Over the past several decades Ohio’s green industry has continued to evolve.
It’s become an art, a profession, a business, a science on the cutting edge of biotechnology, and an industry. Its associated organizations and trade shows have evolved as well.
Let’s look at some recent changes to green industry trade shows with an Ohio connection.
From CENTS to MGIX to MidwestGREEN
The annual trade show for the Ohio Green Industry Association (OGIA, formerly ONLA) has experienced multiple iterations over the years. For more than half a century – from 1964 through 2016 – the show was known as the Central Environmental Nursery Trade Show, or CENTS.
In its peak year of 2002, CENTS showcased 1,357 booths that were occupied by 710 exhibitors, and the number of registered attendees topped 13,000. In subsequent years, however, show attendance began to dwindle, as more green industry professionals chose to transact business online.
In 2017, the event was rebranded as Midwest Green Industry Experience, or MGIX — in an effort to include more of its diverse audience — and the roster of educational sessions was expanded. The trade show itself was expanded in 2018. Then, later that year, the association revamped the MGIX format into a series of networking programs and dropped the trade show altogether.
Well, now it’s back – in a limited capacity and under a new name: MidwestGREEN.
This year, in addition to keynote speakers, multi-track educational sessions, and round table discussions, MidwestGREEN, will also offer 50 exhibition booths for showcasing and demonstrating products in a scaled setting.
MidwestGREEN is scheduled for Nov. 1-3,
at the Columbus Convention Center.
From OFA Short Course to Cultivate
You may know Cultivate as the national trade show hosted annually by the American Horticulture Association (AmericanHort). The event has been held every year (except for 2020) at the Columbus Convention Center since the organization was formed in 2014.
What you may not know is that the trade show traces its roots back to 1930. That’s when the Ohio Florist Association (OFA) held its first Short Course event in a Columbus hotel. By 1964, the Short Course had expanded to 50 booths and drew 1,000 attendants. That figure more than doubled by 1981. With 259 booths, the venue was changed to the Ohio Center and the Hyatt Regency Columbus Hotel.
Cultivate 2021. Photo: AmericanHort.
Ten years later, the Short Course trade show moved to Cincinnati and expanded to 599 exhibitors. By that time, 77% of OFA membership was located outside of Ohio. So the organization changed its name to the Association of Horticulture Professionals. (But it kept the OFA acronym.)
The event moved back to Columbus in 1998 — and there it has stayed. By 2004, the Short Course had become the industry’s preeminent trade show and education series; overall attendance topped 9,800 that year.
By the time the next decade dawned, Short Course was the largest horticulture show in the U.S., as well asone of the largest trade shows of any type in North America.
Then in 2014, OFA merged with the 138-year-old American Nursery and Landscape Association (ANLA) to form AmericanHort. Today, the organization boasts a national and international membership of more than 20,000 green industry professionals.
Following in the footsteps of the OFA Short Course, Cultivate has now become one of the largest trade shows in the country, with more than 650 exhibitors and 100+ educational sessions.
Cultivate ’22 is scheduled for July 16-19, at the Columbus Convention Center.
From GIE+EXPO to Equip Exposition
The trade show that became the Green Industry & Equipment Expo (GIE+EXPO) began in 1984 as the International Lawn, Garden & Power Equipment Exposition. For more than 20 years the show’s venue has been just over the river at the Kentucky Exposition Center, making it a must-attend event for many Ohio green industry professionals.
OPEI Through the Years
1952: Eleven manufacturers charter the Lawn Mower Institute, a nonprofit trade association.
1956: Engine manufacturers are invited to join the organization.
1960: The association changes its name to the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute.
1962: OPEI becomes a member of the American Standards Association (now the American National Standards Institute).
1984: OPEI launches the International Lawn, Garden & Power Equipment Exposition (EXPO), the industry’s first trade show.
2001: OPEI merges with the Portable Power Equipment Manufacturers Association (PPEMA).
2007: OPEI merges the International Lawn, Garden & Power Equipment Exposition with the Green Industry Expo, creating GIE+EXPO.
2010: Hardscape North America (HNA) co-locates with GIE+EXPO.
2017: GIE+EXPO is named the 10th largest trade show in the United States.
2021: OPEI rebrands GIE+EXPO as Equip Exposition and opens a branch office in Louisville.
The event is managed by OPEI, the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute. (See sidebar, “OPEI Through the Years.”)
In 2007, OPEI partnered with the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) and the Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS) to create GIE+EXPO.
In 2010, hardscape and outdoor living products were added to the show when Hardscape North America (HNA) co-located with GIE+EXPO. For many years running, this green industry exposition has reported record attendance and exhibit space; by 2019 it was the sixth largest trade show in the United States.
Like most live exhibitions, GIE+EXPO went virtual for 2020. But in 2021 it came back with a bang, boasting increased attendance numbers (about 24,000) from all segments of the green industry.
At that time, OPEI introduced a new name and brand for the annual event: Equip Exposition. The organization also opened a branch office in Louisville, demonstrating its dedication to the show and its investment in the host city.
