Attendees of the show share what they appreciate most about Equip Exposition

September 6, 2023 -  By
(Photo: Jolea Brown)

(Photo: Jolea Brown)

40 years. The big four-oh. The landmark number is a reason to celebrate with friends. Equip Exposition, previously known as GIE+Expo, celebrates its 40th anniversary on Oct. 17-20 in Louisville, Ky. One way Equip decided to ring in the occasion was to hand out 40 “golden ticket” free admissions to early registrants.

LM interviewed several lucky winners — some first-time attendees as well as some Equip veterans — about why they want to attend Equip, how they get the most out of the show and advice for newcomers.

WCJ Land Services, central Texas

Brandon Rodriguez is the owner-operator of WCJ Land Services, based in south-central Texas. He’s a one-man operation in his second year of business. His company is 90 percent lawn maintenance with some tree trimming from time to time.

This will be the first Equip Expo for Rodriguez, and he’s excited to see what the show is all about. He learned about Equip by listening to industry podcasts and watching YouTube videos.

“I’m in year two of my business now, and in my first year, I realized what a big deal Equip Expo was,” Rodriguez says. “So this year, I made it a point, as soon as registration opened up, to register and get a good price on tickets. And then I heard about the golden ticket, so I went ahead and applied for that.”

Rodriguez says he has lofty goals for his first Equip. He lists networking, seeing new equipment and education as his primary goals. He singles out one of Landscape Management’s classes as what he is most excited for: Electric and Alternative Fuels — Are You In?

“I can see a lot of (the industry) going towards electric and robotic equipment,” he says. “I’ve even had my customers tell me that they’re interested in having a robotic mower for their yard. I’m thinking, maybe I should start a business that rents these out to my customers, and I can maintain them.”

Amend’s Small Engine, Rudolph, Ohio

Amend’s Small Engine sells Toro, Bobcat and Walker mowers, along with handheld equipment. The company has proudly served customers in and around Rudolph, Ohio, for the last 45 years. By the end of this year, the company will have a new owner — Brian Goris.

Goris attends Equip Expo semiregularly and didn’t want to miss this year’s edition as he steps into his new role. Bonus points for him in that he will be attending for free, as one of Equip’s golden ticket winners.

His main reason for attending Equip is to meet with the vendors he works with at Amend’s Small Engine.

“It’s a good chance to talk with someone who is higher up at a company. I don’t (just) want to talk to the person who relays my information. I want to talk to that person that they’re relaying information to,” Goris says. “There’s an engine shortage for equipment that my customers want to buy. I want to find out the basic points of what they have and what they’re doing to (get more engines). That’s my big reason for going — to talk about it face-to-face rather than over the phone.”

Goris adds that he also appreciates being able to see what might be new and next … as well as getting to operate it.

“I can go to Louisville and run the equipment and see it firsthand,” he says. “That gives me a good idea on if I want to sell it or not.”

He adds that with visiting his contacts being his primary goal for attending, it takes some advanced preparation.

“You need a plan of attack. Equip has a very good website that shows the floorplan, where all the booths are,” Goris says. “You can’t just start at the front door and walk through every aisle and expect to get to everything. If the person you want to see is way in the back, you’ll never get to them. But if you plan out who you want to see, you can go there and see everyone you want to see.”

Fieldhouse Outdoor Solutions, Zionsville, Ind.

Fieldhouse Outdoor Solutions is a commercial landscape maintenance and snow removal company primarily serving the Indianapolis region with aspirations of expanding in other markets. Clayton Fieldhouse, the owner, first started attending Equip in the early 2000s. For him, the reason to attend with a handful of his employees is simple: to be as efficient as possible.

“You get to see what’s coming out, what’s on the horizon,” he says. “The goal is to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our crews, giving them the best tools all the time.”

Fieldhouse says he’s seen equipment at Equip that he’d never imagined beforehand, that has helped his crews. This year, he thinks that new technology might be artificial intelligence. He hopes Equip delivers on educating him on what he needs to know about this nascent technology.

“We’re looking to the future. Every company is having challenges with labor,” Fieldhouse says. “We want to see these advancements that are not only hitting our industry, but rapidly expanding. Are they going to allow us as businesses to implement that technology and service our customers, even through the labor shortage?”

For attendees who are new to Equip, Fieldhouse warns them not to get lured for too long by the outdoor demonstration area. While that area is invaluable, there’s also much to learn indoors.

“As much fun as it is to demo everything, leave yourself time to explore the entire inside,” he says. “There are so many opportunities to network with vendors and other professionals, and then there’s the continuing education that’s offered. The fact is, early in the week, you can get a lot of education. Don’t come and try to cram everything into one day, because there are a lot of things the show offers beyond equipment.”

TNH Lawn and Snow, La Crosse, Wis.

Jason Wooden traded in a corporate job to work for his brother-in-law at TNH Lawn and Snow. Wooden says his favorite thing about Equip Expo is networking and learning from others. (Photo: Brian Thompson)

Jason Wooden traded in a corporate job to work for his brother-in-law at TNH Lawn and Snow. Wooden says his favorite thing about Equip Expo is networking and learning from others. (Photo: Brian Thompson)

Jason Wooden’s brother-in-law convinced him to leave the corporate world behind as a network engineer and join TNH Lawn and Snow 2 1/2 years ago. Wooden attended his first Equip Expo last year, and he says he attended a similar show called Cisco Live in his previous career in the IT industry.

