UPDATE (official GIE+EXPO press release) – The 2015 GIE+EXPO (Green Industry & Equipment Expo), Oct. 21-23 at 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 tradeshows 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% increase in registration over last year.
Posted October 23 –Last year's GIE+EXPO was the biggest in the show's eight-year history. But that record is now history itself after a tremendous turnout this year.
Early attendance estimates for GIE+EXPO 2015, held October 21-23 in Louisville, KY, point to an overall jump of roughly 16%. Dealer registrants specifically are up roughly 9%. Landscape contractors attending the LANDSCAPES educational conference, presented by the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP), are up 20%. Hardscape contractors attending Hardscape North America, which co-locates with GIE+EXPO, are also up double digits.
"This year's show is once again the biggest ever, so I'm in a pretty good mood," said Kris Kiser, president and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) at a Thursday morning press conference. OPEI, the landscaping industry's association of equipment and engine manufacturers, is one of the primary sponsors of GIE+EXPO along with NALP and the Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS).
GIE+EXPO exhibit space has also reached a record level this year. "The South Hall is completely out of room," Kiser said. "Many exhibitors wanted to expand their booths this year, but the South Hall just couldn't accommodate that."
To that end, Hardscape North America will likely move to the North Hall next year, providing that growing show with some much needed room while also freeing up additional room for GIE+EXPO. Hardscape North America will continue to co-locate with GIE+EXPO through 2018. OPEI and NALP will continue to partner through 2021.
There are also discussions to bring even more landscaping industry-related shows to GIE+EXPO in coming years. Those include the irrigation show and tree care industry show. "There are also quite a few ideas for new dealer-related events being discussed," Kiser added.
GIE+EXPO will remain in Louisville through 2021.
An industry "under siege" comes together
Kiser also talked about the demonization of the managed landscape, which has ramped up considerably in recent months thanks to California. With the drought and subsequent push by that state's government to incentivize the removal of turfgrass from landscapes, Kiser said homeowners and property owners are often making the wrong decisions for the wrong reasons.
Play video at top of page to hear Kris Kiser's thoughts on an "industry under siege".
"How can getting rid of turfgrass and replacing it with plastic (artificial) grass be better?" Kiser asked. With artificial grass and some other turfgrass alternatives, you lose the valuable ecological benefits of carbon sequestration, stormwater retention, and heat island effect reduction. You have no bio-diversity. It just does not make sense to look at it as 'all or nothing' when it comes to turfgrass."
Kiser says OPEI, in collaboration with NALP, the Tree Care Industry Association and others, is crafting a message to help educate the public and make the point known that there is a balance that can be struck with respect to turfgrass in a landscape. "We need our industry's voice to be part of this discussion," Kiser said.
So far, so good. OPEI has leveraged its Turf Mutt mascot branding campaign to help spread a more positive message. Turf Mutt was recently featured on the front page of the Sacramento Bee newspaper, and also on the pages of USA Today in the past.
Turf Mutt, Kiser and the OPEI will also be featured in eight upcoming episodes of the popular CBS TV show Lucky Dog where the benefits of sensible turfgrass management will be discussed.
"It's all about the right plant in the right place," Kiser added. For instance, using a proper grass species that is more resilient and drought-tolerant is a sensible way to maintain turfgrass in a landscape that also helps to conserve water usage. "You can still have a nice lawn, you just have to be smart about it," Kiser said.