The 2022 expo will once again feature more than 1,000 exhibits throughout its 675,000-sq.-ft. showroom and 20-acre outdoor demonstration area.
Equip Exposition is scheduled for October 19 through October 21, at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville.
As America begins to normalize in the aftermath of COVID, green industry professionals eagerly anticipate the return of live trade shows.
Still, these exhibitions could look a little different this year. Here are a few post-pandemic changes which trade show attendees can expect:
There may be fewer exhibition booths, with wider aisles, to accommodate social distancing.
There may also be limited to the number of attendees for certain events and pre-registration may be required for some presentations.
Plenty of hand-sanitizing stations, and masks may be required for all attendees at some trade shows, depending on location.
Some trade shows may incorporate a “hybrid” approach, offering both physical and virtual components.
Irrigation and green industry professionals are hailing the return of two particular live trade show events, GIE+EXPO (the Green Industry & Equipment Expo) and the 2021 Irrigation Show.
Dates: October 20-22, 2021 Place: Kentucky Exposition Center, Louisville KY
Touted as the green industry’s largest trade show, GIE+EXPO is more than ready to return after last year’s pandemic-related cancellation.
Warren Sellers, trade show manager, has stated that both exhibitors and attendees are clamoring to get back together in person. A recent survey revealed that 91% of landscape professionals who are past attendees are likely to attend this year’s expo.
The TurfMutt Foundation, through a partnership with the Kentucky Humane Society, will once again sponsor Mutt Madness at GIE+EXPO on Thursday, October 21, from 11:00 to 2:00.
Expo attendees can take a break from the show floor to visit and/or adopt rescue dogs in Freedom Hall. At the 2019 Mutt Madness, 15 dogs found their forever homes.
The 2021 GIE+EXPO will once again include:
More than 20 acres of outdoor demonstration area
Arborist and hardscape demonstrations
New products spotlight
Plenty of workshops and educational opportunities
Plus, new this year will be:
A UTV test track
A hands-on Drone Zone
Technology Summit presented by the National Association of Landscape Professionals
Of particular interest to irrigation professionals is the Irrigation Symposium, “Landscape Irrigation 2021: Opportunities and Challenges,” hosted by the Irrigation Association and scheduled for Wednesday, October 20. A panel of irrigation experts will share real-world analyses and solutions for the landscape irrigation industry. Cost for the session is $85 and pre-registration is required.
2021 Irrigation Show & Education Week
Dates: December 6-10, 2021 Place: San Diego Convention Center, San Diego CA
The focus of the 2021 Irrigation Show is connecting irrigation professionals with the suppliers of irrigation technology, products, and services via in-person networking. This year, there will be no keynote address or general session, and the traditional opening night reception will now be a Craft Brewfest, sponsored by Hunter Industries, on the showroom floor.
Education Week Seminars
Below is a listing of landscape irrigation seminars sponsored by Site One, which are being offered during IA’s Education Week. Click the course title for additional information.
Do the Math
The IA will be offering a FREE Math Tutorial on Tuesday evening, December 7. The two-hour intensive tutorial will provide a review of the most common formulas and calculations used when designing, installing, auditing and maintaining irrigation systems.
Irrigation Show 2017 Is Set for November 8-9,
Education Conference for November 6-10
Irrigation Show 2017 is the only national trade show designed specifically for irrigation professionals. It’s where the irrigation industry comes together to network, learn and promote irrigation.
Nearly 5,000 distributors, dealers, contractors, consultants and growers are expected to attend this year’s event. You’ll have the opportunity to:
Check out innovative products, technologies and services.
Explore new suppliers.
Learn about the latest business trends and irrigation best practices.
Network with current business partners and with industry leaders who share the Ohio Irrigation Association’s commitment to efficient irrigation.
While enjoying sunny Orlando, be sure to attend some of the many irrigation seminars and classes that are offered. You’ll learn concepts and practical skills you can implement immediately.
Scheduled classes offer:
Real-world applications and irrigation case studies.
Current techniques, field-tested information and best practices.
Instructors with industry expertise and proven teaching experience.
One-hour seminars will provide detailed coverage on a focused topic in landscape irrigation. Seminars are open to all attendees with a full registration. Participants will earn 1.00 CEU for each hour. This year’s topics will include:
Irrigating Green Roofs
Pressure Regulation to Improve Irrigation Efficiency
Basis of Design
Top 5 Employment Law Issues Facing Contractors
A Proven Winner
Attendance at last year’s IrrigationShow was up double digits. Exhibitor presence was strong, and new product introductions were plenty.
In fact, research of past shows has indicated a strong correlation between show attendance and future sales. Specifically, within 12 months of the show:
77% of the attendees purchased a product or service as a result of contacts made at the show.
90% of the attendees contacted exhibitors met at the show.
90% of the attendees visited exhibitor websites based on information from the show.
Check out this promotional video from last year’s IrrigationShow: