August 22 - 25, 2018

Georgia World Congress Center | Atlanta, GA| USA

Check the latest article for IWF atlanta users

The Visual Impact and Importance of Photography in Public Relations

by Editor 18. July 2018 16:06

By: Amanda Eden, Stoner Bunting Advertising

Human beings are inherently visual thinkers. We process images nearly 60,000 times faster than text, and our brains can identify pictures seen for as little as 13 milliseconds (according to an MIT research study). That’s fast…really, really fast.

While we don’t recommend creating 13 millisecond YouTube clips, we do counsel our clients on the importance of integrating visual content in all paid, earned and owned media (that’s advertising, PR and the stuff you own, like your website and collateral, for example). Did you know that 90 percent of information transmitted to the brain is visual? That means you have an opportunity to create permanent memories that cement your position in the mind of your audience and help you stand out from the clutter.

A Harsh Reality
Interior Design Magazine Managing Editor Helene Oberman once told us, “In the publishing world, your products are only as good as your photography.” It may sound harsh, but it’s true. Editors receive thousands of product pitches and must weed out the few that present well enough for their publication. This is judged in equal parts by the story or innovation behind the product and the photography supporting the story.

The same can be said for social media, where manufacturers have an opportunity to connect directly with the A&D community, facility managers and other specifiers. Photography is content, and we all know: content is king.

If you want to be taken seriously by editors, publishers and social audiences, you must have stand-out images that jump off the page or screen.

IRE: Interesting, Relevant & Engaging
For Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat posts to be effective (and worth your time and creative energy), they need to be visually interesting, relevant to the audience and engaging. Engaging in this case means that your followers will actually like, comment on and share your original content.

Considering visual content is up to 40 times more likely to be shared on social media than other types of content, according to PRNews, the case for interesting, relevant and engaging images is stronger than ever.

When a simple photograph doesn’t do the trick, consider other types of visual content to garner interest. It’s easier than ever to create Infographics and visual data, and custom social media graphics that are engaging, easily processed and begging to be shared.

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While Infographics often use text and numbers to tell a story, it’s important not to overdo it. Rather, let the design speak for itself. The simpler and more easily digestible the image is, the more shareable it will become. This helps boost engagement and increase your reach.

The right photography will close the deal and gain you coverage
Images should always be considered as part of your overarching pitch strategy. There are many times when interesting, relevant stories and content are pitched to publishers, only to be denied, or worse ignored, because of a lack of photography.

The same fate awaits paid, owned and earned content that is accompanied by low-res or amateur photos that were taken on a smartphone or tablet. These photos might work for social media, but for an editor looking for print material it’s a major misstep.

It’s no surprise that companies that obtain high-resolution photos of projects and hire professional photographers for their photo shoots tend to get more coverage in the industry press. Rich, detailed hi-resolution imagery also helps these manufacturers obtain cover stories and lead to a mutually beneficial relationship where media outlets can count on quality content from that source.

It’s time to make the commitment
As a full-service marketing agency that handles both advertising and public relations for clients, our role is to facilitate and strengthen relationships with the media and the brands we represent.

This is why we always stress the importance of photography to our clients and will not consider projects for case studies and pitching unless there is high-resolution photography available from the start. There are literally thousands of manufacturers clamoring for coverage, and photography carries enormous weight in the editorial decision-making process.

Finally, great photography and imagery helps us help you. In an era when everyone thinks they are a professional photographer or videographer (thanks iPhone!), it’s important to invest in the quality imagery that showcases products, projects, events, trade shows and other gatherings.

Want to know more?

Learn how to create visually impactful public relations initiatives that benefit your brand by attending the Closets Symposium at IWF Atlanta, Tuesday, August 21.

Stoner Bunting has been building relationships in the home and building products industry since 1984. Our insights into what excites audiences at every stage of the design and construction process – and our access to the people and publications that influence them – make your marketing smarter, so it works harder.

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Create a finishing system for your company that will last

by Editor 18. July 2018 13:47

By: Phil Stevenson, AWFI

ATLANTA – If you want to improve your finishing consistency, it’s best to build a system that will last.

Phil Stevenson of AWFI, a leading finishing consultant, will talk about knowledge power versus tribal knowledge in the pursuit of creating a finishing system at the IWF Finishing Symposium is set for August 21, 2018 in the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, the day before IWF exhibits open.

The idea is to create a system with well-defined parameters for finishing within a company rather than training a single person that could leave the company, and take their experience with them.

