The first GIE was in downtown Nashville, TN. It had a decidedly "lawn care" flavor as PLCAA, the former Professional Lawn Care Association of America, had expanded rapidly in the 1980s and had established a trade show that, for all practical purposes, became the precursor to the GIE.
But PLCAA is gone (having merged with the Associated Landscape Contractors of America, ALCA, to form a new organization known as PLANET this year) and the personality of the GIE has changed. Each year "iron" becomes a bigger part of the GIE because of the growth of contract mowing and landscape installs and builds these past 10-15 years.
The leadership of PLANET is making every effort to recognize and serve its professional applicator company members, and has several lawn care pros on its board. But only time will tell how well this is accomplished. PLANET is not even a year old, after all, and is in the process of building a new identity.
What PLANET's new identity will be may be short-lived if it eventually merges with The American Nursery and Landscape Association (ANLA). It's a possibility although both groups are still in the "due diligance" phase and the PLANET folks insist that, at best, it couldn't happen prior to 2007.
Change, change, change.
For me anyway, it felt kind of weird not kicking off the GIE with the annual PLCAA Business Meeting and Awards Dinner. Sometimes it got a little bit raucous and a wee bit out of hand . . . but that's what made it so fun.
— Ron Hall