North America’s largest woodworking industry trade show, the International Woodworking Fair, is coming fast, and if you haven’t already, now is the time to plan for this important industry event. It runs August 22-25 at the World Congress Center in Atlanta.

A recovering economy and new energy in the industry promise to make this year’s IWF show significantly improved. This year’s IWF features hundreds of exhibitors, including a number of key players who were absent in previous shows, and tens of thousands of square feet of exhibit space.

But all the excitement isn’t just on the show floor. For many people, the most important part of the show is the extensive educational 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.

CMA certification program debuts at IWF

IWF 2012 is the site for the Cabinet Makers Association’s first expanded live sessions for its new CMA Professional Certification Program. Two types of sessions make up the programming. Curriculum sessions contain required knowledge to pass testing. CEU sessions are electives. Those enrolled for certification are required to earn 4.0 CEUs per year and to pass applicable testing.
You do not need to be a CMA member or enrolled in our certification program to attend any of these sessions. However, if you want any credits from these sessions to apply toward your future CMA professional certification, you must enroll and pay CMA program fees within one year from the date of the session. You are not required to be a CMA member to become CMA certified, however, the program offers substantial discounts to CMA members on session and program fees.

Topics include marketing, pricing, insurance, lean manufacturing, sales, wood properties, and more. Additional details about the CMA certification program are available at http://cabinetmakers.org/certification.html or stop by the CMA booth #1336 with your questions and comments.

Symposiums and stand-alones

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 have been announced by the IWF Challengers Award judges. Sixty-five companies entered 80 new products for the 2012 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 2012 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 2012 Challengers Award committee chairman.

Student designs compete

Another popular attraction at IWF is the Design Emphasis student competition, which 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, including Alma Cocina (Mexican and Latin American specialties) and White Oak Kitchen and Cocktails, (contemporary Southern cuisine).

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.

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