That can be a challenge, as Stevenson said that finishing can include eight to 10 steps, and as many as 35 substeps. Finishing by the numbers, as well as measuring and understanding what is done can lead to a lasting system.

The full-day event will look at new technologies and best methods that finishers could use in their business. Newer finishes such as polyester, polyurethane and UV finishes will be discussed, along with water-borne and low-emission products.

This symposium includes a number of presentations and an opportunity to talk to suppliers and finishing experts face-to-face with your questions./

The IWF Finishing Symposium is sponsored by Fuji Spray, Gemini Industries and Milesi Wood Coatings.

 

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Problem solving and surface prep part of IWF finishing event

by Editor 16. July 2018 11:12

ATLANTA -- The IWF Finishing Symposium is set for August 21, 2018 in the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, the day before IWF exhibits open.

The full-day event will look at new technologies and best methods that finishers could use in their business. Newer finishes such as polyester, polyurethane and UV finishes will be discussed, along with water-borne and low-emission products.

This symposium includes a number of presentations and an opportunity to talk to suppliers and finishing experts face-to-face with your questions.

Jason Chiu of Centre for Advanced Wood Processing will speak on problem solving in wood finishing, covering such areas as spraying and finish application, finish quality, dust mitigation, and finish process issues, including a discussion of some of the newest methods and technology.

Manufacturing personnel with specific responsibilities in finishing or quality control from across the wood products industry are most likely to benefit from this symposium.

 

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Cold Metal Casting and Reproduction for Furniture Embellishment - Part 4

by Editor 16. July 2018 10:27

Cold Metal Casting and Reproduction for Furniture Embellishment - Part 4

By: Scott Grove, Furniture Designer: Scott Grove.com

Cold Metal Resin Casting can be done using a variety of materials, from urethane resin, epoxy, polyester, gypsum plaster, and even concrete. For small parts, I most often use a urethane resin like Smooth-On’s SmoothCast  Onxy, for its ease of use, low odor, and quick cure times. Metal powders are added to the resin to give it the look and feel of a real metal. I use bronze powder but brass and aluminum are also options.
 
The amount of metal added is completely subjective and only testing and experience will give you guidance. The metal powder is a costly component: it thickens the urethane resin (increasing the viscosity), inhibiting its ability to flow during casting.
 
To make a casting, mix urethane resin together; the metal is then added and thoroughly mixed in. For small simple castings, I add as much metal as the urethane resin will take and still be pourable, usually to the consistency of honey. I pour slowly in, filling up the mold in one shot. This will yield a part that emulates real metal in aesthetic and weight, which is great for paperweights and worry stones.
 
Another cost-effective way to apply metal is to dust the mold first with just the metal powder. Dump a spoonful of metal into the mold, brush and/or shake it around to completely cover all mold surfaces, and dump out the excess. Then use straight black urethane resin to back up the dry metal, which will absorb and stick to the outer surface.
 
All of these methods yield a metallic surface, and when polished with #00 steel wool, they have a wonderful luster. I like to complete my final buffing with some black or brown shoe polish, which gives the part depth and a nice aged patina.
 
The possibilities are endless on what can be created with this casting process. It can be the perfect embellishment to accent your work.
 
Join me for Cold Metal Casting and Reproduction for Furniture Embellishment on Friday, August 24th from 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM

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IWF 2018: Marketing to Consumers Who Want Experiences, Not “Stuff”

by Editor 11. July 2018 12:25

By: Amanda Eden, Stoner Bunting Advertising

Several years ago, Brian Schultz wrote an article for Advertising Age titled “Not Just Millennials: Consumers Want Experiences, Not Things.” The co‐founder and chief experience officer at New York City-based agency Magnetic spoke directly to our team as his article perfectly encapsulated the changes we were seeing first-hand in the building products industry.

Schultz offered an overview of the enormous shift that our society was undergoing when it came to how and where we spend our money. Since the article published in 2015, experiential marketing has exploded in growth. But growth is a double-edged sword that comes with plenty of idiosyncrasies.

For example, we are more connected than ever to technology (we check our smartphone 85 times per day, on average), yet consumers of all ages are clamoring for more real-world experiences. Why? It’s due to our desire to want to touch, smell, taste and feel the brands we love. Not just interact with them online.

If you’re a restaurant, resort hotel, airline or sky diving company, this is great. But if you’re a consumer products company that’s dealing with decreasing brick-and-mortar sales, you might be in a little bit of trouble.

