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1999: The Year of the Anniversary The Landscape Industry Show Celebrates its 20th Anniversary by Jann Taber In 1980, it was T-shirts and jeans. In 1999, it's sports coats and ties. If fashion is a statement of the times, then it's clear that sophistication and professionalism is the recurring theme for the 20th Anniversary of the Landscape Industry Show -- from the way the show is designed, to exhibitors with the latest products and services, to the people who are attending, to the seminars that are being offered. The 1999 Landscape Industry Show (LIS), held at the Long Beach Convention Center, Wednesday, March 31and Thursday, April 1, will prove to be very different from the first show. The only exception is the commitment to ensure that every show is the best that it can be. One of the primary goals of the first Landscape Industry Show was to provide landscape professionals a one-stop-shopping venue. "We wanted a show where the landscape contractor could find everything to run his or her business, whether it was uniforms, or materials, or insurance," said Allen Chariton who served on the committee for the first show and is the president and CEO of Tierra Verde Landscape, Inc. "It's mind boggling how the show has grown in size and diversity since then." Today, the Landscape Industry Show is one of the biggest one-stop shopping venues on the West Coast for landscape and irrigation professionals. It has gone from 258 exhibitor spaces in 1980 to over 600 exhibitor areas that will take up some 60,000 square feet at the 1999 show. "The first show was great, but unsophisticated. Decorations for the show were limited to putting a couple of plants down," said LIS Committee Chair Greg Meyer of American Wholesale Nurseries. "What made all the difference was bringing Landscape Architect Walt Young on board. His talent has had a major impact on the spectacular look and feel of the show." "When I started this, there was just a sprinkling of plant material around the show," said Walt Young of Walt Young Associates. "Now we have several truck loads of materials, including several hundred trees and shrubs. All that plant material is staged in various locations to beautify the show." It takes Young, with the help of several other LIS committee members and hired labor, a day and a half to design the show. "It's a lot of work, but it's a lot of fun," Young said. As the design of the show improved, it inspired exhibitors to follow suit in the sophistication of individual displays. Today, exhibitors vigorously compete to win Best of Show. At least one company, however, set the tone early on for outstanding exhibit areas. Paul Shogren, President of the Bourbon Valley Company, explained that it took four men and several hours to set up the elaborate display of Lodge Pine poles at the first LIS show. "We won first place," Shogren said proudly. Color Spot Nursery was also at the inaugural show, and like the Bourbon Valley Company, has been an exhibitor ever since. According to the company's vice chair, Jerry Halamuda, Color Spot Nursery's first exhibit was limited to ground cover and sod. Today, their product line is much more diversified with a wide spectrum of color -- perennials, shrubs, trees and floral products -- and they've penetrated more markets. "We used to rely more on local vendors back in the 1980s. Now we're doing business in a broader global market, in a more sophisticated industry," said Halamuda. Bob Hicks Turf Equipment Co., Inc. hasn't missed a show either. Bob Hick's booth at the first show featured a new mower developed by Howard Price. The Hydro-Power 180 was the first self-contained, multi-decked rotary lawn mower of its kind. The mower was powered by a 60 hp Ford engine and had three mowing decks. "It could cut 15 feet in a single pass, and for several years to follow, it was the only large area rotary mower in the show," said Bob Hicks. "At this year's show, we will display the latest version of the Hydro-Power 180, now powered by a 115 hp Cummins Turbo Diesel." Hydro-Scape Products, Inc. will also celebrate 20 years with LIS. Since the first show, the company has grown larger, become diversified, and its products are more technical. According to Hydro-Scape's Marketing Manager Don Beasley, equipment, products and services aren't the only things that have grown more sophisticated since 1980. "The contractors are more educated on what they are doing and what they are buying," said Beasley. "We really have to be on top of all the latest trends and products that are available." Hicks agreed that the people coming through the show are a lot more knowledgeable. "They know what they're looking for, be it grasses, trees or fertilizers. They're a much smarter group than we've ever had before," he said. Something else that's improved with age is the offering of seminars. In addition to top-flight exhibitors, the show offers a variety of bring-a-friend-for-free seminars designed to help landscape and irrigation professionals keep up with the industry's fast-paced change. The seminars being offered at the 1999 LIS are: Basic Hydraulics for System Troubleshooting with speaker Toni Monzon (also offered in Spanish); Feng Shui with speaker Shelley Sparks; A Basic Overview of Computers -- How They Relate to Business with expert John Sassaman; Show Me the Money! with attorney Sam Abdulaziz; Connections: Trees, Soils and People with national expert Dr. Alex L. Shigo; and Public Works and Commercial Landscaping Bidding Processes -- It's Not the Same Old Ballgame! with a panel of industry experts. The 1999 Landscape Industry Show promises to be bigger, better and more sophisticated than ever. It also promises to be one of the best places to network with other people in the industry. "It's important for the landscape industry professional to meet and mingle with other people in the industry," said Young. "Attending the Landscape Industry Show is the best way for me to keep in touch." Past shows have drawn up to 6,500 attendees from across the country, including Landscape Architects and specifiers, maintenance and installation contractors, educators, and landscape suppliers and wholesalers. Admission to the show is free with pre-registration by March 1, 1999. Pre-register via the internet at, or call CLCA at (916) 448-2522 for information on registration, seminars and hotels. Admission is $5 at the door. Registration begins both days of the show at 7 a.m. The Landscape Industry Show is sponsored by the California Landscape Contractor's Association, the nation's oldest and largest organization of licensed landscape and irrigation contractors. Join LASN in Long Beach this spring as we celebrate 20 years of the Landscape Industry Show! In 1980, exhibiting companies brought in hot tubs to inspire landscape designers and contractors (left). In 1998, the Landscape Industry Show boasted over 300 exhibitors demonstrating the "best of the best"-- high tech landscape and irrigation products and services (right).

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