Annual AWI conference focuses on growth

10_news_deskThe last few years have been difficult for woodworking businesses as the U.S. and world economies struggle to recover. With that mind, a theme of rejuvenation was stressed at the Architectural Woodwork Institute’s recent annual convention in Phoenix.

For three days, attendees heard economic forecasts, participated in roundtable discussions and networked with their peers. But mostly they were encouraged to leave their day-to-day struggles behind and focus on new opportunities.

“One of the best things about coming to the convention is that business owners get to step away from the immediate things they have to do and have the chance to think of their business as a whole,” AWI senior director of operations Teresa McCain says. “They also meet with members from across the country who are really willing to share information and some end up partnering work with each other.”

The AWI offers year-round networking and educational opportunities, such as the Best Practice Group, which typically involves eight to 10 non-competing members who share their challenges and offer support.

AWI membership is generally comprised of top management from architectural millwork companies. Membership currently stands at 1,290 companies, including 1,070 involved in manufacturing and 220 on the supply side, according to McCain.

“Our membership is staying steady now,” she says. “Our all-time high was in 2009 when we had 1,227 manufacturing companies alone. I think we’re really very steady for the construction industry as far as associations go, but we are down.”

In August, 20 companies joined the AWI, making it the organization’s best month since the recession. McCain attributes it to soliciting memberships at IWF 2012 in Atlanta.

“I think this shows that the economy is getting better, even though everyone is still very cautious about how they spend their money.”

Contact: AWI. Tel: 571-323-3636. www.awinet.org

This article originally appeared in the November 2012 issue.