Exhibitors, attendees enjoy annual Frame Building Expo in Des Moines

By Karen Knapstein

For the better part of a week, Iowa was the hub of the post-frame industry. Frame Building Expo (FBE), sponsored by the National Frame Building Association, was held March 6-8 in downtown DesMoines at the Iowa Events Center. 

The event hosted more than 160 exhibitors on the Expo floor. Several attendees polled said their most important objective was to find new products. If you missed the event but would like to learn about some of the products debuted in Des Moines, read on.

New Products

Component manufacturer Plyco debuted some new innovations, which included its Designer Series doors  – Series 92 and 20 — that are now available in several  new colors, with textured panels, and with several frame colors. Plyco reported: “Customers can now choose from the various panels and frames to customize their doors.” Also, the Klik-Fit Trim Kit is a new addition to Plyco doors to “help create a stylish, finished look after installation.”

About the show, they said, “Overall, it was a great show. We had wonderful attendance in the booth looking at the new innovations and were able to have great conversations with current and prospective customers.”

Keith Dietzen shared an exciting project that SmartBuild currently has in development. “SmartBuild’s big deal was to show off our software Release 1.90, which will be used to design two levels of interior living space in a barndominium.” It was very well received; people had a strong interest in it.

Coming in 2024, SmartBuild is developing a software version for building design people. “After we came out with the 1.90 barndominium-specific release that can lay out the bath, kitchen, and other details,” Dietzen said,  “we found we started to get inundated with inquiries from building designers. (Before, it was for builders and contractors.)” During the inquiries, the building design people said the tools they were using weren’t efficient in designing post-frame structures. “We did a deep dive with these people,” Dietzen continues. “The tools that they have to generate a full set of drawings for a barndominium customer takes 10-20 hours. When they use SmartBuild, it has all the details including structural details. Building designers are saying it’s valuable the way it is but we will be doing more. … Once it’s fully developed, SmartBuild for building designers will take a 10-20 hr task and boil down to less than 2 hours.” 

Ultimately, a project will be able to go from design to price within the same day, he explains. The company will have some initial releases within the next 60 days, and then will be rolling out regular updates. “We’re going to connect the whole post frame industry to the architectural design community.” 

Post-frame building and metal roofing supplier True Metal Supply exhibited at FBE for the first time this year. The company’s booth featured its post frame buildings with Buffalo River Truss’ Parallel Chord Steel Trusses, as well as its Board & Batten Steel Siding with various Wood Print Coatings. “The steel trusses drew a lot of attention, as a hybrid building style. Many show attendees were intrigued by the 100’ clear span capabilities and ease of installation.” The company also reports its new Wood Print Coatings on its Board & Batten Steel Siding attracted both influencers and builders in the industry. “We expect these building components to continue growing over the course of 2024.”

The company also reported that in 2024, Sweat Shield™ condensation control will be a new focus. It creates a lasting barrier between the building’s metal envelope and the harmful effects of condensation. “This material is pre-applied to True’s, Through Fastened Tuff-Rib panels and is designed for buildings with interior, exposed metal roofing.”

They said they “had an excellent experience as we received quality leads and reconnected with industry partners. We’re excited to have the show in our home town, Knoxville, in 2025!”

Hixwood’s Paul Zimmerman said, “I always enjoy the NFBA show, with Iowa being in our core area. It was a very productive exhibit for our team. The seminars were very informative, I wanted to give a shout out to the barndominium seminar. This has great growth potential for the post-frame industry.”

Regarding Hixwood’s sponsorship of the Family Lounge, Zimmerman said, “With God and family first in our lives at Hixwood, it is natural for the company to sponsor the family lounge. A mother with children that accompanied her husband to the show said, ‘I wonder if they realize how much this area is appreciated?’ It made it worthwhile and I am hoping someday the children playing in the family lounge area will be leaders in the post-frame industry that we love so well.”

In addition to its standard line of tools, including the Ridge R-3:10 and the Ridge R-9, the County Line Concepts exhibit featured some new tools, including The Ceiling Panel Support for holding panels close to the ceiling for installation. Also shown were the Ridge R-Awl, used to give accurate marks on the panels, and the Mega Bracket, which sits over the rails on a mega deck and keeps materials and equipment off of the floor. The Post Plummer, which allows for adjustment of the posts for a final, accurate alignment and the Pole Cat and Wall Lifter (used with your equipment to raise posts and walls into place) were also exhibited. 

“The exciting part of our business is talking with contractors and getting ideas of what they are looking for and then bringing them to the table,” said County Line Concepts’ Gordon Moeggenborg. “We are always open for your input.”

Metal shear manufacturer Integrity Sales & Service, maker of the Dyna-Cut shared a bit of news. While the company didn’t debut any new products at the show, they do have some exciting tools in development. Keep watch for future announcements.

Crowd Favorites

A large crowd gathered around to watch the always-popular nail-driving competition, which was once again sponsored by Maze Nails of Peru, Illinois. A total of 47 contestants stepped up to compete. “We timed each contestant on how quickly the could drive three 40d (5-inch) Hardened Ring shank Pole Barn nails into a LVL Microlam Beam,” explains Len Kasperski of Maze Nails. “The nails were preset into the Beam 1/2 inch for safety reasons. Each contestant raced against the clock to see who could drive all three flush to the surface the quickest. This was our 20th annual Nail Pounding Competition.” When the results were tallied, Joshua Gingrich came in with the fastest time of 8.75 seconds, earning him first place. The second and third place finishers, respectively, were Vernon Borntrager at 8.87 seconds and Eddie Conrad at 9.85 seconds. 

Atlas Building Products once again sponsored the Screw Driving Competition. Three-man crews stepped up to drive 1” Woodtite fasteners into 29-ga. ag panels using a DeWalt 268 screw gun. “The winning team was Countryside Metals with a three-man team time of 43.7 seconds,” reports company spokesperson Amanda Edwards. “Coming in second was Timbercrest construction with a time of 47.52 seconds. The fastest individual was TJ Mast with a time of 13.2 seconds.” 

Looking ahead, next year’s event takes place a little later in the year; the 57th Annual Frame Building Expo & Conference will be held April 2-4, 2025, in Knoxville, Tennessee. GSCB