LAS VEGAS - More than 250 attended the 2017 Wood Industry 40 Under 40 Awards last night at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The second annual edition of the event, which honors the next generation of wood manufacturing industry leadership, brought in winners, friends and relations, and well wishers from across the spectrum of AWFS Fair registrants.

This year 27 of the winners attended in person to claim their award, a hardwood plaque engraved for the occasion by Epilog. Among very high profile winners were television personality and fine carpenter Chip Wade, and Kurt Ainsworth, co-founder of Marucci Sports, the leading supplier of baseball bats to Major League Baseball players. 


See Who Won the 2017 Wood Industry 40 Under 40 Awards

Read the amazing, touching, and powerful stories of the movers and shakers of wood manufacturing's next generation of leaders.

The awards event was the centerpiece of the Leadership Reception last night, a gathering of award winners, well-wishers, plus 150 attendees at three conference events held during the day: the Closets Symposium, the Finishing Symposium, and the Woodworking Network Leadership Forum. The educational programs were staged by Woodworking Network in partnership with AWFS Fair, the first time the show has sponsored a pre-show educational program.

Schattdecor Design Manager Stephanie Richardson detailed the laminate decor paper company's digital production capabilities. 

The Leadership Forum was developed as high-level examination of trends affecting the development implementation of technology and materials for wood manufacturing. Positioned as a TedX for the Wood Industry, the series of briefings ranged across topics Massive Wood Buildings; Virginia Tech's futuristic modular FutureHAUS development, and digital imaging of laminate panel decor papers. 

Joint technology developments between suppliers and wood manufacturers were the subject of two blockbuster presentations. One was Bacci and Decore-ative Specialities' multi-year effort to design a very high-speed CNC shaper and sander for its door manufacturing. The audience listened with rapt attention as Decore-ative VP Todd Shapiro outlined the engineering and design undertaken by Bacci for the system. Decore-ative also built a full-sized mock-up of the machine to test materials flow during the development process. It has now purchased four of the systems.

The audience also seemed riveted by a presentation on digital staining by Don Kuser, general manager of North American Plywood. Kuser detailed the careful finishing and coating of Baltic plywood sheets that makes them a receptive canvas for high definition digital printing.

The printing engine developed by U.K.-based Inca Digital and Fuji Digital incorporates robots to move the sheets rapidly in and out of the printing device. NAPLY, which has branded the product DesignPly, prints high definition images of hardwood veneers, including exotic species in book matched and other patterns. Other graphics can also be printed rapidly in the Inca Onset, which uses UV flash curing of ink to image a 5x10-foot sheet in 90 seconds. 

The Woodworking Network Leadership Forum will be held at other venues in coming months, with topics selected from the most trafficked subjects online at, and from other trending technology and materials reports. 

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.