GIE + EXPOIt’s been a month since I returned from the GIE+EXPO in Louisville, Kentucky, and I’m still on a high from the experience. This year’s event was one powerhouse show for landscape professionals. If you have never been to the GIE+EXPO, then you are missing out on the premiere education and trade show for our industry. There is so much to learn and do and see that I can’t possibly list it, but here are a few highlights from my trip.

  • Incredible networking opportunities. There is nothing better than getting to hang out and network with other people from our industry. I have made some good friends over the years at this show, and we always end up hanging out and talking shop. I always meet new and interesting people.
  • Educational seminars rule. Yes, I know that sitting in a classroom-type setting for more than an hour is not on most people’s lists of favorite things to do. But learning how other landscape business owners grew their companies—some to more than $100 million in annual sales—gives you great information and inspiration to take home. And that was just from one seminar.
  • Big, bad equipment everywhere. If you are an equipment junkie, then this is the place for you. There was everything from a battery-powered zero-turn rider with a 60-inch cutting deck to a mower with a jet engine—although I don’t think that one was for sale. The event also features a huge outdoor power equipment area where you can run everything from lawn mowers to skid-steers to big tractors. This year the weather was perfect with blue skies and temperatures in the low 70s, so the outdoor demo area was particularly busy.
  • Jeff and Steve Rak at GIE 2015

    Jeff and Steve Rak at GIE 2015

    Great evening entertainment. This is where you get to have a little fun, sip a few drinks, eat some tasty food and just hang out with friends—new and old. There is always a band playing on 4th Street Live!, a city block in the middle of Louisville that is blocked off to vehicular traffic and lined with restaurants and entertainment venues.

  • Sharing what you’ve learned. My brother, Jeff, and I did a presentation for one of the pre-show ticketed classes offered by the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP). We had a great time as we shared what we’ve learned in running our businesses and other ideas with fellow landscape professionals in the audience. Public speaking is a rewarding experience. To be able to do it at a show like this added to the whole experience.

Overall the GIE+EXPO is a really great event. Please try to get there October 19-21, 2016. Keep an eye on the GIE and NALP websites for details.

I know it costs money to attend this event but I believe you always get your money’s worth and more. I also hear the excuse that it’s hard to take time away from your companies and that is true. However, you have to realize there is never a perfect time to take time off.

I believe that constant learning and personal development is part of the responsibility of being a business owner.

If you attended this year’s GIE+EXPO, let me know what you thought about the show and seminars.