Our Story


The Beginnings

Alternative Groundcovers Ad

Alternative Groundcovers Ad

NLGS started in a family garden. We grew grapes, strawberries, rhubarb, pumpkins, and dozens of flowers. Connecting with people in the get-your-hands-dirty together kinds of ways, that was and is who we are. Business partners, neighbors, family, hiking and camping buddies – fully present human interaction is deep in us. In the garden with friends we expressed our passions; the natural world, people, family, rest, study, making a buck and good hard work. Being in the garden sparked an idea we hoped to be able sell. Being avid hikers in the beautiful Colorado Rockies, we were inspired by the natural growing wildflowers. With a background in horticulture and an environmental lens, we invented a product that was a wildflower alternative to sod or mulch. It was a flower cover kit that anyone could plant and grow in native conditions. Alternative Groundcovers was birthed.

A photo of the Mikulas Family

The Mikulas Family

Trade-show Years

Like any new Vendor, we were advised to attend big booth style shows. And we did. It came as a shock when buyers didn’t see the brilliance of our product and order a pallet load! Not only this, it was hard to even have conversation with buyers at the carnival of a trade show scene we were attending. High costs, standing in booths with only a hope they right buyer might stop and low ROI. By the time a buyer stopped, it was just for a chair to sit in after all the miles they had just walked looking at other booths. There had to be a better way to do business.

A Better Way to Do Business

Bob Mikulas Quote

A quote from Bob

Inspired by another model, we decided to start a new tradeshow like one they would want to attend. We were determined to create a space where people could connect in a personal, uninterrupted, and highly effective way. Forget all the gimmicks and hoopla, we wanted an event that cut to the chase – Black and White business.

In 1995 we hosted the very first National Lawn & Garden Show. Buying and Vending companies came together in pre-set scheduled appointments. It was a hit, and after a while, we realized we could do away with booths all together. After 8 years the event was recognized as one of the premier shows in the industry. Today, some have said we have “the Premier event in The Industry”, “Second to none!” And because we have also been the vendor waiting at a booth, we tend to agree.

Looking Ahead

There is a Maori Proverb from New Zealand that says we look ahead by looking behind. After over 20 years, we are realizing the story we tell is one that is deeply embedded in interactions, input, and relationship with others. The NLGS story is the story of thousands of relationships in the Lawn and Garden industry. So many of the face to face conversations we have facilitated have been catalysts to friendships, connections, or inspirations to who we are today.

We want that story to flourish into the future. We want the story of the connection based Lawn and Garden industry to stand out.

We are committed to helping sustain a community. It is a community of industry professionals committed to generous redistribution of relationships, resources, education, and insight. It is what we have been both the contributors towards and the recipient of for all these years. Our story is not too far from the story of the brand new Vendor with one prototype, the multi-billion dollar buyer, the consistently quality product line of a shovel company, or the stable multi-unit store in Ohio. We all contribute to the success or failure of the Lawn and Garden Industry and ultimately to our own thriving.

Moving forward, we will still provide the most effective trade event in the industry and a platform for genuine human engagement, but we are also seeing the value in giving back the resources, education, relationship, and inspiration it will require to watch this industry thrive for years to come.

Venue History

Year Location Venue Type
1995 Denver, Colorado Hotel Venue
1996 Denver, Colorado Hotel Venue
1997 Colorado Springs, Colorado Hotel Venue
1998 Chicago, Illinois Resort Venue
1999 Chicago, Illinois Resort Venue
2000 Chicago, Illinois Resort Venue
2001 Dallas, Texas Hotel Venue
2002 Chicago, Illinois Convention Center
2003 Chicago, Illinois Convention Center
2004 Denver, Colorado Convention Center
2005 Chicago, Illinois Convention Center
2006 Chicago, Illinois Convention Center
2007 Reno, Nevada Resort Venue
2008 Chicago, Illinois Hotel Venue
2009 Atlanta, Georgia Hotel Venue
2010 Colorado Springs, Colorado Hotel Venue
2011 Chicago, Illinois Hotel Venue
2012 Dallas-Frisco, Texas Hotel Venue
2013 Chicago, Illinois Hotel Venue
2014 Denver, Colorado Hotel Venue
2015 Dallas, Texas Hotel Venue
2016 Chicago, Illinois Hotel Venue
2017 Chicago, Illinois Hotel Venue