LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The 2017 GIE+EXPO (Green Industry & Equipment Expo), Oct. 18-20 at the Kentucky Expo Center in Louisville, was another record-breaking event. The show topped the last three year's records in both attendance and exhibitors. More than 24,000 people from around the world represented a 7% increase over 2016. And, with an indoor footprint equal to 47 White Houses, exhibit space grew 9%. In fact, GIE+EXPO was recently named the 10th largest show in North America by Trade Show Executive magazine.
The annual industry event draws all segments of the outdoor power equipment and lawn & garden industry. GIE+EXPO is sponsored by the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS) and National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP).
Over the last four years GIE+EXPO has averaged a 12% increase in total attendance. In 2017, lawn and landscape pros registrants were up 12% over 2016 — making an average increase of 15% over last 4 years. Lawn and garden center registrations were up 27%, and distributor registrations were up 12% over 2016.
The show continues to draw new attendees as 34% of dealer/retailer registrants and 44% of lawn and landscape pros were first timers. Attending businesses realize the benefit of bringing their teams to see new products, test equipment and learn industry trends. Both dealer/retailer and lawn and landscape companies sent an average of at least two employees.
"The show is awesome. This is my first time, and I didn't expect it to be so big and to see so much new equipment," said Scott Baechle of Top Turf Care LLC in Springfield, MO. "One of the reasons I came is to demo equipment. I can see it all in one spot, test how it performs and decide what I want to purchase."
There were over 1,005 exhibits indoors and out in GIE+EXPO and the co-located Hardscape North America, including 226 new exhibitors. The indoor show floor was 50,000 square feet larger than 2016. The Outdoor Demonstration Area covered 20 acres, and attendees had two full days to test equipment. HNA increased in size by more than 16% over 2016.
The popular New Products Showcase sold out, featuring more than 100 products that were introduced within the past year, and 25 exhibitors hosted press conferences where most introduced new products.
"GIE+EXPO is the best place in the industry to display products, demonstrate our machines and meet customers," said Joe Conrad, President of Mean Green Mowers. "We increased our booth space this year in order to showcase our new products. We always unveil something new and always get some good industry press coverage in addition to meeting new customers."
Dealer Day, Wednesday, October 18, 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' People, Process, Profit Boot Camp drew an average of 160 attendees to each of its three sessions.
The Dealer Keynote Luncheon, sponsored by Gravely and STIHL, drew over 400 participants to hear noted economist Alan Beaulieu discuss emerging economic trends and how to take advantage of them.
During a reception on the show floor Wednesday evening exhibitors held prize drawings and entertained dealers and retailers with music, food, beverages and games. Matthew Owen of Big Ridge Outdoor Equipment, Brevard, N.C., won the $5,000 STIHL giveaway.
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 Assn. of Landscape Professionals (NALP). The sessions continued at the exposition center on Thursday and Friday.
Attendance in the GIE+EXPO Workshops for lawn & landscape pros was up 18% over 2016. Topics ranged from hiring, retaining and motivating employees to estimating and increasing profits.
The entertainers in the free nightly concerts, sponsored by BOB-CAT Mowers, were Uncle Kracker with opener Runaway June on Wednesday night; Alaska & Madi and The Crashers on Thursday night; and V-Groove on Friday. All were held in the downtown entertainment complex, 4th Street Live! on the Mercedes-Benz Vans stage.
In the first-ever $20,000 UTV Giveaway, Andy Popst of GTM Services, Largo, FL, won $20,000 toward his choice of UTVs. Participating manufacturers included BOB-CAT Mowers, Cub Cadet, Hustler Turf, John Deere, Kubota, Odes UTVs and Yanmar.
In addition, many other exhibitors created buzz around their participation with giveaways and prize drawings. Some of the winners include:
- Worldlawn Power Equipment Venom 32' compact stand-on unit — Joshua Tate of Tate Lawn Care, Warwick, R.I.
- Gravely zero-turn mower — Danny LaChance of Pro Cut Lawn and Landscaping in Sabattus, Maine
- Mean Green Mowers, Nemesis Powerful Electric Zero Turn mower — Steve Lilly of Rain Barrel Gutter Works, Casselberry, Fla.
- Champion Lubricants $2,500 2-cycle full synthetic oil — Donald LaPoint of Tender Care Lawn Service, Sulphur, La.
- Mason-Lite fireplace — Ken Hill of Jones Stone Co., Nashville, Tenn.
The highly competitive HNA Installer Championship concluded with CG Paving from Ft. Worth, Texas,emerging as the champion and winning a prize package valued at $10,000 and bragging rights for a full year.
As a result of the show's continued growth, a new format will be implemented in 2018, allowing contractors an extra day on the show floor. Show dates are October 17-19. The indoor show floor will open exclusively for dealers, retailers and the media at noon on Wednesday. Then, beginning at 3 p.m. and continuing Thursday and Friday, the entire industry will be invited to visit the exhibits. The Outdoor Demonstration Area will be open Thursday and Friday.
"GIE+EXPO continues to grow in size as well as in its reputation as the industry's gathering place," said Kris Kiser, President and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute. "We've heard the contractors asking for an additional day to visit exhibits and demo equipment. So, in 2018 we're giving them access to the show floor on Wednesday."