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Trade shows are still vital workplace tools

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With the AWFS fair in Las Vegas on the horizon, the value of attending trade shows has been a hot topic recently. While the number of exhibitors is down at this year’s AWFS (please see story on Page 6), all trade shows — including IWF in Atlanta, TSI Expos and WoodWorks Shows — remain an important resource for shops of all sizes.

A recent survey, sponsored by the Wood Machinery Manufacturers Association (an owner of the IWF), backs up this point. The findings note that attendees look to trade shows to help them make decisions that will have a positive impact on their companies’ processes and profitability. Very few of the survey respondents say they are relying less on trade shows to make decisions for equipment and machinery purchases. In fact, more than twice as many report even greater reliance on trade shows for machinery and equipment decisions than in the past.

“The implication of the data is encouraging,” says Todd Sommerfeld, chair of the WMMA business development committee and president of Kreg Tool Co. “We want to better understand the activities regarding trade show attendance and purchasing behaviors of customers of WMMA members so that our business can adjust accordingly — and it seems as if it makes sense for many companies to continue to exhibit at trade shows in order to meet our customers face-to-face.”

The survey notes that 83 percent of the 1,160 respondents have attended one or more trade shows during a 12-month period; 41 percent have attended only one.

There were a wide range of comments given for attending. They include the opportunity to compare and contrast different machinery and equipment in a single venue in one or two days. Building relationships with other industry professionals and the value of learning about recent innovations, both for product and process, were other top reasons.

If you haven’t been to a trade show or are on the fence about returning, I encourage you to attend. They really are can’t-miss events.

For listings of upcoming trade shows, please visit the Calendar page on

This article originally appeared in the June 2009 issue.

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