CMAE European Conference opens for registration

CMAE European Conference opens for registration: The 2020 European Conference on Club Management hosted by the Club Managers Association of European (CMAE) is today open for registration.

The virtual event takes place over three days from the 30th November to the 2nd December 2020 and uses online technology to create a delegate experience like never before.

CMAE European Conference opens for registration

CMAE European Conference opens for registration

The conference features an exciting line up of over 30 speakers, including 10 Certified Club Managers, who will all share their expertise on subjects relating to the 11 core competencies of club management, including Membership & Marketing, Interpersonal Skills, Facility Management, Food & Beverage, HR and Strategy.

The programme also includes an impressive line-up of keynote speakers.

GGA Partner’s Rob Hill will open up the event with a Governance session called “Measuring Leadership Success.” where he will suggest metrics for measuring leadership success in 2020 and beyond.

Former General Manager Andre Van Hall went blind and will talk about influencing change instead of being afraid of it.

Arnaldo Cocuzza CCM will talk about his fascinating story from being a successful club manager in Italy and President of CMAE, to then losing his job and starting his new life in the USA where he now finds himself at the exclusive Desert Mountain Club in Arizona.

Also joining the keynote line up is Vincent Phipps. Vincent is an keynote speaker, workshop facilitator and communication coach. Vincent is called The Attitude Amplifier due to his high energy, content rich material, and interactive presentation style. Vincent’s philosophy is, “If I can get you to laugh, I can get you to listen.  If I can get you to listen, I can help you amplify.”

The event uses video conferencing tools and branded online platforms creating space to connect with delegates, sponsors and educators from across the globe creating a unique learning and networking experience.

An early bird registration fee of £225 is available to those who book their place before September 30th. The standard fee of £295 will apply thereafter.

The event is open to CMAE members only and members of CMAA, CMAS, CMASA, CMHK, GMA, GMANZ

Full details and a link to register can be found at http://www.cmaeurope.org/news-events/conf2020

Link to YouTube video https://youtu.be/Dh7lo0r-svo 

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Safety first for employees, dealers and customers

Safety first for employees, dealers and customers: John Deere will not attend international trade shows in 2021.

In order to ensure the safety of customers and employees, John Deere has announced that it will not attend any international agricultural and turf trade shows in Europe and the CIS during the company’s 2021 fiscal year (1 November 2020 to 31 October 2021), as this would require extensive international travel. Instead, the company will use a new marketing mix of traditional and digital tools to deliver information to customers.

Safety first for employees, dealers and customers

Safety first for employees, dealers and customers

Events of the last few months have profoundly changed everyone’s working and social lives. The protection of people’s health and safety is now more critical than ever, while maintaining close contact with customers is still important to provide reliable services in these uncertain times.

“Farmers have done an excellent job in the emergency phase of COVID-19 to ensure food supplies. For that we wish to express our appreciation to all our customers,” said Denny Docherty, John Deere Vice President Sales & Marketing, Region 2. “The pandemic has changed the world and our industry is undergoing a period of great change too. This also applies to our marketing activities.”

The need for a new approach to communications with customers has therefore prompted John Deere to reduce its participation in trade fairs for the time being, and the company has decided not to exhibit at any international agricultural or turf show during the company’s next fiscal year, which ends on 31 October 2021.

John Deere’s key focus in 2021 will be the change in its operating model, to become a ‘smart industrial company’. As previously announced, Deere is moving towards being a production system-based organisation, in order to build a more customer driven and streamlined business. This is one of the biggest organisational restructurings in the company’s 183-year history, which requires a change of marketing approach and an extended focus on Precision Ag technologies.

“We are also expecting a major change in the exhibition landscape, driven by COVID-19 and digitalisation,” said Andreas Jess, John Deere Director Marketing, Region 2. “In the medium term, our company would welcome a new timetable to be implemented by the international trade fair organisations, to free up the show cycle across Europe. However, we will continue to support our John Deere dealers if they decide to participate in their local agricultural and turf shows, always based on the fact that the health and safety of both customers and dealers can be ensured.”

