ORLANDO, Florida: An FNGLA signature event, the Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition (TPIE) brought together more than 6,100 industry professionals on January 22-24 at the Broward County Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale, FL. The show floor itself was the attraction with nearly 400 companies and more than 800 booths displaying the most diverse collection of commercially produced tropical plants, foliage and houseplants anywhere in the world.
“TPIE is the very best way to start the year!” said Theresa Riley, co-owner of Rockledge Gardens and the 2014 TPIE Chairperson. “The exhibits were extraordinarily inspiring for the spring selling season. TPIE offered so many new opportunities to capture creative and innovative ideas to use back home.”
New to TPIE this year was the TPIE Inspiration Entrance which highlighted products and plants inspired for weddings, special events and holidays. Professional floral designers presented workshops offering new ways to upsell tropicals and foliage throughout the show at the new TPIE Create Theatre presented by the American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD). A new Innovation Lounge right on the show floor showcased videos highlighting unique ways of using plants and provided a comfortable rest stop and charging stations.
“We are always trying to keep TPIE fresh, exciting and new,” said TPIE show manager, Linda Adams. “This year we changed the floor plan so everyone came into the center of the show, creating a more open entrance and balanced traffic flow. FNGLA added new areas for learning and informal interaction on the show floor and programs highlighting industry success stories, such as the new Interiorscape Award Winners Showcase. We were very pleased with the participation in the new areas and how well the new floor plan was received.”
The exhibitors set the bar high with elaborate, breath-taking and exciting displays to showcase their plants and products and provide inspiring ideas for merchandising and added value selling. This year’s Best of Show Award went to Excelsa Gardens, Loxahatchee, FL as its display featured a beautifully-designed indoor/outdoor patio space with Excelsa’s signature tropical plants as the living décor. TPIE buyers were the decision-makers for a variety of plant and product awards. TPIE attendees’ Favorite New Flowering Plant for 2014 was Tibouchina ‘Hippie Dippie Tibbies’ – Peace Baby PPAF, by ForemostCo. The favourite new foliage plant was Calathea ‘Fusion White’ by Biostock LLC and the winner of the Favorite New Product award was LivePicture by Suite Plants LLC.
Industry business strategist, John Kennedy, had TPIE attendees energized to hit the show floor as he challenged them during TPIE’s Opening Session to make the most of 2014’s coming changes with Creative and Innovative Thinking. The TPIE Short Course offered two days of highly energetic presentations covering topics related to workplace generational differences, time management strategies, design ideas, pest management and technician training. The TPIE Road Show was a sold-out event as more than 100 participants visited five FNGLA-member nurseries, each with its own plant and production specialties as well as unique nursery personalities.
After a very busy first day at TPIE, literally hundreds of TPIE attendees moved to the fountain courtyard for the TPIE Happy Hour. Sponsored by Suntory, this year’s event was especially exciting as 100 students from the local McArthur High School created a flash mob and wowed the audience with their choreographed dancing and high spirits. With most of these students in FFA (Future Farmers of America), Suntory representative T. Jay Higgins, also with Sun-Fire Nurseries, ended the event encouraging industry members to support their local schools and FFA and 4H programs and set an example by giving the McArthur High School’s FFA a donation of $2,500.
Offering its own encouragement for student involvement, TPIE hosted FNGLA’s Career Fair with more than 250 students. TPIE also served as the backdrop for landscape displays by four local high schools with FFA and programs: McArthur, Plantation, South Plantation and Western High Schools.
TPIE is a significant revenue source for FNGLA and its programs which support Florida’s entire nursery and landscape industry. Special thanks go to all of the exhibitors and buyers for their support of TPIE, as well as a special thank you to the TPIE Planning Committee, which works hard to keep the show new, fresh, and profitable to its participants. TPIE Committee members are: Chair Theresa Riley (Rockledge Gardens); Vice Chair Lloyd Singleton (UF/Sumter County Extension Service); Immediate Past Chair Charlie Martin (Harold B. Martin, Inc.); Bill Lyden (Farm Life Tropical Foliage); Chris Beytes (Ball Publications); Bisser Georgiev (Live Trends Design Group); John Mendozza (Morning Dew Tropical Plants); Chris Mercer (Mercer Botanicals); and, Manny Rodriguez (Plants In Design). Plan now to be at TPIE 2015. It will take place January 21-23 at the Broward County Convention Center, Fort Lauderdale, FL. For more coverage of TPIE 2014, visit www.tpie.org.
TPIE is produced by FNGLA, the nation’s largest state nursery and landscape association and represents Florida’s environmental horticulture industry, which in 2010 produced $15.35 billion in sales and directly employed nearly 205,000 Floridians.