Tuesday, February 8, 2011

First Impressions - GIS 2011

Tuesday at GIS was far from the usual day the show we've come to expect in past years. Why? One word: compression.

The high expectations, high pressure to use time well and the highly compressed schedule that were created when organizers went to the two-day schedule for the trade show have made this the busiest event in years for me and many I talked with. Between seminars, sales meetings, luncheons, receptions and the inevitable and all-important 5-minute hallway conversations, I simply can't remember this many things going on in the "down" day prior to Wednesday's ribbon-cutting.

A few notable moments and thoughts:

- Legends. Two of my favorite people, Dean Graves and Frank Dobie, on stage to receive well-deserved distinguished service awards.

- Fail! Seeing at least three people crash into various objects (a large trash can, for example) because they were texting while trying to move about the convention center.

- Signs of Life. Hearing a healthy, optimistic buzz at the annual "Think Independent" reception which gathers many from the chemical, fertilizer and seed markets into one place for a few intense hours. (Imagine 300 really good sales people in the same room...the average customer would never stand a chance.)

- Personal Space Invasion. Awkward man-hugs now seem to be standard amongst us old guys. Exchanged them with Ron Dodson of Audubon, Gregg Breningmeyer of Deere, Dave Heegard of Lebanon, Stan Zontek of USGA and numerous others. This trend must be stopped. We're sweaty old dudes...we should act like it and just opt for the hearty handshake!

- Designing Woman. Great to see Jan Bel Jan, longtime Fazio designer who is now out on her on. Want to know how golf designs and facilities can be more accommodating and welcoming for female players? Talk to Jan.

- Tweeting. Good lord, we're all doing it, but it seems like opening a door and yelling something into an empty room. Is anyone listening out there?

- Veterans. Perhaps the younger guys were all in seminars all day, but it seemed to me the vast majority of superintendents I ran into were the established, older guys. I'm curious to see if this holds true tomorrow as well.

In general, the mood is cautiously optimistic. There isn't a lot of concern about total attendance and such. The attitude is that the people who are here really want and need to be here and aren't just hanging out and partying. It's always fun, but this GIS seems like serious business. And that's a good thing.

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