August 8-10, 2023 | Wisconsin Center | Milwaukee, WI

About the Garden Center Show and our Team

We're the team that's producing the Garden Center Show for you, and we can tell you that we're having a great time doing it! We hope you can see both our joy and our dedication to creating an incredible event, and we look forward to seeing you in August.

Matthijs Braakman

The permanent closure of the IGC Show created a void in the garden center industry. So we reached out to previous IGC Show Director Rob Bailey to see if SmartWork Media could step in and fill that void, and the result was a brand new — under completely different ownership — show in 2022 for independent garden centers.

My name is Matthijs Braakman, and I am the CEO of SmartWork Media. For more than 20 years, I have been focused on helping local, independent retailers compete and overcome challenges brought on by big-box competitors. I am excited to bring this expertise into the independent garden center industry, where the focus of creating warm, inviting living spaces cannot be replicated by any big-box brand.

We are excited to offer a completely new set of educational seminars, retail bootcamp, local garden center tours and so much more — all focused on growing your independent garden center. There will be hundreds of vendors — both new and familiar — to join the thousands of independent garden centers, all looking to share knowledge and learn how to continue their garden centers’ growth.

We are confident that the new Garden Center Show will become a can’t-miss event for this fantastic and lively industry.

I am looking forward to meeting everyone in August, so please be sure to come by and introduce yourself.

Visit SmartWork Media

Now Meet the Rest of the Team!

Ralf Kircher

“Years ago, when I moved to Florida from my native Ohio, I hated not being able to see the seasons change. A local garden center took the time to listen and helped me select the right plants and identify existing ones in my yard. That sort of care and attention to what a customer wants really sticks with you, and to this spring day back in Ohio, I can look back at pictures of that Florida house and tell you what month the photo was shot in. Maybe I won’t be kicking myself for moving back to Ohio in a week or two when the redbud starts blooming!”

A journalist for 30 years, Ralf Kircher has spent the last 15 years with SmartWork Media, whose magazines and trade events help independently owned retail businesses in half a dozen industries flourish and grow. He’s excited to be part of the team bringing the new Garden Center Show to life.

Rob Bailey

"I can't wait to get everyone together in August to experience this new show. It's been quite an adventure creating a show for IGCs from scratch, and I've enjoyed every minute of it!"

Rob Bailey, who has more than 35 years of trade show experience is the show director. He has been involved with the Garden Center industry for over 15 years and brings his passion of gardening and trade shows to the event! His leadership, expertise and knowledge of the industry will be instrumental in the “Growth” of the show to be the premier show in the Industry. He has a real “can do” attitude and is always looking for ways to bring out the best in all exhibiting companies to assure them success at the show!  

Jim Reed

"I've always enjoyed gardening. I have perennial flowers and a raised vegetable garden, and I try to experiment with a few new plants every year. But since we started working with IGCs there has been one big change ... no more big box garden purchases for me! I am a convert to the superior products and experience of an independent garden center."

Jim Reed, a trade show veteran of 30-plus years has spent the past 20 of those years in the management of B2B retail industry shows including The JCK Show currently ranked 39th in the U.S.  He also worked with the Chicago Flower & Garden Show, a consumer show for two years which was his baptism into the garden center industry. Reed sees THE GARDEN CENTER SHOW for IGCs as an opportunity to educate retailers in new ways. “We’re looking to focus on some new educational topics targeting the interaction between the IGC and their customers,” Reed said. “We don’t want to just give them ideas but to also give them time to develop these ideas at the show. When they leave, they will have a plan in hand that will allow them to implement what they learned immediately.”

John Morabito

“I look forward to every spring when my children return home to continue the family tradition of planting new flowers and work on our vegetable garden. We enjoy it all throughout the year as we spend time outdoors, harvest the results, and cook up great meals!”

John Morabito is our show registration manager and began his career in the event industry in 1986 and has managed events ranging from 100 to over 100,000 participants.

John has a passion for creating dynamic market places supported by exceptional customer service.

Christine Baloga

“Every time I visit my Mom we go on a garden walk around her yard. She loves pointing out all her perennials and their characteristics, any problems, and her remedies. My Mom’s love of gardening has been passed on to me, sprouting my hobby of exploring local nurseries, collecting unique plants, and studying garden designs. This has led to garden walks through my yard where I’m the tour guide for her!”

Christine is a 25-year media expert that has a passion for marketing, audience development, mentoring and management. Her willingness to dive in and help drive the team into action keeps everyone motivated to pursue continuous improvement in all we do.

Turquil Lambo

For me, gardening is a form of meditation and is something that I do to relax and just appreciate nature in general.

I was born and raised in the Philippines. I studied fine arts and tech and in 2011 I moved to Thailand and have since been working as web design editor for SmartWork Media. Growing up in a small town near the beach, I used to help my parents take care of our small tropical garden and I kind of developed a bit of a green thumb myself. I started gardening and collecting plants again just two years ago when everyone started working from home. I have a growing collection of cacti and some philodendrons and dracaenas. I actually created an IG for my plants although I haven't been updating it regularly.

Andrea Hill

"I come from an Iowa farm family, and we live in a super-rural area of Wisconsin, so to say gardens (and garden centers!) are a part of my life is an understatement. I'm so happy we were invited to participate in the Garden Center Show. Serving small business owners — particularly in this area! — is near and dear to my heart."

Andrea Hill owns Hill Management Group, the parent company to WerxMarketing, which is the marketing partner for the Garden Center Show. Her brands (also including StrategyWerx and MentorWerx) provide marketing, strategy, leadership, branding, product development, and manufacturing consulting services. With 35+ years experience as CEO/president of mid-sized corporations, she has serial success leading companies through rapid, profitable growth.

Kristin Kopaz

“You can bury any number of headaches in a garden.” - Charles Barnard

With over 23 years of experience in trade shows and event operations, Kristin brings practical insight to all projects she works on. Kristin spends her day working on marketing campaigns, website copy, client management, and her team depends on her ability to think outside the box and suggest creative new ideas.

Jason Robinson

“You are also far less likely to waste food when you have nurtured it from a seed into a plant.” — Darina Allen

Hello, I’m Jason Robinson. One of the Marketing Generalists for Hill Management Group. I spend my day designing websites, proofing articles, editing images and experimenting with HTML code to suit our clients' websites. I research a wide variety of potential programs, apps, and information to help build websites that delight and inform their users. I stay on top of changes in technology so that I can meet challenges with tools well suited to achieve their goals. 

Kieran Stuck

I'm not much of a gardener, but since I've been a vegan since 2016 I have a strong relationship with fresh vegetables! And I always loved spending time in my grandma's garden."

Kieran is the Director of Video Production and Manager of Content Development for the Werx Brands. An award-winning producer, Kieran is an acute observer of human behavior with uncanny insights and a terrific sense of humor.

Kieran produces webinars, podcasts, videos, and motion graphics for clients of WerxMarketing. Kieran has a degree in film from the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and has recently completed an advanced degree in Interactive Media Design.  Kieran also teaches animation courses at a local tech college in the greater Milwaukee area."

Elisabetta Marini

A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in. — Greek Proverb

Elisabetta Marini brings some Italian flavour to the team (even if she admits she likes Dominos’ pineapple on pizza). Born and raised in Italy, in a city not far from Venice, she’s our content marketing specialist. She focuses on social media campaigns but will handle anything content-related that will fall on her lap, from blog syndication to email blasts. She loves to learn new things, apart from anything involving numbers. That’s probably why she loves languages! When she’s not working, she’s usually on a bus, train or plain to a new adventure.

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