IWF will feature machinery and supplies to help woodworkers improve their productivity and profitability in order to better compete in today’s marketplace.

The Georgia World Congress Center plays host to IWF 2008. The show takes place Aug. 20-23 in Atlanta.

Photo credit: c2005, Kevin C. Rose/AtlantaPhotos.com

Tens of thousands of professional woodworkers will converge on the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Aug. 20-23, to see the latest innovations in machinery, supplies and services by the more than 1,200 exhibitors at the International Woodworking Machinery & Furniture Supply Fair - USA. The largest woodworking show in North America, the biennial IWF is sponsored by the American Home Furnishings Alliance, Wood Machinery Manufacturers of America and the Woodworking Machinery Industry Assn.

Show management is upbeat, despite the current economic climate in the United States. In 2006, 43,192 people attended IWF, of which 24,886 were verified buyers.

Early projections call for between 20,000 and 24,000 verified buyers to be in attendance this year.

“I will say that no matter what the number is, I am absolutely convinced that those buyers that do come will be motivated and qualified,” said Patrick LaFramboise, IWF 2008 CEO. “Someone spending the time and resources to come to the show tells me there is a need for products and answers that will help them now and in the future. I know our exhibitors are very interested in doing business, i.e., selling, so the potential of IWF 2008 being a good show for all concerned is very strong,” he said.

“It should also be noted that IWF offers buyers an opportunity to see and talk to suppliers firsthand and to see the latest technology available in the marketplace,” said Charles (Tommy) Tomkins, IWF 2008 chairman and president of Cresent Fine Furniture Co. “Technology will improve efficiency, which means improved profitability. Technology [will be displayed] that helps manufacturers go green. It is all there, in one place, and all at one show.”

Student Competition Puts Emphasis on Design

One of the many highlights of IWF, the Design Emphasis competition gives college and university students the opportunity to demonstrate their talent and originality in furniture design before a judging panel of designers, manufacturing and retail executives and members of the trade press who have design-oriented backgrounds.

 Approximately 75 finalists will be invited to attend IWF and have their furniture pieces judged by a panel of industry experts. Judging will take place on Aug. 19 and will be based on the following criteria: design (40%), manufacturing (25%), marketability (20%) and workmanship (15%).

Winner, merit and honorable mention prizes will be awarded in six categories: Seating, Ready-to-Assemble, Casegoods, Contract Furniture, Occasional Furniture and Design Creativity. A prize also is given for the Best in Show. The awards ceremony will begin at 1:30 p.m. on Aug. 20.

Winning and finalist projects will be on display throughout the show. The Design Emphasis Showcase will be located in the Northside Drive Entrance to Building C.

According to statistics from the last IWF, a majority of verified buyers came from the cabinet, architectural woodwork and residential furniture industries, with slightly more than one-third of them from the South Atlantic region. Internationally, the majority of visitors to IWF were from Canada, with a couple hundred from Europe.

However, that may change in 2008, particularly with the strength of the euro.

“We know the euro is strong, which makes it very affordable for most of Europe to visit the U.S.,” LaFramboise said. “We’re trying to take advantage of that by messaging: Come for business and fun. August is traditionally the month for Europeans to go on vacation — why not start it or end it in Atlanta?”

New Features Help Attendees Plan Ahead

IWF is making it easier for visitors to prepare for the show with new pre-planning tools and features, including “myIWF.”

“This year we are offering a powerful search engine tool, called ‘myIWF,’ to help buyers prepare for their time at the show,” Tomkins said. “It will help buyers match their interests with exhibitors’ products. It will provide a customized floor plan. Basically, [it is] a road map showing where the exhibitors of interest are based on the self-designed profile of each buyer.

“If they choose to, buyers also can receive product information from exhibitors prior to the show and communicate with other pre-registrants. We think this program can improve the return on investment of their own time and resources for both the customer and the seller” Tomkins added.

In addition to the new “myIWF” pre-planning tool, attendees also can use the search engine on the IWF site, www.iwfatlanta.com, to search exhibitors by company name, product or service category, view product information and look at floor plans. IWF is divided into two main sections: Building A and Halls B1 and B2 in Building B house exhibitors of supplies, services and upholstery, while those companies displaying machinery and related accessories are located in Halls B2, B3 and B4 of Building B and in Building C.

Also available at the International Buyers Lounge at IWF will be interpreters for those needing translation assistance in German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese and Japanese.

Expanding the Show’s Direction

Already considered the second largest industry show in the world, IWF is broadening its focus with a new slogan, “More than Woodworking.”

“‘More than Woodworking’ isn’t a slogan for us, it’s an acknowledgement and recognition that our industry is changing,” said LaFramboise. “In addition to the fenestration [doors and windows] and flooring industries, which we started to reach out to with our last show, we’re broadening our attendee/buyer promotion to include the non-ferrous metals processing, natural stone surfaces processing, fabricated surfaces processing and plastics processing industries.”

LaFramboise added, “Many of our exhibitors have machinery or products with applications in those areas, so it’s not much of a stretch for us to cross over into those markets. We’re planting seeds right now and we believe there will be tangible results in the shows that follow.

“It’s been our exhibitors that have been encouraging us to reach out to these markets,” he continued. “They are telling us that their customer base is growing and changing and we need to keep up with them. It’s early in the overall process, but we are seeing positive signs that we are beginning to show up on the other folks’ radar in those markets. It’s going to take time, [but] we’re pleased with what we see so far.”

Tomkins agreed. “Our plans for the 2008 Fair focus on the twin goals of continuing to build the size and breadth of the exhibitor base and to attract qualified buyers from diverse audiences worldwide by demonstrating that IWF is the one international event where exhibitors and buyers come together to make great things happen for the industry,” he said.

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