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An (imaginary) GIE+EXPO to remember

October 21, 2020 -  By , , and

Visits with Jacto, Greene County Fertilizer, Quali-Pro and more

By Christina Herrick, LM Editor

Sprayer (Photo: Jacto)

Spray away Jacto’s PJB-16 4-gallon backpack sprayer is new this year and comes equipped with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. (Photo: Jacto)

The 2020 “What if?” GIE+EXPO show got off to a fast start for me when I met with Jacto President Greg Imus at the LM booth. He said he will miss visiting the Brazilian restaurant in downtown Louisville this year, since Jacto is a Brazilian company.

“I think that a show like this is more than just the product and more than just presenting the product,” he said. “It’s a gathering of people in the industry.”

Imus said this year has been unlike anything the company has seen before, and last year was a record year for backpack sprayers.

“This year, while it’s had a tremendous number of challenges for a lot of people and a lot of businesses, for our business, it’s been a year of opportunity,” he said. “We have sold more backpack sprayers this year than in the history of Jacto.”

Imus noted the popularity of the company’s backpack sprayers is a testament to how the green industry is faring during a global pandemic and an indication that many lawn and landscape companies have expanded into additional service offerings such as disinfecting services.

“The green industry people we talked to are having a very good year,” he said. “You even have some of them that are buying sprayers and doing some additional hardscape-type work and some indoor work in terms of spraying surfaces that have never sprayed in the past.”

Jacto debuted the 4-gallon PJB-16 and 5-gallon PJB-20 backpack sprayers and 4-gallon DJB-16 and 5-gallon DJB-20 dosers with a drenching tip. These sprayers use a rheostat adjustable resistor-type controller to offer fingertip pressure adjustments to pressure and volume. They come equipped with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. The battery run times average between eight to 12 hours, depending on flow rates and pressure.

“Our sprayers pump easily, but with a battery operator, you’re not having to pump at all,” Imus said. “We’re getting approximately 30 to 35 tanks of spraying between charges. In the case of our sprayers, landscapers say they go weeks without charging up the batteries. They’re very efficient, they don’t leak and you have a lot of autonomy with the batteries.”

On to the massive trade show floor

Greene County booth (Photo: Greene County Fertilizer Co.)

Booth time Greene County Fertilizer highlighted the company’s new early order program and the addition of more herbicides, fungicides and insecticides to its portfolio. (Photo: Greene County Fertilizer Co.)

When I visited with John Perry, president, CEO and founder of Greene County Fertilizer, he said he’s watched how the GIE+EXPO show has grown in the decade that Greene County Fertilizer has exhibited at the show.

“Coming out of 2019 was a spectacular year,” Perry said. “2020 started off real strong, and then news broke, and things changed. But, it seemed like the lull didn’t last very long. We have had an absolute record year this year. It’s grown unbelievably.”

Perry attributed a lot of Greene County Fertilizer’s success to a returned focus on home improvements for consumers.

“For the most part, aside from maybe a few stories I’ve heard, the professional lawn care companies have grown and surged dramatically as well,” he said. “We did come into a bit of fear in March, but it’s been short-lived, and it’s been pedal to the metal since.”

As a direct-to-consumer company, Greene County Fertilizer has expanded its offerings to now include herbicides, fungicides and insecticides to complement the fertilizers the company had previously offered.

“This year, we’ve expanded the catalog considerably to add more products and give more options to the applicators,” he said.
Greene County Fertilizer’s early order program (EOP) was another GIE+EXPO talking point.

“We’re really focused on helping to build a robust program for operators, giving something people can plan on so they’re able to move through the season,” Perry said. “We’re taking a lot of the guesswork out of their program.”

Perry said business owners need to be looking to the future now to build for success.

“This was the year to bring your business into the 21st century and learn how to communicate with people differently,” he said. “Learn how people are shopping and buying lawn care. 2021 has the opportunity to be an absolutely stellar year.”

Before I left, Perry took a moment to tip his hat to his customers and our readers for weathering the storm of 2020.

“To everybody out there in the industry, way to go. Way to make it through 2020 and way to be set up to be in a better position for 2021,” he said. “The grass is going to keep growing, and it’s just going to keep on needing mowing. I think we’re all going to be just fine.”

