By Mike Jiggens
Despite dealing with frigid minus 24 degrees Celsius temperatures, snow and the aftermath of the December ice storm, Landscape Ontario’s 41st annual Congress, Canada’s Premier Green Green Industry Trade Show, was deemed a success.
Because of weather that kept many contractors and landscapers busy clearing roads and parking lots and cleaning up damaged trees from the December ice storm, attendance at the show started soft during its opening on Tuesday, but it picked up Wednesday and Thursday as the weather cleared. Attendee and exhibitor enthusiasm was high.
“To see our customers and promote best practices, Congress is the best place to go,” says Mike Riehm, president of EnviroBOND. Riehm, who attends trade shows across the continent, and his brightly-adorned staffers have been regulars at Congress for 15 years.
“It is the best show in North America for networking and landscaping in general,” he says.
Spread over eight acres at the Toronto Congress Centre, Congress puts the spotlight on more than 600 vendors from the equipment, lawn and landscape industry. An estimated 10,000 green industry professionals from around the world made their way across a show floor featuring the latest and greatest in heavy machinery, landscaping implements, nursery products and innovative services that help landscape contractors create professionally designed or natural landscape for their clients.
Several exhibitors have already renewed their spots to return to Congress in 2015.
“We had some unique challenges this year, but that made the resulting success of this year’s Congress that much more special,” says Heather MacRae, Director of Events and Trade Shows for Landscape Ontario. “Congress remains Canada’s premier show for the latest trends and innovative products that are helping green industry professionals provide better service and design more distinctive landscapes for their customers.”
When Blake Sicard joined the landscape material wholesaling firm Creative Landscape Depot, one of his first tasks was convincing them Congress was a must-attend show. The company is fairly well known around its St. Jacobs, Ont., base, but five years attending Congress with other companies convinced Sicard that there were untapped markets for Creative Landscape Depot to explore.
“We really wanted to get out here and meet more landscape designers and network with some of the best in the business,” he says. “I really feel we achieved that goal. There are more than 10,000 people who come through this show every year. If you only connect with five per cent of them, you are still making hundreds of connections to benefit your business. This show was phenomenal for us.”
Hamilton, Ont., company Ferrell Builders’ Supply Ltd. sends a contingent to Congress every year, scouting for the latest trends in landscaping.
“I love it!” says Ferrell’s Alicia Reid. “As a supplier to the trades it keeps us informed and up to date with all the new products available. It isalso great for gathering new design ideas.”
James Urquhart, from G&D Equipment in Desboro, Ont., has been attending Congress for 17 years.
“We come for the exposure and the opportunity to catch up with our great customers from years gone by,” says Urquhart. “We get a lot of new sales leads generated from Congress.”
This year’s Congress was the first for Craig Stefan, who attended with his co-workers from Geerts Lawn Care and Property Management, and it was eye-opening.
“It is completely overwhelming how muchcool stuff they have here that makes our work a lot easier,” says Stefan. “I’ll be back again, that’s for sure.”