|Buyer interest remained high at 2008 IWF|
“We didn’t know what to expect coming in with the economy, the gas prices, all of the factors that everyone is aware of right now. Our advanced registration numbers were down compared to 2006 — we weren’t happy to see that, but we weren’t surprised to see that either,” says show president and CEO Patrick LaFramboise.
The overall attendance in 2008, including both exhibitors and attendee buyers, was 39,893, a drop of 7 percent from the overall attendance of 43,192 in 2006. Attendee buyer attendance in 2008 was 18,992 compared to 24,886 in 2006, a 23 percent drop. LaFramboise says the 2008 figures are preliminary numbers and he expects, judging from past shows, they will increase slightly when the registration data base audit has been completed.
LaFramboise says the number of exhibitor badges purchased on-site were higher this year.
When the IWF Board saw a slow momentum with early show registration, they implemented several promotions, including a complimentary advance registration program for exhibitors and complimentary invitations to people in the Southeast region. LaFramboise says that although exact results of how these incentives fared were not available at press time, the early indications reveal they were reasonably effective. The Board also added several other incentives such as monetary prize voucher awards for purchasing machinery as well as $100 gas cards to eligible attendees and company representatives.
“I think the people that came to this show are serious buyers and made the time and investment to come,” says LaFramboise. “I think this show has given people reason to believe that there’s hope out there.”
There were 16 woodworking educational and technical seminars this year, expanding on the 12 the show hosted in 2006. LaFramboise says the high attendance in the seminars, which included topics such as CNC software and finishing, indicated there’s a real thirst for information among attendees.
“With modern technology, I think people are embracing the cold-hard fact that to stay competitive, they have to keep up with all that is out there to help you survive. It’s a matter of survivability right now, let alone competitiveness … How to create a winning factory was one of our leading seminars.”
The new Unisaw from Delta Machinery was featured front and center on the show floor of the main hall. Delta introduced the 10" industrial cabinet saw with the Unisaw name in the 1930s, and has since re-engineered and redesigned its flagship table saw from the ground up.
SawStop unveiled a prototype of its new 10" Professional Cabinet Saw that will be available in spring 2009. SawStop’s marketing manager Eric Gewiss says the new machine features a 27" wide table, slightly smaller than the 30" wide table on SawStop’s larger Industrial Cabinet Saw, but still features the same safety technology that stops the blade within 5 milliseconds of detecting contact with skin.
Powermatic introduced its PWBS-14CS band saw with an extra large, two-piece cast iron table, which features a 15" x 15" tilting section and a fixed 15" x 5" extension.