The U.S. economy may be uncertain, but there is definite optimism in the woodworking industry as we approach the International Woodworking Machinery & Furniture Supply Fair-USA (IWF), North America’s largest woodworking show. IWF will be held Aug. 20-23 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.

A biennial event, IWF provides woodworkers with the opportunity to view, in a single venue, the latest products and services available by more than 1,200 exhibitors. A record number of entries for this year’s Challengers Awards competition underscores the level of innovation that will be on display at the 2008 fair. (See page 70 for more on the Challengers Awards.)

Although early projections by show management call for a slight decrease in attendance, IWF CEO Patrick LaFramboise said, “No matter what the number is, I am absolutely convinced that those buyers that do come will be motivated and qualified. Someone spending the time and resources to come to the show tells me there is a need for answers that will help them now and in the future.”

Research Backs Optimism

Preliminary results from a major research project by the Wood Machinery Manufacturers of America reinforce this outlook. The research project involved surveying 2006 IWF attendees with regards to their plans for 2008.

Of the more than 700 respondents, 80% said they planned to personally attend IWF, with a majority of companies sending more than one employee. Those interviewed cite an interest in increasing productivity, lean manufacturing and a chance to explore new niches, as a draw for viewing the new technology on display.

Lean manufacturing concepts are currently used by 42% of the respondents, with another 23% looking to implement the practice. Green products continue to gain interest, though many said they do not currently use these products.

Overall, tradeshows are a great resource for gathering information to make these equipment and supply purchase decisions. And based on the results of the survey, it looks like many plan to buy. Of those surveyed, 63% predicted that 2008 business will be good or excellent, while approximately one-third said they plan to invest more than $100,000 in their business this year.

Check out our at-show tabloid, WOODExtra, for any last minute information. Stop by Booth A448 and pick up a copy.

Finishing & Lightweight Panels Focus of IWF Seminars

Wood & Wood Products is proud to be cosponsoring two seminars at IWF, an all-day “Industrial Wood Finishing Symposium: from Green to Lean and in Between,” which will be held Aug. 19 at the Georgia World Congress Center, and “Lightweight Panels: The Technology and Momentum Are Building for Widespread Use of this Innovative Building Product,” which will take place on Aug. 21, also at the GWCC.

The finishing symposium is organized by W&WP, the Centre for Advanced Wood Processing at the University of British Columbia and IWF, with Becker Acroma as a major sponsor. The symposium will kick off with a presentation by Carl Smith, president of GREENGUARD Environmental Institute, and will include case studies detailing the best practices of several North American woodworking companies, including: Steelcase, Rosati Specialties, Leda Furniture, and M and J Woodcrafts.

Rich Christianson, associate publisher of W&WP, Custom Woodworking Business and CLOSETS, also will be moderating the 90-minute lightweight panels program, sponsored by W&WP and CWB.

This program will address how the lightweight panel product is made, its environmental benefits and its ability to be used in place of traditional particleboard and MDF in furniture, cabinets and other end products. Also discussed will be emerging technology for fabricating panels, fastening systems, specialty hardware and edgebanding developments.

Featured speakers include representatives of two companies involved in the manufacture of lightweight panels: David Hartwell, president of Bellcomb Technologies; and Charlie Oswold, president of OFC Panel Processing. Gary Wernlund, product specialist of Stiles Machinery Inc., rounds out the panel.

For more information about these programs, visit www.iwfatlanta.com.

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