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SALTEX 2021 moves into next gear

SALTEX 2021 moves into next gear: Early indications for the 75th edition of SALTEX, which takes place at the NEC, Birmingham on 3 and 4 March 2021, are extremely positive following overwhelming industry support and the welcome news that exhibitions and events have been given the go ahead to restart from the start of October.

SALTEX has been serving the grounds management industry since 1938. Since then, the show has developed in stature and reputation and is now recognised as the industry’s showcase event creating opportunity for all who attend.

SALTEX 2021 moves into next gear

SALTEX 2021 moves into next gear

Geoff Webb, CEO of the Grounds Management Association, believes that the historic exhibition will be a huge first step towards the industry’s recovery.

“We believe that there comes a point where we lay the foundations for recovery and we of course want SALTEX in March to be a catalyst for this to showcase products, demonstrate the innovation this industry possesses, engage, network, renew acquaintances and generate new business for our exhibitors. In fact, we are making every provision to build assurance for a positive ‘return on investment’ for our exhibitors.”

As Geoff says, SALTEX is ‘the’ place to do business and the show’s independently audited year-on-year figures demonstrate the steady growth of SALTEX these past years.

At SALTEX 2019, the post-show survey revealed that 96 per cent of exhibitors generated new sales leads and 82 per cent took orders then and there on the show floor. The visitor survey further revealed that 79 per cent of SALTEX visitors had purchasing responsibility and 77 per cent had the ability to sign-off on amounts of more than £50,000. Therefore, it is no surprise, that SALTEX 2019 exhibitors are still reporting a high conversion rate from the leads they generated at last year’s show.

These figures have resulted in SALTEX 2021 witnessing a record-breaking loyalty period with over 75 per cent of exhibitors returning, including many stand upgrades and an influx of debut exhibitors.

The new Spring dates have not only been welcomed by exhibitors. A large proportion of visitors have voiced their support for the 2021 show with many claiming that they will be in the hunt for new products and services.

Take for example, Liverpool FC’s Senior Manager of Grounds Management – David Roberts, who revealed that he is looking forward to attending the show and will be exploring new solutions with his team.

“SALTEX provides an opportunity to see and meet manufacturers and to look at the products in the flesh. I always keep an open mind as to what we may need. As the show gets closer, we will be aware of specific problems we need to resolve and will then look for solutions at SALTEX.”

Lawn Care Legends – an online networking group consisting of over 5,000 landscapers and gardeners, are always out in full force at SALTEX, and founder John Ryan confirmed that the Legends will be attending the 2021 show.

“The Legends will be there, and we have some exciting plans for the show. SALTEX is a way to get a feel of what is coming to the marketplace and it helps you to adapt or evolve with the industry. We all use SALTEX as an opportunity to source new products and everyone is keen and eager to see what manufacturers have to offer.

“By March 2021, I think there will be a real energy to get going for the new season ahead and what better way to kick that off than by going to SALTEX.”

James Wright, Grounds & Gardens Team Leader at the University of Leeds, revealed that the new dates will be the perfect opportunity to purchase equipment in preparation for early maintenance programmes.

“Given the diverse range of exhibitors at SALTEX, myself and the team can see product innovations which may help inform purchasing decisions in the future.

“I believe the dates in March are an excellent time of year. You are able to look at products and potentially make purchases on products you could be using in 4/6 weeks’ time such as fertiliser or grass seed.  The new dates also enable you to arrange machinery demonstrations during the active growing season.”

All eyes now turn towards delivering a successful event with the potential protocols that may be in place as a direct result of Covid-19. SALTEX is in the safest and most professional of hands according to Geoff.

