By Steve Noe
For the fourth consecutive year, the Green Industry & Equipment Expo (GIE+EXPO) and co-located Hardscape North America (HNA) set records for attendees and exhibitors. More than 24,000 people from around the globe converged on Louisville’s Kentucky Exposition Center for the combined show on Oct. 18-20, 2017, representing a 7-percent increase over 2016, and the indoor exhibit space increased by 9 percent. Given these and more numbers to follow, it should come as no surprise that GIE+EXPO was recently named the 10th-largest trade show in North America by Trade Show Executive magazine.
During the past four years, GIE+EXPO has averaged a 12-percent increase in total attendance. This year, distributor registrations were up 12 percent, 34 percent of dealer/retailer registrants were first timers, and dealer/retailer companies sent an average of two employees to the show. Between the indoors and outdoors, GIE+EXPO and HNA featured more than 1,005 exhibits, including 226 new exhibitors. The indoor show floor was 50,000 square feet larger than 2016, and the outdoor demo area covered 20 acres. The sold-out New Products Showcase featured more than 100 products that were introduced in the past year, and 25 exhibitors hosted press conferences where more products were unveiled.
“In all of the 20 years I’ve spent in this industry, traveling the globe and attending numerous trade shows, I have never experienced one that was as successful as this,” said Peter Driver, public relations manager at Spider. “We were flat out busy from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and I came close to losing my voice on the last day. We had inquiries from the Green Bay Packers and also from a representative of the ruling family in Dubai. Our demo plot attracted hundreds of visitors, and we gave four video interviews, including one for the DIY Network, and had over 40 requests from prospective dealers. We also talked with two major manufacturers about possible distribution arrangements. Even as we were tearing down the booth, we still had inquiries. Yes, I guess you could say it was successful!”
Once again, GIE+EXPO kicked off with Dealer Day on day one with the show open exclusively to dealers, distributors, exhibitors and members of the media. Dealer Day provided focused education, basic and advanced tech training, and one-on-one time for dealers/distributors with exhibitors. Highlights included the new Dealer Boot Camp led by Bob Clements, UTV University by OPE and sister publication Powersports Business, the Dealer Keynote Luncheon by noted economist Alan Beaulieu, new Dealer Resource Center workshops, Dealer Day Preview, and free concerts by Runaway June and headliner Uncle Kracker in downtown Louisville at Fourth Street Live! The winner of Stihl’s annual $5,000 giveaway was Matthew Owen of Big Ridge Outdoor Equipment, Brevard, N.C. The second and third days of the show were open to the entire industry, both indoors and outdoors, with many more giveaways taking place and free evening concerts by Alaska & Madi and The Crashers on Thursday and V-Groove on Friday.
Believe it or not, plans are already well underway for GIE+EXPO 2018, which will be held Wednesday, Oct. 17, through Friday, Oct. 19. A new format will be adopted, allowing contractors an extra day on the show floor. On Wednesday, the indoor show floor will be open exclusively for dealers, retailers and the media at noon, and the show will be open to the entire industry starting at 3 p.m.
“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 (OPEI). “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.”
OPE Senior Editor Steve Noe