With all the preliminary "get all your ducks in a row so you can get away for a week" hassles, no doubt it's getting tougher and tougher to get pumped for GIS. But, once I walk through the doors to the trade show I am instantly reminded how very cool this industry is, and how rejuvenating GIS can be.
I love fresh ideas and true innovation. Read that as "true innovation, not just mimicking that of others" as seems to be increasingly the norm. That includes turning existing products inside out and completely reworking them into something far superior to the predecessor.
I try to leverage my media badge to get into the show as early as I can on show days so I can cruise unimpeded. Due to a couple speaking engagements and Beer & Pretzels the day before the show opened, I failed miserably on the 'early' part this year. But thankfully the condensed footprint of the show as it is today made for much easier navigation.
Highlights? What blew my hair back? (and that's getting increasingly tough to do, literally as well as figuratively...)
Let's see... Club Car's new Carryall line is indeed a legend, reborn. Retained aluminum frame, more power, higher ground clearance, improved ergonomics, new little features (like the retracting charging cable on electric models, and the 12v mobile device charging outlet) and new big features like the cargo box 'system' with integral clamps and tool holders. Outstanding job of retaining what worked while embellishing with new technology and thought processes... to improve what was already as close to bulletproof a product as one can find in this industry.
While comfy sofas, coffee bars, video games and shoeshine stands have become increasingly prevalent in many booths, Jacobsen's "get juiced" theme promoting their electric products brought a juice bar onto the show floor. Nice touch, and much appreciated for "morning-after" rehydration.
It was also great to see the Jacobsen booth so crowded, a testament to the quality and direction of their recent products. Jake is back! Indeed, Jacobsen president David Withers told me that just a couple of years ago there was no way Textron would have made the investment in Dixie Chopper that was announced at the show.
It always takes some elbow-swinging to work one's way through the Toro booth. As one who (back in the day) sold a ton of then-cutting edge Hahn sprayers, I can't help but be thoroughly impressed with the new Multi Pro sprayers (1750 and WM). Built on the back of the Multi Pro 5800 spray system introduced a couple of years ago, and previewed at GIS last year, these machines are extremely well thought out and leave little to be desired... save perhaps for for the Nutec Soil/Turf Geeks Autocontrol Spray System.
Toro introduced the term "Turfonomics?" to highlight their focus on both agronomics and economics in new product development. While Toro may have coined the term, it was a theme we heard from many exhibitors throughout the show in recognition of the "new golf economy" and the need to balance finances along with maximizing playability. It is a new ballgame.
Proudest moment of GIS? For me, no doubt the Superintendent of the Year announcement in the Syngenta booth. Not only is it an opportunity to recognize the abilities and contributions of some great superintendents (and yes, superintendents in general), seeing the TurfNet logo right up there alongside Syngenta's darn near chokes me up. Proud, indeed.
Back to getting my hair blown back. What was the one product this year that elicited a hard gulp and a recognition of "This is very cool..."? Has to be the new A series mower platform from John Deere. I've been accused of being pro-other colors over the years, but as Tracy Lanier (Deere product manager) walked me through the new features of the A-series platform, I could only nod like a bobblehead and say yep, uh-huh. Nicely done.
So there you have it.