“The National Exhibition Centre (NEC) is one of the foremost venues in the UK and as such is at the heart of discussions as to how to run events safely and securely. The GMA has also taken advantage of its membership with the Association of Exhibition Organisers (AEO), who are closely working with the Events Owners Association (EOA), the Association of Event Venues (AEV), and the Event Suppliers and Services Association (ESSA) – which covers almost every facet of the events industry, looking at the impact of the pandemic globally, as well as the UK from an events management perspective. We’re very proud to have established these excellent working relationships and it has allowed us to learn from others, network, and input into the guidance now issued and being supported and used by Government.

“The events sector is holding some pilot exhibitions over the coming weeks to detail the best procedures to ensure exhibitions are the best possible environments for staff, exhibitors, and visitors alike. Learning from these pilots will be addressed. In the meantime, we are currently mapping out several scenarios based on restrictions that may be in place in Spring 2021, so the event runs safely and efficiently, while creating a positive experience for both visitors and exhibitors.

“We have a very experienced team, who with the NEC, I am confident can stage a safe and successful event in the Spring next year.”

For more information visit www.gmasaltex.co.uk

Follow SALTEX on Twitter @GMA_SALTEX and Facebook – www.facebook.com/GMASALTEX

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BIGGA BTME cancelled for 2021

BIGGA cancelled for 2021: The turf industry’s premier annual gathering, the BIGGA Turf Management Exhibition (BTME), will not take place in January 2021 as anticipated, with an alternative ‘festival of turf’ planned for summer 2021.

The event’s organisers, the British & International Golf Greenkeepers Association, has cancelled the popular trade exhibition due to the ongoing uncertainty relating to the coronavirus pandemic, having prioritised the health and wellbeing of its members, exhibitors, staff and other attendees.

BIGGA cancelled for 2021

BIGGA cancelled for 2021

The decision was taken following consultation with members of the association and regular dialogue with representatives of the Harrogate Convention Centre and other major stakeholders. It was agreed the hosting of a gathering of turf professionals from across the globe would create an unacceptable risk of infection, potentially putting lives at risk.

BIGGA’s world-leading education programme, Continue to Learn, is held alongside BTME each year and will still take place during January 2021, albeit as an online event and with an altered timetable designed to reflect the new digital platform. A full programme of speakers will enable BIGGA members to access the world class education they have come to expect from the comfort of home or at their place of employment.

The announcement of an alternative event in summer 2021 will enable BIGGA to explore options for hosting the event outdoors, which current understanding of the infectious disease indicates will make for a safe event and will allow improved social distancing measures to be implemented. It is hoped that many of the exhibitors who had signed up for BTME 2021 will support this cost-effective event and BIGGA will be liaising with exhibitors over the coming weeks to discuss the opportunities it presents.

The Harrogate Convention Centre, home to BTME since its inauguration as the European Turf Management Exhibition (ETME) in 1989, has been utilised as an NHS Nightingale Hospital since the peak of the outbreak in April and BIGGA is incredibly proud to be associated with a venue that has been transformed to enable the treatment of COVID-19 patients, should the need arise.

However, the alteration of dates will require a new venue to be found and discussions are underway with potential event hosts. Details will be released in due course.

It is anticipated that BTME will return to the Harrogate Convention Centre in January 2022.

BIGGA Chief Executive Jim Croxton said: “The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has sent shockwaves across our industry and BIGGA members have worked admirably in difficult circumstances to enable the continuing success of the facilities they maintain. The work they are doing in a safe and socially-distanced manner is admirable and has undoubtedly led to an increased confidence in golf as a safe pastime during these uncertain times.

“With member health and wellbeing being BIGGA’s absolute priority, it was immediately clear that to invite thousands of turf professionals from across the globe to attend an exhibition during a season when there is anticipated to be an increased risk of disease transmission would be negligent and expose attendees to undue risk.

“BIGGA considers it important to host an annual event and BTME plays a vital role in the calendar year for the turf industry. BTME is an opportunity to come together to celebrate the achievements of the previous year, while building new contacts and looking forward to the future. We feel it is important to retain this community spirit where possible, especially considering the hardships we have all faced, and so we are exploring the possibility of hosting a safe and accessible alternative event in summer 2021. I’m excited about the possibilities presented by this and am confident our new ‘festival of turf’ will be as exciting and influential as ever.”

