Long before I gave up my day job as a Groundsman to embark on the Pitchcare adventure, discussions about trade shows, raising Industry profile and a unified single Association had been debated. During the last eight years we have had continued numerous discussions about these subjects and have tried to put forward a public voice to make change through our medium.
Eight years ago the largest machinery manufacturers decided to end their commitment and support of two trade shows each year. Many other companies made commercial decisions to become strategic in their choice of show attendance as well. Two years ago, a year of negotiation between the IOG and BIGGA came to an end with no tangible outcome.
We have tried to work with both Associations (as well as others), with varying degrees of success (and failure), but committee led Associations do take forever to make decisions.
Last June/July we decided that, having listened and waited for long enough, we would start making inroads into the future of our Industry ourselves. We sent out a survey questionnaire to the trade about the feelings for a trade led show. The results were pretty frank and, while different companies use the shows for different reasons, we were able to gain fairly definitive majority results across most of the questions asked.
We followed this survey with a survey to the members of Pitchcare in a similar manner of that sent to the trade to gather feedback and a consensus of opinion.
Since the results from the Trade and member surveys were collated, we have done further leg-work and, acting on the collated results, we looked at a number of venues in the middle of the country.
We have continued discussions with a good cross section of the trade to make certain that this is the direction that the majority wish to pursue and, on Monday 8th March, a meeting took place at the NEC with representatives of around 55 trade companies. These companies were not in any way chosen specifically, but it simply wasn't possible to invite all of the trade. For everyone's information, the following list were the companies invited (not all replied or could attend on the day).
AFT Trenchers, Allett Mowers, Amazone, Antonio Carraro UK, Autoguide, Baileys of Norfolk, Barenbrug, Baroness, Barrus, Bayer, Bernhard, BIGGA, BMS Products, Bomford Turner, Bowcom, Briggs & Stratton, BSH, Campeys, Central Spares, Charterhouse, Cleveland Land Services, Complete Weed Control, Countax, County Turf, CourseCare, D W Tomlin, Danarm, Dennis, Deutz Ag UK, Ditch Witch, DLF, DMMP, Ecosol, Etesia UK, Farmura, FGM Claymore, Fleet, GGM, Grassline, Great Dane, Groundsman Industries, GTC, Hayter, Headland Amenity, Honda, Honda Engines, Husqvarna, Ifor Williams Trailers, Indespension, Inturf, IOG, IPU, John Deere, JSM, Kawasaki, Kensett Turf, Kersten, Kilworth, Kubota, Lastec, Lewis Equipment, Limagrain, Lindum Turf, Lloyds, M J Abbott, Major Grasscare, Mansfield Sand, Monro Sports, Motokov UK, New Holland, North Staffs Irrigation, Pinnacle Power, Poweroll, Ransomes Jacobsen, Rigby Taylor, Ryetec, Scotts, SGM (UK), Sheltons Drainage, Stihl UK, STM, STRI, Surrey Loams, Sweepfast, Syngenta, Talbot Landscapes, The Grass Group, Tillers Turf, Toro, Tower Chemicals, Trimax, Turfmech, TYM Tractors, Ultra Spreader, Vitax, White Horse Contractors, Wiedenmann, Yamaha.
Representatives of both BIGGA and the IOG were invited and also in attendance.
The attendees were given presentations of the venue, the survey results and there was a long and general discussion to gauge the strength of feeling with everyone together in one room.
I will be publishing the key points that came from the meeting soon, once there is confirmation from all the attendees at the meeting.