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Should You Join the NKBA?

Lighting showrooms weigh in on why membership in the National Kitchen & Bath Assn. works for them.

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Life may be made in the bedroom, but it’s lived in the kitchen. Regardless of its playfulness, that pronouncement is, for many of us, the honest truth. Today’s kitchens are a hub of activity, hosting everything from nightly homework sessions to holiday soirees. And, in terms of importance, bathrooms aren’t far behind. Larger and harder working than ever before, sometimes it’s the only room in the house where we can find peace and quiet.

Besides being among the most important spaces in the house, these rooms have a lot in common in terms of their lighting needs, as well. Both require an artful balance of task lighting to enable their essential functions and indirect accent lighting to make them, well, livable. So, it’s no wonder why kitchen and bath lighting is a huge profit center for so many showrooms across the country and why, for many of those showrooms, membership in the National Kitchen & Bath Assn. (NKBA) is a no-brainer.

“If you’re going to do kitchen and bath, I’m not sure why you wouldn’t join the industry’s professional organization,” says Jack Fleischer, president of Hermitage Lighting Gallery in Nashville, TN. “For all the value they offer, membership just makes sense.”

Sales and marketing support

According to the NKBA, that value starts with sales and marketing support. Its Member Benefits Handbook cites perks like connecting with new customers via access to a list of folks who order NKBA kitchen and bath planners as well as through an online tool that consumers can use to locate NKBA-affiliated professionals. Members can also make in-roads with other professionals using the NKBA’s member directory and have free use of the NKBA logo in their own advertising and promotional materials.

But for Fleischer, the one of the biggest advantages to NKBA membership is the opportunity to advertise the accolades his showroom earns through the association’s annual design competition. Hermitage employs three full-time designers who work with customers to create kitchen and bath interiors that the retailer then installs. Melissa Sutherland, Creative Director and a Certified Kitchen Designer through the NKBA, has won multiple awards for her work, including a nod for “Best Before & After Bathroom” in 2011.

“That kind of recognition is a fantastic selling point for our designers, our kitchen and bath design services and for the selection of products we offer,” Fleischer says.

Tucson, AZ’s Sun Lighting relies on the NKBA to help keep the company abreast of what’s happening in the kitchen and bath industry. The NKBA regularly surveys industry players to compile information on the latest consumer habits and style trends.

“We use those kinds of facts and figures to help inform our business strategy for our kitchen and bath department and to keep our showroom ahead of the curve,” says Preston Gomez, Showroom Manager at Sun Lighting.

Networking Opportunities

The folks at Sun Lighting also take full advantage of numerous networking opportunities through the NKBA.

“We’re all busy,” Gomez says. “Chapter meetings and special events like the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show help get us more face time with industry contacts and potential customers.”

Education and certification

While the NKBA offers professional development opportunities to both members and non-members (members get a discount on the cost of each course), certification is only available to showroom staff that pays their NKBA dues.

According to Kate Bailey, National Showroom Manager at Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery in Newport News, VA, the expense is well worth it.

“We believe NKBA membership designation complements our designer’s credibility and professionalism,” Bailey says. “The NKBA is a well-respected organization within the industry and [therefore it is] a natural fit [for Ferguson]. The association affords us countless opportunities as we strive to be an active partner with our customers and vendors in all markets that we serve.”

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