid carbohydrates on a plate. There were pancakes the size of a vinyl LP, chicken and waffles that required a steak knife, and “Basic” breakfast plates who’s size more closely resembled an entire Hampton Inn breakfast buffet. There was not a single empty plate on the table, but the company was top notch, and the syrup was real deal Canadian Maple, courtesy of Angela McKay.

#ProTip: If you don’t think image SEO is important, Will selected the restaurant based on a single photo of their chicken and waffles after a Google Image search for “breakfast in Las Vegas.”

Back at the convention center, Adam was invited to share what he knows best. Presenting at the NAHB Young Professionals’ Next Lounge booth, Adam shared his best social media and personal branding tips with the attendees. The questions kept pouring in, keeping Adam talking for a solid 30 minutes of Q&A after his presentation. And, as a fitting punctuation to the social media session, Megan’s photo of Adam in action won the Thursday #IBS2019POTD (IBS Photo Of The Day) Instagram contest!

I’m thankful I got to rush back to the South Hall for a visit to Sales Central before the end of the show. There I got to enjoy Quint Lears handle the final session of the day, and also meet Tag Gilkeson. I’m sure you’ll hear Tag’s name again soon, but if not, you might recognize him at #IBS2020 due to the number of ribbons attached to his name tag. Tag achieved what must be some kind of record – 10+ NAHB accreditations in one year, including his MIRM! Just wow. Congratulations Tag!

Quint Lears interviewing Dennis and Will

And as a fitting end to the show, Will and I got to chat with Quint one more time. I’m crazy excited to watch the videos that Quint is putting together.

The show is so many things for me. It delivers new opportunities, it challenges me, it’s gratifying, and I’m incredibly proud to see my team members, colleagues, and friends grow and succeed. My heart is full.

Best Builders Show Ever

Edit: Yes. It also snowed ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Dennis O'Neil

Dennis O'Neil


Dennis has spent over 22 years using the internet to sell and market new homes. He blogs about internet marketing for home builders here, wrote a book about technology's impact on the sales process, and is a respected speaker on advanced internet marketing and the online sales process.