“The green shoots of economic spring are appearing once again.”
— Norman Lamont (1991)
Yes, it’s an old quote, but pretty much sums up how the Landscape Industry Show felt this year. Just when you think the green industry might be down and out, green shoots start emerging.
No, it was nowhere near the wild and woolly ’90s, but there were times when the aisles were packed and hundreds of conversations created a big buzz in the exhibit hall. Granted, that was only for a couple of hours, but after being so battered for the last several years, it was great to see a glimmer of hope. And there were lots of positive comments from both attendees and exhibitors.
The Landscape Industry Show is sponsored by the California Landscape Contractors Association (CLCA) and has a special place in my heart. I went back to school in the mid-1980s at Cuyamaca College in El Cajon, CA (just east of San Diego). I loved gardening and wanted to learn to put in a drip system. Little did I know that taking that class would so profoundly impact the course of my life.
Field trips were a regular part of the Ornamental Horticulture program at the college, and we piled onto a bus and headed up to Long Beach to head to the CLCA Show. I had never been to a trade show before, and was completely blown away. The show filled two halls and was full of huge equipment. I had never seen a tree spade before, or even knew they existed. It was amazing!
The decline in trade show attendance started long before the recession. Since they can be a lucrative venture, the market got pretty saturated. Then the dawn of the Internet really put a dent in traffic. Why go the expense and effort to go to a trade show when you can just visit a web site and place an order on your phone?
Well, that is certainly the case nowadays, but there still is nothing like human contact. Bottom line is that we are social animals, and interacting with others in our species makes us feel good! Plus, a product can look a whole lot different in front of you than is does on a screen.
Now don’t get me wrong, there were some very slow times during the show and it will likely never be as huge as it was in the past, but it’s still good to see those green shoots.
Right after LIS, the Golf Industry Show hit San Diego. And this year, the Irrigation Association will host its show right in Las Vegas! It’s always fun when a national or international group holds a show in our backyard. It’s a great opportunity to expand your horizons without spending a fortune on travel.
On the literal front, green shoots are appearing everywhere as the days get longer. Even in the mild Southwest, springtime is still a time of renewal and growth. It’s still early in the season and we are hoping for a lot more rain and show. It kicked off pretty strong, but then surprised us with record-breaking high temperatures. As of this writing, we are hoping for lots more rain…the season’s far from over!
Here’s to plenty of green shoots for you, your company and the economy! Let’s get growing!