A Q&A with Tim Fixmer, CEO of CCI Canada, the business that owns and operates WMS since acquiring it in December 2015, right after the last show ended. 

What’s new at WMS 2017?

When attendees step onto the show floor on November 2 they will certainly hear all the buzzwords going around the industry, such as Industry 4.0, the Internet of Things, and Mass-Customization. However, this year, more than ever, attendees will see truly “smart machines” and tooling that talk to each other and integrate with the front office and the shop floor.  And this level of automation is available to shops of all sizes.
In addition to the exhibits of machines, tooling, and software our materials, hardware, and supply exhibitors will be displaying a wide array of innovations, many of which are on display for the first time in North America.
One of the common threads for the Canadian woodworking industry is the challenge to develop and retain a skilled workforce.  Our two keynote speakers and four education tracks will, in part, address this issue.

What will visitors notice at this year’s show? 

First, The International Centre itself has undergone major renovations and we will be taking advantage of the fresh and revitalized space.  Our all-new conference curriculum will all be offered in the new conference space. This robust educational offering is tailored to meet the most pressing needs of Canadian woodworkers.
We are excited to be hosting an opening reception this year that will take place at the end of the first day.  All participants are invited.
Exhibitors will be demonstrating how interactive their equipment and products really are.  Attendees should expect to see streaming video displays showing machines and products in real time.
Another exciting event attendees will not want to miss is the Pro-Ply plant tour taking place on the afternoon of the first day.  Pro-Ply, one of the most automated plants in North America, will be opening its doors to showcase the latest in robotic panel processing lines.

What are your main objectives and expectations for this year’s WMS?

The wood products manufacturing industry is essential to Canada’s economy. We have invested heavily in building Canada’s largest industrial woodworking event. Especially on the 150th-year anniversary of Canada we felt it appropriate to make WMS the National Event for Canada’s Wood Industry.  We have brought in speakers from across the provinces and are likewise committed to drawing large national participation for overall attendance by working closely with our exhibitors and partners.

How to you think this year’s event will compare to the last show? 

First off, it will be significantly larger with more exhibitors than the last show. In addition, WMS 2017 will have a better look and feel because of the renovations done to the International Centre. Also, attendees will have more opportunities for high quality education than at prior shows.

How are early registrations and exhibitor type compared to 2015 WMS? 

We will definitely have more attendees than the 2015 event.  Right now we are running about  22 percent ahead of the last show. As to exhibitors, we are up significantly from 2015 with more than 170 exhibitors, and 20 percent of those are first time or returning exhibitors that haven’t been with us for a while. At the moment we are  20 percent ahead of the last show in terms of exhibitors and 15 percent ahead in square feet of exhibit space. 

What sets WMS apart from other shows and how would Canadian industry professional benefit from visiting it?

The Canadian market is deserving of a national woodworking show. WMS 2017 is a truly national event and is the next generation of one that has served the industry for more than 30 years.  This year, Canada’s 150th, we have networked across the country to bring the industry together, under one roof for three days.  CCI Canada is the proud new owner of the Woodworking Machinery & Supply Expo.

Will WMS 2017 attract international visitors, what are expectations?

Our primary focus is to encourage all Canadian woodworkers to attend this year. That being said, in 2015 we had attendees from 34 countries outside of Canada.  We’ve been seeing a lot of interest in the show so far from abroad so I would not be surprised if we exceed those numbers. 

Talk a bit about the education program and seminars offered at WMS this year.

We researched past attendees and worked with our advisory panel to come up with the most useful and relevant topics…topics that meet the most pressing needs of Canadian woodworkers.  We are pleased to offer four tracks this year: 
  • Finishing Materials & Techniques;
  • Cabinet Production & Design;
  • Materials Track, and
  • Woodshop Best Practices
Our sessions feature presenters from some of the industry’s top associations and educational facilities.  We’re proud to be working with AWMAC, CKCA, UBC, Conestoga College, Bluewater Wood Alliance and the Center for Lean Learning.
We have two luncheon keynotes that we are very excited about:
On November 2 Sylvain Garneau the CEO of Group Lacasse (above), one of Canada’s largest furniture manufacturers will talk about investment, productivity, and his role as first Canadian to chair the Business & Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association.
On November 3 Scott Hodson, President and CEO of Superior Cabinets (above), will present “An Overnight Success the Making Decades in the Making - a story about Superior's turnaround,” with lots of good lessons for success from Mr. Hodson’s playbook.

What have you heard from WMS exhibitors? Are they positive/optimistic? 

Exhibitors are very positive about this year’s show.  You’ll even be able see a few of them on our website, wmscanada.ca, talking about the virtues of the show and the excitement in the industry this year. 

Anything else that you feel is important for attendees to know about WMS 2017?

It’s important for your readers to know how committed and dedicated we are at CCI Canada to make WMS the show that the Canadian wood industry deserves.  Since the wood industry is such a big piece of Canada’s GDP we are motivated and passionate about delivering a quality event that pays dividends to all participants. We want all your readers to know that we are working diligently to create an event that will be worthy of their investment of time and energy to attend. Taking a couple of days from their busy schedules will yield a high return for them. This is the one event where they can see, learn, and absorb while networking with their peers in the industry. We believe it is the industry’s “must attend” event in 2017, and we hope to see them all there.

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