You don’t need a DeLorean tricked out with a flux capacitor to see the future of the industry. All you need to do is walk the ELEVATE Expo floor, where 171 exhibitors presented software, efficient equipment and other innovative products designed to help landscape professionals excel at their business.
“This expo experience has really been great,” says Maureen McCormack, go-to-market manager for commercial mowing for John Deere. “What we’ve enjoyed about it is the smaller, more intimate opportunity to work with our customers without a much larger show going on around us. We feel like a lot of the decision-makers are here. We really enjoy the opportunity to be directly interfacing with the decision-makers of a lot of our largest landscape contractor companies.”
“When I see something new and innovative, that’s something that definitely piques my interest,” says Todd Landwermeyer with Bonick Landscaping, Inc., based in Irving, Texas. “I did see that Aspire has a new version of Asset that is cloud-based and it looks a bit easier and user-friendly.”
John Deere debuted their QuikTrak stand-on mower models at the expo, which received a redesign from the ground up to provide more productivity and easier access for maintenance.
Meanwhile, Milwaukee Tool featured their power packout chargers as an answer to the power management questions many landscaper professionals have when it comes to the battery transition.
“They’ve been very excited about it,” says Anna Retzer, assistant brand manager for Milwaukee Tool. “At the end of the day, if we’re going to be making this transition from gas to battery, aside from multiple benefits of it, people need to be able to do a full day’s work on a battery charge. Milwaukee’s providing the solution for that.”
On the product side, Syngenta launched a new insecticide, herbicide and fungicide at ELEVATE, educating attendees on their new products.
“These products really came out with lawn care operators in mind,” says Carson Cashwell, lawn and landscape market manager with Syngenta. “We really wanted to come out with three new products that we could bring to the lawn care market and provide as much value as possible.”
PBI-Gordon introduced Arkon, a liquid herbicide that controls sedges and kyllingas.
“It contains a new active ingredient pyrimisulfan in an easy-to-use liquid formulation,” Eric Reasor, Southeast research scientist with PBI-Gordon. “Another unique thing about Arkon is it’s safe on all turfgrass species. If you’re managing St. Augustine down in Florida to centipede in the Carolinas to even bentgrass in the northeast, or out West, this product is safe on all turf grasses, and it’s easy to use and mixes well with other products.”
Automation and robotic mowers were also abundant on the show floor as manufacturers continue to help companies solve their labor challenges.
“There’s a lot of new things to give people stuff to think about like that Kress mower,” says Bill Petry, a sales consultant for Milosi, based in Hendersonville, Tennessee. “We just started with our R&D department over at Milosi.”
Kress is a first-time exhibitor this year and Alex Martin, marketing event coordinator with Kress, says they have been pleasantly surprised with the amount of interest and experience that all the attendees have.
“We’re highlighting the technology in our products,” Martin says. “The biggest thing with our program is that you can save $2,000 per year by purchasing a set of our tools. We have a battery that charges in eight minutes. We have robot mowers that use the RTK technology, which is even more precise to GPS.”
The expo floor also featured 18 Campfire Sessions facilitated by NALP’s Latino Landscape Network, Women in Landscape Network, Young Professionals Network, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council, Workforce Council, and Safety and Risk Management Committee.
These spaces allowed for intimate conversations about relevant industry topics such as stress management, engaging the next generation of employees and utilizing internship programs.
During the stress management Campfire Session, Joe Lewis, COO of Yard Solutions, based in Groveport, Ohio, highlighted that it isn’t your job to diagnose your employees, but it is your job to know and care about them.
“As a leader, your number one priority should be to develop and care for your subordinates,” Lewis says.
He says the key is to strengthen your team by training, setting clear expectations and taking the time to ask questions.
“It’s naive to think you can eliminate stress for your and your people, but you can mitigate and manage it for your team,” Lewis says. “Do everything you can to let your people know that you care for them.”
At the internship program Campfire Session, Brigitte Orrick, director of recruiting and employee development for Davey Tree Expert Company, based in Kent, Ohio, shared about their internship program and the investment required for one of these programs to be successful. She notes that while an internship program calls for a significant investment of money and time, these students can go on to advocate for your company.
“We don’t let them truly go,” Orrick says. “They become a recruiter for us on campus.”
Alex Ryan, market vice president with LandCare, notes that interns are not just an expense.
“To us, they’re an employee,” Ryan says. “They’re a part of the company and the more you them that way, the higher your conversion rate will be.”
Darby Gilbert, manager of corporate and talent acquisition for Landscape Workshop, says she’s benefited the most from attending the Campfire Sessions and that you can benefit from them, no matter your position.
“There has been so much thought put into the sessions and the topics that are provided,” Gilbert says. “The committee has done a really good job at planning something that’s applicable for everyone. If you are in any type of leadership role, whether it’s a field leader, or whether it’s a back office leader, or whether it’s an executive leader, whatever your status as a leader is, you can benefit from being here in some way.”