Early in November and for the first time in its history, Saltex ventured indoors heading “Up North” to the Midlands and it was also reduced to two days rather than three. I must admit I was somewhat cynical with the move feeling that as an outdoor industry we should have an outdoor show, but then we live in a changing world and I’m told that change is a good thing – isn’t it?.

Prepared to give it a chance I ventured to the NEC and was pleasantly surprised by the open airy feel of the halls and the use of the expensive space made by the exhibitors, with some making good use of the “free” space above their stands to display equipment.

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With space costly and expensive the only way is up!

So was there anything new and/or innovative to see, to be honest it felt to me that the equipment took second place to networking, with visitors more focussed on discussing their requirements, issues, problems with the suppliers rather than just wandering around looking at rows and rows of machines and kicking tyres.

Those exhibitors who laid out their stand with plenty of room to move around their equipment certainly benefitted by having a greater footfall, difficult when you’ve tried to cram a lot onto your stand, bruised elbows and ribs being testament to this.

In terms of new equipment, electric power was there in force from the usual strimmers, hedge cutters and the like to pedestrian rotary mowers and more impressive stand-on and zero-turn machines, these would definitely need testing in the field.

Overall it was more a case of in with the old and most notably the return of Roberine to the UK market, who, along with Toro showed flail head options on their triple mowers following in the footsteps of the Ransomes Meteor. There is no doubt that this configuration adds considerable value to the triple mower by increasing its versatility throughout the season but like many things but this remains to be proven in the field. Taking this example, did the move indoors reduce the impact of these new products, not really in my opinion, as whilst you would have seen the machines working there would have been a limited area to cut and you would still want see them operating in your own environment, so plenty still for the suppliers to do, roll on 2016!

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Is a triple flail mower our new flexible friend – time will tell.

So after a couple of days and somewhat footsore, Windsor was definitely kinder on the feet, has my opinion changed, I’m pleased to say it has. At the end of the first day I felt the show had lost its soul and was somewhat clinical in its delivery, during the second day there was a buzz around the place and a mood of optimism, it felt as if it had achieved what the organisers had wanted and more.

Were there any down sides, the costly car parking and expensive refreshments not to mention the cost to the suppliers for exhibiting, but that’s how the NEC exists. It is worth noting that within the next three months there will be another somewhat similar show in Harrogate organised by the British and International Golf Greenkeepers’ Association. Maybe it’s time in our changing world for the IOG and BIGGA to get together and have one joint show which would help spread the cost. We are all having to make savings in one way or another to meet budgets so why not the industry bodies.

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Commercial electric mowers – a viable alternative?