It's been an interesting, hectic four weeks. I suppose any time you pack your bags, say goodbye to your 10-month-old son and spend six days in Las Vegas covering the 2009 AWFS Vegas fair, you're not having a "normal" month. Toss in a major home renovation and the challenge of producing a magazine in a condensed time frame and perhaps you have a better idea of what I'm talking about.
I haven't been this stressed out since, oh, a year ago, when I spent a week in Atlanta at the IWF and my son was about to be born.
At this point, I've pretty much covered "hectic." But what's been so interesting? Let's go back to the AWFS fair for a brief recap of what I consider to be some stunning developments.
First, there was Scott Box in the General International booth. Box is the former president of Powermatic and a founder of Steel City Tool Works. He's parted ways with Steel City and is the U.S. operation's manager for General, overseeing the development of the Canadian manufacturer's first U.S.-based warehouse and distribution center (see story, Page 10). It's not exactly like seeing Bill Parcells coach the Cowboys, but close.
Almost every exhibitor I spoke with at AWFS - and that's at least 100 - had nothing very negative to say about the fair. Sure, they were disappointed there were fewer exhibitors and attendance was down by approximately 50 percent (see story, Page 6), but it's what they expected. If you attended the fair, there was unprecedented access to new products and knowledgeable exhibitors. Hopefully, scenes of half-empty aisles on the trade show floor and exhibitors standing around with no one to talk won't be repeated at next year's IWF and the 2011 AWFS. If it is, exhibitors will certainly be singing a different tune.
Two days after the show closed, Wood Digest announced it was ceasing publication. Meanwhile, Cabinetmaker is combining with its sister publication, FDM. While this may appear to be good news for the competition - namely us - I feel sorry for my colleagues and friends who have lost their jobs as a result. The publishing industry has certainly taken some huge hits in 2009 and, to be honest, the trend will continue for a bit.
At Woodshop News, and our publishing group Soundings Publications, our rallying cry for the last year or so is "to be the last man standing" through better service to our readers. This magazine, which debuted in 1986, certainly hopes to be around in another 25 years and we're changing with the times.
Some of you have noticed a change on our flag. We've adopted the tagline of "Shaping the successful shop," which aligns with our editorial mission to inform professional woodworkers about the news, technology, materials, people and issues that affect them. We've broadened our editorial focus to cover shops with fewer than 20 employees. We won't ignore the small shops with one to five employees (see the two profiles in this issue), but the need to reach larger, more production-oriented shops should be obvious.
We've updated our Web site within the last year and have plans to add more reader-response tools in the near future. We currently offer a digital edition of our print magazine, which means you can read Woodshop News on your computer. We've expanded our free e-newsletters to three offerings per month, which are a great source for breaking news. And we now have two blogs - by former editor A.J. Hamler and cabinetmaker David DeCristoforo - that are updated throughout the week. To participate or add any of these value-added features, please visit www.woodshopnews.com.
This article originally appeared in the September 2009 issue.