Afternoon madness

Expel herbicide (Photo: Quali-Pro)

Quart size Quali-Pro’s Expel is a postemergent herbicide available in quart-sized packages. (Photo: Quali-Pro)

Then, I spoke with Nick Strain, business director of Control Solutions and Quali-Pro. He said a key focus of this year’s GIE+EXPO is the introduction of Quali-Pro’s Expel, a sulfentrazone postemergent herbicide for yellow nutsedge, purple nutsedge and green kyllinga. What’s new about Expel, Strain said, is the sizes the herbicide is available in.

“We’re packing it down into quarts, which will make it more convenient for the lawn care owner,” he said.Quali-Pro also promoted Doxem IG, a granular indoxacarb and novaluron mole cricket bait. The product does not require personal protective equipment (PPE) for applications in landscape beds, vegetation, mulched areas or as a boundary treatment around buildings.

Strain said Quali-Pro also revamped its Quali-Pro Academy, an incentivized self-guided product training program for lawn care operators (LCOs). Those who complete the training modules and score 80 percent or better on quizzes can earn a $50 gift card.

“This year, we’re going to update it with some new videos and new products — a fresh look at Control Solutions and Quali-Pro,” he said.

Lastly, Strain said another focus is the company’s EOP program, Simply Grow Together.

“It focuses more on the lawn care operator this year because it pays on all products that qualify,” he said.

Last day of the show

Spreader (Photo: Spyker)

A nice spread Spyker’s Ergo-Pro SPY100 winter spreader offers a 100-pound funnel-shaped hopper and lifetime-warrantied 13-by-5-inch pneumatic tires. (Photo: Spyker)

Highlighting the products that are within Nufarm’s portfolio was a key talking point at the company’s booth, said Dave Biegacki, customer and brand manager for turf and ornamentals for Nufarm.

“We really needed to take a break and focus on the benefits
and uniqueness of these products,” he said. “A combination of SureGuard SC and Cheetah Pro saves labor by giving fast, nonselective kill with extended residual. This saves labor with fewer applications and ultimately makes the LCO’s customer happier with the premium results.”

Biegacki said sedges and kyllinga were a hot topic this year among lawn care service providers because many areas struggled with control.

“We have done many new trials and have found that a recent product Celero completely translocates within the plant and actually kills sedges and kyllinga,” he said.

The company also highlighted how plant growth regulators can help lawn care service providers by reducing inputs and mowing.

“We are developing solutions with Anuew that result in fewer mowings, less watering and solutions to remove Poa from fescue,” he said.

Cheetah Pro (Photo: Nufarm)

Labor saver “A combination of SureGuard SC and Cheetah Pro saves labor by giving fast, nonselective kill with extended residual,” said Dave Biegacki of Nufarm at the company’s booth. (Photo: Nufarm)

Biegacki said another highlight of the GIE+EXPO/Louisville experience is the Nufarm party at Bourbon Raw.

“Every year, our party gets bigger as we interact with so many customers at the show,” he said.

I had time for one more stop before heading back to the booth to help the team break it down, and that was a quick fly-by with our friends in Kansas City: PBI-Gordon Corp.

The company recently released a new SpeedZone EW Broadleaf Herbicide that features an emulsion-in-water (EW) formulation. This EW technology creates a smaller particle size than the other formulation. With smaller particle sizes, more active ingredients affect the leaf surface. The company said there is lower volatile organic content in this formulation, and it is designed for use in low-volume and conventional sprayers. PBI-Gordon’s SpeedZone Southern EW Broadleaf Herbicide, designed for southern turfgrasses, has been approved for use in California. SpeedZone Southern EW controls more than 70 tough broadleaf weeds — including dollarweed, ground ivy and spurge.

LM booth (Photo: LM Staff)

We miss you! We can’t wait to see you at the LM booth next year in Louisville! (Photo: LM Staff)

With that, my GIE+EXPO wrapped up. Time to get back to Cleveland.

Seth Jones

About the Author:

Seth Jones, a graduate of Kansas University’s William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications, was voted best columnist in the industry in 2014 and 2018 by the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association. Seth has more than 19 years of experience in the golf and turf industries and has traveled the world seeking great stories. He is editor-in-chief of Landscape Management, Golfdom and Athletic Turf magazines. Jones can be reached at sjones@northcoastmedia.net.

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