Monday, November 07, 2005

Scattered to the winds

Our edit staff is scattered across this great big beautiful country. I'm at my son's tiny place on Marco Island, FL, Managing Editor Steph is in Phoenix with the irrigation folks and Associate Editor Michael and Web Editor Lynne are back in balmy Cleveland manning the fort.

Looking back at the Green Industry Expo (GIE) that finished up Saturday evening it's difficult for me to describe its success. Even after 21 years in the business it's tough for me to give these types of events a final grade; everybody shows up with different expectations and leaves with different experiences.

Judging by the numbers of attendees at the GIE at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, it was successful. The unofficial number I heard was 5800, including exhibitors.

Most of the buzz came from landscape contractors. One of the staffers told me that each of the three morning "Breakfast of Champions" drew 900 attendees. That sounds about right. Sprint with the herd into the huge breakfast room or you risked not getting a seat at a table that dealt with the topic you wanted to discuss.

Also, the educational sessions that I attended were lively and most of the seats were filled.

Every year it seems that fewer of the attendees use the GIE as an excuse to mix business with vacation. Most are there strictly for business and to network. Probably the biggest reason for that the GIE is so early in November that just about everybody is still working to finish as much work as they can by the end of the season. They know the revenue they can gather now until year's end will make a huge difference in next spring's cash flow picture or how much they can reinvest in their companies.

But there was the usual amount of whining, mostly about the distance between the PLANET headquarters hotel, the Renaissance, and the massive Orange County Convention Center. Some folks found it difficult to get back and forth. Some of the events were at the convention center, some at the Renaissance and some at the Rosen Centre Hotel.

The '05 GIE is over. I'm taking a few days off and seeing some of the damage done by Hurricane Wilma here in south Florida. Palm fronds and oak limbs, broken plastic lawn furniture, piles of pink ceiling insulation and a surprising number of destroyed barbeque grills litter the tree lawns.The steeple that graced the top of the church down the block is a big heap in the adjacent parking lot.

But compared to what Katrina did, the folks here consider themselves some of the luckiest people in the world. Walking the neighborhoods and seeing the size of the homes, the beautifully manicured landscapes and new luxury or sports cars in their driveways, I say amen to that.

— Ron Hall

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