The 2015 Green Industry & Equipment Expo (GIE+EXPO), which was held Oct. 21-23 at Louisville’s Kentucky Exposition Center, buzzed with business indoors and out. The footprint of the show was 1.35 million square feet, more than 30 acres and the size of 27 football fields, making it the largest ever for this show and, in fact, one of the largest trade shows in the U.S. The industry event draws all segments of the outdoor power equipment and lawn & garden industry. This year, more than 21,000 people from around the world represented an 11-percent increase in registration over last year.
“Both our indoor and outdoor booths were crazy busy during the show,” said Judith Ross, regional sales & marketing manager for Wright Manufacturing. “Our company focuses on the commercial customer, and we find GIE+EXPO well worth the investment. A couple of strategies in 2015 helped create synergy between our indoor and outdoor booths and build excitement. We had a live feed on the show floor of our demos outside. And, we brought a landscaper and his mower that has 6,000 hours on it, to illustrate the durability of our products.”
Hardscape North America (HNA), co-located with GIE+EXPO, also had a record attendance with a 4-percent increase over 2014.
Dealer Day, Wednesday, Oct. 21, provided focused education, basic and advanced tech training and 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 350-plus attendees who learned about the seven principles of a high-performance dealership.
The Dealer Keynote Luncheon, sponsored by Gravely and Stihl, drew more than 200 participants to hear best-selling author Steve McClatchy discuss how to lead more effectively.
During a reception on the show floor Wednesday evening, exhibitors held prize drawings and entertained 3,700 dealers and retailers with music, food, beverages and games. Denise Long of Gardners Outdoor Power Equipment in Goshen, Ind., won the 5,000 Stihl giveaway.
“Dealer Day is an essential part of our marketing strategy,” said Matt Foster, product and marketing manager for Intimidator. “GIE+EXPO put us in front of a ton of dealers, and we were able to introduce our zero-turn mower and UTV to the end-user customers as well. GIE+EXPO is the No. 1 show each year. We can reach so many people without driving all around the country.”
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 National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP). The sessions continued at the Expo Center on Thursday and Friday.
Contractor registrations were up 11 percent, and attendance in the GIE+EXPO Workshops for lawn & landscape pros climbed over 20 percent.
There were 704 indoor exhibits, which represents a 4-percent increase over 2014. With 193 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 63 companies spotlighting more than 100 products that were introduced within the past year, and more than 25 exhibitors hosted press conferences.
With sunshine and temperatures in the 70s and 80s, activity in the Outdoor Demonstration Area buzzed both days, giving attendees a chance for hands-on experience with equipment from 120 exhibitors.
The entertainers in the free nightly concerts, sponsored by Dixie Chopper, were Grand Funk Railroad with From Paris on Wednesday night; Kellie Pickler and The Crashers on Thursday night; and The Rigbys with Lindsey Henken on Friday. All were held in the 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 attendees posted on GIE+EXPO’s Facebook page about their favorite aspects of the show, and a crowd favorite was the Outdoor Demo Area. John Young wrote, “LOVE coming down to check out the new products!! There were some amazing new technologies on display this year!”
Just some of the prize winners
The last day of the show was dubbed “Fabulous Friday” during which Brian Richardson, L&A Tent Rentals, Trenton, N.J., won $10,000 in the Fabulous Friday Giveaway, sponsored by Belgard Hardscapes.
Also on Friday, the highly competitive HNA Installer Championship concluded with Cooper’s Pavers, from New Jersey, emerging as the champion and winning $1,000, an iQ Power Tool, a Weber MT plate compactor, a plaque and bragging rights for a full year.
The dates for the 2016 show in Louisville are Wednesday, Oct. 19, for dealers, distributors, retailers and media and Thursday, Oct. 20, and Friday, Oct. 21, for everyone in the industry. The Demo Area will be open Thursday and Friday. HNA, which first co-located with GIE+EXPO six years ago, has agreed to co-locate through 2018. HNA has outgrown its space and will relocate to the North Wing in 2016. This will allow GIE+EXPO to move the Dealer Resource Pavilion onto the show floor and provide space for GIE+EXPO and HNA exhibitors to expand.
For more information, visit www.gie-expo.com. Other contact points include Facebook, email@example.com, Twitter @GIE_EXPO and (800) 558-8767/(812) 949-9200. Online registration will be available early in 2016.