The footprint of the 2014 GIE+EXPO (Green Industry & Equipment Expo) — which took place Wednesday, Oct. 22, through Friday, Oct. 24, at Louisville’s Kentucky Exposition Center — was more than 1.3 million square feet, nearly 30 acres and the size of 27 football fields, making it the largest ever for this mega show and, in fact, one of the largest trade shows in the U.S. The industry event is being hailed as a family reunion that draws all segments of the outdoor power equipment and lawn & garden industry. This year, more than 19,000 people from around the world represented an 11-percent increase in registration over last year. The “reunion” gathering place at the Kentucky Exposition Center buzzed with business indoors and out.
“GIE+EXPO was a huge success for Dixie Chopper,” said Dena Jenkins, marketing & events specialist for Dixie Chopper. “The volume of booth traffic was larger than any of our other industry shows in 2014, and we came away with significantly more new leads than ever before. Attendees this year were very industry- and product-focused, and that showed in how busy our outdoor demo area was throughout the event. We are so excited about planning for next year’s GIE+EXPO to build on the momentum we gained at this year’s show.”
Hardscape North America (HNA), which co-located with GIE+EXPO, also enjoyed record attendance with a 22-percent increase over 2013.
Other highlights included:
Dealer Day, Wednesday, Oct. 22, provided focused education, as well as basic and advanced tech training, and it facilitated one-on-one time so exhibitors and dealers/distributors could network and discuss pricing and products. Dealership consultant Bob Clements’ Wednesday seminar — the first of his five free sessions for dealers — drew 320-plus attendees who learned how they can achieve higher levels of success while taking back their lives.
Participation in basic tech training sessions was up 213 percent this year, while registration in the advanced training increased 14 percent.
Registration for all paid dealer education was up 35 percent. The inaugural Keynote Dealer Luncheon, sponsored by Gravely and Stihl, drew nearly 200 participants to hear best-selling author Steve McClatchy discuss how to work smarter, reduce stress, and lead more effectively.
During a reception on the show floor Wednesday evening, exhibitors held prize drawings and entertained 3,500 dealers and retailers with music, food, beverages and games. Tanya Kistner, owner of Eau Claire Lawn Equipment in Eau Claire, Wis., won Stihl’s big $5,000 giveaway.
On Wednesday, while retailers, distributors and dealers were busy at the Kentucky Exposition Center, lawn & landscape professionals were in downtown Louisville taking classes offered by the Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS) and Professional Landcare Network (PLANET). The sessions continued at the Kentucky Exposition Center on Thursday and Friday.
Contractor registration was up 7 percent, and attendance in the GIE+EXPO Workshops for lawn & landscape pros climbed a whopping 56 percent over last year. New sessions related to snow and ice management were sold out with a total of 276 participants. Workshops on irrigation methods were also new.
There were 675 indoor exhibits, which represents a 6-percent increase over 2013 and 13 percent over 2012. With 181 new exhibitors, it was the largest show since the Green Industry Expo (GIE) and the International Lawn, Garden and Power Equipment Expo (EXPO) merged in 2007. The popular New Products Showcase featured 68 companies spotlighting 107 products that were introduced within the past year, and at least 25 exhibitors hosted press conferences.
With sunshine and temperatures in the 60s and 70s, activity in the Outdoor Demonstration Area buzzed both days, giving attendees a chance for hands-on experience with equipment from about 100 exhibitors. Creating additional excitement this year were new utility vehicle (UTV) test tracks.
Show Director Warren Sellers said, “We can already see that we will sell out in the demo area next year.” Several exhibitors who declined the opportunity for outdoor booths this year because of cold weather in 2013 have already requested outdoor space in the 19-acre demo park, and Sellers is seeing growing interest from suppliers of UTVs and UTV accessories.
The entertainers in the free nightly concerts were Montgomery Gentry with Jeni Carr & TwangTown on Wednesday night, sponsored by Dixie Chopper; Jamie Lynn Spears and The Crashers on Thursday night, sponsored by Synchrony Financial; and “The Voice” finalists Olivia Henken and Josh Logan on Friday. All of the concerts were held in Louisville’s downtown entertainment complex, 4th Street Live!, on the Nissan Commercial Vehicles stage.
Social media buzz was more active than ever with trade publications posting reports and interviews. Many first-time attendees posted on GIE+EXPO’s Facebook page about their favorite aspects of the show, and a crowd favorite was the Outdoor Demo Area. Martha F Garrison wrote, “My husband was like a kid on Christmas morning. He tried everything!!”
Just Some of the Prize Winners
The last day of the show was dubbed “Fabulous Friday” during which Marsha Agin, Agin Lawnmower Sales and Service, Raleigh, Ill., won $1,000; Norman Sensenig, Greenway Lawn Care, Cheyenne, Wyo., won $2,000; and Jumar Dunn, Making it Happen, Atlanta, Ga., won $4,000. Belgard Hardscapes sponsored the giveaways.
Also on Friday, the highly competitive HNA Installer Championship concluded with Integrity Landscapes, Bismarck, N.D., emerging as the champion and winning $1,000, an iQ Power Tool, a Weber MT plate compactor, a trophy and bragging rights for a full year.
The dates for the 2015 show in Louisville will be Oct. 21 for dealers, distributors, retailers and media and Oct. 22-23 for everyone in the industry. The Demo Area will be open Thursday and Friday, Oct. 22 and 23.
GIE+EXPO is sponsored by the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), PGMS and PLANET. For more information, visit www.gie-expo.com. Other contact points include: Facebook, info@GIE-EXPO.com, Twitter @GIE_EXPO, and (800) 558-8767/(812) 949-9200. Online registration will be available in early 2015.