Yet another year closer to becoming one of those 20-year Louisville show visitors, I’m still finding neat things to do and see at GIE+EXPO, and this year was especially interesting with the economic turmoil occurring in financial markets and the increasing use of ethanol in gasoline that’s going to have a big impact on lawn and garden power equipment.
Thursday’s weather was beautiful, the kind of late October Mid-South fall day—sunny, in the 60s with a light breeze—that show organizers had in mind when the event was moved from the heat and humidity of late July several years ago. Friday was just the opposite: a nasty taste of winter with wind-driven rain and high temps in the low 50s. Show director Warren Sellers was talking a good game early Friday morning, with water running in the parking lots and the outdoor demo area’s Kawasaki blimp almost limp and getting pounded in the wind, about how it was just a passing shower, how they were putting some mulch down and the demo area would be re-opened any minute. Thinking there was no way, I was surprised as anyone to see the clouds clear in mid-afternoon and the demo area indeed re-opened for the last couple of hours on Friday.
Result of the weather was a super-crowded outdoor demo area on the show’s first day, and an aisle-jamming crowd driven indoors almost all day on GIE+EXPO’s second day. The third day featured good but reduced visitor traffic, as with any show’s last day. The big thing was I didn’t hear any exhibitors whining about lack of attendance—and usually by noon the first day you can find someone dissatisfied with visitor counts.
Among all the new product hoopla—the reason GIE+EXPO exists in the first place—highly insightful and informative sessions included industry leaders and top executive Dan Ariens, president of Ariens Co., and Fred Whyte, president of Stihl, Inc., who gave a joint presentation on the outlook for lawn and garden dealers, including taking questions from a large dealer crowd of more than 100 at The Dealer Experience. Outdoor Power Equipment Institute officials gave an interesting press conference on major issues affecting all of industry, and Stihl’s Eddie Anderson delivered a well-attended technical session covering ethanol impacts on small engines. And this is just a small slice of the events I was able to make.
Look for more coverage of GIE+EXPO here, in a special edition of PETnet Online coming out any hour now, and in the December hard-copy issue of Power Equipment Trade. For those keeping score, PETnet Online will have the most show photos, and the December issue will have the most overall event coverage in terms of sheer copy. While the blog and PETnet Online will have Dealers Choice Awards coverage, the most comprehensive coverage will be in the December issue and on the PET home page at poweret.com, which will highlight Dealers Choice Awards winners and finalists with product copy and photos.
There’s a lot coming in the next month or so through a variety of PET media outlets, so be sure and check it all out for complete coverage of industry’s biggest event!