“SALTEX is so important” says Les Gibbs

Les Gibbs, a key member of the SALTEX operations team, says that attending SALTEX this year, is vitally important – more so than ever.

Those who know SALTEX, will know Les Gibbs. He has held a key role in SALTEX operations for many years and SALTEX 2021 will mark his 16th show after initially joining the team when the show was held at Windsor Racecourse.

SALTEX has been at its new NEC home for seven years and Les believes that it was the correct decision to move the show from Windsor to Birmingham.

“The NEC is a far superior venue, and it is the best place for SALTEX,” he said. “It is easy for people in all locations to get to, we don’t have to worry about the weather, and it is held at the best time of year. The move from Windsor has presented new challenges especially for me as a health and safety officer. But as I like to say - if there are problems then there are always solutions.”

In his role as health and safety officer, it is fair to say that Les has his work cut out. Aside from the show’s own health and safety procedures he is also responsible for collating and filing the exhibitors’ health and safety documents which is no mean feat considering the show sees approximately 300 exhibitors.

Les is often one of the first on site and will be the last to leave when the show closes. Throughout the duration of the event, he will continuously walk the show floor observing and carrying out inspection tours.

While he is walking the halls of SALEX he admits that he cannot help but marvel at the equipment on display, which has changed somewhat since he started in the industry in 1977.

“There has been a huge change in technology and equipment, and it will continue to keep developing. It is great to see but the trouble is, you cannot take your eye off it for a minute! From my point of view, sport has increased over the years and any new technology which helps with the quick turnaround we have is essential.”

Les is also the grounds manager at the University of South Wales and has been working there for more than 30 years. He admits that looking after multi-sports surfaces can be challenging but says that there is no industry, he would rather be in.

“You get to work in the great outdoors, and I like the fact that everyone is willing to pass their skills and knowledge on to others. It is a very friendly industry; however, my main fear is that we are not attracting enough younger people into it.

“The future is positive though, and the GMA is doing some great work. As an industry we have to keep pushing and promoting the fact that this is a highly skilled job and that there is a science behind it.”

Les claims that SALTEX is the ideal opportunity to showcase exactly how great the grounds management industry is; and is encouraging all to attend the 2021 show – which is also SALTEX’s 75th anniversary.

“SALTEX is an occasion for the entire industry to meet up, to see new and old faces and to see the latest products. On top of that, there is the education which is so important. I make sure that my team attend the show and the seminars every year. It is vital for those who are new or are thinking of working in the industry to attend SALTEX – it will provide them with a great experience.

“SALTEX is so important this year,” he continued. “Certainly, one of the biggest problems, because of Covid, is that all the reps from various companies have not been able to get out and that has meant that there is less information available. SALTEX 2021 is a great opportunity to reunite and catch up on everything we have missed.

“From an organiser’s point of view, I like to say that SALEX is not our exhibition – it is the trade’s exhibition.

“I always look forward to the show every year and I want to be a part of the SALTEX team for as long as I possibly can.”

If you still need to register for this year's show, you can register for SALTEX by clicking here