Why would anybody go to Oklahoma in the dead of winter? The below freezing winds are harsh, the roads can be icy, and you have a pretty good chance of encountering snow. Yet, every year, members of the pond trade make the trek to Shawnee, OK, to attend the Water Garden Expo, put on by Pondliner, a division of Unit Liner. The Expo is of a breed of event that wholesale distributors all across the country have embraced over the last decade or two, to host their clients and prospects to a meet-n-greet. Factory representatives from the brands they distribute attend, to show off their wares, roll out new products, and write orders.
Events range from single day demos, to all out multi-day convention style blowouts, with multiple tracks of speakers, and a formal trade show floor. Arguably the biggest of these is the Water Garden Expo.
The success of this kind of event cannot be overstated. It really works. It is, then, one of various industry get together formats that are vying for industry attention. Other formats include events held by industry association the IPPCA, those by individual manufacturers like Aquascape and Savio and local get-togethers (or Meetups) of pond companies in local regions. At one time there was another format, the privately staged trade show and expo, Pondapalooza, which sadly, no longer exists.
In February 2012, at the Pondliner Water Garden Expo, 25 manufacturers, their most ever, showed up to dazzle 187 attendees at the Heart of Oklahoma Expo Center in downtown Shawnee. Visitors stalked the booths, and enjoyed the 21 seminars, on three separate tracks – Business Practices, Construction & Design and General Water Garden Knowledge.
There is clearly vitality in this business, and the energy around the show was infectious, for those looking to find new ways to grow their business. New products and upgraded versions of reliable standards were shining.
John Wattington, head of their wholesale division, noted that there was a different feeling, a different atmosphere around this show, like folks were expecting better things this year. Excitement and optimism were clearly in the air.
Pulling off an event of this magnitude is no small feat. Trade associations rely largely on the dedicated efforts of their members, where Pondliner throws their substantial staff and resources to stage the event. The cost is high, but the payoff in sales written and relationships built make it all worthwhile for the host, exhibitors and attendees alike.
Clearly there is no one event format that fills all needs but, the number of get-togethers available today bode well for our mutual future in this crazy innovative industry – the pond trade.
**Mark your calendars** – the 2013 Pondliner Water Garden Expo is set for February 7–8, 2013. Contractors and pond product dealers are offered free attendance. For the full story, visit www.pondliner.com.
See a list of industry events at www.pondtrademag.com.
7901 N. Kickapoo
Shawnee, OK 74804-9107