Woodwork Expo Grows With DeVos

    GRAND RAPIDS — Keith Eidson, president of Trade Shows Inc., says there’s no exotic or complex reason why the Midwest Industrial Woodworking Expo will open the new DeVos Place exhibit spaces Dec. 4 and 5.

    It’s just that the expo needed the space.

    “We’ve been doing that show since 1987,” Eidson told the Business Journal.

    “Our first industrial woodworking show started in Highpoint, N.C., and then we moved it to Greensboro, because they had a better exhibition center.

    “Then we looked around the country and said, ‘Okay, where’s the next largest concentration of furniture and industrial woodworking?’

    “So it’s a natural,” he said of Grand Rapids.

    “I wish there was some big scientific effort in it that I could tell you, but there wasn’t much more to it than that.”

    And he said the decision to establish a second expo here certainly has worked out beyond his original expectations.

    “At the time we came up, we looked at the Grand Center,” Eidson said. “It was not optimum, but — that was ’87 — we had no idea that the show was going to grow like it did.

    “We thought the Center was more than large enough.”

    He said the first Midwest Industrial Woodworking Expo filled the east and west halls in the basement of the Grand Center.

    “In ’91,” he added, “we moved upstairs and used Grand Hall and in ’98 we filled up Grand, Welsh and East and West, and then ever since then we’ve used everything (for exhibit space) including the restrooms.

    “We’ve been venue-bound ever since ’93 and have been begging more space,” he added. “And we like to think we’re one reason for the center’s expansion.”

    On Dec. 3, he said at least 260 exhibitors — ranging from Accu-Systems to Zeetech Industries — will begin moving at least 1.25 million pounds of industrial woodworking machinery into DeVos Place, setting up the new facility’s first show and one of its biggest shows for some time to come.

    After two days of greeting visitors, he said the Expo’s 7,800 participants will move everything back out.

    Eidson estimates that designers, workers and engineers from about 6,000 shops in a 150-mile radius will attend the expo.

    “This expo will have something for every kind of production firm from the small one-man cabinet shop to big corporations.” He said the Expo aims at firms in cabinetry, industrial woodworking and all related industries.

    “It’s not a hobbyist’s show,” he added. “I don’t mean to sound like I’m denigrating hobbyists or backyard craftsmen,” he said. “But this is primarily for production woodworking.”

    Because of floor demonstrations with cutting machinery, he indicated the show is open only to adults and youngsters above the age of 16.

    Eidson said that only the area’s boat show and some other consumer shows will occupy as much space at DeVos Place, but in terms of sheer tonnage, the Industrial Woodworking Expo will be much larger.

    “I think it works out to the equivalent of close to 400 filled tractor-trailers of machinery or 1,000 Barnum & Bailey elephants,” he said. “It’s a very large show.

    “We will be the show that uses the most electricity,” he added, “and the most compressed air.”

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