The Lawn & Landscape team has been in Louisville all week to cover the industry’s biggest tradeshows and conferences, and our takeaways so far have been positive. GIE+EXPO and Hardscape North America, the largest product shows in the country, continue to expand. The National Association of Landscape Professionals’ conference is also growing, and the association is making new efforts to promote and expand the industry in its own right.
Before I leave town, I wanted to share with you a few of my thoughts on this year’s big show(s), and why they foretell good things for the green industry.
1. It’s the biggest show ever, which bodes well for the industry. Any tradeshow is a bellwether for its industry, and here in Louisville we’ve got about six of them. Attendance at GIE+EXPO and Hardscape North America are both up – about 20,000 people came this year, according to show management – as is the amount of booth space exhibitors are buying. Despite great weather all week in Louisville, the show always felt crowded. That’s a good indicator that the landscape and hardscape industries are healthy, and that contractors both have the money – and the time – to attend.
2. Manufacturers are starting to bring a wide range of contractor-grade batteries and equipment to market, and electric equipment is only getting bigger. Makita is at GIE+EXPO for the first time with some really powerful battery-powered handheld equipment. Dewalt returned with an expanded lineup of its own. And even Stihl – a stalwart among small engine equipment companies – has a robust lineup of pro-grade electric equipment.
3. We saw some new stuff. It’s more fun to cover the show when there’s a lot of activity, and we saw plenty of new exhibitors and some old friends with new products. That’s another good sign that suppliers continue to invest in the industry, and innovate what they currently have. Check out our coverage on the site to get a full run-down of the new introductions.
4. Chatter on the show floor is positive among attendees and exhibitors. We have reams of data showing the landscape industry is growing and that contractors across the country are seeing markets return to pre-recession levels, but it’s always heartening to hear that message straight from the horse’s mouth.
In short, it’s a good time to be a landscaper. What we see here at the show and what we hear in the hallways helps us get a handle on where things are headed in the next couple of years. It’s not always totally accurate, but it’s a solid indicator of the tone and feeling of a few thousand of the industry’s most engaged people. And right now, they’re feeling good.