The Secret Value of Conferences and Trade Shows

By Pat Differ

Having attended Turfgrass Trade Shows for over 40 years now, and as I sit over the first few weeks of 2020 clicking my way from shows in Ontario, to England, on to Asia, then Texas and finally British Columbia, it has become clear that my generation, just as the one before, reaches a time when we pass the torch to the next or current group of students, educators, companies and turf professionals who ready themselves each year at these trade shows held all over the world.

The turfgrass business has gone through a transformation of late.  The new generation of turf managers is well trained, motivated, connected with/through technology and thrives on the challenges of a rapidly changing world.  The ability to adapt has become not only a strength but a necessity.  

Being able to do so without education is next to impossible.  But with the internet being what it is, why do we need a conference and trade show when everything is online?

Fair and modern question but the very thought misses appreciating the value of in-person interaction.  I believe there is still no better opportunity than sharing an experience face to face or belly to belly, conversing, discussing or just listening to others and learning how colleagues handle challenges related to elite turfgrass management.  Meeting people at trade shows forges relationships, is a great sensory experience and is often the doorway to opportunity.  Those who walk through the door are rewarded with knowledge, theoretical, practical and usable, and can see first-hand the tools of the trade on the show floor where they are displayed.  That’s the secret; that’s the value in trade shows and conferences.  

Looking further, at the strong commitment from research groups, industry and educators, we clearly see the importance of attending these conferences, where seminars on relevant topics are delivered by very competent speakers and programs are put together to serve all aspects and segments of our industry.  Topics like water management, pesticide use and environmental sustainability are always moving targets and there’s always something to learn. 

Full credit and much appreciation to those organizing groups, committees and supplier sponsors who step up and carry the workload to put these on annually.  Lots of planning and many hours of structured thought go into preparing the program and hosting so many people.

But yes, our trade shows are smaller than in years past however our focus and target remains the grass, the environment and the very high standard we set for ourselves to create the best possible playing conditions on athletic fields, golf courses or wherever we may end up working.

Opportunities, there’s that word again, are endless around the world to those who open their minds to learning.  I feel we are handing the ball off to a great group of people who have the passion and will continue to learn and drive the business forward as it does with all of us once turf gets into your bloodstream.

My final thought, put yourself in a position to rise to the top by investing in your career. Trade shows do have value and now you know the secret.

Pat Differ doing some interacting at the 2018 WCTA Trade Show. Thanks for sharing your secret with the rest of us!