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WIA interview with Allen Eden

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Woodworking spoke with Allen Eden, president of the Original Saw Company and WIA chair about the association’s mandate, current challenges and solutions, the importance of IWF and how Canadian companies can benefit.

Can you briefly recap the reasons behind the recent decision to merge the Wood Machinery Manufacturers of America (WMMA) and the Woodworking Machinery Industry Association (WMIA) to form the Wood Industry Association (WIA)?

Allen Eden: The leadership of both organizations - the Wood Machinery Manufacturers of America and the Woodworking Machinery Industry Association - felt that a merger between the two associations was in the best interests of its members and the North American woodworking industry. WMMA and WMIA merged to create the Wood Industry Association (WIA), effective Jan. 1, 2024.
We will continue to own and manage the International Woodworking Fair (IWF) through our tenured IWF staff in Atlanta; and WIA will continue the tradition of hosting the Woodworking Industry Conference (WIC) each spring.
Other benefits of the merger include:
One unified voice for the wood machinery industry in North America
More resources to invest in member programs, safety standards and public policy
Expanded committee and volunteer opportunities
Greater efficiency through streamlined operations and fewer redundancies

Who does the WIA represent for the North American market?

Allen Eden:
WIA represents business entities engaged in the domestic or foreign manufacture of woodworking machinery, ancillary equipment or supplies and/or the sale of such machinery, equipment or supplies in North America who have a physical presence in North America.

What is your role and goal as an association? Please specifically include comments about highlighting new technology, education, implementing automation and training.

Allen Eden:
WIA now represents all aspects of distribution for machinery and equipment in North America, including domestically manufactured and imported machinery and supplies and the distributors who bring the product to end-users; as well as the installation and service of this equipment. It’s comprehensive one-stop shopping for our end-user customers.
In addition, the merged organization has more resources and a larger volunteer base to pursue initiatives that benefit the whole industry including standards development through ANSI and ISO work groups, distributor-focused education, and training. WIA is also able to provide meaningful member benefits such as quarterly economic forecasts and tools that allow them to compare their own company data with market data to help drive business decisions.

As owners of IWF, the biggest industry event in North America, can you tell us about the show and its importance to the industry? Perhaps include a comment about the impact of in-person events such as this one vs. digital (internet).

Allen Eden:
After missing our 2020 show due to the pandemic closures, we saw interest come roaring back for IWF ’22 in Atlanta. The wood industry missed being in Atlanta for the largest woodworking machinery and supply show in North America. With more than 30 per cent of IWF ’22 registrants being first-time attendees, it exemplified the interest that continues to be generated by in-person events like IWF. These first-timers have continued their engagement with IWF communications and messaging, which bodes well for IWF ’24 participation. While digital platforms supplement the sales experience, nothing beats an in-person event like IWF when purchasing technology of this scale.

Can you talk about WIA’s importance as far as representing/lobbying for the industry?

Allen Eden: Through our National Affairs Committee, WIA advocates for favorable business conditions for our member companies and their customers; representing WIA’s position on US federal and state legislative and regulatory matters affecting the industry, as well as keeping members informed of developments which will impact their businesses.

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