Don’t get me wrong, we absolutely still love our “things,” and we certainly enjoy spending money on clothing, personal items and random accessories at Home Goods. But we’re more cognizant as to how we spend our money, opting instead for experiences – and memorable ones at that. So where does that leave brands trying to influence consumers to purchase their product? First, let’s talk about the shift in ideology.

The Science Behind the Increase

Schultz said, “various psychological studies are showing that all people — not just millennials — are happier when their money is spent on living, rather than on having. In fact, over the next five years, total spending will grow by nearly 22%, with the so‐called ‘non‐essential’ categories, including vacations and dining out, expected to see the greatest gains.”

Additionally, these same experiences are what many people choose to share across social channels. We Instagram our favorite dishes at restaurants, update our Twitter followers on travel plans, and share Facebook status updates about sporting events, concerts, and festivals.

We love our experiences in life, but it almost seems like some of us love sharing them more than taking part in them. Seriously…the last time you were at a concert, how many people had their phones held up in front of their face, videotaping the entire performance?

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What Does This Mean?

In order to capture the attention of these movers, shakers, videographers, photographers and constant sharers, brands – and marketers like us – need to stay on top of the changes in consumer behavior and develop experiential marketing efforts that create powerful and lasting bonds between consumers and brands.

The same thing goes for business-to-business and trade relationships, as we focus on capturing the attention of designers, architects and others who design and build spaces that provide harmonious living and working experiences.

Below are three rules that Schultz shared in his article for successfully capturing the attention of these individuals. We dig them, and we think you will too:

  1. You don’t need to create large‐scale, complex experiences

If done right, small experiences can create truly sticky content. If executed properly, and documented well, your brand experience will drive your consumers and the press to tell your story better, and more authentically.

  1. Don’t overuse technology

If users can’t share it from their phone on a social medium they already use, you are probably overthinking it. And overcomplicating it for them. Never a good thing.

  1. Don’t believe the hype when it comes to the death of retail
    It doesn’t signal that consumer confidence levels are waning or that humans have less discretionary spending. It merely points to a culture that is starting to spend time and money differently. Ask yourself which you would prefer: a brand-new TV or a trip to Cuba? Yep, me too.

A consumer‐centric culture means act human – you know, the way your audiences behave. And that requires understanding that they are willing to spend, sometimes more than something is worth, if they value the experience as an overall part of the product.

Want to know more?

Learn how to create memorable and interactive experiences for your brand by attending the Closets Symposium at IWF Atlanta, Tuesday, August 21.

Stoner Bunting has been building relationships in the home and building products industry since 1984. Our insights into what excites audiences at every stage of the design and construction process – and our access to the people and publications that influence them – make your marketing smarter, so it works harder.

 

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Why Wilsonart® Solid Surface?

by Editor 11. July 2018 12:22

Wilsonart’s mission to create innovative, high performance surfaces people love, expands across our wide range of products. That means Solid Surface, too!

A seamless, non-porous, and renewable engineered surface, Wilsonart® Solid Surface is ideal for residential, retail, healthcare and foodservice applications; especially when used as countertops, backsplashes, statement walls, trays, shelving and more!

From luminous backlit surfaces to semi-opaque expanses, our more than seventy design choices are ever-innovating to meet current trends. This year’s collection brings an invigorating mix of classic movement and veining inspired by natural materials like stone and woodgrains, paired with an enhanced color palette of soothing greys, an inky blue and earthy brown.

More than just a pretty surface, Solid Surface is a practical investment as well. Day-to-day maintenance is a breeze since its non-porous attribute makes it stain-resistant to common spills or messes. For long-lasting durability, any scratches, chips, gouges or cracks to the original condition can be easily repaired by a Certified Wilsonart Fabricator.

With a company-owned fleet, expansive fabrication network and regional warehouses, our Solid Surface is available nationally through the best distribution network in North America, ensuring that your order can be there wherever and whenever you need it.

Our commitment to this product category doesn’t stop there. Wilsonart is investing in a new 135,000 sq. ft. Solid Surface manufacturing facility in Temple, Texas that will provide 9 million square feet of added capacity, wide sheet production and onsite development capabilities to service its valued customers.

 

Do yourself a solid and learn more about this versatile surface during the “Techniques and Time-Savers for Engineered Surfacing Products” symposium on Tuesday, August 21st.

