During the week of April 18, a group of eight US and Japanese manufacturers and wholesalers participated in the EBPA and the State of Washington's Japan Trade Mission to Fukuoka, Osaka, and Tokyo. The group met 257 Japanese builders, architects, importers, and designers during seminars, receptions, and roundtable discussions.
The seminars were the most well attended seminars to date with participants reporting that they made a number of good leads at each. Total attendance of seminars and receptions topped 250. One supplier who has been working locally for a number of years noted that he thought that he knew most of the builders and wholesalers in Fukuoka but that there were at least ten new contacts at the seminar. Another participant said that he was asked by a builder and potential distributor to visit his home project and provide a detailed quote shortly following the seminar.
Bill Millholland, Executive Vice President of Case Designs, one of the largest remodel firms in the US, served as the keynote speaker. He discussed trends in US housing design and remodel projects and marketing approaches used by US construction and remodeling firms. Company representatives presented product specific presentations about various building materials technologies and design trends. Products represented include housewrap, flashing, sealants, insulation and HVAC systems, windows and doors, millwork, lumber, and an array of other materials used in residential and light commercial construction.
According to results from a survey of attendees, attendees rated the presentations highly. Interest in home remodeling has skyrocketed since the Government of Japan pledged to increase the size of the remodeling market to $80 billion in 2015 to $220 billion by 2020. To stimulate the remodeling market the government as instituted a number o subsidies, tax rebates, and it has eliminated some transaction taxes for projects that improve a home's energy efficiency, earthquake resistance, and ability to improve residents' ability to age in place.
US group of suppliers also participated in a roundtable discussion with 18 members of the Osaka Architect's Association. During the exchange Japanese and US participants discussed Japan's JAS approval of US plywood and OSB panels and softwood lumber, Japanese perceptions about US building materials, and remodeling demand and the types of projects being completed.
In addition to connecting US suppliers with builders and importers, EBPA and the State of Washington are working to develop relationships between US suppliers and architects, who are involved in designing public projects, custom homes, and light commercial projects, which have strong potential for US suppliers. In addition to the roundtable discussion with the Osaka Architect's Association, the group participated in a US Housing & Building Materials workshop in cooperation with Houzz Japan, which was held at Houzz's Tokyo headquarters. The workshop was attended by 15 construction and design professionals.
Each event included a reception featuring Washington wines and beers. The receptions added a relaxed atmosphere for Japanese attendees and US representatives to socialize and spend more time talking about various building materials and visiting the company displays.
The group will also meet with members of the Osaka Architect Association and importers, architects, and builders during a second roundtable in Tokyo to discuss market trends, and to help establish relationships.
The next mission will be held September 26-30, 2016 and seminars and meetings will be held in Sapporo, Sendai, and Tokyo. The group will also participate in roundtable discussions and construction site visits. The deadline to register is August, 1, 2016.