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Stiles’ IWF decision sends a strong signal

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The wait is over. Stiles Machinery, the distributor of nearly four dozen brands, says it will exhibit at the 2012 IWF, this year’s big industry trade show, in Atlanta.

This is big news for the IWF, which felt a little empty without Stiles and other traditional exhibitors in 2010. Stiles’ display will occupy about 15,000-sq.-ft. at the Georgia World Congress Center, focusing on the theme of “Do more with less,” and sends a signal to its competitors that they should be at IWF, too.

“We are excited to connect with the industry again in Atlanta after skipping the 2010 show due to the low economic conditions, which were present in the U.S. during that time period,” vice president of marketing and communications Stephan Waltman said in a statement. “IWF has been a proven sales platform for decades and we look forward to meeting many customers at the 2012 show.”

So if you’re on the fence about attending the Aug. 22-25 event, this should seal the deal. The big guys will be there. You’ll see all that the industry has to offer in terms of machinery, supplies and services under one very large roof.

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While the Consumer Product Safety Commission continues to solicit public comments on its proposed table saw safety standard — the deadline was extended for a second time to March 30 — a bill requiring a SawStop-like device was introduced in California by Rep. Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara.

The bill would prohibit the sale of a new table saw, on or after Jan. 1, 2015, in the state unless it’s equipped with “active injury mitigation technology.” It would subject the seller to a civil fine of up to $5,000 per sale and possible action by the attorney general.

That’s a pretty serious bill and a game-changer for table saw manufacturers. We’ll keep you posted on its progress.

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The Cabinet Makers Association released the findings of its 2012 cabinet industry benchmark study. Respondents were primarily from smaller shops, with 56 percent working in a shop smaller than 5,000 square feet and 57 percent reporting revenue of $500,000 or less in 2011. The highlights include:

• 75 percent of the respondents work in a facility between 1,000 and 3,000 sq. ft.

• 42 percent of their customers are based 50 miles or more from their shops.

• Six out of 10 respondents own their shops.

• 53 percent have three or fewer employees.

• 39 percent generated less than $250,000 in sales for 2011.

• 53 percent have CNC equipment.

• 64 percent have no marketing budget.

• Referrals are the most common source of new business. A website is a distant second, followed by networking.

• 44 percent have been in business for more than 20 years and 84 percent started their business.

• Shops with CNC were slightly more likely to have seen growth in 2011, while non-CNC shops were more than twice as likely to report decreased sales.

• Nearly four out of five respondents are optimistic that business will be better in 2012.

This article originally appeared in the April 2012 issue.

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