The Association of Woodworking & Furnishing Suppliers sponsors its biennial wood industry trade show, AWFS Fair, July 20-23 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The event gives woodworking businesses in any segment options to improve business processes, expand markets, and refine technical skills, as well as see the latest in woodworking technology, tools and supplies laid out in two sizeable halls at the convention center.

AWFS Fair takes place as the economic recovery takes root across U.S. markets. The commercial woodworking segments — business and institutional casegoods and custom commercial work — are in a stronger position, with orders and shipments of furnishings running more than 20 percent ahead of last year, according to the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association (BIFMA).

In the residential market, cabinetry production and woodworking interior work orders are gradually growing, though the market mainstay of new housing construction is dampened by lingering unemployment and large inventories of repossessed homes. Some financial analysts have halved projections for U.S. economic growth, while the Federal Reserve lowered its April forecast of 3.3 percent GDP expansion to as low as 2.7 percent in late June.

Custom woodworking businesses are taking heed of the changing needs of both commercial and residential clients who want more flexibility in space usage and creative ways to adapt existing sites to future needs: consumers are “aging in place” rather than moving; and businesses are shifting to collaborative work and downsized square footage.

Custom woodworkers that trimmed head counts now need the latest equipment and supplies to meet compressed client schedules. So the timing of the AWFS Fair, with hundreds of new products, is an opportunity for woodworkers to meet those needs.

Falling as it does just after two major shows in Germany (see a related story about Interzum and Ligna) new developments in woodworking technology and supplies, from functional hardware and digital design-to-manufacture applications, work-cell production schemes with highly automated machinery, and new advances in lumber, veneers and surface materials, will be on view. Widely anticipated is the first U.S. trade show exhibition of a laser-powered edgebanding system, as well as the specialized edgeband material it uses for nearly seamless panel edges and contours.

More than four dozen educational sessions are geared to everything from lean manufacturing and cell production, to moving a custom woodworking shop to faster growing markets. Even before the show opens, woodshops of all sizes will want to attend the all-day “Lean Manufacturing Hands-on Simulation Workshop,” Tuesday, July 19 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Other business management topics include “Becoming a Next Generation Manufacturer,” and “Arming Yourself with Financing Savvy” on Wednesday; “Cost, Pricing & Profit,” and “Strengthening Your Workforce from Within,” on Thursday; and on Friday, “Profitable Growth through Innovation.”

New Tools, Training AWFS Fair Las Vegas 
 Official AWFS Fair Guide to New Products
New Tools, Training AWFS Fair Las Vegas
With the theme “Surround Yourself with Innovation,” AWFS 2011 is focusing on providing the industry with a cutting-edge forum for new product developments, competitive new strategies and relevant solutions for the changing marketplace. As you flip through pages of this digital AWFS Fair woodworking show product guide, you will find not only information about new equipment, supplies and education seminars but also embedded video links that will show you many of the hundreds of products that will be featured at AWFS.

AWFS Fair will feature free education opportunities. The Small Business Administration, and SCORE the service core of retired executives, will offer daily tutorials on business loan programs, marketing, small business insurance and loss prevention, contracts and SCORE’s business counseling. OSHA has daily presentations on the most common regulatory citations, including woodworking machinery rules, hazard communication, and lockout/tagout rules.

At a free Green Desk at AWFS Fair, experts will field questions on environmental practices and products, green building and product certifications, and government rules affecting woodworkers.

One guide to AWFS Fair 2011 technology is the Sequoia Awards for innovation. More than 40 products have been entered. The show also has more big-equipment suppliers, with some who had missed last time exhibiting at the 2011 AWFS Fair.

Woodworking Network will also host two free presentations:
State of the Woodworking Industry (Wednesday, July 20 at Noon)
What Digital Marketing Can Do for You (Friday, July 22 at Noon)

CWB, at our Booth 2139, will host finishing expert Bernie Bottens to answer questions, sponsored by ML Campbell. Editor at large Rich Christianson and sales editor Rick Hill also will present during the College of Woodworking Knowledge (CWWK) seminars. All CWWK sessions qualify for CEU credits.

Continuous news of woodworking products and technology is posted at woodworkingnetwork.com/awfs

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