Dealer Day brings unbeatable networking opportunities where dealers can share business lessons with non-competitors.
Photo courtesy of GIE+EXPO

While GIE+EXPO is known for its education, product launches and networking geared toward all industry segments, dealers will see an increase in their opportunities this year.

In fact, there has been so much buzz around dealers that the 2016 GIE+EXPO has been dubbed “Year of the Dealer.”

“We continue to work to expand GIE+EXPO – not just in size, but in scope and depth, and this year we’re pulling out all the stops with opportunities for dealers,” says Kris Kiser, president and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI). “If you’re a dealer, this is the year you absolutely don’t want to miss.”

Wednesday’s Dealer Day brings unbeatable networking opportunities where dealers can share business lessons with non-competitors.

“The dealership is not just about the owners and the managers, it’s about everyone,” says Dealership Consultant Bob Clements, who has a number of sessions at the show.

“It’s about the culture of the dealership. What we’re trying to do here is say ‘bring in your techs, bring in your parts managers, your service managers, let them experience everything.’

“They’ll be able to come into our parts department, our service department and learn best practices there, as well as be around people that are excited to be in this industry.”

The educational sessions have also expanded to cover more topics and provide more opportunities for dealers and their teams to take in tips and ideas on growing their business, improving marketing techniques and optimizing cash flow.

In addition to Clements’ sessions, dealers can attend technician training, the inaugural UTV University, all-new Power-Up morning sessions and an energizing opening keynote featuring Jason Dorsey, a best-selling author at 18 who is known as “The Gen Y Guy.”

“My focus is on helping them to solve the generational challenges that are being created with the emergence of millennials, as employees and as customers,” Dorsey says. “Millennials as a generation have created a lot of frustration in the industry. They communicate differently, buy differently, work differently.”

In the Power-Up sessions on Thursday and Friday dealers will hear from former mutli-line dealership owner Mark Mooney and Olympic Gold Medalist Shannon Miller. Mooney brings decades of industry experience to answer questions about how to run a dealership and what to look at to guide its success.

Miller will discuss how the gold medal mindset leads to victory on the competition floor, in the boardroom, and in our personal lives.

“We are distributors in Costa Rica and we came to GIE+EXPO to look for new products and new things to try, such as the new battery-powered products,” says Tomas Suarez, general manager, Agrocom, who attended in 2015.

“The show helps us stay educated about changing markets. As far as our competitors, we will not be telling them about the benefits of this show.” 

Landscaper opportunities.

Not to be overlooked, landscape contractors will find expanded opportunities for learning and networking with other contractors outside of their market to get a feel for what is trending across the country.

Whether it’s hiring tips, equipment troubles or other business challenges, contractors can pick each other’s brains about what’s working in their market.

On top of that, there will be numerous educational opportunities – not only from industry experts, but those outside the green industry giving tips on how to run a better overall business, including the keynote by the founder of Papa John’s Pizza, John Schnatter.

A new addition this year, the Golf & Sports Turf Management Conference is being held alongside GIE+EXPO. Plus, the co-location of HNA is a great opportunity for landscapers. In fact, show organizers expect over 700 GIE+EXPO contractors to attendees to sign up for hardscape education by ICPI.

“I have gotten so many ideas from setting up business on the computer all the way to the products we use. We are definitely coming back to the show every year,” says Josh Garbulinski, owner TJG Lawn Service, who spoke about last year’s show.

According to Kiser, organizers anticipate topping last year’s record-breaking attendance. “This year’s show is a must-attend event for lawn and landscape pros who are looking to move their businesses to the next level,” he says.

“With the combination of new products, educational opportunities and the co-location of Hardscape North America (HNA), GIE+EXPO is this industry’s No. 1 business investment.”

Expansion everywhere.

According to organizers, they anticipate topping last year’s record-breaking attendance. New and expanded booth space have resulted in a show floor that is more than 80,000 square feet larger, a 17 percent increase from last year.

And that’s just the inside.

Outside in the demo area, the typical 19 acres has been increased to 20 in order to accommodate an increase in products on display for attendees to test.

The co-located HNA’s demo area is moving to a paved area adjacent to the turf, making way for more GIE+EXPO demo exhibits.

While more than 40 percent of education registrants are typically first timers, after their first year, they spend almost all of their time at the show on the exhibit floor and in the demo area. There’s a lot of ground to cover and there are tons of new products to see and test.

For those looking for new products, this year’s show won’t disappoint. The sold out New Products Showcase is the place to get an overview of all that’s new before walking the show floor to meet exhibitors and heading outdoors for test driving.

“My main take away is the show’s sheer size,” says Greg Phillips, a landscaper with Land Expressions in Mead, Washington. “I’m blown away by the physical footprint and how much is offered. I was not expecting this.”

Mark Perkins with Perkins Seed House in Havana, Illinois says he enjoys all facets of the show.

“I attend to see what other products are out there, cement relationships with our suppliers and build relationships with short-line suppliers, he says.”