Summer sizzle: AWFS Fair as ‘hot as the Vegas heat’

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The AWFS Fair energized the Las Vegas Convention Center from July 17–20, offering something for everyone. From robotic, labor-saving machinery to educational symposiums and design contests, the four-day industry trade show encouraged attendees to fully immerse themselves in new experiences and generate lasting relationships.

The fair featured over 600 exhibitors and a record pre-show registration count, according to AWFS trade show committee chairman Michael Cassell, also senior CNC product specialist for Weinig/Holz-Her.

“Overall the show floor was as hot as the Vegas heat,” Cassell said in an interview with Woodshop News. “While overall attendance was down slightly, activity was steady. In reviewing show statistics, we do see that those geographical markets with a slight decrease in attendance are also those areas with decreases in the overall housing market.

“There was record attendance at the numerous educational sessions during the show, and many positive reviews were given for the new product display and Visionary Award exhibit areas.”

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The Visionary Awards celebrate product innovation and the entries were prominently displayed in the main lobby. Please see the accompanying stories to learn about the winning products.

Joseph Brown of Joseph Brown Woodworking and Cabinets in Langlois, Ore. attended the show for the sixth time to connect with his vendors and browse new hardware and equipment. He was looking to invest in a robotic arm for sanding applications, something once too expensive to consider.

“I was really interested in all of the robotics because of the labor shortage now and I’m looking at that real seriously. I wasn’t planning on it but they’re getting into more of a price range where I can implement that into my shop. I have been talking with engineers and programmers from one of the companies, and they’re bringing a model for me to look at. I’m not sure how well it will fit with my shop, but it shows promise,” says Brown.

Brown also liked the Shaper Origin, a portable hand-held CNC router.

“It was worthwhile for me to go and I also got a little relaxation. I liked meeting vendors I’ve dealt with before and friends I’ve made along the way. That’s one of the neatest things about woodworking - networking and meeting different people who teach you things. I hope my ideas will help somebody else too,” adds Brown.

Biesse had a whopping 16,000-sq.-ft. of exhibit space featuring machinery and work cell demonstrations. Stiles, SCM, Felder and Laguna Tools also had a big presence.

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“The show was really worthwhile for us in terms of making contacts,” says Raúl Ramírez, director of the Southwest School of Woodworking in Phoenix and a first-time exhibitor. “Although I had attended in the past, I noticed right away that having the exhibitor badge meant that other exhibitors were more interested in talking to us. In addition, we were able to go in early and do some networking in the mornings before the crowds hit. Because of that, we were able to have some great conversations and we met several potential new instructors and suppliers.

“And, of course, the show itself is fascinating. We were able to catch some demos, including CNC machines and turning, and I never get enough of seeing all the woodworking machines. It’s like a candy store! So, we’re really looking forward to going back next time.”

The fair also featured a comprehensive educational program, student turning and furniture competitions, and special guests, including Norm Abram and retired NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

The next AWFS Fair is scheduled for July 20-23, 2021. For more, visit www.awfsfair.org

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