The largest woodworking show in North America, IWF will play host to more than 1,000 exhibitors and 30,000-plus attendees, Aug. 22-25 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. To get the most out of the experience, here are 10 tips for navigating the biennial show.

1. Save money. Pre-register for IWF and save off the registration fee through July 31. Go to IWFAtlanta.com to complete a registration form for the early-bird attendance price of $30 ($35 after July 31). Discounts are also available before July 31 for any of the 11 all-day symposiums which take place Aug. 21, or the dozens of educational sessions held during IWF. You can still register online after July 31 at the full price, as well as on site.

2. Logistics. IWF opens Aug. 22 and runs through Aug. 25. Show hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday. The Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC) is located in downtown Atlanta, near Centennial Olympic Park, at 285 Andrew Young International Blvd. The GWCC is within easy walking distance of most downtown hotels, and shuttle bus service also available from select hotels. Use the entrance on Andrew Young International Blvd., located between Buildings A and B. This year’s show will be held in Buildings B and C.

For those who prefer to drive, there should be limited parking available at the GWCC.

3. Plan ahead. Even before you arrive, check out the exhibitor list for a list of companies and their booth numbers to visit. In addition to the IWF website, IWFAtlanta.com, a great source of information for show news and events are media sites, such as WoodworkingNetwork.com and industry publications, such as FDMC and this special edition Pre-Show Planner.

Create a list of (1) exhibitors you absolutely must see; and (2) exhibitors that you would like to see. Be sure to leave time in your schedule for exploring the new products, technology and services on display on the show floor.

To access the exhibitors list online, go to IWF’s web site, IWFAtlanta.com, for up-to-date information. A copy of the exhibitor list also can be found in the Pre-Show Planner. Also check out FDMC’s July edition and the IWF Show Daily for information. 

4. Clothing. Wear comfortable shoes to the show. IWF stretches across more than 1 million square feet, with more than 1,000 exhibits spread throughout Buildings B and C.

5. Resources. In addition to the myIWF Show Planner and the IWF Pocket Guide and Official Fair Directory you’ll receive at the show, another valuable resource for locating exhibitors is the “world’s largest” IWF floor plan and exhibitors’ list published in the Woodworking Network IWF Show Daily. Use these valuable tools to plan the most efficient routes for booth visits. Machinery-related manufacturers will be located in Building B, and supply/services/upholstery companies located in Building C, with some also in Building B (Halls B-1 and B-2).

6. Education. Look over the list of educational offerings to see which are useful for your business. You can register in advance or on-site for the more than 70 sessions available. An ideal show experience would be to combine time spent on the exhibit floor with educational sessions related to: Business Management, Manufacturing & Design, Marking & Business Development, and New Business Sectors.

Plan to arrive early and check out the 11 all-day symposiums, to be held Tuesday, Aug. 21. Topics include: Closets, CNC, Countertop & Architectural Surfaces, Digital Printing, Expanding Your Business to the U.S., Finishing, Powder Coating Wood, Quantum Lean, Techniques & Time Savers for Engineered Surfacing Products, Wood Flooring, and the Woodworking Network Leadership Forum.

7. Special exhibits. Be sure to check out the products entered in the IWF Challengers Award for a look at the latest woodworking innovations. A list of 2018 Challengers Award entries can be found at IWF’s website, IWFAtlanta.com. Winners of the distinguished Challengers Award will be announced at the show on Aug. 22, at the IWF Challengers Award Finalist Gallery located in the Connector Concourse between Buildings B and C.

Another must-see, the New Product Showcase, also located in the Connector Concourse between Buildings B and C, provides a quick look at some of the developments in machinery, supplies and services that have been introduced since IWF 2016.

Also, while at IWF, don’t forget to view the Design Emphasis Showcase. It features furniture pieces designed and built by students from 20 colleges and universities throughout the United States. Categories include: Seating, Case Goods, Commercial/Office/Hospitality Furniture, Accent Furniture/Accent Tables, and Design Creativity. A prize is also given for the Best of Show. 

8. Stay connected. Even though most booths have scanners to capture information from your badge, don’t forget to bring business cards. They may be old school, but business cards are still an important tool, and also essential when networking with suppliers as well as others in your field.

9. Get a deal. Ready to buy now? Exhibitors are often willing to sell a machine displayed at the show rather than incur the costs to ship it back to the facility. There may be a good deal to be had, so don’t hesitate to inquire.

10. Network. And finally, more than 30,000 wood industry professionals are expected to be in attendance at IWF. Take advantage of the on-site expertise from thousands of industry suppliers as well as your peers. Don’t hesitate to ask questions, look for tips or seek advice, and take advantage of the opportunity to inquire about the products and services that can help improve your business.

Are you ready for IWF? For information, check out the show coverage in this Pre-Show Planner, produced by FDMC, a Woodworking Network publication.  More can be found online at WoodworkingNetwork.com and at IWF’s website, IWFAtlanta.com. Also follow the latest show news as it happens on Twitter @woodworkingbiz.

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