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Building from ground up sparks new trend at East Texas Home Products Show

By Glenn Evans
Feb. 12, 2012 at 11 p.m.


A trend has crept into the Longview housing market, vendors at the East Texas Home Products Show said Sunday.

It's a little of everything.

"It's the whole ball of wax," said Rodney Phillips, owner of Phillips Flooring and chairman of the 32nd annual show. "We're still seeing a lot of stuff going on - remodeling stuff, the bread and butter of this show. But we are getting more people talking about building from the ground up.

"We have seen the trend, which is just over the last 10 years, from more of a new construction focus to a remodeling focus to this year. We're having a real nice mix of both."

Phillips was one of some 90 vendors at the show inside Maude Cobb Convention and Activity Center. Most of those were specialty product outlets - stone works, doors, fencing, brick and more. Angela Smeltzer, executive officer with the sponsoring East Texas Builders Association, said about 500 visitors were expected Sunday.

"We had about that many on Friday," she said. "And we had over 1,000 on Saturday."

Jack's Air Conditioning salesman Bob Neale noticed that people are looking to do more than remodel these days.

"Listen, remodeling and new construction are really going good this year," Neale said. "I think it's the oil and gas industry in East Texas - there's enough money out there."

Even the food vender was a builder.

"The house building market is coming back," said Thomas White, owner of T Blanco's Mexican restaurant and Signature Builders.

Smeltzer said Longview was among 29 areas added this month to the National Association of Home Builders First American Improving Markets Index. This is one of seven Texas cities now on the list, she said.

"(The list is) for having continuous improvement in the housing industry," she said. "People are looking to buy, build, remodel."

That's always been a draw of the show.

"This is neat, we've gotten some great information," Zina Davis of Hideaway said after she and husband, Terrence, left Randy Murray and his Aldon Marble display. "We had no idea they did this kind of stuff with marble."

The couple was looking to remodel.

"We've made a granite connection, we've gotten a cabinet connection," she said.

Vendor Butch McIllwain, with Athens Bath Wraps, praised the three-day event as not too big or small.

"This is the best show that we've had," he said. "We've decided the smaller shows like this are better than the larger ones in Fort Worth or Dallas. It's just been one (customer) after another."

Home builder Jason Horn was predicting a busy 2012 in local house construction.

"We have seven homes under construction right now," he said. "And we have three waiting to start. I think this is going to be a recovery year for the East Texas house market."

Mike and Jill White, and their 10-year-old daughter Lacey, stopped to look over floor plans with Horn and his wife, Genia.

"We're almost done building our house," Mike White said. "So, we just came by to see what we missed."

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