North America’s largest woodworking industry trade show, the International Woodworking Fair, runs August 22-25 at the World Congress Center in Atlanta. Poised for growth and a strong showing, this year’s IWF features hundreds of exhibitors and tens of thousands of square feet of exhibit space.
Major players who have been absent from previous shows during the down economy will be back in force to help woodworking businesses take advantage of improving economic indicators to build business and explore new markets and manufacturing methods.

Beyond the exhibits, there is a wealth of value in extensive education offerings. Cutting-edge new products will be spotlighted and honored. Top furniture and cabinet design students will display their work and compete for prizes. And when you’re not at the show, there’s lots of exciting attractions in the Atlanta area to entertain you and your family.

Major suppliers back 

Some of the industry’s largest suppliers who have skipped major trade shows recently will be back for IWF 2012.
“We are excited to connect with the industry again in Atlanta after skipping the 2010 show due to the low economic conditions which were present in the U.S. during that time period,” Stephan Waltman, Stiles Machinery vice president of marketing and communications, said. “IWF has been a proven sales platform for decades and we look forward to meeting many customers at the 2012 show."

Similarly, spokesmen from SCM Group North America, Biesse, and Weinig Holz-Her all confirmed their firms’ plans to be active at the show.

“As the economy is starting to rebound, now is the time for our industry to position itself at a more competitive level by reducing manufacturing costs while increasing flexibility and production through technology. What better place to see current technology than IWF,” said John Gangone, president of SCM Group North America.

Education opportunities abound 

One of the best reasons to attend the International Woodworking Fair this year is the opportunity for education. Long known for the high-value education sessions it offers, IWF this year is offering wide-ranging sessions on an extensive array of topics. And to maximize education options, programs are organized in both multi-class symposiums and single stand-alone sessions.

All of the programs and sessions feature top experts from throughout the woodworking, furniture and cabinet industry. That gives you face-to-face contact with a level of expertise you might not be able to find easily in your home town.

Several daylong symposiums are set for August 21. They include workshops on finishing, door and window manufacturing, countertop fabrication, and the custom closet business.

If you don’t have time for a full-day symposium, there are dozens of stand-alone sessions that typically run about 90 minutes during the show. They encompass a wide range of topics from sales and marketing to lean manufacturing, from finishing techniques to increasing lumber yield, plus tips for automation and better business practices.

Latest technology 

A record 22 finalists for the 2010 competition have been announced by the IWF Challenges Award judges. Sixty-five companies entered 80 new products for the 2010 Challengers Award.

“The judges previewed the entries and determined 22 new products from 21 companies have risen above the competition. We’re not doing this for publicity, it’s 110 percent legitimate to have 22 finalists based upon the quality of the entries,” commented Riccardo Azzoni IWF 2010 chairman and president of Atlantic Machinery Corp. based in New Milford, Conn.

“The quality of the products entered made it difficult to choose 20 finalists. Because of the innovative products that were entered the IWF Executive Committee decided for the first time in the Challengers Award Competition history to have 22 finalists. The investment these companies have made into research and development for the industry should be rewarded. Everyone in the industry will benefit from not only the 22 finalists products but also from the 58 products that were entered into the competition but were not named finalists,” added Richard A. Campbell, IWF 2010 Challengers Award committee chairman.

Student designs showcased 

Widely acclaimed as one of the foremost furniture design competitions for students, Design Emphasis returns to the International Woodworking Fair for 2012 in Atlanta. The competition offers design students an opportunity to demonstrate their talent and originality before a judging panel of furniture industry designers, manufacturing and retail executives, and members of the trade press who have design-oriented backgrounds.

Participants also get a chance to experience an international industry trade show, make important career contacts and exchange ideas with other students from around the nation.

Nearly 50 finalists from schools all across the country will compete for the final awards.

Other Atlanta attractions 

One of the additional benefits of attending IWF 2012 is the number of other attractions in the Atlanta area to see when you aren’t at the show. Topping the list are a number of new restaurants. Alma Cocina, by Fifth Group Restaurants, opened in December in the One Ninety One Peachtree Tower in downtown Atlanta. Alma Cocina serves Mexican and Latin American specialties by head chef Chad Clevenger, who has worked with chefs such as Rene Ortiz, Jesse Perez, Rick Bayless and Tim Love. Down the road at 270 Peachtree Street, White Oak Kitchen and Cocktails is scheduled to open in early 2012 and will feature contemporary Southern cuisine from inland areas. The 17,000-square-foot restaurant seats more than 300 guests and offers three private dining rooms.

If you bring the family along, you should be interested in the newly expanded Georgia Aquarium. The Georgia Aquarium, in partnership with AT&T, opened a multi-million dollar dolphin exhibit. The aquarium is very close to the GWCC. Dolphin Tales is the largest expansion to date for the aquarium and includes a viewing gallery, a 25-foot-long underwater viewing window, interactive displays and a live theatrical show incorporating dolphins and live actors.

Another family-friendly venue is the newly opened Legoland Discovery Center. This highly interactive and educational indoor experience features a range of play areas, a laser ride, a 4D cinema and an exhibit designed of Lego’s to reflect the Atlanta skyline.

For more information about IWF 2012 or to register, go to www.iwfatlanta.com

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