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  • Writer's pictureEric Ludewig

Trade Show Season

As the golf season and golf construction season comes to an end for the Northern US and Canada, the trade show and conference season begins.

Trade shows and conferences provide us the opportunity to present Pro/Angle to many prospective customers, architects, and contractors. We’re able to have meaningful face to face conversations about what makes Pro/Angle different and why it’s a worthwhile investment.

Trade shows also provide us with the opportunity to network with other golf industry suppliers, we see faces and meet people we’ve only ever talked with via phone or email.

The primary function of the conferences and shows is to provide golf course maintenance professionals with educational opportunities, certifications, networking opportunities, and hands on demonstrations with products utilized on the course.

We started the season with the Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Association Conference and Show. The Carolinas show each November is hosted in Myrtle Beach, SC. This regional show draws approximately 1,500 attendees with 180 exhibitors.

Next up were more localized shows including the Ohio Turfgrass, and Michigan Turfgrass shows. The Ohio Turfgrass Show occurs each December in Columbus, Ohio. The Michigan Turfgrass Show, traditionally hosted at Michigan State University has moved to a casino resort location in Mt. Pleasant, MI

The super bowl of shows took place in February: The Golf Course Superintendents Conference and Show. The GCSAA Conference and Show takes place in one of three locations that changes annually. This year the show was in Orlando, FL, the 2024 show will be in Phoenix, AZ, the 2025 show in San Diego, CA then back to Orlando. 11,700 attendees and 450 exhibitors were part of this year’s GCSAA Conference and Show, it’s a big deal.

Our next and final show of the year was the New England Regional Turfgrass Show that took place in Providence, RI. The New England Show draws approximately 1600 attendees with 140 exhibitors.

Our Canadian broker, Hutcheson Sand & Mixes joins the trade show circuit in Ontario. Their stops include:

Mitchell Products our New Jersey based broker exhibits at the New Jersey Turfgrass Show.

Plan, ship, travel, set up, execute, tear down, ship, travel, repeat...the trade show process.

Those are the basic pieces of the puzzle for our trade show program.

Plan: Months in advance, contracts are signed, travel and hotel arrangements are made, and furniture and carpet are ordered for the booth space.

Ship: For the larger shows, our large display is shipped in advance as its too large to bring on a plane. I know my local UPS store staff very well.

Travel: Distance determines the method, but this step is either a drive or flight to the destination city.

Set Up: In advance of the show floor opening, set up occurs the day before or in the morning of show day. The exhibit halls make a dramatic transformation from the set up stage to the open stage. During set up, there are crates everywhere, forklifts running around the room, scissor lifts up hanging banners, planned disorganization everywhere.

Execute: Trade show opening is a really peaceful feeling, the room that was in complete disarray just a few hours prior is now buttoned up with everything in its place. There is a certain calm before the doors open to the show attendees.

Tear Down: The mad dash to pack up and get out the door begins. The show goes from relative calm to chaos in an instant as the entire show floor tears down at the same time. Engines roar as the large equipment lines up at the bay doors to the loading docks. Exhibitors pour out of every door with totes, dollies, plants, paper, etc., all in a mad dash to the parking lot.

Ship: Our large display is repacked, labeled and shipped back to the office.

Travel: Hopefully not looking too disheveled from the mad dash top tear down, it's back to the airport to return the car and catch the flight home. In smaller airports like Myrtle Beach and Providence, you’ll see a rush of fellow exhibitors in the terminal. You cant miss the quarter zip jackets, the unofficial uniform of the golf industry.

Repeat: On to the next show!

Truth be told, I like doing the shows. It's great seeing customers, talking to prospects, saying hello to vendors and suppliers you work with and meeting new ones. So much work is done over the phone and email, it’s nice to shake someone’s hand and thank them for their business or for a referral. It's fun experiencing different parts of the country and the things that make them unique.

When the shows are in or near markets where we ship Pro/Angle, I take the opportunity to spend a day or two visiting customers and prospects. While in Orlando and before the show this year, I visited Jupiter Hills, Loxahatchee Club, Panther National and our rail transload site. After the show, I took a ride to Bradenton to visit Concession Club. Twist my arm to be outside in Florida during the cold Ohio winter!

During my trip to Providence for the New England Show, I visited Wannamoisett Country Club, Shelter Harbor Golf Club, Farms Country Club and a rail terminal. Instead of needing to wear sunscreen visiting the Florida courses, I needed a stocking cap and gloves visiting New England in March.

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