The WMIA was founded in 1978 by seven visionaries who wanted to make the North American woodworking industry more productive and globally competitive. The founding members of the WMIA were Edwin Bass (Holz Machinery Corp.), Richard Byrnes, Sr. (Richard T. Byrnes Co.), Alvin Corenblum (Woodworking Machinery Imports), Roger Criau (Danckaert Woodworking Machinery Co.), Edward Joel (Allwood Machinery, formally Amersaag), Peter Kleinschmidt (Stiles Machinery Co.) and Bert Lewyn (Lewyn Machinery).
In 1980, these leaders organized and launched the World Woodworking Expo, a trade show created to showcase its members and their imported woodworking machinery. In 1982, that show was consolidated into the International Woodworking Fair (IWF), now the premier woodworking industry event in North America. WMIA co-sponsors and co-owns IWF in conjunction with the Wood Machinery Manufacturers of America (WMMA) and the American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA).