No. 1 Industry Gathering Continues to Grow

A larger footprint and increased attendance combine with new show features for another record-setting year.

Kato (canycom)

The 2018 Green Industry & Equipment Expo (GIE+EXPO), October 17 through 19 at the Kentucky Expo Center in Louisville, was another record-breaking event. The show topped the last four years' records in both attendance and exhibitors, making it the largest ever for this mega show and, in fact, one of the largest trade shows in the U.S. More than 24,700 people from around the world attended, representing a 3 percent increase over 2017. And with 1,000 exhibits, the indoor show floor and outdoor demonstration area were larger than ever.

The annual industry event draws all segments of the outdoor power equipment, and lawn and 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).

"The 2018 GIE+EXPO was the biggest and best ever," said Kris Kiser, president of OPEI. "Attendees and exhibitors alike know this is the place you have to be if you're in this business. The whole industry gathers in Louisville to see new products, network and learn. And with Mutt Madness, our rescue dog adoption event held in partnership with OPEI's TurfMutt and the Kentucky Humane Society, this year's show was like none other.

"We're already working on significant innovative changes for the 2019 GIE+EXPO. Next year, when you land in Louisville, look for new spaces in new places—we're still growing."

Show highlights include the following:

  • Lawn and landscape pro registrants were up 7 percent over 2017.
  • Servicing dealer registrants were up 5 percent over 2017.
  • All 50 states and more than 50 countries were represented.
  • The indoor show floor was 40,000 gross square feet larger than in 2017.
  • The outdoor demonstration area covered more than 20 acres.
  • 250 new exhibitors participated in GIE+EXPO and the co-located Hardscape North America.
  • In order to accommodate the need for more exhibit space, the new product feature took a new form as a New Products Spotlight. Located in the registration area, this special display sold out, featuring more than 100 products that were introduced within the past year.
  • Two keynote sessions featured Dr. Robert Ballard. The session for dealers, sponsored by STIHL and BOB-CAT Mowers, drew more than 1,000 participants, while the session for contractors, sponsored by John Deere, brought more than 2,000.
  • Organizers partnered with the Kentucky Humane Society for an event called Mutt Madness, sponsored by TurfMutt. Thursday afternoon in Freedom Hall, attendees interacted with 21 dogs looking for a good home and more than 10 dogs were adopted.
  • Food Truck Thursday coincided with Mutt Madness in Freedom Hall. Seven food trucks drove into the arena and provided a fun lunch experience. It is obvious that we need more in 2019!

"It's exciting to keep pushing boundaries," said Warren Sellers, show director. "With 250 new exhibitors, the indoor show floor was 40,000 square feet larger than last year. Plus, we added the new features in Freedom Hall. Add to that the dynamic keynotes by Dr. Robert Ballard for both dealers and contractors, and the energy at the show was on a new level."

Looking Ahead

As a result of the show's continued growth, this year's new three-day format will continue in 2019. Show dates are October 16 through 18. 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.