BLEC Global is going, if not global, then national at MAP Live (Manage Amenity & Pitch), which continues to work its way around the country. The roving trade show comprised of six demonstration days, which started in April, is about half way through its cycle and as we head into June the event is heading up north.
Haydock Park Racecourse in Merseyside was due to see an impressive line-up of runners and riders on 5 June that at including Avant Tecno, Bryson Tractors, Campey Turfcare Systems, The Compact Tractor Company, Complete Weed Control, Digacrusher and Isuzu Trucks.
Then, on 4th July, the show moves on to Sedgefield's Knotty Hill Golf Centre. There it will display its blend of compact, localised demonstrations and seminar series that has prompted the likes of Muthing, New Holland, Reform, Remu, Rotar, Simon Richard and Worsley Plant to sign up to the MAP Live regional format.
BLEC Global managing director Gary Mumby says: "MAP Live is useful for demonstrating our machines on a regional basis and we will see professionals from all across the grounds-care and landscaping industry. Kit on show and demonstration includes our Cultipack Seeder, Rotorake and Multivator.
"The intention of regional, well-organised, one-day events is to draw potential customers to a working demonstration day in their area, minimising loss of working time. The variety of equipment is a major draw, so you can weigh up what's best for you - a tractor-mounted or pedestrian Power Box Rake."
Some kit is receiving its UK debut at MAP Live. The Air 2G2 machine is a self-propelled air-injection system that can penetrate 20cm down into the ground. The hydrostatic-drive, three-probe, air-injection machine blasts compressed air into the earth to improve a compacted root zone without surface disruption.
Air is injected vertically and horizontally over an area of 1.5m, while a Kohler 19hp petrol engine powers the US-made kit. It has a working width of 180cm, a weight of around 420kg and why bother reading a spec sheet when you can hit the switch and use one of the latest gadgets for turf care.
MAP Live machinery demo days are a perfect launching ground for the Air 2G2, says Simon Gumbrill, sales director of the kit's distributor Campey Turfcare Systems. The series of shows means that his company can maximize exposure all over Great Britain.
"We are attending every show and have committed to MAP Live because we feel this is how shows should be done," Gumbrill explains. "Logistically, it makes sense to travel shorter distances to trade shows."
He adds: "But it makes a bit more sense to go to each quarter of the nation. We were heartened by the first event at Stoneleigh Park on 24 April, which got quite a lot of media attention, and hope that the show can maintain the impetus. The key to success is a careful blend of demos and seminars."
The show's last two events, in Stirling in Scotland on 3 July and Chepstow Racecourse in Wales on 17 July will ensure this regional MAP Live does just what Gumbrill insists is a must for the trade show of the 21st century - to spread itself into the regions to get further penetration with what is new in the sector.
It also chimes with the views of the show organiser Clare Johnson. "There is a growing call for an open-space management roadshow, reflecting the radically different market we now operate in. The call is coming from buyers and suppliers. MAP Live is designed to be flexible," she points out.
"But it also has to be a responsive, market-driven channel. Independent research has been carried out among visitor groups and background factors driving this demand include the radical restructuring of local authority budgets and headcounts, and the increased use of contracted-out local authority services.
"Other factors driving the shift include increasing demands on the dealer by the economy and changing weather patterns. These trends are not temporary. The shows' format combines interactive panel debates with related demos and the theme is how to achieve the best results when all these factors come into play."
Johnson, who reckons the Scotland show is going to be a "corker, based on the interest people are showing", realizes the case for small, regional shows needs to be proved. She is expecting variation between the six show days and will be assessing results from the different venues.
"It's crucial to use data to see what conclusions we can reach. With events in the Midlands, south, North West, North East, Scotland and Wales, we will have a solid body of information."
However the "collaborative development" of MAP Live is already under way, with feedback from visitors and exhibitors at the early shows. Landscape and grounds maintenance contractor Gavin Jones was impressed with a demo on a Profihopper, the first time the team had checked out the Toro mower.
