The buzz is back

Commitment to a fifth hall for BTME 2016 reinforces exhibitor sentiment that this year’s show marked an upward shift in sector optimism.

Hall Q will come back into the fold alongside halls A, B, C and M to herald a return to pre-recession buoyancy as the sector powers forward once more.

A bustling first two days for regular exhibitor Johnsons Sports Seed saw plenty of interest in their special mixtures and in their hourly prize draw.

“BTME is a great `show your face` exercise to support the distributors,” said Area Sales Manager Phil Seedhouse. “We’ve seen a lot of representatives this time round.”

LED moving signage proved the major focus for Eagle in its 24th year of attending BTME. Managing Director Phil McInley (shown in front of his stand, top right) also remarked on the high quality of visitor.

The final day of any show can be a challenging one for exhibitors as visitor numbers fall away from the frenzy of earlier days but Steve French, Product Specialist for Tines Direct, put a positive slant on it. “Overall there’s lots of promise going forward from the show,” he said, “but anyone you see on the last day is usually there to do business.”

Johnny Beck, Sherriff Amenity Stand Manager (right), was in bullish mood. “I’m delighted to support what is a well organised and well presented show. The education sessions are varied and informative and the BIGGA team are always attentive. We’ve taken quite a few orders off the stand, particularly for our new Turf Reports system of recording and displaying course information.”

Amenity Specialist Matthew Le Brun, pictured inset below right, who developed the system confirmed “huge interest” in the product, adding: “Data collection is massive but understanding and correlating it is the critical factor.”

Ground2Control’s online applications covering all aspects of grounds management proved popular too. “The quality was there,” said Marketing Manager Jane Ratcliffe. “We exhibited last year and are glad we decided to do so again.”

Irrigation specialists Rain Bird Europe SNC have exhibited at BTME for the last three years and 2015 was once more a satisfying event for them, with plenty of strong leads to pursue, Golf Sales Manager Kneale Diamond revealed.

Sports industry contractors MJ Abbott found that all three days were buzzing. “BTME attracts a wide range of consultants, golf course architects and course managers,” Contracts Manager Nathan George (middle right) reflected, “so we can network with them strongly. The visitor quality was as high as ever and the general ambience of the show has risen too.” Next year’s BTME is already in the diary for MTS Golf and Utility Vehicles, confirmed Operations Director Mick Williamson. “Although fewer visitors came on the stand, those that did were a better quality of enquiry. We’ll be here next year.”

Show first-timers Engo Group from Slovakia have already confirmed they’ll be booking a bigger presence at BTME 2016 after introducing themselves to the sector this year.

“Our focus was to make ourselves known to the market here,” said Norbert Zatko, “and we’ve networked with many of our UK suppliers.” The group covers everything from golf course construction to greenkeeping services across Russia and the Ukraine. Two projects are underway at Strawberry Fields and Mill’s Creek near St Petersburg.

Machinery running costs proved a recurring theme among visitors keen to stretch budgets. “A rekindling of interest in gang mowers was apparent this year,” reported Clive Nottingham (below left) of Lloyds/Hunters. Clubs have to maximise budgets and we make traditional machines that carry low running costs, while our grinders allows mowers to stay on cut for longer in the field, boosting performance.”

John Deere, Ransomes Jacobsen and Toro – Lely (UK) Ltd all decided to exhibit at BTME 2015, albeit scaled down from their usual powerhouse stands.

Toro reimagined their presence at BTME with a stand alive with new technology that included flat-screen TVs embedded in tables, tablets featuring video presentations and dramatic main display screen.

“Our stand designers have opened our eyes to the possibilities of exhibiting at BTME,” said Lely Sales Manager and irrigation specialist Roger Lupton, shown in the main image top left.

“The stand concept worked for us and the new technology we’ve introduced has adapted well to both the show and the visitors, judging by the reaction from faces old and new.”

Also ringing the changes were Campey Turf Care Systems – and it paid off handsomely, according to Managing Director Richard Campey. “This year we invested in a new stand and a fresh look because we believe BTME to be an important event in the greenkeepers’ calendar,” he said. “It proved to be an excellent show for us, with genuine interest and many enquiries to get the year off to a positive start.”

