Bringing everyone together at the Borgata

Bringing everyone together at the Borgata

New Jersey Green Expo remains a staple on the industry’s East Coast schedule.

December 15, 2015

For four decades, the Green Expo Turf and Landscape Conference has been a fixture in New Jersey. Hosted by the New Jersey Turfgrass Association, in cooperation with the Golf Course Superintendents Association of New Jersey, the Rutgers Center for Turfgrass Science and several other allied organizations, the summit brings together representatives from every segment of the turf industry.

Some 1,200 turf industry professionals converged on the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa in Atlantic City for the three-day affair, including golf course superintendents, product representatives and turf experts from the world of academia. The attendees had opportunities to attend any number of presentations and educational seminars, on topics ranging from cold temperature injury to bunker construction to disease control to herbicide options. They also had the opportunity to spend rime at a trade show that featured nearly 90 exhibitors.

Dennis DeSanctis is the newly elected president of the NGTA. He is territory manager for Syngenta, specializing in turf and landscape. “The trade show has been strong for many years,” he says, “but it became much stronger two years ago when we moved to the Borgata. Our Expo Committee does a fantastic job with promotion, and our local industry and general membership is some of the most supportive in the United States in my opinion. This year our attendance at the Expo and our exhibitor booth spaces were at record highs and we’re really proud of that.”

Dr. Bruce Clarke heads the Rutgers University Center for Turfgrass Science. He earned an undergraduate degree from the university and has spent nearly four decades there as a professor and researcher. While Rutgers’ turf-education program is recognized as one of the best in the world, Clarke is quick to point out that the conference is the work of many hands.

“This is an industry-Rutgers partnership conference,” he says. “I really want to highlight that. I’m exceptionally proud of the partnership we have with the industry, not only with the New Jersey Turfgrass Association … That has helped us really do a better job of achieving our goal, which is to develop science-based solutions to problems in the green industry.

“I’m proud that we get tremendous attendance. It makes us feel that we’re providing something people want. But I’m also proud that this is a conference being out on jointly by the industry and Rutgers, and that makes me extremely happy.”

John W. Patton has been a sales rep for PBI/Gordon for a quarter century. Today his territory encompasses New Jersey and roughly two-thirds of Pennsylvania. He is also the newly elected president of the New Jersey Green Industry Council, an advocacy group for the turf industry. Patton says the Turf Expo offers him a number of benefits.

“It’s an excellent opportunity to see who’s in the field,” he says. “Who’s still working, who’s working for which manufacturer or vendor because there tends to be a lot of change in the industry, especially at this time of year. I’m always here for a full three days of education. It allows me to get recertification credits for New Jersey and I also reciprocate with New York State so I can pick them up at the same time.”

Patton says the Expo also provides opportunities to check out new products on the market. “It’s an opportunity to see new,” he says. “What’s new as far as products go with the manufacturer, which is extremely important.”

Andy Schuckers has been a member of the GCSAA for 31 years and is presently the general manager/superintendent at Paramus Golf Course in Paramus, N.J., where he’s spent the past 4 1/2 years. He embraces the educational opportunities the conference offers, particularly the seminars offered by Rutgers, which provide superintendents with the opportunity to earn education credits.

“You don’t think the quality of the education program could get better every year,” Schuckers says, “but it does. They’re right on task with what’s happening currently. The presentation that Rutgers gives on their research, what’s going on in the industry. They realize what (superintendents) are up against and they’re ahead of the curve as far as trying to help us do our job.”

Joe Diacovo is the superintendent at John F. Byrne Golf Course, a municipally owned facility in Philadelphia. “A lot of the (seminars) are a review from school,” he says. “I’m not out of school that long, 10 years. And when you go to these things every year, you hear some of the same things, which is good because it just makes you stronger. It’s definitely helpful.”

Education credits aside, the conference offers a rare opportunity for superintendents to interact with their professional peers. Diacovo enjoys meeting with other superintendents, particularly those who, like himself, have limited resources at their disposal.

Rick Woelfel is a Philadelphia-based writer and frequent GCI contributor.