The team at Golf Course Trades and I spent the first week of February attending this year’s annual Golf Industry Show in Orlando and it’s always a learning experience. For those who have seen the industry in stronger times and have wondered whether or not it will ever be back to full-bore, I’ve got some great news. (No, sorry, 2014 probably won’t be the year we holler a resounding “We’re BACK!”) But given the energy among attendees, the caliber of exhibitors in this year’s exhibit hall, the growth in numbers of attendees and exhibits over the last few years and the plethora of informative educational events (as well as social ones), I’d say it won’t be too much longer.
The biggest news on the trade show floor was undoubtedly the purchase of Dixie Chopper by the publicly-owned Jacobsen®, which is a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company. The Indiana-based based manufacturer adds its technologically advanced zero-turn radius mower to the already expansive Jacobsen offerings.
Jacobsen’s reputation for producing top-quality mowers, heavy duty utility vehicles, sprayers, aerators, bunker rakes and de-thatchers is already noteworthy. So we are looking for a real bang to be heard from this latest addition to their fleet. Look for an extensive review of the company’s products in this publication in the near future.
With more than 500 booths in the hall, it took a lot to stand out, but Maruyama managed with its impressive display of turf equipment. Their M42BK Backpack Multi-cutter was unbelievable; it was like Scissorhands on the golf course. With an ample stable of products including trimmers, brush cutters, edgers, blowers, water pumps, sprayers, chemical applicators, piston pumps, engines, chainsaws and accessories, their wares can be found in stores throughout the US and Canada. Take a look at their ad on page 19 of this issue to find the location nearest you.
We were particularly impressed with Graden’s verticutters. There’s a size and model for any application and their reputation for durability goes without saying. They’ve been around for a long time and that speaks volumes.
When it comes to longevity, it’s hard to beat AFT/Great Lakes Inter-Drain. Their founder, George Bower, began his agricultural drainage business in Fremont, Ohio in 1900 with a steam-operated Buckeye wheel-trenching machine. The Bowers became the first Inter-Drain U.S. distributor in 1985. Golf Course Trades proudly carried an article about Great Lakes Inter-Drain in our February 2014 issue (see page 24).
Ventrac was another familiar face seen at the show….Actually, with a gigantic booth; they were impossible to miss. But then, again, they had a lot to show. They offer a one-stop-shop tractor solution that can mean big savings for the equipment line item in your budget. Golf Course Trades’ sister publication, Park & Recreation Trades, proudly included a photo of a Ventrac hard at work in an article about the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo in our October 2013 issue, as a matter of fact. I guess you’d say our team over here at The Trades is pretty impressed.
The friendly folks from Pomp’s Tire Service were there in spades, of course. Formerly, they were known as the McCord Tire Group and have been in business for 70 years. They managed to accumulate a vast inventory of tires and it’s a given – if it rotates, it’s here. Of special note are their flotation tires, which are essential during delicate operations since they spread the load over a wider contact area.
AgriMetal displayed their unique Green Roller Model GR-660 with its 66-inch rolling path. The machine has three independent roller sections to follow the terrain so you don’t miss a spot. It actually offers positive drive on five rollers for maximum traction and steers like a triplex…so easy to handle.
Another friend of Golf Course Trades, DAKOTA Peat, is a leader in organic materials for golf and sports turf. But they also develop machinery to make the golf course sup’s job of managing turf a whole lot easier. Dakota claims they can save you 25 percent or more on your topdressing time and labor cost…guaranteed! That’s probably worth a call.
FlexStake – a company that sets the bar high for impact-resistant signs and markers since 1989 – was present in the hall, showing how their flexible delineators have earned them a global reputation, among their many achievements. The company spent more than two decades researching and developing advanced polycarbonate technologies to provide a supply of high-performance markers, stakes, signs and accessories that are leaders in the industry.
All in all, the event hosts Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) and the National Golf Course Owners Association (NGCOA) did a slap-down darned good job. The venue for the 2015 Golf Industry Show and education conferences will be San Antonio (the exhibit will be held Feb. 25-26 and the education conferences will be Feb. 23-27).
GCSAA Chief Executive Officer Rhett Evans was quoted as saying, “It is a new location that attendees and exhibitors want to go to and do business. It is a great addition to the Golf Industry Show lineup and another outstanding destination.”
The Trades’ team is already gearing up with our cowboy boots and ten gallon chapeaus. (Actually, does anyone know where we could find boots with cleats?) Look for us at next year’s event; we’ll be looking for you.