IWF comes and goes, earning strong reviews

Well, I survived another IWF. And it looks like the woodworking industry did, too.

There was some trepidation among exhibitors and — though they’d never admit it — the show producers in the weeks and months proceeding IWF 2008, which took place Aug. 20-23 at the massive Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. With soaring fuel prices, a dismal housing market and a lousy economy in general, they had every reason to be concerned about show attendance and the potential to make sales.

While show attendance was down, every exhibitor I talked with said they either made their sales goals or received more than enough qualified leads to walk away happy.

The general consensus was that it was a buying crowd, and there were a couple reasons cited. First, the investment in attending the show (airfare, for example) left the tire-kickers at home. Second, the very real threat of rising tool and machinery costs (rising steel prices, for example) in 2009 prompted attendees to take advantage of show specials.

And this show featured a wealth of new products. This was my fifth IWF — and 10th for editorial director Ian Bowen — and neither one of us can recall such an onslaught of innovation. We’ve taken a stab at sharing what we saw in our post-show report that begins on page 10, but folks, this is just the tip of the iceberg. We’ll be bringing you more information about the new tools and machinery introduced at IWF 2008 for many months to follow.

At the Woodshop News booth, we were busier than usual, signing up new subscribers and attending to the needs of our readers. The feedback was interesting and the compliments were encouraging, especially for the editorial staff which wore out a few pairs of shoes covering the show. We offered a sneak peek at our new and improved Web site and had some fun with a T-shirt slogan contest. The voters selected “Woodshop News: The sharpest tool in the shop,” which got my vote, too.

I’m also pleased to report that our seminar, “CNC Software from A to Z,” played to a full house. All of the credit goes to my panelists: Bernard Davis, owner of B.H. Davis Co.; Mark Smith, national director of WoodLINKS USA; Patrick Molzahn, program director at Madison (Wis.) Area Technical College; and Joe Knobbe, senor project manager for Exclusive Woodworking Inc. You guys put on an informative and entertaining show, and deserve my sincere thanks for lending your time and expertise to the effort.

So, with bleary eyes and sore feet, I chalk up IWF 2008 as a success on many fronts. Now, I can start worrying about AWFS Vegas, which is only 10 months away.

Good day and good night!