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Raising awareness & building business through networking 

by Matt Downs

Maggie Fennell, Marketing Chair for GRO and board member representing Boningale Group, reports back from recent exhibitions which have seen GRO interacting with the supply chain and raising the profile of green roofs through interaction with key stakeholders…

GRO members are making the most of trade shows and exhibitions in order to meet with and create relationships with industry experts, manufacturers, growers, specifiers, planners and potential clients.

Maggie Fennell, Marketing Chair for GRO and board member representing Boningale Group, recently represented GRO at the Landscape Show, in Birmingham, where she says she was kept on her toes by a constant stream of visitors wanting to learn about green roofing. The audience consisted largely of garden designers and landscapers who wanted a greater understanding of domestic green roofing.

Building on the success of the Landscape Show, GRO says it is planning to visit Futurebuild at London ExCeL in March 2023. A very different audience, but with a similar objective – to create links within the industry so that expertise can be shared and opportunities created.

Here’s Maggie’s report from the Landscape Show and her thoughts on Networking:

“In an industry which relies on the successful cooperation of many disciplines, networking is key to growing the marketplace and offering a wide variety of green roofing solutions. Although the word ‘networking’ conjures up the worst kind of images of ‘beige’ buffets and small talk, I am happy to report that this has not been our experience at all. 

“One of the core benefits the Green Roof Organisation offers to members is that kind of networking that builds trust and confidence. We need to learn from each other’s experience, otherwise the industry will not develop as fast or as effectively as our planet needs it to.

“The Landscape Show in September provided a great opportunity to connect with domestic green roof installers and designers and – just as importantly – with many prospective and fledgling green roofers who are at the very beginning of their journey towards including living roofs into landscaping projects. 

“In a targeted trade show like Landscape, there are rarely huge volumes of traffic, which means more time to spend with individuals. In that way, each conversation is more detailed, more specific and more personal. GRO’s objective for this event was to reassure new entrants to the industry that they will be welcomed and supported at every step of the way. I came away from the two-day event feeling confident that we had achieved just that. 

“NEC Birmingham provided an ideal venue for this show. Its central location is easily accessible and we saw visitors from all over the UK. The show organisers did a fantastic job of turning the cavernous, industrial hall into a light, bright meeting space with four seminar theatres, several demonstration areas and a central cafe area with superb flapjacks! The presence of plants on every other stand certainly helped create a good ambience too.

“On day one of the show I teamed up with Kay Davies from Oxford Green Roofs to give a presentation entitled ‘How To Get Going In Green Roofing’. The attendees responded well to our mix of technical background, varied case studies and signposting towards resources that will help businesses take the next step towards green roof design and installation.

“Kay has been helping to advise GRO on further support needed by domestic green roofers. As a starting point, our organisation has set up a Facebook Group to encourage communication, support and cross referrals. Join ‘GreenRoofOrganisation GRO Official’ on Facebook to share your thoughts, ask questions and tell us more about your work in the green roof industry.”

GRO has enjoyed success at recent exhibitions, creating good relationships and educating the supply chain on the benefits of green roofs

Looking ahead

Maggie continued: “Looking ahead to next year, GRO has been in talks with Futurebuild about providing our members with the opportunity to engage face to face with policy makers, planners, landscape architects and architects. Plans are very much in their infancy but we hope to provide GRO Members with opportunities to come together with stands and interactive demonstration spaces that provide a great educational experience for visitors.  

“Green roofs lend themselves to visual, practical, and tactile displays which can include different plant types, colours and textures. These conversation starters are a great lead-in to explain the benefits of green roofs and how following the GRO Code of Best Practice will optimise their performance.

“If you’d like to be involved, please get in touch with one of the GRO board members.” 

Sign up for GRO updates to keep in touch with the organisation’s news, views and activities. 

Simply email: membership@greenrooforganisation.org and the team will do the rest.

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