LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The 2015 Green Industry & Equipment Expo (GIE+EXPO) the Kentucky Expo Center in Louisville, buzzed with business indoors and out. The footprint of the show was 1.35 million square feet, over 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 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 and 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.

Other highlights

Dealer Day, Wednesday, October 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+ attendants who learned about the seven principles of a high-performance dealership.

The Dealer Keynote Luncheon, sponsored by Gravely and STIHL, drew over 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. 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,” said Matt Foster, product and marketing manager for Intimidator. “GIE+EXPO is the No. 1 show each year. We can reach so many people without driving all around the country.”

Pro education

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.

Exhibits

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 and the International Lawn, Garden and Power Equipment 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.

Networking

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.

Some of the prize winners

The last day of the show was dubbed “Fabulous Friday” during which Brian Richardson, L&A Tent Rentals, Trenton, NJ, 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 winners of the 10th annual Power Equipment Trade Dealers’ Choice Awards:

  • Accessories/Attachments— Sta-Bil 360° Performance fuel additive
  • Business Management— ARI Premium Directory Management
  • Handheld— STIHL BR 450 C-EF Backpack Blower
  • Industrial/Engine— Briggs & Stratton Vanguard Big Block EFI engine
  • Recreation/ATV— Polaris Industries new Brutus models
  • Wheeled— Toro SnowMaster snow blower

Looking ahead

The dates for the 2016 show in Louisville are Oct. 19 for dealers, distributors, retailers and media and Oct. 20-21 for everyone in the industry. The Demo Area will be open Thursday and Friday, Oct. 20 and 21. 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 will provide space for GIE+EXPO and HNA exhibitors to expand.