BIGGA Head of Member Development Sami Strutt is responsible for the organisation of Continue to Learn, working with members to develop an engaging and relevant education programme each year.

Sami said: “Although the association will have no physical presence in Harrogate during January, we will be hosting Continue to Learn as a digital event and I’m certain the spirit of Harrogate week will be as strong as ever before.

“We have engaged with BIGGA members through our annual Members’ Choice survey and are in the process of building an incredible series of online learning that will enable BIGGA members to continue their professional development, wherever in the world they may be.”

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SALTEX 2021 integral to industry’s recovery

SALTEX 2021 integral to industry’s recovery: SALTEX and Events Director, Luke Perry, believes that SALTEX 2021 will provide a huge opportunity for the grounds management industry to regroup, reunite and celebrate. 

Luke Perry was appointed by the Grounds Management Association as SALTEX and Events Director just six weeks before the 2019 event.

SALTEX 2021 integral to industry’s recovery

SALTEX 2021 integral to industry’s recovery

“I was blown away by the exhibition,” he said. “I’ve been involved with so many trade events and I have never seen such an opening to a show. Before the doors had opened the queue was stretching down to the NEC atrium and it really hit home just how passionate people are about SALTEX. It was inspiring.”

Luke’s words are high praise indeed from someone who has worked on some of the UK’s most prestigious exhibitions. He has been immersed in the events industry for over 20 years and has worked across a diverse portfolio of shows which include the likes of BBC Countryfile Live, The British International Motor Show, Autosport International and several specialist events in the hospitality industry.

Enthused by his first taste of SALTEX, Luke was straight to work on preparations for the show’s 75th anniversary, spearheading the team of organisers in co-ordinating the strategy and making sure the event delivers on all fronts. “Putting on a two-day show is an enormous amount of work – it really is a 365-day project, but I wouldn’t have been in the events industry for so long if I didn’t love what I do,” he said.

Luke is looking forward to making his mark on SALTEX’s 75th anniversary but will have to wait a little longer than originally planned, following the announcement that the show has been postponed from November 2020 to Spring 2021.

“It was an incredibly difficult decision to make, but absolutely the correct one,” he said. “I think the feedback and support from the industry certainly is testament to this.

“We’ve had a fantastic response from exhibitors with many claiming that it will provide them with enough time to recover and plan effectively. In fact, many have suggested that Spring is actually a better time of year and that echoes the same feedback we have had from visitors. With such an unprecedented year ahead, we’re planning more than ever behind the scenes to make sure it hits the right mark.”

Luke candidly admits that show preparations are somewhat different to the usual event planning he is accustomed to. Naturally, there is still uncertainty and questions arising as to how large gatherings and exhibitions will be delivered.

“The honest answer is that we do not have all the answers yet, but we do have time on our side,” he said. “Our main priority is to put the safety of everyone connected with SALTEX above all else – and this is one of the reasons why the show was postponed.

“Nonetheless, we are working around the clock and planning for every eventuality. Part of this planning involves ensuring that we can deliver a show in which people can assemble and interact with a real awareness of the need to maintain safe practices. Should guidelines or restrictions still be necessary in March, we are working hard to ensure the show remains a brilliant and valuable experience for exhibitors and visitors. All we can do is take it step-by-step and ensure that we are prepared for each part of the journey.”

“After an extended period of isolation, there will be a real appetite for SALTEX. All signs are pointing towards an incredibly busy and vibrant show and we’re planning to deliver exactly that.”

SALTEX 2019 saw a record-breaking attendance of 9,104. The show also received a huge number of first-time attendees, an increase in younger visitors and the international audience grew significantly. Once again, SALTEX proved to be the industry’s showcase event in the UK, but Luke has his sights set even higher.

“I think we’ve got a great standing; a great pedigree and a history of success. Britain is a global leader in grounds management – SALTEX reflects that and has the opportunity to be the biggest and best in the world.

