IWF 2010 was ‘still viable’ despite dip

12_iwf_01The total number of visitors to IWF 2010, including exhibitors and attendees, was 22,697, compared to 35,181 in 2008, according to officials numbers released in October. The drop was not alarming, says CEO Patrick LaFrambroise, who attributes the drop to the state of the economy.

"The turnout was pretty good," he said in a post-show interview with Woodshop News. "Who could really know with any definitive idea how many people were going to come to any show, at least these days? We were pleased and the feedback we're getting from our exhibitor surveys is very positive. A lot of people didn't know what to expect, but in the end I felt they did better than what they expected.

"We can't ignore what happened to the show with some companies pulling out. But this show itself, the attendee buyers and companies, really proved to themselves that this industry is still viable."

The verified buyer-attendee turnout was 11,425, compared to 19,000 in 2008. There were 972 exhibiting companies, compared to more than 1,300 at IWF 2008, including 180 first-time exhibitors.

A smaller show was appreciated by attendees, according to LaFramboise. "In their comments, the attendees indicated that the show was easier to get around, they were able to see more companies, spend more time talking to exhibitors. The exhibitors indicated experiencing a higher quality audience due to the economics of the situation ... There were fewer second-tier and support personnel from companies there. It was really the key decision-makers and buyers that came to the show."

"Our booth was very busy from the opening of the show until well after the close of the show. We were very pleased and sold several machines, which was completely unexpected," says Tom Onsrud, president of C.R. Onsrud Inc.

Buyers came from 83 countries and 49 states. The International Buyer Program produced 17 delegations.

Attendees were most interested in CNC machinery and software. "The highest reason for individuals to attend is still clearly to see new machinery and equipment and supplies. The next biggest reason is to find new suppliers," says LaFramboise.

The technical seminars were also a major draw. IWF 2010 had a record 23 seminars on topics such as estimating, lean manufacturing, finishing and sustainability issues. The free social-media seminar had the highest turnout with more than 170 attendees.

"Any show, whether IWF or AWFS or other show representing segments of the woodworking industry, is a terrific place for people to get information. It could be through an informal exchange or in a classroom setting. You find all sorts of purposes being served," says LaFramboise.

He adds that an informal space survey has been issued for IWF 2012, which so far indicates returning exhibitors want the same size booth or a larger one.

IWF 2012 is scheduled for Aug. 22-25. For information, visit www.iwfatlanta.com.

This article originally appeared in the November 2010 issue.