By now, it is fair to say that most of you have heard about the discussions that are taking place to merge the three major industry associations (AWFS®, WMIA, and WMMA) and the two major industry trade shows (AWFS®Fair and IWF). However, it seems that there is some misinformation circulating as to why and how this prospective merger may occur. That is why I decided to take some time to clarify some of the rumors that the staff and I have heard since the three associations informed our collective members about these ongoing discussions prior to this year’s WIC, where a panel of six board members (two from each association), addressed WIC attendees and answered questions regarding this topic. Below is a brief Q&A that hopefully will clarify a few questions that I’ve had to address with members of the industry over the course of the last several weeks. Please note that I am only addressing matters specific to AWFS® and the AWFS®Fair along with a few general matters of interest.

Was this merger initiated because one of the groups is in trouble?

First, I would like to emphasize that all three of these associations are financially healthy and sound. These discussions were not started out of necessity on anyone’s behalf, nor is any one association or show acquiring anyone else, and no association or show is being absorbed by any of the other existing organizations. As of now, the discussions are ongoing with the intention of seeing this merger become a reality.  However, if for any reason these merger discussions do not result in a newly unified association, each association and trade show will have the ability to move forward (for the foreseeable future) in a manner that is best for that organization and for their members/exhibitors.

Is the AWFS®Fair going away?

I need to make this point as clear as I possibly can. Our discussions have never explored, and have no intention of exploring, the possibility of NOT holding a major industry trade show in the “odd-numbered year” (opposite of IWF).

I can remember a trade show industry veteran that ran a major event in another industry once stating that all trade shows are regional in scope to some degree. I understood his point being that people simply prefer to attend events that are closer to where they reside, and where their businesses are located. The United States is a big country. If our show were to “go away,” another organization would step in and fill that void immediately, especially now with the world and with technology changing more rapidly than ever.  The fact that attendees will see 42% more exhibitors at this year’s show (including 150 first-time exhibitors) than they did in 2021, is definitely a market commentary on the need for a major industry event, each and every year. Working together, these shows have the ability to span the entire geographical demographics of our country over the course of a two-year cycle.

The one thing that will go away once the merger has been completed, however, is the AWFS®Fair name. It will change, simply because there will no longer be an AWFS®, nor will there be a WMIA or WMMA. Each association will now be combined under a new association name that will be determined prior to the finalization of this merger.

Will exhibitors see any changes to the 2025 Fair?

Currently, the Fair dates have been slated for 2025. As we have done during several past events, exhibitors will be able to reserve space for the next show at a special discounted price that they will only receive by securing their space for 2025 at this year’s Fair. Should there be any significant change(s) made prior to the 2025 Fair, all exhibitors will have the opportunity to receive a full refund for their booth space, should they choose to do so. However, please remember that any changes are strictly speculative at this point and any potential changes would be made after careful consideration of research gathered, in order to deliver the best possible trade show experience to both exhibitors and attendees.


Will exhibitors see any changes to future AWFS®Fairs?

Exhibitors may see some changes in the format of future shows and possibly even a change in location should the merger happen. While extensive research will be done, including exhibitor interviews and surveys, the ultimate goal is serving the marketplace. Our focus will always be on delivering a premium product to our audience of attendees: our member companies’/exhibitors’ buyers.


So, why merge the three associations in the first place?

Although, I can give numerous answers as to why merging the associations (and the shows) makes sense and is great for our industry, I am going to refer our readers to the following document that the three associations sent to our collective membership in April of this year. This document breaks down the many reasons and advantages that have brought all three organizations to the table to explore ways that we can best serve our members, our exhibitors, and the entire wood industry.