“As the GMA is a member organisation, it’s extremely close to the ground (excuse the pun) to the issues that matter most across the sector, at all levels. We’ve spent a lot of time listening to the industry and, in response, have quickly developed and issued essential Covid-19 resources. After this difficult period, I believe that SALTEX will play an integral role to helping the industry network, collaborate and continue to support one another more than ever before.”

SALTEX will take place on 3 and 4 March 2021 at the NEC, Birmingham.

For more information visit www.gmasaltex.co.uk

Follow SALTEX on Twitter @GMA_SALTEX and Facebook – www.facebook.com/GMASALTEX

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R&A and CMAE partner to help club’s fightback

R&A and CMAE partner to help club’s fightback: The CMAE is delighted to announce a brand-new online event, designed to help club managers lead their clubs out of the post Covid-19 recession which is being supported by The R&A.

“How to Manage & Lead your Club out of the post Covid-19 Recession” is the exciting, brand new virtual workshop that will use the latest technology to deliver a power packed, highly engaging, stimulating, thought provoking and interactive resource designed to meet the challenges facing every manager right here right now.

R&A and CMAE partner to help club’s fightback

R&A and CMAE partner to help club’s fightback

Taking place over two days on the 11th and 12th of August, the workshop is built around 5 core modules each of which will deliver 5 key elements. This will ensure the workshop is relevant to Clubs of every type, every size and in every location.

The presenting team are experts in their field of knowledge and have been specifically selected. Director of Education Torbjorn “Toby” Johansson will facilitate the two days while the presenting will be on Leadership by John Bull, Strategy and Communication by Bill Sanderson, Finance by Debra Adams and People skills by Darshan Singh.

Designed for a maximum practical and relevant response to the demands created on you and your Club by Covid-19, this means only the first 15 people to enrol can benefit. Be there and take control to get your Club to the best possible state to identify and take control of the post Covid opportunities.

“We are glad and proud to have the support of The R&A in delivering an online event that will make a difference with the aim of really providing tools to strengthen the person and the club after we all have been through a really difficult time” CMAE Director of Education Toby Johansson commented.

To download the brochure, click here (http://www.cmaeurope.org/upload/public/documents/events/online-workshops/Post%20Covid%2019%20workshop%20brochure.pdf)

To register for the workshop click here (http://www.cmaeurope.org/registration-post-covid-webinar)

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SAGE release dates for summer 2021

SAGE release dates for summer 2021: The all new summer grounds maintenance exhibition will take place 27th, 28th & 29th July 2021. The Sports & Grounds Expo (SAGE) has been introduced for the sports and grounds maintenance industry to showcase their market leading products as well as release new innovations in an OUTDOOR ENVIRONMENT, which will provide more opportunities to both the visitor and exhibitor.

The target of SAGE is to bring together grounds personnel from a broad range of sectors and provide an engaging and well-resourced environment in which they have the opportunity to test out and see in action the latest products and ideas on the market. Many companies are looking to improve efficiency and cost effectiveness and this is a key area which SAGE is focused on, not only for the exhibition itself but exploring and showcasing the products that allows this to actually happen across the industry.

SAGE release dates for summer 2021

SAGE release dates for summer 2021

SAGE is a three-day event and has been formed out of the heightening demand by visitors and exhibitors to get “hands-on”. The Three Counties Showground provides the ideal situation for both the exhibitor and visitor alike. It is beautifully set at the foot of the famous Malvern Hills and within easy reach of Malvern and Worcester which both have ample amounts of accommodation. The Three Counties Showground already plays host to the RHS Spring & Autumn shows as well as the famous Three Counties Show.

Keep up to date with all the SAGE news by following us on Twitter & Facebook.

Hospitality will be provided by many of our exhibitors onsite. There are no entrance fees and onsite parking is free of charge. The Three Counties is in a central location with good transport links easily providing a national and international reach. We look forward to seeing you next summer.

