As I write this, we are 18 days away from the biggest and best show for our industry, W14 - The Joinery & Furniture Manufacturing Show, which is taking place in halls 6,7 and 8 of the NEC in Birmingham from 5-8th October.

I remember talking with the organisers John Smith-Bodden and Angela McGowan back at the W8 event, at the very beginning of the recession, being impressed with their fortitude on the eve the massive downturn in business confidence. What struck me was their sure-footed belief in the future of the event, despite numerous individuals and companies preaching their particular version of doom and gloom at that time, which has undoubtedly been proven to be right. John and Angela reassured me that things would recover, but it would not be until the 2014 event, when the overall economic situation would return to a more benign state, when there would be next high point for the industry – and for the event. It was though he had written the script! He, and his team, were spot on.

This year’s event looks great, it’s a much bigger show – not far short of double the size – with much greater variety and depth of exhibitor’s products, key industry suppliers making a welcome return and more machinery, more components, fittings and finishes for visitors to peruse. I firmly believe this is going to be the best W event for a considerable time. The W14 is an example of event which has stood the test of time, navigated the challenging waters of the last five or six years, to become a better event for all stakeholders. So to Huddlestone, I say thank you, and well done.

This year for the first time, W14 is co-located alongside the two-day Timber Expo event in hall 9 (W14 itself is held in hall 6, 7 and 8). This double-dose of business opportunity really does make the overall event something special from a visitors’ perspective. If you add the ranks of W14 and TimberExpo exhibitors together, it totals in excess of 350 exhibitors, which in my opinion, means visitors should give themselves enough time to scout the entire event and then focus on your key objectives. At least one overnight is to be recommended, if not more.

Personally, I’m really looking to seeing some of the companies which haven’t been at the show for a few years, such as Blum, Biesse and others, as well as meeting up with colleagues form previous events. But there are also newcomers to engage with such as King Slide and Emuca.

A key point to remember about the W14 trade show is that it is a live event, with machinery being put through its paces, many using new software packages. There is a vast array of machinery and equipment on show this year: from modest CNCs to heavy-duty five-axes-plus multi-functioning goliaths; various dust extraction and woodwaste management solutions; materials handling equipment; power- and hand-tools; vertical panel saws and all the classical machinery you could wish for – W14 is the true industry one-stop shop for machinery and equipment of almost any sort for furntiure and joinery. To replicate the potential of W14 means businesses would need to put in huge amounts of legwork with individual company visits for a year or more – and even then, you cannot readily compare side-by-side.

On the non-machinery side of things, there is a great deal of creativeity and new resources at the show this year. Personally I am relishing the opportuninty to get hands-on with many of the new foils, laminates and edgings, always a favourite of mine. But then equally interesting are the myriad handles, hinges and drawer fittings; sprays and finishes – in fact, everything the furniture and jonery business could need. I can’t wait!

Furniture Production itself will be on stand 6C400 – its normal location offering its customary hospitality. Do drop by to meet the team plan your day, or return during the day to catch your thoughts, enjoy a comfortable perch for a while and compare notes before pressing on. As usual, we will be serving complimentary nibbles and refreshments throughout the day.

I look forward to seeing you there!

John Legg