Heading to Germany

In late February 2014, a trade show called the Dach und Holz was held in Cologne, Germany. It is a show held every two years that pertains to roofs, walls, sealing, timber constructions, interior works, and energy efficient retrofitting.   More than 550 exhibitors demonstrate their products and services from around the world. I had an invitation from a few of our vendors to attend the show and visit their companies which was sure to be an invaluable experience.

I flew in to Frankfurt early morning and caught a train to Cologne.   After crossing the Rhine River, I was greeted by the infamous Dom of Cologne which is Germany’s most visited landmark. The Kolner Dom is a cathedral which holds the seat of the Archbishop.

The Tradeshow

The tradeshow took place at the convention center about a 15 minute walk away from the city. I did not find it too difficult to navigate the area and get to the right location knowing little German. Speaking with people was a bit more challenging though. Most people speak some English but that doesn’t mean that holding a conversation with anyone is done with ease.  I felt a bit like a fish out of water while walking the tradeshow but there is plenty of knowledge to be gained as an observer.

With 4 different halls, there was certainly a lot of knowledge to take in. Booths were filled with interested parties and the beer was flowing. The excitement in the air was noticeable as people look forward to getting away and spending time doing something they have a passion for. Most booths would contain someone who spoke English so communicating was never a problem.  In comparison to US trade shows, it was very similar except that people were more willing to engage with the exhibitors.


Here are a few neat pictures I took of some artistic slate work that was displayed at various booths.

One booth contained craftsmen who would work on a certain application from A to Z. This was very educational and useful because the tradesmen didn’t take breaks so you could see the process throughout.

Closing Thoughts

My trip to Germany and Austria was certainly eye opening. I got to see a massive trade show that most of the leading roofing distributors take the time to exhibit at. It brings together many competitors and is interesting to hear many viewpoints. All of the slate and sheet metal vendors know each other and word spreads quickly at shows like these. It’s truly a global business.

After the show, I was also lucky enough to get to tour a few manufacturing facilities during my visit to Austria. European quality is not a thing of the past. Not everything is outsourced in cheap labor markets and it makes sense that the high quality work that is produced is done with the finest quality tools.

I was especially floored by the beauty of the country side and even had a chance to go skiing on the Alps. This area was beautiful and it shows how amazing it is to get out and travel the world.