Sunday, October 16, 2005

One giganto fall trade show?

The buzz at this year's OPEI EXPO in Louisville centers around the possibility of combining it with the Green Industry Expo (GIE), the trade show put on by the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) and the Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS). In other words, there would be one fall trade show for the landscape/grounds industry instead of two.

Hey, why not? A couple of things are coming together to make that a possibility.

This year the GIE falls just two weeks after the Outdoor Power Equipment Insitutute's EXPO, meaning that a lot of the same suppliers who were exhibiting in Louisville, famous for its huge 2 1/2-day outdoor demo, have to pack up and hightail it to another major trade show, which this year is in Orlando. Obviously, they would love just going to one bigger show.

Also, the GIE has, for all practical purposes, outgrown some of its traditional venues. It requires too much exhibitor space to return to, say, Baltimore or Nashville. This year, for the first time, it will be at the huge Orange County Convention Center near Mickey Mouseland, next year in Columbus, OH, then in 2007 in Indianapolis. PLANET does not have a location, nor has it signed a contract for 2008, we've been told.

This is the 23rd year for the EXPO and the 15th for the GIE. The EXPO is rooted (no pun intended) at the rennovated Louisville Convention Center, the outdoor demo area just outside its doors. Its outdoor demo is much larger than the one at GIE. It has hundreds of mowers, utility vehicles, diggers, pusher, trimmers — you name it. The Louisville convention folks will do just about anything to keep the EXPO there.

The GIE has, historically, circled around five or six cities, in all but one occassion, east of the Mississippi River. So the question arises — assuming EXPO and GIE agree to merge, would the show stay in Kentucky or move to other locations? Remember, you would need a time and location that would continue to allow outdoor demos.

Keeping track of what's going on with PLANET is one fulltime job. It was formed from the merger of the Associated Landscape Contractors Association and the Professional Lawn Care Association of America just one year ago, and is also in discussions with the American Nursery and Landscape Association about a possible merger. The ANLA, of course, represents the "green side" of the business, the plant side, and has a very strong presence in Washington D.C.

Hold on folks, all kinds of things are happening and changing so fast you almost need a program. We'll keep you posted.

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