“Stand footfall fully vindicated The Grass Group’s decision to double the size of its stand this year,” Managing Director Tim Merrell (below right) told Greenkeeper International. “This is the launch platform for our sales activity for the spring. The season starts with this show. BTME is highly focused and is at a convenient time of the year for greenkeepers and groundsmen.” International visitors were in numbers as well, he confirmed.

Strong traditions endure for some though, as line markers-to-fertilisers group Vitax confirmed. Taking up their usual position right by the main entrance, one of BTME’s longest-standing supporters enjoyed “another great year”, Sales and Marketing Manager Mike King confirmed.

“We’ve had lots of interest across our whole range. The new Briteliner Arrow and TXE line markers were a hit with visitors, and we sold off the stand. Salt spreaders hit the mark too, especially on the Wednesday when wintry weather arrived.”

For County Sport Surfaces this was their fourth, and best, year at BTME to date. “People once thought artificial turf was a luxury,” said Managing Director Duncan Clarkson, talking about demand for their design and installations services, “but not anymore. The British weather has seen to that.”

Striving to spread the word about creating new life for used artificial turf were Sports Maintenance Services, who reported a brisk show. “There’s been very positive interest in our Xtraction recycling process,” Sales Manager Jason Lewis-Lamb enthused. Jason is pictured bottom right.

“Greenkeepers now have an option to buy recycled turf for applications such as pathways and driving range mats at a third to a half the cost of the new product. Feeder schools take-up is strong and we are stressing the importance of an end of life policy on using artificial turf, as there is plenty of inherent value in it for secondary applications.”

Sports Turf drainage and construction specialists Turfdry were looking forward to following up “a good number” of inquiries after BTME, after the family-run business last exhibited at Harrogate in 2007. “I’m really pleased with the level and quality of interest this year,” recorded Assistant Manager Matthew Taylor, pictured top left.

Development of bunker technology continues unabated and the market opportunities were not lost on Daniel Smith of certified installer Better Billy Bunker, which debuted this year in the wake of their work at Gleneagles for the 2014 Ryder Cup. “The education programme is extensive,” he added, “and the show has been really successful for us, with a host of contacts made and leads to follow up.”Daniel is pictured top right.

Concerns over health and safety compliance and tougher on-site security propelled visitors to Cleveland Sitesafe, where Sales Manager John Hodgson said: “When there is so much expensive kit on golf courses and sports grounds, keeping them safe and secure is a small outlay in comparison.”

Golf’s environmental drive helped steer visitors to Waste2Water Europe, where interest in their run-off recycling systems ran high. “We received plenty of potential orders,” commented Managing Director Tim Earley, “and were rushed off our feet, particularly on the Wednesday. The environment is a hot topic in golf so we benefit from that movement. “I was impressed by the level of expertise of those we spoke to. BTME is really improving in that respect.”

Sector purse-strings are certainly loosening, believes Richard Fry, Rigby Taylor’s Marketing Manager (shown below).

“Visitor quality was very pleasing overall,” he reported. “The optimism being felt showed through, as did the enthusiasm of those who came on the stand.”

Similarly upbeat, grinder specialists Bernhard & Co recorded quality across all three days.

“Visitors were looking more at our larger machines,” said Sales and Training Support Cathy McEwan. “They were trying to include purchases in this year’s budget, which is very encouraging.”

Syngenta always command major billing and attract a wide visitor spread but this year might have turned out to be a watershed. “Numbers were healthy” said Rod Burke, Market Manager EAME, “and the quality of attendees was fantastic, with a high level of engagement.

We enjoyed an even more diverse spread, including visitors from Dubai and Turkey.

“The standard of the seminar programme goes from strength to strength – it’s very encouraging. Our 4pm seminar on disease management was sold out. What an enjoyable show.”

After a spell of uncertainty across the sector following the economic downturn, it seems the good times are returning to greenkeeping and groundsmanship, if exhibitor feedback at BTME 2015 is any yardstick.