GIE+EXPO produces wealth of information for landscapers

The concourse of the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville packs them in just before the show floor opened for GIE+EXPO. Photo: David RountreeThe concourse of the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville packs them in just before the show floor opened for GIE+EXPO.
Photo: David Rountree

If you’ve wondered why you’re still seeing stories here from GIE+EXPO, which was held Oct. 19-21 at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, I’m guessing you’ve never been to the landscaping industry’s largest trade show. If you had, you’d understand. is all about gathering and sharing information of value to landscape professionals, and GIE+EXPO – not to mention Hardscape North America, which is co-located with GIE – produces vast quantities of it. There’s equipment news by the ton, of course, but also first-rate educational content.

The 2016 show was no exception; in fact, it was the biggest yet – topping the record attendance of the two previous years.

Sponsored by the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS) and National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP), this year’s show attracted more than 22,600 people – 12 percent more than last year.

OPEI, the managing partner of the show, says a third of the dealers and 44 percent of the lawn and landscape attendees were first timers. I’m betting the event made a lasting impression on them. After all, the exhibitors’ indoor booths occupied a space the size of 14 football fields, while the outdoor demo area comprised an additional 20 acres.

Kris Kiser, OPEI’s president and CEO, said the 900-plus exhibits were “not quite as shoe-horned” into the space this year, mainly because Hardscape North America (HNA) had moved to a larger space in the exposition center than it occupied previously. That not only created a little more elbow room but also helped HNA better define its own sizable event rather than seeing it swallowed up by GIE.

Needless to say, the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute’s members are among the most recognizable brands at GIE. And because OPEI oversees the show’s management, Kiser talks with dozens and dozens of other green industry representatives at the show as well.

So, what’s he hearing?

“Business is doing pretty well,” Kiser told reporters during last month’s show. “They’re having a decent season.”

That’s certainly consistent with what we were hearing as we asked one exhibitor or landscaper after another, “How’s business?” Most said 2016 was going to be a pretty good year. A few were more upbeat than that.

Don’t be surprised if you see a few more references to the 2016 GIE+EXPO for another week or so. We feel like we’ve barely scratched the surface.

Then again, 14 football fields, plus another 20 acres, is a whole lot of surface to scratch.

David Rountree is the editor of Total Landscape Care.

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