AWFS had exhibitors singing its praises

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The woodworking industry enjoyed its moment in the sizzling sun of Las Vegas in July, staging a successful AWFS that featured nearly 600 exhibitors and a slew of new products.

Unless your blackjack dealer kept hitting 21 (just sayin’), the overall vibe was pretty positive. Attendance was up nearly 16 percent from the 2013 fair and there was a noticeable contingent of shop owners searching for ways to improve production. The amount of innovation was impressive, particularly in the categories of CAD/CAM software, edgebanding, engineered panels, hardware, and CNC machinery and tooling.

You can read about what the producers and participants had to say on Page 10, followed by the beginning of our new product coverage that will keep us busy through the rest of the year. Some of the bigger exhibitors — manufacturers and distributors — were quick to praise the show. I’ve received a stack of favorable releases noting their achievements. I think some excerpts our worth sharing.

Felder, SCM Group and Biesse America all said this year’s show was its most successful, ever.

“The 2015 AWFS exceeded our expectations and was a record-breaking show for Biesse America,” company president and CEO Federico Broccoli said. “We have confirmed our commitment to the 2017 AWFS with increased space. We see more and more growth for this event to the caliber of a national one.”

“We were pleased to see an increase of visitors, great interest in our entry level and complex automated solutions, and renewed enthusiasm from customers who visited our booth,” Cefla North America general manager Massimo Di Russo said.

“The show was very good for us,” Holz-Her U.S. director of marketing Rick Hannigan said. “The attendees were interactive, conversational and interested in talking about new technology. They expressed a higher confidence level in the sustainability and profitability of business to come in the next 18 to 24 months. Replacement of old and aging equipment, in a desire to remain competitive, was frequently part of the discussions. The lack of experienced, motivated, quality workers is driving interest in improved efficiency.”

It’s been a while since exhibitors were this effusive with their praise. There was some after the 2013 fair and zero during the ’11 and ’09 efforts held in the midst of the Great Recession. Back then, everyone was just trying to survive. The industry is in growth mode, which barring some unforeseen event, should almost certainly continue through next year’s IWF in Atlanta.

The primary function of a trade show is to unify and excite the industry. On that score, AWFS was a winner in a city built on losers. Ironic, huh?

In closing, I want express sincere appreciation from the entire team at Woodshop News to our supporters. It’s particularly gratifying to hear from readers who visited our booth. You say such nice things, which motivates us to do an even better job. The magazine is on the cusp of its 30th anniversary, a remarkable achievement in today’s publishing environment, if I may say so. We couldn’t do it without you. Thank you.

This article originally appeared in the September 2015 issue.

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