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Woodtech Canada '98

New focus for Woodtech '98, Canada's premiere international wood processing trade show and conference.

Copyright 1998. Contact publisher for permission to use.

There will be a new focus and location this year for Woodtech '98-billed as Canada's premiere international wood processing trade show and conference - being held September 23 to 25 in Abbotsford, BC.

With more than 300 exhibitors, Woodtech '98 offers wood processing professionals a forum to develop new business alliances, source new suppliers, find new products and research new technologies. These elements represent essential ingredients and solutions for an industry that is well aware of the challenges it faces in an extremely competitive global market, More than 7,000 people are expected to attend the show, which is being held at the Tradex Centre in Abbotsford, an hour east of Vancouver.

A big addition to this year's Woodtech show is a comprehensive secondary manufacturing forum, the First Biennial BC Wood Forum, which will feature in-depth seminars and showcase the technology and training that is key to the success of the value-added wood processing industry. A survey of 1996 show attendees (the show is held every two years) revealed that the number one feature they wanted to see more of was secondary manufacturing information and products.

"Attendees said they were looking for a forum where they could come into contact with and speak to the mill managers and people in the value-added industry," explains show manager Chris Gowe. "We were looking for an organization that knew a lot about secondary manufacturing and formed an alliance with the BC Wood Specialties Group. Out of that the BC Wood Forum was born." There is a clear need for the industry to embrace new technology if it is to continue to grow, and trade shows such as Woodtech are an important vehicle in the transfer of information and technology, says Gowe.

The forum will focus on specific areas, such as the Wood machinist certificate program, but it will also deal with larger issues, like the overall structure and performance of the value-added sector. "We'll have both the micro and macro in terms of wood processing and secondary manufacturing, and attendees can take the programs that they have interests in. If you are interested in getting into this industry, the broad information will be there. If you are already involved in the industry and want to fine-tune your operation, the information will be there." The forum will feature a wide range of authoritative experts involved with the value-added sector.

Even though the industry is going through a rough period right now, Gowe says times like this are when trade shows can be most helpful. "The industry is in a state of change and flux. We all know the industry is having some big blips right now but a show like this is even more beneficial when things are bad than when things are good.

"The reason is that people are more driven to find new ways of doing business, new technologies, new solutions to fix their problems so they can adjust to the changing markets."

Woodtech will also feature the New Product Showcase, a high profile venue for exhibitors to introduce new products. Companies have been invited to display their new advancements in wood processing techniques and are encouraged to host vendor presentations.

The show will include an Educators and Trainers Pavilion, which will feature the colleges, universities and service organizations that run programs of interest to the wood processing industry. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet the people who run the programs at these institutions and see how training and education can fit with their organizations.

As with all trade shows, Gowe points out that Woodtech '98 represents a great opportunity to see what's going on in the industry in one location. "There will be a lot to see, new technology, interactive vendor seminars, the wood forum and seeing equipment in operation. It's all in one place." The show seems to appeal to a large geographical audience as well, drawing attendance from across Canada, the United States and overseas.

The Tradex facility itself is more suited to a working trade show. "In previous years, the show was held at BC Place in downtown Vancouver and that left us fairly limited as to what we could do in and around the facility," says Gowe. "BC Place was designed for sports events and it could be difficult to display product adequately." Gowe notes that Abbotsford's Tradex facility is designed for trade shows, with a good supply of adjacent parking, easy facility access and-compared to downtown Vancouver - fewer traffic problems.

"Tradex also allows us the opportunity to utilize outdoor space, which gives a greater range of opportunities for exhibitors," he adds. "If exhibitors want to demo product or machinery, they can do that at Tradex at the outdoor area." The Tradex facility has 120,000 square feet of indoor exhibition area and 50,000 square feet of outdoor area.

Abbotsford is also a more convenient location for many of the people attending. "We looked at who was attending previous shows and a good number of people were not coming from downtown Vancouver. People were coming from outside Vancouver, and we were bringing them into the heart of the city. Tradex is a lot more centrally located, not just for BC, but for the Pacific Northwest region, for the people attending and our exhibitors."

Show organizer Southex Exhibitions has arranged for transportation from downtown Vancouver to the show site, however. "If part of the reason in attending Woodtech was to come to Vancouver and stay there and do things in the city, that's open to attendees and exhibitors. We'll be offering a luxury bus service that runs between Vancouver and the show. We're really trying to offer the best of both worlds," says Gowe.

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