But Equip, he says, is unlike any other show he’s seen in the green industry.

“Cisco Live is a huge show — Cisco has so much money!” Wooden says. “Equip is very similar. We were very impressed with it. That’s why we booked (this year’s show) last year, and got our rooms so fast.”

Based in La Crosse, Wis., TNH Lawn and Snow “moves a lot of snow” in the commercial market every winter. The company also provides landscaping and hardscaping for its clients. Wooden says his must-see booths include John Deere, Gravely and Milwaukee. Because the company does so much snow plowing, they’re always excited to see what’s new at Sno-Power. But his favorite thing about the show is meeting like-minded people and learning from them.

“Any time you go to one of these, you always pick things up. I don’t care if you’re talking to a vendor or a fellow pro. The best thing is networking and talking to people who do the same thing you do,” he says. “I look for the events outside (Equip), the events at night. You talk to people, you figure things out. That gets me going.”

Kyle and Jayden Fox, central Missouri

Kyle Fox and his little brother, Jayden, have a joint long-term business in central Missouri, primarily cutting grass. Their father also has a business called Fox Earthworx that primarily does dirt work and landscaping.

Jayden Fox and the team at Fox Earthworx say new equipment is the main draw for them at Equip Expo. (Photo: Kyle Fox)

Jayden Fox and the team at Fox Earthworx say new equipment is the main draw for them at Equip Expo. (Photo: Kyle Fox)

Last year was the first time Kyle Fox attended, and he’s glad he saw it firsthand. He’s also happy to have won a golden ticket for this year’s show.

“It’s a lot of fun, but there is a whole lot of information there,” Fox says. “I could spend all week there and still not see everything.”

Fox’s main interest is in forestry equipment, skid-steer attachments and lawn care products. He adds that he’s not there for any of the nightlife or the educational seminars — he strictly wants to see new equipment.

“My best advice is just to go, in no particular order,” he says. “Just start walking. There’s so much to see.”

Wray Landscape Construction, Lincoln, Calif.

Zack Wray of Wray Landscape Construction travels a long distance to attend Equip Expo — all the way from northern California. Based in Lincoln, Calif., the company specializes in softscapes, pavers and retaining walls. Wray is a foreman for the company, which is owned by his older brother.

Wray says high on his list is a meeting at the Takeuchi booth. Wray Landscape Construction is in the market for new skid-steers, and after renting some Takeuchis, they seem like a good fit for the company. But Wray adds that Equip Exposition is also good for the small stuff.

Zack Wray of Wray Landscape Construction says potential Equip Expo attendees need to plan ahead and get a hotel room early downtown. (Photo: Justin Wentz)

Zack Wray of Wray Landscape Construction says potential Equip Expo attendees need to plan ahead and get a hotel room early downtown. (Photo: Justin Wentz)

“There have been a couple tools we’ve seen at Expo that we end up buying,” he says. “One of those tools is very simple, it’s called the Staple Ease, it’s an irrigation staple gun. You use the staples for irrigation fabric, or drip irrigation … things like that. You don’t have to use a mallet; you don’t have to get down on the ground at all. You just load up the gun and puncture it right in the ground.”

Wray was happy to win a golden ticket from Equip Expo and adds three others from the company will join him, including his brother. His one bit of advice to newcomers is to book a hotel room in downtown Louisville — not near the convention center — because downtown is where all the after-show action is.

“It’s a learning process for the company, but it’s also fun. We use it as a little bit of a vacation,” Wray says. “I’m looking forward to seeing all the new tech, but I’m also excited to catch a few good concerts … We’ve seen some good concerts there the last couple years, and that is always exciting.”

Teal Lawncare, Billings, Mont.

Teal Lawncare is a property maintenance company — lawn care in the summers and snow removal in the winters. It caters to a clientele that’s 50 percent residential and 50 percent commercial. Owner Jason Teal launched the company in 2014. Currently, he has three people working in the company, but he hopes to add another truck in 2024 — and that’s one of the reasons he wanted to attend Equip Expo this fall.

Jason Teal, owner of Teal Lawncare says if a company can afford time away from the business, to attend Equip Expo, “it’s worth it.” (Photo: Jessica Teal)

Jason Teal, owner of Teal Lawncare says if a company can afford time away from the business, to attend Equip Expo, “it’s worth it.” (Photo: Jessica Teal)

“I like traveling, No. 1, and I like meeting people there, networking,” he says. “I also like seeing the latest and greatest in equipment and I also like the classes they offer.”

Teal says every year he brings something back home for his business. He and a fellow lawn care company owner travel together to the show. He says if a company can afford the time away, it’s worth it. It’s beneficial and fun, he says. This year, he says, “We’re doing everything.”

That includes visiting the Scag, Gravely and Toro demo areas, he says. He’s been so busy with mowing this season that he hasn’t been able to perform much landscaping.

“Business has been great; it gets better every year,” he says. “Equip helps me think bigger. You see how big the industry really is.”

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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 23 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

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