People in the woodworking industry divide into two camps: the people who have never been to the International Woodworking Fair in Atlanta and people who consider it an essential part of business. Unfortunately, it’s sometimes hard to move the folks in the first camp over to the second. After all, if you’ve never been to the show, you really don’t know what you are missing.

My first IWF was a truly eye-opening experience. It forever changed my view of the size and scope of the woodworking industry. Suddenly I was looking at a much bigger and broader world and a huge number of opportunities I hadn’t even imagined before. There were machines I’d never seen before, tools that did things I didn’t think were possible. A huge number of new supplies, materials and hardware literally opened new doors.

But best of all were the people connections. In seminars, on the show floor, in random connections in the halls, at receptions, lunches and dinners, I met more interesting people with valuable information and ideas than I can possibly count. Some of those first industry connections I made back then have become valuable sources of information and support over the years. I wouldn’t be where I am today without their help.

So, what can I say to the shop owner who has never gone to the show and wonders if it is worth the hassle of air travel or a long drive, the cost of hotel rooms and meals, the time away from work? Just go. It will broaden your horizons and improve your business outlook way beyond the cost of attendance. In fact, I dare say that if you don’t come home with at least one idea or contact that pays for the trip, you were walking around with your eyes and ears closed.

See you at the show!

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