By Steve Noe
For the past 16 years, I’ve packed my bags and headed south to Louisville, Ky., for the Green Industry’s premier annual trade show, now known as the Green Industry & Equipment Expo (GIE+EXPO). And each year, I look forward to attending the show for different reasons. Here are 15 reasons that you should go to this year’s GIE+EXPO, which is set to take place Wednesday, Oct. 21, through Friday, Oct. 23, at the Kentucky Exposition Center.
* Dealer Day: Back by popular demand, the first day of the show will be “Dealer Day,” with the show open only to dealers, distributors, retailers and media. You will not only have exclusive access to the indoor exhibits from 3 to 7 p.m., giving you the first glimpse at all of the hot new products. You will also get a chance to meet face to face with suppliers and talk to them without your customers present. The day will also feature technician training and certification, a seminar for dealership owners and managers, a keynote lunch, a welcome reception, giveaways, free concerts, and more.
* Networking: With more than 18,000 people expected to participate in the show, you will have no shortage of networking opportunities.
* Educational opportunities: The show will offer educational opportunities for everyone in your dealership.
* Technician training and certification: Technician training and certification will be offered by the Equipment & Engine Training Council in the Dealer Resource Pavilion on Wednesday from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Cost per class is $30-$45.
* Dealership management seminars: Seminars on best practices for dealership owners and managers, conducted by Bob Clements and his team, will be held each day at the Dealer Resource Pavilion.
* Dealer Day Keynote Lunch: Steve McClatchy, president, Alleer Training & Consulting, and author of the New York Times bestseller Decide: Work Smarter, Reduce Your Stress & Lead by Example, will talk with dealers about the differences between management and leadership, and how both are vital to the success of a team. Cost of this session, sponsored by Gravely and Stihl Inc., is $25, which includes a box lunch.
* Welcome reception: The welcome reception will be held on Dealer Day from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Kentucky Exposition Center, with many exhibitors hosting fun-filled activities, serving food and drinks, and having giveaways in their booths. In its Oktoberfest-themed booth, Stihl Inc. will be offering free food, drinks and live entertainment, as well as holding a drawing for a $5,000 giveaway at 6:30 p.m.
* Dealer Summit: These morning sessions will offer insights to help dealers grow their business. The Thursday and Friday sessions will begin at 8 a.m. with panel discussions that include a light breakfast. Both sessions are sponsored by the North American Equipment Dealers Association (NAEDA). Thursday’s session will feature manufacturers’ representatives, who will address questions and issues important to the future and profitability of dealers. It will be followed by a presentation on how dealers can best use social media to connect with customers. Friday’s session will focus on meeting the needs and expectations of commercial customers. Session fees range from $15 to $25.
* Latino Link Dealer Breakfast: New this year, the National Hispanic Landscape Alliance (NHLA) will host a Latino Link Dealer Breakfast on Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. The topic will be “Growing Your Business by Better Engaging Local Hispanics.” NHLA President Juan Torres, principal & consultant with Next Step Solutions, will provide tips for positioning a dealership as the go-to destination for Hispanics in the landscape industry. A $25 fee includes breakfast.
* Outdoor demonstration area: Located a stone’s throw from the Kentucky Exposition Center, this 19-acre area allows you the chance to kick tires and try out products.
* Indoor exhibit area: Between the indoor and outdoor booths, you will find more than 750 exhibits featuring the industry’s latest product offerings.
* New Product Showcase: Within the indoor exhibit area, you will also find many of the show’s most exciting and new products on display in a single spot — the New Product Showcase.
* Dealer Resource Pavilion: The Dealer Resource Pavilion will serve as a hub for dealers. It will feature a lounge area for you to take a break, network with peers, and enjoy free Wi-Fi.
* Giveaways: On the first day of the show, dealers will have the opportunity to win $5,000 in Stihl’s aforementioned drawing at its booth at 6:30 p.m. On the last day of the show, a drawing for a $10,000 giveaway, sponsored by Belgard Hardscapes, will take place at 4 p.m.
* Free concerts: After the show ends each day, the fun will shift to downtown Louisville, where starting at 8 p.m., you will be treated to free concerts, sponsored by Dixie Chopper on the Nissan Commercial Vehicles stage at Fourth Street Live! On Wednesday, Four Paris will open for Grand Funk Railroad. Kellie Pickler will be followed by The Crashers on Thursday. On Friday, Lyndsey Henken and The Rigbys will close out the concert lineup.