This past January, Eco Chemical™ attended a monumental STMA Conference in San Diego. An all-time high of 175 exhibitors sold out the entire trade show floor for more than 1,200 attendees from 48 states. The event was recognized across the board as outstanding, and everyone is excited about what it means for the sports turf industry this year.

We had the opportunity to catch up with Kim Heck, CEO at the Sports Turf Managers Association, for her take on why this year’s conference was so exceptional.

It’s due in part, she says, to the location.

“I think the last time we were in San Diego was in 2004. It’s a beautiful location to host the conference. And STMA has three California chapters, so that definitely helped support the national show.”

A common struggle for turf and field managers over the years has been budget pressure. Many STMA participants are members of the Parks and Recreation segment, and budgets for municipalities and school districts are notoriously tight.

“This year,” says Kim, “training dollars might be loosening up a bit, because employers are seeing the return in investment that field managers bring. We’re still coming out of the 2009 recession, and while there hasn’t been a widespread increase in budgets, they are not still decreasing, either.”

Heck is an advocate for industry education, and emphasizes the popularity of safety seminars at this year’s conference as being a driver of attendance. With the media and entertainment companies developing stories about concussions and other sports-related injuries on the field, the STMA incorporated seminars at this year’s conference about increasing the safety of playing fields. The sports turf industry has been experiencing a recent incline, as members seek ways to make playing fields safer and management more efficient.

“We’ve already begun developing the program for our 2017 conference, which will be in Orlando. We already have more exhibitors and attendees signed up than we did at this point last year!”

Eco Chemical™ was thrilled for the opportunity to participate in Sports Turf’s biggest trade show of the year, talking industry leads, introducing new ideas, and connecting in person with clients and partners from around the country. Look for us at next year’s conference, and in the meantime, stay tuned for more industry news on our monthly blog!