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Apprenticeships Explained - Part 2

by Editor 11. July 2018 12:18

By: Urs Buehlmann, Professor for the Virginia Tech Department of Sustainable Biomaterials

The shortfall of skilled labor for advanced manufacturing operations has been discussed at length and one often-named solution to the problem is an increase in apprentices in all types of industries throughout the nation.  If nations with strong apprenticeship programs, such as Austria, Germany, or Switzerland are any guide, such apprenticeship programs indeed can provide advanced manufacturing industries a steady source of high quality employees possessing skills in high demand.  At the same time, it offers graduates of such programs a path to higher paying, steady jobs.

The "Apprenticeships explained" workshop will explain the European understanding of Apprenticeships, how the system works, and what outcomes it generates.  The speakers, some of who started their career as apprentices in Europe, will share their personal insights and contrast it with the American system.  The workshop will also feature a company (Blum, Inc.), which has a highly successful apprenticeship program and a highly successful traditional educational program (Pittsburg State University).

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IWF 2018: The Importance of Understanding Your Earned Media History

by Editor 3. July 2018 08:58

By: Amanda Eden, Stoner Bunting Advertising
 
While the past cannot be changed, you can control your future. This phrase might sound cliché, but it perfectly sums up the importance of understanding your brand’s earned media history. Even though you can’t change your company’s past public relations efforts, the lessons learned can influence and shape future strategies and tactics in innumerable ways – the key is to unlock the data.
 
The importance of knowing where you come from, and what is being said
Archiving should play an important role in your public relations strategy. Great to know, you say, I’ll get right on that. What is a PR archive? In the simplest of forms: it’s a database of editorial coverage (both good and bad) that your company/brand has received in print, on the radio, across the internet or in broadcast.
 
And your next question: Why should I have one? Because it helps companies of all sizes understand what type of earned media their brands and products have received, providing them with important lessons for future public relations strategies and tactics.
 
More importantly, you need to know what is being said about your company and products. Not all coverage will be good. This includes everything, from a company or product feature to new hire announcements and that time a product didn’t perform so well. It should all be in here. Keeping a close eye on what is being said about your brand can help guide your messaging, counter “fake news” and avoid a potential PR crisis.
 
In addition to advertising and marketing services, public relations support like this is key to a successful integrated marketing and communications plan. From managing digital press rooms to pitching editorial content to industry leading publications, developing strategies to gain earned media and increase visibility in traditional media and social media needs to be based on what has worked – and failed – in the past.
 
Creating a PR Archive …
The first (and most important) step in the process to establishing a PR archive is to begin in the past. By looking back and seeing what type of media coverage your brand, company or product has received in the past by building a PR Archive.
 
But how do I find every mention? Some of you might be thinking, Can’t I just do a Google search? What about Google Alerts and the news tab? While both are great for tracking digital coverage, they don’t include multiple media channels. For example, if you are written about in a print newspaper or magazine, talked about on the radio, or mentioned in a television news report, then Google Alerts and other search tools will rarely pick up on the coverage. This is
 
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especially true if the publication does not have a digital edition or releases only a handful of
articles and coverage on their website that first appear in print. A media monitoring service can scour not only print, television and radio but across the Internet and within digital platforms like eMagazine subscriptions.
 
Let’s answer a few more questions I know you have ….
 
What will the results tell me? A cross-platform content search provides a full picture at the result of the coverage. From how many times your brand is mentioned to the total number of people who read your name, these quantitative results will provide you with a baseline on which to expand and evolve your PR efforts.
 
The amount and type of brand coverage you are missing could be hurting you. Don’t underestimate the importance of PR archiving and reporting.
 
How much is this going to cost me? There are several media monitoring services on the market today. Some even include separate, focused social media monitoring. This allows you to see who has written, tweeted or posted about the brand, when they published it and the length of the coverage. And every monitoring service has their own add-ons, additional functions and reporting capabilities to fit your need, and your budget. Most are subscription-based offering monthly and yearly plans but be sure to get a complete tutorial and understanding of what the service can and cannot do for you, so you are not left with unanswered questions or spotty reporting.
 
Want to know more?
Learn about how to garner, track and uncover earned media coverage for your brand by attending the Closets Symposium at IWF Atlanta, Tuesday, August 21.
 
Stoner Bunting has been building relationships in the home and building products industry since 1984. Our insights into what excites audiences at every stage of the design and construction process – and our access to the people and publications that influence them – make your marketing smarter, so it works harder.

