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GIE+EXPO returns with a bang

October 27, 2021 -  By
(Photo: Chris Higdon)

(Photo: Chris Higdon)

The newly renovated outdoor demo area was packed with attendees taking turns on the newest mowers, spreader-sprayers and skid-steers. If they weren’t riding, they were keenly watching the bevy of new robotic mower offerings to enter the market since 2019. Inside the Kentucky Expo Center, the familiar sights of packed booths, crowded aisles and long lines for the taco truck harkened back to 2019.

“The show was outstanding. I’ve done this show for six years and we didn’t know what to expect coming in after COVID,” Harry Brennan, director of sales for the professional channel for the Fountainhead Group, a manufacturer of pump sprayers, backpack sprayers and mosquito foggers, said. “Right from the start, it was just incredible. We’ve seen more foot traffic than we’ve ever seen at the show. It’s exciting because it’s good to see people trying to get back to a normal life.”

Stephen Ariens, head of product for snow for Ariens Co., introduces the company's Mammoth 850 stand-on snowblower at the 2021 GIE+EXPO. (Photo: LM Staff)

Stephen Ariens, head of product for snow for Ariens Co., introduces the company’s Mammoth 850 stand-on snowblower at the 2021 GIE+EXPO. (Photo: LM Staff)

Final attendance numbers for the show are expected to be released later today. In the meantime, Caleb Schaftlein of software company Arborgold said that at their booth, the show was a record-breaker.

“The crowd size is bigger than I’ve ever seen at any GIE+EXPO that I’ve been to,” Schaftlein said. “GIE+EXPO 2021 has been perfect for Arborgold. We’ve got quite a few leads from it, there’s a lot of interest in our software. There are a lot of questions from people who are interested in getting into software … right now people are using pen and paper and maybe some Google sheets. This has been really great, it’s a good experience to meet and connect with other people in the industry.”

Landscape Management Associate Publisher Craig MacGregor hops on a Kioti mower prototype at the 2021 GIE+EXPO show. (Photo: LM Staff)

Landscape Management Associate Publisher Craig MacGregor hops on a Kioti mower prototype at the 2021 GIE+EXPO show. (Photo: LM Staff)

Kris Kiser, president and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) who hosts the show, was thrilled with what he saw in Louisville.

“We were very pleased with the sheer number of landscape contractors and the fact that many stayed for the entirety of the show,” Kiser said. “There was a lot of uncertainty, but the numbers were terrific. We did better on landscape contractors from 2019 — our record year — by a couple hundred. That second day outside was insane. I’ve never seen it that busy.”

Others echoed those comments: 

“It’s been fantastic,” said Julie Scott, senior brand manager with Belgard. “I believed it would be busy, but it’s far exceeded that. There’s been so much excitement.”

“I’ve been to GIE+EXPO the last five years with Greenworks and this is our best show yet,” said Vince Constantine, commercial sales manager for Greenworks.

“It seems like it’s been very successful,” said Elizabeth Sims, manager of content marketing for SiteOne Landscape Supply. “There’s been more traffic than I’ve seen in my three years at the show.”

Is it possible that absence made the heart grow fonder? Did GIE+EXPO attendees take the show for granted until the pandemic forced the show into a no-show year?

“I don’t think it hurt, certainly there was a desire to get back out, to get reconnected and engage again … part of that is COVID,” Kiser said. “I heard this from the manufacturers, I think some companies were unsure of the value of the tradeshow … not just ours. But I heard this firsthand, they saw the value. That kind of interaction is hard to replicate on the road, salesman, phone, fax, Zoom. That interaction between user and manufacturer is quite unique.”

LM Staff

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