AWFS celebrated its 50th anniversary by hosting its largest show to date.

Bagpipers marched through the exhibit halls to mark the official opening of the 2007 AWFS Vegas Fair.

While preliminary registration figures showed a drop when compared to the record-breaking 2005 inaugural event (19,923 versus 18,987), the 2007 AWFS Vegas Fair saw increases in attendance from the healthy cabinet manufacturing sector and, according to the show sponsor, exhibitors were able to register 5.2% more leads than they did at the last show. The show was held July 18-22.

“Exhibitors have already started reserving space for 2009, and we are very happy to see that many companies continue to expand their booth space,” said Angelo Gangone, vice president of tradeshows for AWFS.

AWFS attributes the decline in registration numbers to a drop in the furniture manufacturing and “non-manufacturer other” segments. The latter group is mainly suppliers, the association adds, many of whom attended the inaugural Las Vegas Fair in 2005 for evaluation purposes and returned as exhibitors in 2007. After the final figures are in, AWFS expects that onsite attendance will be 5% to 5.5% below 2005.

The 2007 show set records in the number of exhibiting companies, 910, and square footage, 475,875. Other milestones included a 40% increase in the number of new products vying for Sequoia Awards (120); a 30% increase in the number of entries (210) in the Fresh Wood student design competition, and a 45% increase in attendance (almost 500) at the Thursday evening Awards Banquet, where winners were announced and honored. “Home Improvement” TV star Richard Karn was the celebrity host for the evening.

Lucky 13 Win Sequoia Awards

The new products submitted for consideration in this year’s Sequoia Awards were displayed in the Grand Lobby during the show, where attendees could see the wide variety of entries. 

“The participating companies truly raised the bar with their submissions,” Gangone said. “The spirit of innovation and creativity is vibrant in our industry and was on display.”

This year’s winners were: Echo Wood, Hardwoods Specialty Products, for “Product Innovation & Productivity/Components;” Arena Champagne Collection, Hafele America Co., for “Product Innovation/Hardware;” Versaclamp, Penntek Tools, for “Product Innovation & Productivity/Tooling;” Worksharp tool sharpener, Professional Tool Manufacturing, for “Product Innovation/Power Tools;” Door Ordering System, KCDw Software, for “Product Innovation & Productivity/Software.”

Other winners were: The Atomizer, Apollo Sprayers, and Wurth Fill and Finish, Wurth Group, distributed by Louis and Co., both for “Product Innovation/General;” Tuff Core Compression, Onsrud Cutter LLP, “Productivity/Power Tools;” Magic Molder, LRH Enterprises Inc., “Ergonomics-Safety;” and CVX/UV-X sprayer, Delle Vedove USA, “Environmental Achievement.”

In the “Machinery, Under $50,000” category, Tigerstop’s Tigersaw won for “Productivity” and Travaini Pumps’ Evo Dynaseal System won for “Product Innovation.” For Machinery Over $50,000, Biesse America won both “Product Innovation” and “Productivity” for its Selco Twin Pusher.

At the high school level, Andrew Prioli’s “Albatabla” won first prize for “Tables.”

Students Participate in Fair Activities, Design Contest

More than ever before, woodworking students dazzled Fair attendees with their creativity and craftsmanship, as the 58 projects chosen as finalists in the Fresh Wood competition were on display throughout the show. Students from 41 different schools at the post-secondary and high school levels participated in the contest. In all, 38 awards were presented to 34 students, and a total of $23,750 in prize money was distributed.

The overall winner was Chris Hedges, University of Rio Grande/Rio Grande Community College, Gallipolis, OH, for his reproduction of a classic secretary desk made of cherry. “The Goose: Penn Secretary” was named Best-in-Show, People’s Choice and winner in the “Reproduction” category at the post-secondary level. Hedges said he plans to settle in Tennessee and open his own custom woodworking shop.

Other post-secondary category winners were: Casegoods, Christian Lazcano, Cerritos College, La Mirada, CA; Chairs, Greg Klassen, College of the Redwoods, Abbotsford, BC, Canada; “Open,” Michael C. Poorman, Appalachian State University, Concord, NC; Production/Contract, Charles Heydinger, Savannah College of Art & Design, Savannah, GA, and Tables, Cortney Schiappa, Miami University, Oxford, OH.

Category winners at the high school level were: Casegoods, Jake Grieve, David Douglas High School, Portland, OR; Chairs, Mary Van Dempsey, Cedar Ridge High School, Hillsborough, NC; “Open,” Daniel Klus, North Canyon High School, Phoenix, AZ; Reproduction, Rebecca Price, David Douglas High School, and Tables, Andrew Prioli, Cedar Ridge High School.

Michael Rowan and Jesus Segovia of Dale Jackson Career Center, Justin, TX, won top honors for the “Class Project” category. All finalists will be featured in the third volume of “Fresh Wood,” a coffee table-quality book that will be available in January 2008. (For how-to-order information, visit the AWFS Web site at

In addition to the students and teachers involved in the design contest, 58 WoodLINKS teachers, sponsored by AWFS, and a contingent of their students attended the Fair. A special program of educational seminars and exhibitor meetings was developed for them, plus they had ample time to spend in the exhibit halls and view, first-hand, the newest developments in woodworking, so they can share it with their students throughout the coming year.

A highlight of their activities was a WoodLINKS reception, held Wednesday evening. Teacher and industry partner recognition awards were presented and new WoodLINKS-USA Director Mark Smith, formerly a teacher at Shiloh High School in Hume, IL, was introduced. The program also included a moving tribute to retiring Director Wilf Torunski, who was instrumental in the initial development, expansion and success of WoodLINKS in the United States.

More than 1,000 cheering fans attended the AWFS Fair’s first Belt Sander Drag Races.

A Racing Milestone

A more unusual milestone set during the 2007 Fair was the first Belt Sander National Championship Drag Race, which was held in conjunction with the event. A large crowd filled the viewing bleachers to watch woodworkers, students and other participants shoot belt sanders down a 75-foot custom track, racing at speeds over 45 miles per hour.

Sponsored by Accuride Int’l., the Belt Sander Racing Assn. conducted the event, which included categories for stock and decorated sanders. Almost 30 teams participated in the elimination drag race. Winners were Glen Gurner and Mike Newby of MA, setting a world sander speed record with an elapsed time of 2.885 seconds.

“This is only the beginning,” said BSRA president Jamie Goodwin, a sales rep for Accuride. “We are looking forward to a full-race calendar and all the hoopla that makes racing fun to watch and more fun to join.”

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