By Karen Smith
Queensland’s Gold Coast turned on the sun yet again for the Nursery & Garden Industry Queensland’s (NGIQ’s) Green Expo. Exhibitors and visitors embraced the new venue at the Gold Coast Turf Club, stating that it had a more intimate feel, bump in was a breeze and parking was plentiful and free. All in all, I’d say the expo was a great success and the organisers should be congratulated.
The NGIQ’s Expo is an event I love to attend, not only because I can head to Queensland to escape the southern winters and enjoy a bit of sunshine, but because overall, I love the displays and seeing the high-quality plants, new plant varieties and what is new with allied trades and catching up with industry buddies. It never disappoints.
This year there seemed to be an extra buzz in the air as many delegates and visitors had not attended for reasons you are all aware of (I don’t want to write that dreaded pandemic word anymore!), and I witnessed many people thrilled to be connecting with longtime friends, customers, and colleagues. As one delegated mentioned, it’s like catching up with family.
Not everyone can be an award winner and all the businesses made an effort to provide beautiful displays, but there are always a few standouts and the award winner for the Best Display Greenlife went to Big Leaf Wholesale Nursery. An Indian jungle theme that included a very solid set of doors urging you to walk through to see what lies beyond. The creative flair of Big Leaf Wholesale Nurseries is to be commended and they were very deserving of their award. It requires a big commitment to invest in such displays for just a couple of days. An investment in time, money and effort, and while it’s nice to be recognised for the effort, I wondered what it is that drives that commitment. I asked Kieran Studders from Big leaf Nurseries about exhibiting and why he feels it is worth going the extra mile. His response was that it’s all about floating your brand and keeping your brand alive. Kieran added that it provides the opportunity to display new plant varieties or some they may now offer in different pot sizes. It’s also a great opportunity to get feedback from customers, and many retailers come to see the displays and comment that they get ideas of how to create displays in their garden centres. Of course, meeting new customers was also a good reason to exhibit.
Bryan Hilliers’ Dracaena Farm Nurseries never fails to come up with creative and colourful displays and this year was no different. I spoke with Bronwyn Hillier at the end of day one and she commented they had been busy all day, not only taking orders but placing orders as well. Bronwyn said the expo gives her the chance to catch up with customers and colleagues and develop strong relationships with them. Their nursery has been running for 35 years and they still have some of those original customers which I think is testament to the types of relationships that are forged at such events as Green Expo.
People travelled from afar to attend the expo including Tony Van Der Staay from Westland Nurseries in Tasmania. He said it is important to keep abreast of what is happening in the industry and had four staff members travelling with him as he is keen to keep his young staff up to date as well.
Lindsay Jenkinson and Brett Harris from Ball Australia said the show had been fantastic for them and it was good to connect with everyone post COVID, putting faces to names they had dealt with via phone or email and finally getting to meet face to face. Both Lindsay and Brett loved the new venue, saying the bump-in was effortless.
Ray Parker from Parkers Place said he loves the new venue and said he had the same feedback from his customers. Ray said he has only missed one event since the early 1990’s. He takes a double stand to display his vast array of plants, including his Renaissance and Romantic range of plants. Ray had given out all his price lists to customers and so was having to take email addresses to send lists out. Ray was very pleased with the event overall and the face-to-face networking, saying you can only do so many Zoom meetings. ‘It’s not what you sell today, it’s what you sell in the coming months’ said Ray.
Jess Fleming from Fleming’s Nurseries said the show had been wonderful for them, with plenty of people stopping to speak to them and gaining many new customers, and said the response from everyone had been fantastic. Jess also loved the new venue and said their edible range was doing well with lots of new products coming on.
Paige Livermore form Shamrock Plants said they had a lot of people come through, much more than she expected, adding that the response from customers was very positive. Like other exhibitors, she said the venue was great, easier to get around, and truck access was also great.
Awards for the Expo were presented at a gala dinner held at The Island Hotel in Surfers Paradise. This reporter was not in attendance, however there did not seem to be too many sore heads the following morning and from all reports, a grand night was had by those who attended.
Not everyone can win an award and while there were many displays worthy of such, the awards were presented to:
Expo Spotlight competitions
Competition A: Best of Expo
Allied Trade: Rocky Point – Rocky Point Indoor Potting Mix
Greenlife: Heaton’s Nursery – Anthurium ‘Black Beauty’
Competition B: Best New Product / Service
Allied Trade: Saltfree Desalination – Desalination Unit ‘Genesis’
Greenlife: Calara Cacti & Succulents – Orthonna capensis ‘Calara’s Opal Necklace’
Most Innovative Display – people’s choice award – Australian Plant Specialists
Best Greenlife Display – Big Leaf Wholesale Nurseries
Best Allied Trade Display – Garden City Plastics
Main photo: Big Leaf Wholesale Nurseries (Image: Karen Smith)