Drone Zone, UTV track on deck for Hardscape North America

A Drone Zone and Utility Vehicle Test Track headline new offerings for this year’s Hardscape North America, October 21-23 at the Kentucky Exposition Center, Louisville. Hardscape NA is produced by the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute, with lead sponsors Belgard and Keystone Hardscapes, plus National Concrete Masonry Association and Brick Industry Association endorsements.



The Drone Zone will offer hands-on training from the exhibit floor. Attendees can test their ability on a flight simulator, then step into the Zone and fly a drone with an expert trainer.

Hourly sessions will cover drone deployment for marketing, thermal imaging, multi-spectral analytics, and GIS mapping. The UTV test track will give HNA attendees an opportunity to drive and compare the latest models. Staged in the Kentucky Expo Outdoor Demonstration Area, it will be set up to put vehicles through their paces on curves, hills, rocks, bumps and mud.

The Hardscape House returns this year after a successful 2019 debut. A sheltered, 42,000-sq.-ft. pavilion adjacent to the 20-acre Outdoor Demonstration Area, it will include Hardscape Now, with six one-hour sessions led by award-winning hardscape consultant Frank Bourque; exhibitor displays for hands-on testing; and, National Installer Championship, where 24 hardscape contractor teams will compete over two days for a prize package hovering $10,000.


ICPI and NCMA pre-show Installer Courses will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday, October 20 and 21, and are approved for ICPI Certified Concrete Paver Installer CE hours. Main conference sessions, each 75 minutes, are approved for ICPI Installer and NCMA SRW Installer continuing education hours:

  • Wednesday, October 21: “Turning Finished Products into Impactful Marketing,” Corey & Anna Halstead, presenters; “Three Key Systems to Improve Your Business Efficiency,” George Urvari; “Compete on Awesome, Not on Price,” Susan Frew
  • Thursday, October 22: “Designing and Building Your Company Culture for Growth and Success,” Sam Gembel; “Secrets Every Contractor Ought to Know about the Hardscape Business,” Frank Gandora; “Estimating Hardscape Projects with Confidence,” Jerry Gaeta; “Five Keys to Increasing Your Sales Influence,” Gary Ross; “Profitability 101 for Hardscape Contractors,” Jerry Gaeta; “Increase Hardscape Sales with Landscape Lighting,” Jim Frederick
  • Friday, October 23: “Starting and Operating a Hardscape Maintenance Business,” Andrew Vear

“This year it will be more important than ever to come together to reconnect and talk about how to do business going forward,” says ICPI Executive Director Charles McGrath. “We’re pleased to have an excellent lineup of presenters and timely topics that will help hardscape contractors continue to build their businesses.”

Along with the main conference sessions, the HNA Dealer Education program will kick off with a networking breakfast, followed by sessions on how to be an “Undercover Boss,” selling on value rather than price, and how to boost marketing with the help of contractors and manufacturers. The HNA Hardscape Awards presentation, set for Thursday, October 22, is open to all attendees. Awards will honor commercial and residential projects in 18 categories.

Early-bird registration runs through September 10. Registration and additional exposition and conference details can be obtained at www.HardscapeNA.com.


Organizers of the GIE+EXPO, co-located with Hardscape NA at the Kentucky Exposition Center, affirmed late last month their intention to design and develop a show and educational programming with all the necessary safety protocols in place.


Show management will once again bring demonstrations, HNA Installer Championship activities and education sessions under the Hardscape House roof.

“Everyone is asking if GIE+EXPO is happening. What I can say is the show is expected go on. We’re planning for it,” says Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) President Kris Kiser. “Our partners and longtime show management are working hard to create and ensure the safest experience for attendees and exhibitors. The affected conference and meetings, facilities, hotel and food preparation, and transportation industries also are undertaking a significant effort to develop protocols to operate safely in response to the pandemic.”

As GIE+EXPO managing partner, OPEI is working with the National Association of Landscape Professionals and Professional Grounds Management Society to stage an event offering programs and education that directly address challenges the pandemic presents attendees. “The Kentucky Exposition Center is flexible with multiple outdoor areas and buildings,” Kiser observes. “We can easily spread out. We’ve got a million square feet and 20 acres of outdoor space … a lot of room to work with. The show this year might look a little different, but if you feel safe going to your local garden center, dealership and grocery story, you should feel safe coming to GIE+EXPO.”

Despite potential design and layout changes, he adds, the tradeshow remains the industry’s “family reunion” for landscapers, hardscapers, equipment dealers, distributors, manufacturers and suppliers. With the equipment and landscape industries deemed essential, many stakeholders have been operating during the Covid-19 pandemic, illustrating the importance of outdoor space and the people who make it.

“We are saddened and frustrated by the pandemic situation and the ensuing losses we have faced but there is a need to learn from this, and GIE+EXPO’s leadership has pledged to offer programming that will do just that,” notes Kiser. “This year’s show offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience for businesses to get together and learn from one another about a once-in-a-lifetime scenario.”