GR To Host Furniture Expo

October 28, 2005
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GRAND RAPIDS — When TSI Expos brings the Midwest Industrial Woodworking Expo to DeVos Place this week, the Claremont, N.C., company will be bringing more than 600 exhibitors, 6,000 attendees, and about $700,000 worth of outside money here.

TSI Expos will also bring along tradition and warm feelings about a cool city that is well past its furniture prime, when the woodworking manufacturers open the convention center doors Thursday morning.

"This major tradeshow comes here because of our history as a furniture capital, our long history of the woodworking industry," said Steve Wilson, president of the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The biannual show has met here since 1987 and was the inaugural event for the new convention center in 2003 — while the building was still under construction.

"TSI has been a very good partner with us. I wouldn't even call them a client anymore. I would call them a partner," Wilson said.


DeVos Place
not been built, the woodworkers show would likely have headed to another pasture, as it outgrew the old building. But because TSI Expos was so committed to holding its large tradeshow here, and because the event was so important to the city, the firm agreed to play a key role in the design of
DeVos Place

"When you look at the technical specs for this show —  as far as the electrical service requirements, the utilities, the set-up times, the heaviness of the equipment —  we really designed the exhibit hall around this show," said Wilson.

"This was the type of show that our exhibit hall needed to accommodate. We really worked with them from the very beginning of the planning of the expansion of the GrandCenter into what has now become

DeVos Place

It took a lot of effort to make sure the 2003 event took place here.

TSI Expos moved the show dates from November to December and then gave $45,000 to the Convention and Arena Authority for the $275,000 accelerated-construction project the board ordered, which resulted in the 160,000-square-foot exhibit space getting done five weeks early to meet the woodworkers' schedule.

Then TSI Expos agreed to pay $125,000 of its rental charge in advance.

"Those combinations enabled us to keep the woodworkers here in Grand Rapids," said Wilson

The latest technological innovations and a wide-ranging series of professional seminars and roundtable discussions will highlight the tradeshow. Many of the discussions will focus on how to stay profitable in the face of more competition. One is directed exclusively at small shops.

Although the event only runs for two days, Thursday and Friday, it actually takes seven days to get the show in, on, and out. Equipment began moving into

DeVos Place
last weekend and it will take until Sunday night to remove all the exhibits from the convention center.

"This is a heavy-equipment show. It really does test the performance of all the aspects of a convention center and our ability to handle this," said Wilson

Not only will the golden times of the furniture capital come around for a few days when the show opens; the convention center will also come full circle. It, too, will return to the biggest days in its short history.

"A lot has happened in those two years. It does bring us full circle to see just how far we've come," said Wilson. "And if you look back four years, which isn't a lot of time in the scheme of things, a lot has been done. These groups that we are hosting are larger than we had ever hosted before."    

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