Get in touch …

For further information contact us: team@sportsandgrounds.co.uk

Visit us: www.sportsandgrounds.co.uk

#Letsgetoutdoors #OutdoorEvents #Staysafe

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SALTEX to reschedule to March 2021

SALTEX to reschedule to March 2021: In light of continued restrictions surrounding mass gatherings, combined with the unprecedented impact on all of us from Covid-19, the Grounds Management Association’s (GMA) Board of Directors has taken the unanimous decision to move SALTEX to early Spring 2021. This outcome has been guided by discussions with key industry bodies, as well as exhibitors.

Like everyone else, the GMA has continued to follow Government guidance, and the science involved, to guide its business during this unprecedented time. Despite early optimism, a decision has been made to move the exhibition to March 2021 – taking into account the best interests of all parties involved.

SALTEX to reschedule to March 2021

SALTEX to reschedule to March 2021

By acting now, it gives the sector an opportunity to re-group and recover ahead of the next trade show. SALTEX will be now held on 3 and 4 March 2021, and the GMA is also realigning the following year so that SALTEX runs in Spring 2022.

The GMA’s decision is based on ensuring the safety of everyone connected with such an event. The association believes this is the most responsible course of action – given current circumstances.

Speaking about the announcement David Carpenter, Independent Chair of the GMA stated: “We would like to reassure our community that personal wellbeing remains our top priority. It is a case of mixed concerns at the moment, but I am hugely optimistic because I believe that the rescheduling of SALTEX in November 2020 will result in a much stronger show in Spring 2021. The new date will enable even more people to visit and celebrate the innovation, technology and the passion that the grounds industry represents – including excellent networking opportunities, as well as focussing on new business needs.”

Geoff Webb, CEO at the GMA said: “This has been a difficult decision to make, and I hope all our exhibitors join forces with us to mark a return to more ordinary working conditions in the not too distant future. Professional and personal lives have been placed on hold, and that in turn will have a knock-on effect. We want to help ease that load at the moment.

“We’ve seen the grounds community come together and adapt during this challenging period, and we hope that exhibitors help us host something beyond a trade show – a celebration of what our industry can overcome when working together.”

The GMA also believes that holding the 75th SALTEX on 3 and 4 March 2021 will help all companies get the respite required to readjust to changing professional and personal circumstances. The organisation understands the impact of Covid-19 for many businesses and individuals within the grounds management industry.

Geoff Webb continues: “Next year, the event will provide a huge opportunity for our sector to regroup, reunite and celebrate. After this difficult period, the show will help to rekindle the economic activity of the industry. Until then, all our thoughts and support are with those facing the challenges posed by the spread of Coronavirus.”

GMA is pleased to be able to honour all existing bookings and has also secured the same halls at the NEC to minimise disruption for exhibitors. It is also in the process of contacting exhibitors with new payment terms, with later dates, and it is also working with companies that may require further assistance during this challenging period.

The GMA and its SALTEX partners are working closely together to assist businesses with the transition. The GMA can be contacted for further support via SALTEX@thegma.org.uk.

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GEA 2021 open for business

GEA 2021 open for business: Golf clubs and greenkeepers around Europe are invited to apply for the Golf Environment Awards 2021.

The GEAs recognise those in the golf industry that are breaking the mould and highlighting the wide-ranging environmental benefits of golf.

GEA 2021 open for business

GEA 2021 open for business

Entrants may apply for awards in four categories – Environmental Golf Course of the Year, Conservation Greenkeeper of the Year, Outstanding Environmental Project of the Year and Operation Pollinator.

This year we are excited to announce that, for the first time, a panel of judges, selected from across the golf industry, will choose the winners from this year’s entrants.

We are also pleased to introduce a new prize. A £750 grant will be awarded to each winner to invest into environmental and ecological projects at the club.

We encourage all clubs, however big or small, to enter. Entry is free and each entrant will be assessed upon their own merits. A shortlist of finalists will be chosen from categories’ entrants and each will receive a visit from an STRI consultant who will perform an onsite ecological and environmental assessment, using current social distancing advice from the government in relation to Covid-19.

