IWF is the largest woodworking show in North America. To get the most out of your experience, here are 10 helpful hints for navigating the biennial event.
1. If possible, pre-register for the event at IWFAtlanta.com. This will save time and allow you to hit the show floor as soon as the doors open. Kiosks will also be available for on-site registration.
2. IWF opens Aug. 24, and runs through Aug. 27. Show hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and Saturday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The Georgia World Congress Center is located in downtown Atlanta, adjacent to Centennial Olympic Park at 285 Andrew Young International Boulevard. The GWCC is within easy walking distance of most downtown hotels and shuttle bus service also will be available from select hotels.
For those that prefer to drive, there will be limited parking available at the GWCC; about 3,000 spaces are available. Use the entrance on Andrew Young International Boulevard, which is located between Halls A and B.
3. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes while navigating through the GWCC. There are more than 1,000 exhibitors, stretched across more than 500,000 net square feet of space.
4. Before and during the show, check the exhibitors’ list for companies and booth locations. In addition to the IWF website, a great source of information for show news and events are media sites, such as WoodworkingNetwork.com (http://bit.ly/WWN-IWF) FDMCdigital.com and industry publications such as FDMC and the special pre-show planner.
Use the information to determine: (1) exhibitors you absolutely must see; (2) exhibitors you would like to see; and (3) additional exhibitors touting new ideas and new technology. Also make sure to allow time to explore – you never know what you’ll find.
The field has been narrowed to 39 semi-finalists in the IWF Challengers Distinguished Achievement Award, which promotes the development of innovative new technology in woodworking machinery, supplies, and services. Nearly 70 products were entered in the 2016 competition.
5. In addition to the large IWF floor plan and exhibitors’ list found in the Woodworking Network Show Daily, you’ll also receive a Pocket Guide and fair directory at registration. Use them to plan your booth visits so you’re not going back and forth between Building A and Building B, or crisscrossing from one end to the other. Machinery-related manufacturers will be located in Building B, Halls B-2, B-3, and B-4, and supply/services/upholstery companies can be found in Building A and also in Halls B-1 and B-2 in Building B. IWF also features three pavilions: Cabinets & Closets, Wood Flooring and Upholstery.
6. Along with checking out the exhibitor list, look over the list of educational offerings at IWF and see which are the most useful for your business. An ideal show experience would be to combine the exhibit floor time and include several educational sessions. There are more than 60 technical sessions to choose from, tracked to: Business Management, Furniture & Upholstery; Manufacturing; Marketing & Business Development; and New Business Sectors. If arriving early, there are also six all-day symposiums taking place the day prior to IWF, on Aug. 23: Closets, Exploring Countertop Options, Finishing, Veneering, Wood Composites and Wood Flooring.
7. Don’t forget to check out the IWF Challengers Awards winners and entrants for a look at some of the latest innovations in woodworking technology. The Challengers Award winners will be announced at the show on Aug. 24 at 11 a.m., at the IWF Challengers Award Finalist Gallery in the Building B.
Another must see, the New Product Showcase, located in Building B, offers a preview the latest developments in products and product lines in machinery, supplies and services introduced since IWF 2014. Also save time to view the Design Emphasis Showcase in Building A, featuring furniture pieces designed and built by students from colleges and universities throughout the United States.
8. Bring lots of business cards and be prepared to take notes. As basic as this sounds, you would be surprised to find out how many people either forget their cards or bring too few, and run out before the show is over. And as you go to the various booths, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Inquire about the products and services offered. Share a problem that you’re having back at the shop and ask for advice.
9. Sometimes exhibitors are interested in selling a machine displayed at the show rather than shipping it back to their main office. This is more common than you might think. We’ve heard of good deals being had, so it doesn’t hurt to ask.
10. An estimated 25,000 wood industry professionals are expected to be in attendance. Take advantage of opportunities to network not only with industry suppliers, but also with other woodworkers. You may want to also include others from your team who have never been to the show. Not only will they welcome the opportunity to travel, but also they may be able to offer a fresh perspective.
For more information, check out the show coverage in the official 2016 IWF Pre-Show Planner produced by FDMC/Woodworking Network, go to WoodworkingNetwork.com and FDMCDigital.com or consult the IWF website at www.iwfatlanta.com. Also follow the latest show news as it happens on twitter @woodworkingbiz.
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