Organizers and exhibitors were very pleased with attendance levels at the 2013 Farwest Trade Show, held August 22-24 at the Oregon Convention Center in downtown Portland, Ore. The three-day event had 15 percent more people coming through the gate than in 2013.
“I spent three days walking the aisles talking to exhibitors and attendees. The industry has turned an important corner,” said Jeff Stone, executive director of Oregon Association of Nurseries, the trade association responsible for producing the show. “All success indicators were up. Exhibitors were writing more orders on the show floor.
“We are pleased show attendance was up, but we are more concerned about getting the right buyers to the show. Exhibitors were telling me that they were happy with the quality of the show traffic and satisfied that exhibiting at the show was a good investment. That says to me that meeting face-to-face is still important and that trade shows still have an important role to play.”
“Everyone that I came across was in a much more positive frame of mind in terms of the show and the economy,” said Patrick Newton of Powell’s Nursery. “They were in a buying mood. For us, it was great. We wrote quite a few orders. The industry seems to be taking a turn in the right direction.”
Industry supplier Bill Phillips, owner of Phillips Soil Products, agreed. “The quality of the folks that were here was perfect,” he said. “It’s a central location for us to connect every year with our existing customers. I thought it was very good this year. I thought 2011 was the low point. Last year was better, but this year? I thought it was very good. The true strength of the Farwest Trade Show is that everything is nursery or nursery-related. That’s a good thing.”
The Farwest Trade Show provides easy access to hundreds of nurseries and allied suppliers under one roof. And because Farwest is at the heart of nursery country, it provides easy access for touring Oregon nurseries. “We got some very strong leads from customers we hadn’t sold to before, even some from overseas,” said Greg Anderson, sales manager at Bizon Nursery. “We were able to send people from our booth directly down to tour our nursery, which generated orders. We also had existing customers who added to their orders because of the material they saw in our booth.”
Allison Cooper of Willamette Nurseries Inc. put it very succinctly. “We were seeing customers and we were taking orders,” she said.
“The Farwest Trade Show is always a good time to see people face-to-face and close orders,” stated Jim Lewis, co-owner of J Farms. “This year, it was the best show in four years. I talked to several people who wrote orders. But Farwest is just as good of an opportunity to buy as it is to sell. You can see a piece of equipment, ask questions, and find out how it can be customized. It takes less time. For a small business like ours, that’s very important.”
The Oregon Association of Nurseries is already planning for next year’s Farwest Trade Show scheduled for August, 21-23, 2014.
“This year and in the years to come, OAN brings together the industry’s thought leaders at the Farwest Trade Show for growers, retailers, landscapers and municipalities,” Stone said. “People like Joe Whitworth, president of the Freshwater Trust, Dr. Charlie Hall of Texas A&M University, and Jim Ault, director of ornamental plant research at Chicago Botanic Garden, have the potential to shape the future of our industry. We’re proud of the fact that Farwest plays an important role in the success of the nursery industry.”