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Solving the Pricing Puzzle

by Editor 26. June 2018 13:09

Pricing work correctly is one of the most important and misunderstood challenges of any woodworking business today. Prices between shops for the same project vary drastically, yet costs and rates are really not much different. How can this be?

Someone once said, “The automotive business is a high volume, no profit business. So we got out of it.” If you aren’t pricing to make a profit, then why are you in business today?

Basic pricing strategies

 

  • By the foot

Although bidding jobs using a price-per-measurement makes estimates a breeze, it can often be inaccurate and raise the potential for missing hidden costs.

  • Materials multiplier

Popular with some furniture makers, it’s likely to be highly inaccurate.

  • Time and materials

These should be key components of all pricing, but using this method has many shops overlooking crucial considerations such as overhead, profit, R&D.

  • Components

Pricing all components individually can be highly accurate, but it requires constant updating. This can be used as both a pricing and selling strategy.

  • Software pricing programs

Even the best computer program is no better than the information submitted.

Four pricing essentials

  • Labor

All time invested in production. Base estimates on history.

  • Materials

All the things needed for the job. Don’t forget to make it up!

  • Overhead

Everything it takes to open the door, such as utilities, transportation, trash disposal, insurance, phones, Internet, Sales/reception staff, marketing, advertising, consumables, etc.

  • Profit

If you don’t add it, you won’t get it!

Creating a loaded hourly rate

T = hours available for work

O = total costs unrelated to production

O/T = minimum hourly income

Add profit and employee costs

Add project/product costs

How it works:

Total expenses for a year:                           $50,000

Total hours 50 weeks at 30 hours:                    1500

Per hour loaded shop rate:                            $33.00

  • Using the loaded rate to price a job

Number of hours                                             40

Multiple times loaded rate                               x33

                                                                 $1320

Add project materials                                      500

                                                                  $1820

Add profit percentage (15%)                            273

                                                                  $2093

Where pricing goes wrong

  • Bad estimates
  • Outdated calculations
  • Poor knowledge of the market
  • Attempting unfamiliar work

Pricing for the marketplace

  • Know the market

Sometimes the biggest pressure on prices is what the other guy is charging, but do you really know what that is?

  • What is your product worth in the eyes of potential customers?

That’s the ONLY measure that counts?

  • Pricing reconnaissance

Value of follow-ups

Networking for knowledge

Bid success reality check

  • Know your market

There’s a difference between what your best market is and the market as a whole. You may be competing in the wrong market.

Effective competition

Overhead in the marketplace, “My prices are set by my dumbest competitor.”

  • Dealing with lowball bidders

The best tool you have is knowing what your bottom line is and refusing to dip below it. You can’t make money on unprofitable jobs!

  • Compete on value, not price

Make sure your customers know and value what you are providing. If it’s not worth it to them, they won’t pay your price!

  • Don’t just work to work

Make sure every job counts toward your bottom line. Every lowball job you do costs you in opportunity!

  • Don’t bid to open doors

Pricing low to get in a new market seldom works long term. If they hired you on price, they will just as soon dump you on price!

Mark Karkos, president of Cut-To-Size Technology, gets it. He says, “For the most part we try to stick with our prices, because we have an excellent reputation as far as quality goes. That’s how I build the business. I don’t want to jeopardize quality to undercut someone.”

To learn more about how to price for profitability, attend Sean Benetin’s seminar during IWF.

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How to Reduce Problems and Maximize Profits Using Two-Component Polyurethane and Waterborne Finishes

by Editor 26. June 2018 13:05

By: David Jackson, Gemini Industries

Two component polyurethanes are replacing conversion varnishes in high end kitchens and other woodwork.
 
The popularity of two component polyurethanes (2K PU) is increasing. This is due to the improved durability and look versus other traditional finishes. 2K PU can have durability that surpasses conversion varnish. Some 2K PU coatings even have exterior resistance properties.  Couple this with the ability of 2K PU finishes to achieve a “natural look” (only 2-3 degrees of gloss) where the finished wood still looks unfinished or “natural”, but has the protection of a high end finish. And the ability to have a “wet look” full gloss makes them very functional for finishing wood kitchen and batch cabinets.
Conversion varnishes have been known as one of the most durable finishes used on interior woodwork, now progressive companies are switching to 2K PU for the improved durability and aesthetics.

Learn more about “How to Reduce Problems and Maximize Profits Using Two-Component Polyurethane and Waterborne Finishes” at the IWF2018 Education Conference.

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