GIE+EXPO draws nearly 20,000

The Green Industry & Equipment Expo (GIE+EXPO) drew approximately 19,500 participants for an all-inclusive event Oct. 23-25 in Louisville. It provided education for all segments of the industry, including first-time workshops for golf course superintendents; a new-products showcase, featuring 80 brand-new items; and a new Learning Center on the show floor where nine companies presented technical, hands-on instruction on the care and functionality of green industry equipment and supplies.

GIE+EXPO is sponsored by the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) and the Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS). With more than 800,000 net square feet of exhibit space indoors and out, it is now the 14th largest trade show in America, according to Trade Show Executive magazine.

This year, the show hosted 625 exhibiting companies from all over the world. About 170 of them, covering 30,000 square feet of space, had not exhibited last year. In addition to benefiting from education, networking and the indoor displays, visitors could walk outside to the 19-acre demonstration area for hands-on product comparisons offered each day by 134 companies.

Registrants included approximately 4,750 dealers/retailers (a decrease of 3 percent from 2007) and 7,500 lawn and landscape pros (an increase of 5 percent). About 1,817 people participated in the Green Industry Conference, which was sponsored by PLANET, and the School of Grounds Management, sponsored by PGMS.

Other highlights of GIE+EXPO were as follows:

· Earl Buckley, Jr. of Mountain Valley Lawn, York Springs, Pa., won $20,000 toward the purchase of a new work truck in the Trucks of the Industry Giveaway, which featured eight truck manufacturers.

· Hundreds of new products were introduced, including 80 by Husqvarna alone.

· Twenty-nine press conferences were held over the three days of the show.

Celebrities and autograph sessions enlivened the event, including appearances by renowned garden designer P. Allen Smith, NASCAR’s Richard Petty and Marc Davis, and singer Candy Coburn.

Many companies held contests and drawings, including Ariens Company, which gave away flight certificates to anywhere in the Caribbean that American Airlines flies. The winners were Benjamin Mallisham, Mallisham’s Lawn Mower Repair, Tuscaloosa, Ala.; Cindy Peterson, Peterson Landscaping, Allegany, N.Y; and Rich Wilbert, CLP, Robert Howard Associates, Inc., Boulder, Colo.

Barry Nichols, Loveland, Ohio, was the winner of Exmark’s $11,800 giveaway — a Next Lazer Z LZZ29KA606 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Exmark’s headquarters, where Nichols will get a behind-the-scenes tour of Exmark’s facilities and a look at his mower as it rolls down the production line.

GIE+EXPO gave away a $500 gas card to Ray Delawder, MR Lawn Care, Cumberland, Md., for registering online by October 1.

The Stihl Lumberjack Challenge, presented by Scheer’s Lumberjack Shows, showcased the athletes’ dexterity, speed and brute strength during performances during the three days of the show. Featured events included axe throwing, chopping, log rolling, cross cut sawing, hot sawing and chain saw carving.

Kohler’s Free Brat Fry was a repeat favorite for hungry show-goers in the outdoor demonstration area.

“The Dealer Experience — Your Guide to Profitability” included panel discussions on how dealers can build beneficial relationships with contractors; the future of the OPE industry; value-driven marketing practices; business planning; and resources for hiring, training and retention. In addition, John Felmy, chief economist of the American Petroleum Institute, offered his insights on the current energy situation. All participating dealers and retailers were admitted to the show an hour early each day for an exclusive sneak peak and meetings with exhibitors. They also had the benefits of a private Dealer Club where they could relax.

Free evening concerts at Louisville’s 4th Street Live! featured 38 Special and the Briggs Bluesbusters on Thursday, sponsored by Briggs & Stratton, as well as Lonestar and Candy Coburn on Friday, sponsored by Ariens, Gravely and Stens.

For information about GIE+EXPO 2009, set for Oct. 29-31 in Louisville at the Kentucky Exposition Center, or call Sellers Expositions at (800) 558-8767 or (812) 949-9200.

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