With 12,306 registered attendees and 693 exhibitors, the 2017 AWFS fair in Las Vegas will go down as one of the best, certainly in recent memory.
“This was the largest show our association has hosted since 2007, in terms of both exhibit space and attendance,” says AWFS president Archie Thompson, sales manager for Spectrum Adhesives. “In addition, our association membership has continued to expand with 461 current members, the highest total that I can remember since I have been an AWFS volunteer since 2000.”
The AWFS says it has already received commitments from nearly 150 exhibitors for the 2019 fair.
“Going into this event, the numbers indicated that we were going to have a strong show and the AWFS board couldn’t be happier with the results,” adds Rob Howell, the 2017 fair chair and sales manager at SCM. “Just to put it in perspective as to how far our industry and this show has bounced back since the Great Recession, we sold more booth space during our four show days for 2019 than we did over the course of 10 months following our 2009 fair. That is a testament to the perseverance of the people that make up this industry and something we can all be proud of.”
The show had much to offer, including an emphasis on “Industry 4.0” technology, education, promoting career opportunities and recognizing emerging talent. But for most attendees, it’s about shopping for new machinery, supplies and services. Most attendees interviewed by Woodshop News said the show met or exceeded their expectations.
First-time attendee Grant Kassap of Cobra Cabinetry Corp. in Bronx, N.Y., was on the hunt for an edgebander and chose the Felder model G330. “Other machines I considered were the SCM Minimax ME25 and the Maggi 3/50,” he says. “I looked at about a dozen different small-shop edgebanders overall. I was able to see most of them in operation and discuss their specific capabilities with the sales reps and technicians. This allowed me, as an edge banding novice, to learn about the various features and decide which ones were important to my shop’s needs so I could figure out which one to purchase.”
Exhibitors were also pleased.
Alex Mohr, marketing director for Colonial Saw of Kingston, Mass., rated the show as a huge success. “We found ourselves consistently busy with traffic, partially due to the introduction of Lamello’s new Cabineo RTA connector, as well the introduction of our 4.0 industry-ready Premium Robotic 8-axis Carbide Saw Sharpening Loader, which sold on the floor with more orders pending.”
GL Veneer Co. in Huntington Park, Calif., had plenty of eye candy in its booth, which included a 1937 Ford Woodie sporting bubinga burl, several gorgeous surfboards, and a giant carving of an octopus from a redwood tree.
“This was a new and larger show booth for us, not having shown in 10 years,” says owner Jeff Levin. “We were trying to introduce the new directions that we have been directing our efforts. We have seen intense interest in our regional collections, specialty logging, and processing unique materials from fallen trees to finished panels. We have been supplying some interesting projects with these items in veneer and panel formats. We are also sawing and drying live edge slabs.”
Holz-Her demonstrated a closet manufacturing work cell highlighting the use of Lockdowel’s EClips fasteners. The cell featured Holz-Her’s new Sector vertical panel saw, Auriga edgebander, and Evolution Connect vertical CNC center. Panels were completely machined and assembled by two workers in minutes.
Stiles Machinery hosted over 2,000 industry professionals at its huge booth, which offered the latest industry solutions for panel processing, surface technologies, solid wood solutions, advanced materials, service and software.
“The highlight of the show was undoubtedly the announcement of the next generation of industry 4.0 innovation, Tapio, to the North American market, where it is poised to revolutionize the woodworking industry by providing streamlined access to valuable data from each stage of the manufacturing process,” the company said in a statement. “Designed to dramatically increase the efficiency of production management including production optimization, plant and machinery operation, predictive maintenance and more, Tapio users can not only receive real-time data from any machine, at any time, but also of their entire production process, all from the palm of their hand.”
Major show news included a $300,000 investment from Sherwin-Williams to support the Manufacturing Industry Learning Lab, a new industry training center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
And there were some star sightings, too. John Ratzenberger, the actor who played Cliff on Cheers, delivered the keynote address. NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. attracted a huge crowd at the booth of Axalta Wood Coatings, where he talked about racing, retirement and the paint scheme on his No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet parked nearby. YouTube’s April Wilkerson was in Triton’s booth.
The next AWFS fair is in 2019, scheduled for July 17-20 in Las Vegas. For more, visit www.awfsfair.org.
This article originally appeared in the September 2017 issue.