ATLANTA -- Upstart machinery manufacturer Steel City Tool Works took the wraps off of its 31-machine product line here today at the International Woodworking Fair (IWF), as it officially enters the market for professional woodworking equipment.

"It's really our debut of the entire product line," said Scott Box, vice president and general manager at Steel City Tool Works. "We expect a number of distributors to come by and kick the tires so to speak."

The Murfreesboro, Tenn., company has hauled about 20 machines to IWF and will be among roughly 1,400 exhibitors represented at the show, which caters mainly to professional cabinetmakers and tool distributors who come to research new tool purchases. Of the companies showing products at IWF, about 320 are first-time exhibitors.

"This is the place to launch and get in front of the right people," said James A. Wulfekuhle, director of marketing and communications with IWF.

Already in customers' hands
Steel City began shipping tools to some of its first distributors in early August, but its efforts to reach distributors is expected to ratchet up significantly starting with IWF. So far, the company has sealed deals with 21 distributors in the U.S. and six in Canada, according to Box. He said he expects to grow the distributor roster to as many as 60 distributors in the U.S. The company will begin posting names of those distributors on its Web site later this month.

Ballew Saw & Tool, a machinery dealer in Springfield, Mo., began stocking Steel City's machines in its showroom just over two weeks ago, and has already sold a few tools according to Kenny Printy, a sales representative in woodworking and machinery sales at Ballew Saw & Tool.

"We've sold three of their tablesaws so far," Printy said in a phone interview. "I've talked to two or the three customers since then and they're thrilled."

Printy, who has worked with Box and other Steel City's executives when they represented other tool manufacturers, said he sees promise in the company's effort to provide good support to distributors, and only sell its tools through outfits that can provide technical support to customers.

Looking under the hood
IWF offers customer a chance to take a closer look at Steel City's products and prices. The company has previously been tight-lipped about the cost of its tools. A first look here at IWF, shows bandsaws starting around $1,000, while one of the smaller tablesaws had a $900 price tag.

Dick Hsieh is the vice president of operations for Steel City's Asian manufacturing facility and is attending IWF to answer questions about Steel City's manufacturing process. Hsieh worked with Steel City executives for many years through other major tool manufacturers like Delta.

"Our emphasis used to be on DIY tools," Hsieh said of his 15-year relationship with Delta. "But there is too much competition in DIY tools and everyone was looking for cheap, low-cost methods of production, and that affects quality."

The emphasis has changed with Steel City, Hsieh said. "These tools are for the industrial market so we have changed the focus at our manufacturing facilities. First we think about how to make the best tool, then we look for efficiencies in the manufacturing process."

For a complete list of products and specifications visit Steel City Tool Works online at www.steelcitytoolworks.com