Warning: Lesson #3 is going to hurt some feelings.

Landscapers are always looking for a better way to operate their business. That’s a good thing… Because failure to improve your operation over time usually results in a slow death. If your company is going to sustain your family, we recommend you keep it alive and growing. 

Lesson #1

There’s no better resource in North America than the Equip Expo to find the latest gadget, gizmo, process or prototype available to the lawn and landscape industry. The business owners who attend learn about equipment and tools much earlier than those who don’t. This allows each company to consider how they might adjust operations and stay one step ahead of the competition.

2022 marked the 23rd year we have participated in this event as an exhibitor with Super Lawn Trucks. We’ve seen some big changes to the equipment in our industry in the last quarter of a century.

Much of that innovation was made possible by manufacturers meeting and listening to the folks who use their equipment. The value of this interaction to advance our industry is impossible to measure. But we know this, without face-to-face interaction, growth and innovation would be crippled. Let’s sum it up with one final message.

Company owners who attend the Equip Expo are better prepared to lead their business than those who stay home and keep working.

Listen, we know there are valid reasons some folks can’t make the show every year. Illness, kids, marriage, a tooth ache… you have a life to live. We understand. Join us next year. End of lesson one.

Lesson #2

The Equip Expo show is so large, there’s no way to see everything that’s on display during the 3-day event. They claim to have almost 1000 unique exhibitors. A casual walk of the trade show floor and exterior demonstration yard would likely have you thinking there’s even more exhibitors than the 1000 they claim. Really, the show is freaking HUGE!

Let’s do the math to get a clear picture. The show was open for 3 days, October 19-21. This was a total of 21 hours or 1260 minutes or 75,600 seconds.

If you stopped by each booth, you could only spend 76 seconds seeing each booth within the “open” hours of the show. We know first-hand that meaningful product presentations and walk-arounds that happen in our booth require 5-6 minutes with each attendee…and that’s with careful planning and rehearsal.

During the show, we invested over fifteen minutes with four manufactures we had interest in seeing. If you invested 15 minutes per booth, you would only see 84 booths out of 1000. If you invested 6 minutes per booth, you’d only see 210 in show hours. Using these figures, you might see 8 to 25% of the booths available.

But here’s what you MUST realize. The value of learning ONE small thing to help your business advance could pay dividends for years to come. Even though the show is TOO BIG, you gotta go anyway. Invest in your education…year after year after year.

Let’s sum up lesson two:  Attendees may walk the trade show floor and casually go up and down each aisle, but they NEVER SEE THE WHOLE SHOW. So plan on going every year (or two) or you will miss out on the opportunity to keep up with changes in our industry.

Lesson #3

This year marked a turning point for the show. The National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) is no longer a show partner.

Although we do not sit on the board of directors or participate in the closed door meetings with their leadership, we have been told by some who do lead the organization they left the show so they could travel to more interesting destinations to get their dose of education each fall.

We are not here to debate the wisdom of the NALP leadership on parting ways with the most successful industry event that has ever been created for the advancement of the lawn and landscape industry. As one director told us, “That decision was made before I was on the board.”

The NALP organization boasts the largest membership of landscaping companies in our industry. Their membership is a “Who’s Who” in large landscaping companies. There’s no debate that their membership employs thousands upon thousands and has HUGE buying power. All of this is duly noted.

We are taught history in school to help us remember – and learn from – mistakes in our past.

We are old enough to remember the days before the merger of several poorly performing shows into one extremely successful show. We are old enough to remember when almost every state association had their own show… Every regional association had their own show…And every technical association had their own show as well.

Perhaps the leadership of these organizations should go back and review the financial results of those smaller shows scattered all over the USA. Guys and gals with big egos, little experience and poor memory may forget the past. Here’s what they need to remember, Google won the battle for search – not trade shows.

But the facts of the day can’t be debated. At Equip Expo 2022, NALP education was replaced with You-Tubers, Podcasters and Social Media Mavericks in the halls just off the trade show floor formerly occupied by NALP.

“Influencers” – those armed with a camera, a microphone, editing software and the time to use this techno gadgetry, replaced the NALP education at Equip Expo 2022.

In twenty three years of attending the GIE-EXPO, we’ve had 3 such “influencers” come by to shoot a video and feature our company on their “channel”. This year, we had 5 such influencers come by to capture video for their channel (that we are aware of as we publish this message).

Each “influencer” claims to have hundreds or thousands of “followers”. Will this new found publicity boost our revenues in 2024? We sure hope so! But frankly, we are skeptical.

Should we call this a “new trend” in how to go to market? Today the answer is not clear. But we sure know this. The 2022 Equip Expo was “different”.

We plan to review our marketing data next week to see how this year’s trip to Louisville compares to past years. After all, we have a fiduciary responsibility to hold our marketing dollars accountable for REAL results selling to REAL lawn and landscape business owners.

Allow us to sum up these observations up into a meaningful, third Lesson for Landscapers.

Here’s lesson #3: Money matters. It always has. It always will.

We know that most lawn and landscape companies DON’T ATTEND SHOWS. It’s really a tragedy. Trade shows and education events are essential tools to advance our businesses…and ultimately our industry. Small owner operators are part of the industry.

One show, one class, one encounter with the right “influencer” could change the future for a lawn or landscape business owner. The companies that attend shows are those interested in growing, advancing or improving their business AND they must have sufficient capital (both cash and time) to make the journey. Got it?

Both NALP and the Equip Expo organizations WILL be held accountable by the exhibitors AND the attendees to provide a positive return on investment. Money matters. It always has. It always will.

There’s about 1000 exhibitors that will be crunching their numbers before they write their next check to either organization. Each organization – NALP & Equip Expo – has a tremendous amount of money to lose if their show shrinks or disappears.

There’s also a few thousand attendees that will consider what they got for their investment of time and money traveling to the Equip Expo. And just like the exhibitors, Money matters. It always has. It always will.

What do you think?

Did you attend the Equip Expo?

If you did, what was the single greatest thing (or insight) you gained from the show?

If you didn’t attend the live event, have you watched the videos being published by the “influencers” scattered across social media? What have you learned to help your business?

Please hit reply and share your thoughts.

Profit Greatly,

Tony Bass, founder