Applications are being accepted up to midnight on 7 August 2020 to give entrants additional time to put together an application during the current pandemic.

Senior environment consultant, Sophie Olejnik, said: “We are so excited to be launching the 2021 Golf Environment Awards and, despite current circumstances, we want to remain positive and celebrate all that is good in golf. We hope that the addition of our new judging panel and prizes will entice more of you to enter and be part of the Golf Environment Awards family.”

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MR SALTEX still gets butterflies

MR SALTEX still gets butterflies: SALTEX operations manager Derek Walder, provides an insight into his illustrious career, his passion for SALTEX and his adventurous days with the Crazy Gang…  

Derek Walder has rightfully earned the nickname Mr SALTEX. At 83 years old he has overseen the operations of the show for five decades and he is, unsurprisingly, the longest serving member of the SALTEX team.

MR SALTEX still gets butterflies

MR SALTEX still gets butterflies

During this difficult and uncertain period, Derek revealed that he is staying positive and is continuing to do what he does best – helping to organise the groundscare industry’s largest event.

“SALTEX 2020 will mean more than any other previous event that we’ve ever put on,” he said. “I am hugely confident that it will be the best one yet. In my mind it’s all about getting that show on the road because the trade will need it, the people in the profession will need it – everybody will need it. After this awful period, SALTEX 2020 will be a much-needed boost for everyone.”

SALTEX 2020 will be the show’s 75th anniversary but it all started for Derek back in 1969 when he attended the show, which was held at Motspur Park in London, as a visitor. A year later Derek moved just 20 minutes away from Motspur Park and it was at this point that the aspiring young groundsman began working as a volunteer on the show.

“I felt at home straight away,” he said. “I found myself doing lots of things such as putting up marquees, helping both exhibitors and visitors and I was even parking cars. Back in the 60’s and early 70’s the show never had more than 30 trade stands but I can still remember the machinery that was on display, I remember the educational talks that took place and I remember the demonstrations on how to prepare cricket wickets.

“The show suddenly grew and grew over the years and it wasn’t long before approximately 8,000 visitors were attending. The formula then is still what it is now – to bring the industry together, to talk and to discuss, to educate and learn, and to see all of the latest products.”

After volunteering on the show for eight years he eventually took over the position of operations manager when the show moved from Motspur Park to Windsor Racecourse in 1979. 36 years later and SALTEX was relocated to the NEC, Birmingham, and it is safe to say that Derek was pleased with the new indoor venue.

“I remember the outdoor shows when we used to have bad weather – it was a nightmare,” he said. “There used to be lorries getting stuck and it was pouring down with rain. There was mud everywhere and exhibitors used to complain about puddles outside their stands. We used to have a ground crew permanently on stand-by to go and help the exhibitors. We also had to lay metal tracking across the racecourse – which was a huge job. If an exhibitor a mile across the racecourse wanted an electric socket, it had to be dug into the ground. However, since moving to the NEC, it is a totally different ball game.”

The build-up, which used to take eight days outdoors, now takes just two days at the NEC, and while Derek admits that the move indoors has made his life slightly easier, it is still not without its challenges.

“The major change was that we only had two days to build the show in what is a tighter area. It’s putting all the little things together which is difficult – like the furniture supply and the electrics for example. Fortunately, I’ve got a great team around me, with lots of experience, and everything has run incredibly smoothly to date. It’s important to remember that this team is largely made up of volunteers – GMA members who give up their own time because they are passionate about SALTEX and the industry.”

Derek and his team are religiously onsite at 1 am in the morning on build-up day and are also the last to leave in the evening. Their commitment to SALTEX is unquestionable. They know that this is a show which hugely benefits the industry. In fact, not many people know that any profits created by the running of the exhibition is reinvested back into the varied work GMA does to support the groundscare industry.

