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Seth’s Cut: This summer I’m heading out on the highway

July 14, 2021 -  By

Our cover headline this month refers to Steppenwolf’s 1968 classic “Born to be Wild.” The cover story, written 53 years later by Managing Editor Sarah Webb, is an overview of today’s mowers and how they’re best being utilized. It was our Editor Christina Herrick who gave us all a smile when she nailed down the Steppenwolf callback for the cover headline. I didn’t need an excuse to go back and listen to the song, but I did, and as I often do, I listened loudly.

(Photo: Mark Alexander / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

(Photo: Mark Alexander / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

I have gone from zero to 60, and all of a sudden, my motor has been running. I went from practically no travel over the last 15 months to four trips in three weeks — Cleveland, San Diego, St. Louis and Kohler, Wis. It’s been good to get back on the road and meet with people in person and learn about what they’re hearing, seeing and doing. There’s just no substitute for that in-person interaction when you have my job.

My most recent trip was to Kohler for the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute’s (OPEI) Annual Meeting. It is a gathering of the industry’s largest equipment manufacturers and their supporting casts. LM was the only industry publication at the event. We were proudly represented by Publisher Bill Roddy, North Coast Media CEO Kevin Stoltman and me.

Kris Kiser, president and CEO of OPEI, nicely summed up the mood of the room in his opening remarks when he simply said, “I missed you guys.” He asked, by show of hands, how many people were on their first business trip since March 2020. About two-thirds of the room raised their hands.

“It was a challenging year, we lost (GIE+EXPO),” Kiser said. “But we had money in the bank for a rainy day. And it rained hard.”

Kiser is excited to further get back to normal this year as they prepare to host GIE+EXPO 2021 in Louisville, Ky., Oct. 20-22. He does predict a downtick in attendance from 2019 based on restrictions for international travelers, but he’s still optimistic for what will be a comeback year for the event.

Rick Olson, CEO of The Toro Co., agreed with Kiser and said he thinks “welcome back” will be an ongoing theme of 2021. Olson, the chair of the OPEI board of directors, spoke to the group about the unique situation the industry finds itself in coming out of a tumultuous 2020.

“Our industry became the heroes of last year,” Olson said. “People were in their backyards. It was a refuge for people, and I don’t think that will wear off. It will be a boost to this industry for the future.”

All in all, it was a great meeting with a lot to take in. We’ll have more coverage of what is happening with the industry’s largest trade show this year and beyond in an upcoming issue. In the meantime, my team and I look forward to seeing you in Louisville this fall, especially after missing last year.

⦁ Speaking of in-person meetings, the 2021 LM Growth Summit takes place Dec. 6-8 at Reunion Resort in Orlando. If you’re a decision-maker in the turf and ornamental care segment and would value one-on-one meetings with a select group of our partners, I’d encourage you to visit our website, click on the tab that reads LM Growth Summit to learn more and apply.

⦁ With this issue, we welcome Robert Schoenberger to the team, our new senior editor. Robert comes to LM with an extensive journalism background, primarily covering the automotive industry, most recently as the editor of Today’s Motor Vehicles, a magazine he founded in 2013. Robert has worked his way north over the last two-plus decades, starting his career in Houston, then Jackson, Miss., then Louisville (I promise I’m not getting a commission for every Louisville reference in this column, despite the brochure that was included with this issue) and then all the way to Cleveland. Join me in welcoming Robert to what is clearly the heavy metal thunder team and publication in the industry.

This article is tagged with , , , and posted in 0721, From the Magazine
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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