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Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition Exceeded Expectations

Monday, February 13, 2017
Article by: Greenline

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Industry buzz - Crowds swell at TPIE 2017, which this year saw more than 6,300 industry professionals. (FNGLA PHOTO)

The 2017 Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition (TPIE) provided a unique and inspiring backdrop as more than 6,300 industry professionals gathered in Fort Lauderdale to start their business year by making 2017 the Year of the Plant! With “greenery” as the pantone color for 2017, the five acres of live plants which exhibitors showcased at TPIE put everyone attending ahead of the Trends curve for 2017.

TPIE buyers represented a broad mix of industry professionals, including corporate retail buyers, independent garden center professionals, florists and floral designers, interiorscapers, event planners, interior designers, landscape professionals, wholesale brokers, governments and municipalities as well as production nursery purchasing agents.  Exhibiting companies represented a cross section of categories including young plants, tropical outdoor, indoor blooming, succulents, orchids, indoor foliage interior décor, decorative containers and nursery production supplies. A true international event, TPIE attracted attendees from 47 states and 49 countries.

As part of its promise to Elevate Expectations, TPIE 2017 set itself apart as the show to learn key trends to use in product development and marketing plans for 2017 and 2018. Jane Lockhart opened TPIE with a keynote presentation discussing Where Plant and Lifestyle Trends Connect. From Toronto, Jane’s experience as an interior designer and trend spotter provided insights on the design styles which will be in demand, including retro resurgence (think 1980’s), bold color contrasts, modern gothic (black is the new white), strong textures, authentic, raw and rusted, just to name a few of the trending themes.

Plant design and interior design styles were matched as part of a creative TPIE display featuring three interior room vignettes each designed by Anya Cesar, AISD, of Anya Renise Designs. The presentation included a bedroom with plants selected for wellness attributes, a kitchen with herbs and botanicals inserted in counters with cut-out trenches (provided by Dynamic Designs) and an elegant bathroom with a stunning wall of plants serving as the backdrop for the architectural tub (provided by Ferguson). Cesar gave daily tours of the showrooms followed by classes by Cosentino North America and Sherwin-Williams offering CEUs for interior designers.

Theater providing new ways to merchandise plants at the retail level. The featured themes included Modern Wonders – Simple Lines Blended with Old Asian; Into the Jungle; An Urban Fever with Vivid Colors; The French Connection - Falling in Love with France All Over Again; and, The Force of Nature - Letting Nature Take its Course.

Especially for interiorscapers was a session showcasing interiorscape projects matching current industry trends. Debbie Kotalic (G-Sky Plant Systems) highlighted several successful green wall projects, while Jonathan Senneff (Plant InterScapes) and Caroline Puller (SeasonScapes) gave tips and ideas on increasing holiday-related sales.

The TPIE Road Show provided “Pick Two” options which included a morning workshop combined with an afternoon tour. Choices included sessions on pest management or trends and merchandising and tours of either production nurseries or stops which highlighted design ideas, both for interior and exterior plant use. Attendance topped 250 participants.

TPIE attendees had an opportunity to learn cutting-edge technology bringing natural light to underground parks.  Mark Mini and Andrew Engel, both of John Mini Distinctive Landscapes, shared their experiences developing the Lowline Lab, which uses innovative solar technology to illuminate the world’s first underground park.

As in past years, TPIE’s Exhibitor Showcase highlighted dozens of the industry’s newest plants and products. The Favorite New Flowering Plant in the showcase was Tillandsia ‘Samantha’ by Deroose Plants. The Favorite New Foliage Plant was Aglaonema ‘Georgi’s Ruby’ by Costa Farms and the Favorite New Product was “Aquastick” by Chrysal USA.

Sixteen stand-out products were selected by attendees to receive TPIE’s Cool Products Awards. The winning products included a mix of unique plants, containers, well-merchandised products and even a training program. The selection committee was made up of independent garden center owners and interiorscapers from across the country.

TPIE is known for the impressive displays created by exhibitors and this year was no exception. In fact, exhibitors Elevated Expectations with displays that not only showcased their plants, products and services, but offered creative ideas, innovation and inspiration for those attending to implement in their own businesses. The TPIE booth award judges had the tough job of selecting the best of the best from the 869 exhibit spaces.  Congratulations go to Costa Farms for winning the coveted TPIE Best of Show Award.  The Costa team set up a two-story small house with themed spaces integrating Costa plants and products as part of the interior décor. In the category of Island Exhibit award, Penang Nursery took first place with its own version of a garden shop. Check out all the 2017 TPIE booth award winners to see who Elevated Expectations at this year’s show: http://www.fngla.org/TPIE/boothawards.aspx.

TPIE’s Opening Day temperate weather provided ideal conditions for TPIE’s Happy Hour which took place in the outdoor fountain courtyard. Sponsored by Suntory Sun Parasol, this popular reception offered a chance to continue TPIE connections while enjoying a drink with a vista of cruise ships and the Atlantic Ocean as a backdrop. As the party opened, sponsored drones flew above the courtyard fountain, adding a touch of new technology to the show.

Friday brought nearly 200 students to the FNGLA Horticulture Career Fair.  Led by FNGLA Past President Sandy Stein and featuring Florida’s FFA State Officers, FNGLA business leaders shared with high school students various career opportunities within the industry as well as learned from the students of their career interests.  Students then had access to the show floor where they were able to experience the full breadth of the tropical plant industry and its career potential.

Several students and seasoned horticulturists spent time at the FNGLA Certified Landscape Exam showcase, testing their plant ID knowhow and learning more about the FNGLA Certified Landscape Technician programs. Anchored by the FNGLA and NFF booths, the Certification Showcase was a popular area to learn more about the important programs and opportunities offered through FNGLA to enhance professionalism and elevate expectations within the industry.

TPIE is one of the many important activities produced by FNGLA. While managed by FNGLA staff, TPIE is developed and planned by a committee of FNGLA members.  Those members include: Chairman Lloyd Singleton (University of Florida/IFAS); Vice Chairman Bisser Georgiev (LiveTrends Design Group); Immediate Past Chair Theresa Riley (Rockledge Gardens); Chris Beytes (Ball Publishing); Manny Rodriguez (Plants In Design); Marcella Lucio (Silver Vase); and, Patrick Prussing (Sunshine Horticulture). 

Planning for the 2018 TPIE is already in the works. Mark your calendar for January 17-19, 2018 to take advantage of the TPIE experience.

Keeping in line with the trending design styles, the American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD) offered four workshops at TPIE’s Create

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