“As soon as the doors close to the exhibition we start again immediately,” he continued. “It really is a year-long project. We have 15 different contractors and suppliers to source – everything from carpet on the floor to electricity and accommodation. We draw up specifications, tenders go out for quotes, we agree on a budget and then identify the best partners to work with. On top of that there are things like signage, the design of the show entrance, health and safety forms – let’s just say that there is more than enough to keep me busy!”

Fortunately, Derek is accustomed to keeping active. As well as helping to organise SALTEX for an incredible 51 years, he still had his own career to focus on.

MR SALTEX still gets butterflies

MR SALTEX still gets butterflies

In the early 60’s he started his journey in horticulture by working as an under gardener at a large private estate. He quickly progressed, moving up to become head gardener, and it was then that he discovered that he really enjoyed looking after the lawns. From there he moved into golf, becoming a greenkeeper, before ending up at the playing fields at Wimbledon Common, which was the home of Wimbledon FC – aka the Crazy Gang.

The Crazy Gang was a nickname used by the English media to describe Wimbledon FC during the 1980s and 90s, due to the frequent cheeky and boisterously macho behaviour of the players. Derek spent 30 years there and was often witness to the outrageous practical jokes they would play on each other and on the club’s manager Dave Bassett. Those who know Derek best would have no doubt heard many of the side-splitting tales, including the famous night he found himself safeguarding the FA Cup trophy following Wimbledon’s astonishing victory over Liverpool FC in 1988.

“After the celebrations the kit man came back to the training ground and as well as all the kit – he had the FA Cup trophy with him. Nobody quite knows how the kit man had it, but the consensus was that most of the players and staff were slightly inebriated after the celebrations and they left the trophy behind. Anyway, the kit man was panicking about being in possession of one of the world’s most famous trophy’s and he handed it to me. I took it home with me to keep it overnight until it would be needed for the parade the next day. Admittedly I didn’t sleep well that night!

“I remember my son waking up in the morning and seeing the FA Cup just sitting there on top of the television. Well, shortly after that I had about 40 kids in my living room! It certainly was an experience and my family still trade on that story to this day.

“That bizarre experience summed up my time at Wimbledon – it was an adventure from start to finish. You never knew what was going to happen and to be honest I miss the days when Vinnie Jones used to come into my office in the morning, nick my newspaper, make himself a cup of tea and use my loo.”

Derek took early retirement in 2000 when the club disbanded but he was adamant he wanted to continue working on SALTEX. Throughout his long and illustrious career, he has witnessed phenomenal developments in groundscare – technology that a young Derek Walder could only have dreamed of when he first entered the industry.

“The machinery, the chemicals and the technical knowledge has changed beyond what someone my age could ever imagine. The profession has changed, and people have got to be more like technicians than ever before. They need to be more aware of biology and physics to keep these top stadiums going.

“I think the industry is in a strong position currently – which pleases me immensely. It is also great to see younger people coming into the industry although I would like to see even more. When you look around you will find that many people have been involved in the industry throughout their whole career and there is a good reason for that. Trust me – you will never look back.

“My only disappointment is the deterioration of public parks and local authority sports pitches. I think it’s quite simply because the money just isn’t there anymore. Unfortunately, people are more interested in bin collection and potholes.”

Derek is more than content when he reflects upon his successful career but make no qualms about it, he’s not planning on hanging his boots up just yet.

“I’ve got so much out of working in this industry,” he said. “I’ve gained many lifelong friends – so many great, genuine people that you don’t tend to meet outside of this industry.

“I’m looking forward to the future and my priority is to focus on the continuing success of SALTEX. It’s played a huge part in my life for so long.

“At nine o’clock when the show opens, and everyone comes streaming in I still get butterflies. That’s the buzz for me.”

SALTEX 2020 will take place at the NEC, Birmingham on 4 and 5 November.

For more information visit www.iogsaltex.com

Follow SALTEX on Twitter @IOG_SALTEX and Facebook – www.facebook.com/IOGSALTEX

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