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Seth’s Cut: Memories of Equip Exposition ’23

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(Photo: Seth Jones)
(Photo: Seth Jones)
(Photo: Seth Jones)
(Photo: Seth Jones)

Hat’s off to the Equip Exposition app. I take back the bad things I muttered under my breath as it led me past the Hardscapes North America area of the Kentucky Exposition Center, then past Freedom Hall. If I were driving a car, I surely would have pulled over by then, thinking I entered the address incorrectly and I was about to drive off a cliff.

But the app told me to keep going. Booth No. 42627 — I didn’t recall seeing a booth number like that at Equip Exposition ever before. But as I walked around the other side of Freedom Hall, an 18,000-seat arena, signs urged me that I was on the right track to see the West Wing.

The app was right. I walked into a completely new, to me, wing of the KEC and saw about 100 booths sprawled out. Soon, I was in the Ironcraft booth, interviewing Mike Kucharski, vice president of sales and marketing. The company started as Titan Implements in 2014 but rebranded to Ironcraft last year to avoid confusion with a similarly named company. I looked long and hard at the company’s tree reaper (looks wicked and I’m vying for a live demo on my land) and then interviewed Kucharski for Landscape Management TV (that interview is on our YouTube channel now.)

Now that I was in the West Wing, I had to look around. I said hello to my neighbors at PBI-Gordon, whose headquarters is less than 30 minutes from where I live. I checked out the new product pavilion. I took a minute to take in a drone class. And since no one was looking, I picked up a 7-iron and took three swings on a golf simulator to see if I could walk away with a closest-to-the-pin prize (no surprise; I didn’t).

The 2023 Equip Exposition was memorable for many reasons. The new West Wing, and how this show just keeps getting bigger, is one reason. Sitting in our VIP suite at the Third Eye Blind concert at the KFC Yum! Center was another. Seeing all the people milling about the show taking in the latest and greatest the industry has to offer is another.

But none of those moments were my most memorable part of the Equip Expo. I served as the moderator of two of our 14 educational panels (hat’s off again, this time to LM Editor Christina Herrick, who pinch-hit for me on my Friday morning panel). The best part of the panels is when I open the floor to the Q&A. I felt a little like Phil Donahue jogging around the room of 100-plus, trying to spot the next raised hand.

I saw one person eagerly raise his hand every time I opened it back up to questions. I gave him a nod and knew I wanted to end with his question, whatever it was. I finally got to the back of the room and handed the microphone to this 14-year-old attendee. He told the panel he was moving beyond a one-man operation and adding some of his classmates to his crew for the upcoming summer. About how long should he expect until his crew is fully trained?

Panelist Taylor Milliken, owner of Milosi in Nashville, acknowledged the question but then congratulated the young landscaper for having the guts to speak up in a packed room. The room erupted in applause. I slapped the kid on his back and closed the panel down.

Traditionally, I wrap up my Equip Expo experience with a walk across the Big Four Bridge into Jeffersonville, Ind., and visit Parlour for a slice of pizza and a cold beer. But this year, I was immediately off to the airport for a second trip: a flight to Florence, Italy, to join the Aces Wild peer group, an event co-hosted by McFarlin Stanford and The Grow Group.

But that is a story for the next issue … until then, arrivederci!

Photo: Seth Jones

Seth Jones

Seth Jones is is editor-in-chief of Landscape Management, Golfdom and Athletic Turf magazines. A graduate of Kansas University’s William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Seth was voted best columnist in the industry in 2014 and 2018 by the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association. He has more than 23 years of experience in the golf and turf industries and has traveled the world seeking great stories.

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