Official numbers won’t be released until Friday, but show organizers said this year’s GIE+EXPO drew about the same number of attendees as 2009. Those landscape contractors at the show were upbeat when asked about the state of their businesses – they were either breaking even or growing, and had a positive outlook on the future of the industry.
Suppliers are putting a strong emphasis on environmentally friendly products for 2011. Companies like Stihl, Worx and CalStar all stressed that their products used less energy than last year’s lines. Propane also made a strong showing at the show, with many manufacturers highlighting their alternative-powered models.
OPEI gave an update on the challenges facing the industry, including the new regulations set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that allows up to 15 percent ethanol to be blended with gasoline in motor fuel. Cars and trucks built since 2007 are allowed to use the fuel, but it’s illegal to use in other engines, such as mowers and chain saws. Challenges and complications – including mechanical failure and safety concerns – could stem from confusion surrounding what products can handle E-15, the organization says.
PLANET celebrated its fifth anniversary with keynote speaker Jamie Clarke, who spoke about how to deal with failure. When he tried to climb Mount Everest (for the second time) he and his team had to raise $500,000. After being rejected over and over, he decided to go back and find out why people refused to contribute. Or as he put it, “wading through a muck of rejection.” How’d he do it? He had to show the value he would bring to his benefactors.
Product updates from the first day of the show include:
• Caterpillar introduced new excavators and skid-steers. The excavators now have the capability for operators to disengage – from inside the vehicle – a bucket that they are lifting, instead of having to get out of the vehicle and do it manually. The skid-steers are now more power dense, meaning they have increased performance but in a smaller package.
• Exmark launched several new commercial mowers, including the Pioneer Series, a new 36-inch Vantage stand-on unit and several models with electronic fuel injected engines. The company also unveiled an online community at www.exmarkpride.com, which allows owners to share stories and tips about the products they’ve bought and talk to customer service.
• John Deere introduced a new line of commercial walk behind mowers, rounding out its offerings for maintenance contractors. The WG and WH Series include six new models with gear or hydrostatic transmission and a 16-20 hp range. Updates have also been made to the existing Quik-Trak Series, maximizing maneuverability, durability and reliability. The company also featured its new Z900 series of zero-turn mowers, which it launched this spring.
• Schiller Grounds Care updated its new line of BOB-CAT zero-turn mowers, including improved operator comfort features and better serviceability.
• Husqvarna launched more than 30 new products and accessories from chain saws to hedge trimmers to tractors. The company is expanding its Dixon line, including the DX100 and DX200, the latter of which has a ZT5400 transmission.
• Bobcat unveiled a new skid-steer loader – the S850 – with an operating capacity of 17 percent more than its predecessor, the S330.
• Case Construction Equipment launched the N Series loader-backhoe, which offers operators increased comfort as well as more lift and stronger breakout force than the previous M Series.
• Stihl introduced a new 36-volt Lithium-Ion hedge trimmer. The trimmer doesn’t use gas, and is also four times quieter than its gasoline-powered equivalent, the company says.
• CalStar Products is giving hardscape contractors an alternative to traditional concrete and clay pavers. The company’s pavers are made of coal ash and sand, which reduces the energy used to make them by 50 percent to 85 percent, the company says.
• Worx stressed safety with its new JawSaw chainsaw which is fully enclosed with a guard surrounding the blade, making it a safer chainsaw.