LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The footprint of the 2014 GIE+EXPO, Oct. 22-24, was over 1.3 million square feet, nearly 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 tradeshows in the U.S. The industry event is being hailed as a family reunion that draws all segments of the outdoor power equipment and lawn & garden industry. This year more than 19,000 people from around the world represented an 11 percent increase in registration over last year. The "reunion" gathering place at the Kentucky Expo Center in Louisville buzzed with business indoors and out.
Hardscape North America, co-located with GIE+EXPO, also had a record attendance with a 22 percent increase over 2013.
- Dealer Day: Dealer Day, Wednesday, Oct. 22, 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 320-plus attendants who learned how they can achieve higher levels of success while taking back their lives. Participation in basic tech training sessions was up 213 percent this year while registration in the advanced training increased 14 percent. Registrations for all paid dealer education were up 35 percent. The inaugural Keynote Dealer Luncheon, sponsored by Gravely and STIHL, drew nearly 200 participants to hear best-selling author Steve McClatchy discuss how to work smarter, reduce stress and lead more effectively. During a reception on the show floor Wednesday evening, exhibitors held prize drawings and entertained 3,500 dealers and retailers with music, food, beverages and games. Tanya Kistner, owner of Eau Claire Lawn Equipment in Wisconsin, won STIHL’s big $5,000 STIHL giveaway.
- Pro Education: On Wednesday, while retailers, distributors and dealers were busy at the Kentucky Expo Center, industry professionals were in downtown Louisville taking classes offered by the PGMS and PLANET. The sessions continued at the Expo Center on Thursday and Friday. Contractor registrations were up 7 percent, and attendance in the GIE+EXPO Workshops for pros climbed a whopping 56 percent over last year. New sessions related to snow and ice management were sold out with a total of 276 participants. Workshops on irrigation methods were also new.
- Exhibits: There were 675 indoor exhibits, which represents a 6 percent increase over 2013 and 13 percent over 2012. With 181 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 68 companies spotlighting 107 products that were introduced within the past year, and at least 25 exhibitors hosted press conferences. With sunshine and temperatures in the 60s and 70s, activity in the Outdoor Demonstration Area buzzed both days, giving attendees a chance for hands-on experience with equipment from about 100 exhibitors. Creating additional excitement this year were new UTV test tracks. Several exhibitors who declined the opportunity for outdoor booths this year because of cold weather in 2013 have already requested outdoor space in the 19-acre demo park.
- Networking: The entertainers in the free nightly concerts were Montgomery Gentry with Jeni Carr & Twangtown on Wednesday night, sponsored by Dixie Chopper; Jamie Lynn Spears and The Crashers on Thursday night, sponsored by Synchrony; and "The Voice" finalists Olivia Henken and Josh Logan 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 first-time attendees posted on GIE+EXPO’s Facebook page about their favorite aspects of the show, and a crowd favorite was the Outdoor Demo Area.
- Just Some of the Prize Winners: The last day of the show was dubbed "Fabulous Friday" during which Marsha Agin, Agin Lawnmower Sales and Service, Raleigh, Illinois, won $1,000; Norman Sensenig, Greenway Lawn Care, Cheyenne, Wyoming, won $2,000; and Jumar Dunn, Making it Happen, Atlanta, Georgia, won $4,000. Belgard Hardscapes sponsored the giveaways. Also on Friday, the highly competitive HNA Installer Championship concluded with Integrity Landscapes, Bismarck, North Dakota, emerging as the champion and winning $1,000, an iQ Power Tool, a Weber MT plate compactor, a trophy and bragging rights for a full year.
- The winners of the 2014 Power Equipment Trade Dealers’ Choice Awards:
- Accessories/Attachments – Briggs & Stratton Advanced Fuel Treatment
- Business Management – ARI New OPE Website Platform
- Handheld – ECHO CS-590 Timber Wolf Chain Saw
- Industrial/Engine – Kohler KDW1003 engine
- Wheeled- Redesigned Wright Stander ZK
The dates for the 2015 show in Louisville are Oct. 21 for dealers, distributors, retailers and media, and Oct. 22-23 for everyone in the industry. The Demo Area will be open Thursday and Friday, Oct. 22 and 23.