Since 1966, the International Woodworking Fair (IWF) has recognized woodworking and manufacturing industry innovation through the unique Distinguished Challengers Awards program.

The biennial awards program honors progressive product pioneers and has recognized 163 exhibitors since its inception.

IWF recently announced the 20 finalists for this year's competition This group will be whittled to seven Challengers Award winners to be announced at IWF 2014, August 20 - 23, at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. (Read more about the 2014 class of Challengers Awards entrants in Woodworking Network's exclusive digital publication.)

Building Excitement... and Our Future
The National Association of Furniture Manufacturers (NAFM) organized the first IWF in Louisville in 1966. In addition to having approximately 250,000 square feet of machinery and supply displays, the inaugural IWF featured a scale model of the Furniture Factory of the Future and the Challenge to Change Awards.

Woodworking Award Celebrates 48 Years of Manufacturing InnovationIn announcing the inaugural Challenge to Change award winners at IWF 1966, NAFM board member Richard Burrow, a VP merchandising for Kroehler Mfg. Co., said, “Furniture manufacturers and retailers — all should accept the ‘Challenge to Change’ as we move forward into the future. Together we can create the excitement … in materials and machinery, in product design, in service and in quality … which will build our market and our future.”

Forty-two years later, Charles (Tommy) Tomkins, IWF 2008 chairman and president of Crescent Fine Furniture Co., noted the record 126 Challengers Award entrants that year and discussed the importance of the Challengers Awards, not only for recognizing achievements in innovation but helping foster the development of new Challengers Award-worthy products.

“Throughout manufacturing history, innovation is the key ingredient to continued success in our business,” Tomkins said. “IWF exhibitors are answering the call to provide solutions that address the woodworking industry’s manufacturing challenges. The record number of entries from companies all over the globe is a great indicator of great things to come for our industry, now and in the future. Our IWF buyers will be looking for new ways to improve their businesses and they recognize that the products they see at IWF and the Challengers Award entries are keys to their success.”

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