This October, Louisville, Kentucky, hosted the annual GIE Expo, a premier outdoor power equipment industry event and one of the largest tradeshows in the U.S. The vast majority of companies in the industry attend each year, including manufacturers, distributors, dealers, landscapers and other end users. This year’s show was no exception. In fact, while some regional tradeshows struggle with attendance, the GIE Expo grew in 2015 to more than 21,000 people.
Hot topics at this year’s GIE included the Snow and Ice portion of our industry. In the past, Plows, Sanders, and Spreaders were exclusively sold as factory direct. However, in recent years, there has been a shift towards two-step distribution. Manufacturers and dealers, alike, are seeing the benefits of this business model firsthand and are now starting to prefer it. KPM is one of the first two-step distribution companies to begin working in this industry, first with the Sno-Way brand, and now with SnowEx. Other distributors are following suit, which is sparking a bit of a trend in the industry.
Another point of discussion centered on the viability of distributors in today’s Internet-centric world. A while back, people claimed that Home Depot and other big box stores were going to put distribution out of business. As we know, this prediction did not come true. Nowadays, people point to Amazon as the next frontier. What big box stores and Amazon can’t offer are extensive product expertise and retail business counsel. KPM and other distribution companies in the outdoor power equipment industry continue to thrive because we provide tangible and intangible value to both our suppliers and our customers, the independent outdoor power equipment dealer.
Each year, a “New Products Showcase” displays new products and features. While products look promising on exhibit, their ability to perform in real-life situations will dictate their market success. A new product or feature that performs in the tough environment of lawn care and landscaping will become important fixtures to the industry in the future.
Nonetheless, it’s great to see new mower brands unveiled at the GIE show. In an industry with well over 70 different brands of zero turn riding mowers, more brands keep coming to market. Does this mean the market is still growing? Or are brands seeing a significant opportunity in outdoor power equipment and want a piece of it? Whatever the answer, the fact is that competition will always exist, and we are all better for it.