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Equip Exposition: A new name, a new HQ and a renewed commitment

October 20, 2021 -  By
Photo: LM Staff

Goodbye GIE+EXPO. Hello Equip Exposition.

It was a great run that started in 2007, but the name GIE+EXPO has run its course. With the National Association of Landscape Professionals electing to peel away from the show, a new name and some change was needed. After much deliberation, that name, Equip Exposition, was announced last night at the ribbon cutting for the trade show’s new downtown Louisville headquarters.

“I love it, I think it hits the bullseye,” Dan Ariens, chairman and CEO of the Ariens Co., and Equip Exposition show chairman, says of the new name. “Equip is who we are. We’re equipment from construction and installation to mowing and maintenance to any of the handheld products. It talks about all the equipment that we all know is helping a customer be more efficient, more productive and reduce the labor on the job.”

Beyond a new name, the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, owner of the trade show, announced further developments, including the unveiling of its new facility in downtown Louisville; a partnership with Landscape Management magazine, Bob Clements International and the Professional Grounds Management Society to host a series of educational seminars; and the announcement of country music star Trace Adkins as the marquee concert for 2022, and golf funnyman David Feherty as the 2022 keynote speaker.

“We want to grow our show, my board of directors wants to grow this show,” says Kris Kiser, president of OPEI. “They’re adding significant resources for us to invest in the show. We’ve stepped up the talent. We hope over time, people identify our show, and they know what that show is and where that show is.”

Things change

An announcement about the future of NALP’s Landscapes is expected soon, but for now, Kiser stresses it was an amicable separation.

“It’s an amicable separation. It was NALP’s decision — PGMS is going to stay with us in a meaningful way,” Kiser says. “The decision was NALP’s alone. I think they wanted to return to their earlier format of rotating around, generating membership therefrom. They chose to leave at the end of the contract term, which is this year.”

Roger Phelps, communications manager for Stihl, was on the board of directors for NALP prior to the decision being made to separate from GIE+EXPO. He says he thinks it all comes down to being time to try something else.

“The fact that there was that long of a run together, I think is a real testament to both organizations and how well they did,” Phelps says. “Sometimes I think there’s a need for change. The NALP first and foremost has to serve its membership. If the members are asking for something different, they have to respond. I think they’ll be missed. At the same time, nothing is preventing them from coming to (Equip Exposition) in the future. In fact, I’d expect many of them to do that because it’s unique — you’re not going to get that experience anywhere else.”

Top 10 event

Cleo Battle, president and CEO of Louisville Tourism, says that more than 850 meetings, conventions and events visited Louisville in 2019. Based on the size and scope of GIE+EXPO, now Equip, Battle says the event easily holds a spot in the top 10 of most important events to visit the city each year.

“You think about the participants of the show, and the opportunity for our city to have the diversity of people who attend that show is huge for us,” Battle says. “You take a handful of shows like (Equip Exposition), and you really create a partnership. What can we do more as a city so it’s sustainable? We want the show to grow and have more depth for its own members.”

OPEI believes that having an office in Louisville year-round will only be good for Equip.

“We have a very significant investment in the office,” Kiser says. “It’ll be an OPEI office as well. I’ve hired Karen Williams, former CEO of Louisville Tourism, she’ll be a Senior Vice President. Louisville has been our home for 40 years, we hope it’s our home for another 40. Part of our job is to promote Louisville in a more meaningful way. It’s a year-round effort. That’s why you have a year-round staff.”

The 2019 GIE+EXPO was the sixth largest in the U.S., according to the Gold 100. It attracts more than 20,000 attendees hailing from all 50 U.S. states and 54 countries. The show has an economic impact on Louisville of more than $20 million, has 20-plus acres of newly renovated outdoor demonstration areas and more than a thousand exhibits. It co-locates with Hardscape North America.

Dan Ariens says the future for Equip Expo is bright, and adds that he believes fresh eyes and fresh energy are always good for business.

“I talk to Kris Kiser more than ever before because of this change,” Ariens says. “Warren Sellers and (previous management company for GIE+EXPO) Sellers Expositions have been great for 40 years, and Warren is a friend. We are who we are because of Warren and Sellers Expositions. It’s not an easy transition. We’re changing 40 years of personalities and show management. We’ve got to get our arms around this. The good news is, Kris does have his arms around it.”

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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 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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