Johnson says a wide range of sports have been represented at roadshows to date, with buyers from football, rugby, bowls, tennis, cricket, golf and hockey venues visiting. Total budgets to spend on open-space management at the Map Live south event at Ardingly, West Sussex, on 15 May were around £14m.
"Buyers clearly relished the opportunity to test machinery as well as discuss how to achieve best results when typical headcounts and budgets are lower than ever before, and this will be a key part of the message for the rest of the MAP Live 2013 series," says Johnson.
For those who are looking not just for kit but financing deals as well, the Finnish equipment manufacturer Avant Tecno is using MAP Live to introduce specially tailored contract hire packages. These will enable companies or individual contractors to walk away with a brand new loader with up to three attachments and even a trailer.
Grounds professionals need this kind of flexibility, insists Johnson, and on that score MAP Live has not disappointed. Fleet (Line Markers) European sales manager Iain Courage notes that on the opening morning of the first roadshow - at Stoneleigh Park near Coventry in April - he met existing customers and a few new ones, one of whom was new to the industry.
"He felt the day was worthwhile to learn more about what he might be going into," says Courage. "Another potential customer was not buying but testing the water for a possible purchase in the near future. We are going to do all the Map Live events around the country and hopefully they'll be as successful as the first."
The British Agricultural & Garden Machinery Association is also hosting demonstrations at each of the MAP Live events to draw grounds managers, turf contractors and sport surface managers. Director Keith Christian says he hopes his members will be lured by savings on travelling and the chance to network and meet regional customers.
There are more fundamental reasons to pop along, however, according to HW technical editor Sally Drury. "You need to explore demos to keep up to date," she says. "It's all very well inspecting your pitch or phoning up a contractor, but staff need to look beyond their venue to boost their knowledge."
This view strikes a chord with New Holland agriculture brand communications manager Sara Sebastianelli: "The key to professional selling in this industry is to give customers clear indication of machine performance. The best way to do that is a live demonstration. MAP Live should achieve just that.
"After many years of static shows, manufacturers and distributors now have the chance to really show customers what they have. New Holland has just recently launched our new range of Boomer compact tractors alongside the Boomer 3000 range, and you can see them all working in the field."
Ernest Doe general sales manager Andy Turbin adds: "We view MAP Live as an essential development, reflecting current market conditions and addressing the problems of today's buyers. We will demonstrate a wide range of brands.
"These include E-Z-GO golf buggies and utility vehicles, mowers from Ransomes Jacobsen, tractors from Case IH, compact tractors from Iseki and New Holland, utility vehicles from Kawasaki and Yamaha, sweepers and aerators from Wiedenmann, mini-diggers from Hyundai and New Holland and rollers from BOMAG."
Campey Turfcare Systems managing director Richard Campey is more succinct. "Regional demonstration days are a real way forward for the industry," he insists.
Full show schedule Demonstration dates
- 24 April Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire
- 15 May South of England Showground, Ardingly, West Sussex
- 5 June Haydock Park Racecourse, Merseyside
- 3 July LK Galaxy, Falkirk, Scotland
- 4 July Knotty Hill Golf Centre, Sedgefield
- 17 July Chepstow Racecourse, Monmouthshire, Wales
Contact Call 01962 736989 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
MAP Live Guest speakers booked to attend
Weather Action owner Piers Corbyn is due to speak on all matters meteorological at each of the venues.
Also attending all the seminars will be the Sports Turf Research Institute. Talks will include one by project manager Darra Hudner on the latest techniques in sports turf management, along with stories on preparing the equestrian course for the London 2012 Olympic Games last summer and pitches for the 2014 football World Cup in Brazil.
Speakers at earlier shows included Simon Gumbrill (Campey Turf Care Systems), Ian Graham (Complete Weed Control), Iain Courage (Fleet (Line Markers)), Jukka Vaattovaara (Avant Tecno) and Nathan Walker (Compact Tractor Centre).