Groom & Kennel Expo Sets the Pace for 2014

By Staff

Groom & Kennel Expo 2014 was a record-breaking affair that introduced new seminars and contests to the West Coast groomers. With 88 vendors at 113 booths filling the Pasadena Convention Center’s sold-out exhibit hall, GKE 2014 was not only an educational event but also a shopping hot spot for groomers looking to stock up and find bargains. The groomers also arrived in record numbers, with 3,723 registered groomers in attendance over the course of the weekend.

The show kicked off with an afternoon of seminars on Thursday, including a brand new salon certification course taught by Linda Easton of International Professional Groomers. This workshop covered all aspects of a salon from the health of both pets and groomers to professionalism and ethics. Mia Avila of Castro Valley, CA, enjoyed learning about hair biology and assessing dog behavior and temperament. Avila says, “I wanted to learn more–I could sit here all day!” The workshop was also the first step toward receiving Salon Details Certification from IPG.

A unique seminar offering was “The Passionate Groomer,” Friday’s day-long program with Lisa Leady, the Barkleigh Honors Award winner for Speaker of the Year. Leady combined her personal passion for grooming with her technical skills in a series of stories and grooming demonstrations designed to leave people with a renewed passion for their dogs, customers, coworkers, and industry. “She really made it fun to learn these breeds,” says Patti James of Murrieta, CA. “I think we need to be friends on Facebook.” Leady will bring “The Passionate Groomer” seminar to Barkleigh shows throughout the year, including the All American Grooming Show in Chicago and Groom Expo in Hershey, PA.

Friday also featured the popular Asian Freestyle Symposium. The program began with some history and background presented by Koko Tanaka, a Japanese native who was one of the first groomers to introduce the fun and attention-grabbing style to the United States. Also included in the program were grooming demonstrations by Olga Zabelinskaya and Yumiko Nakamura, who traveled from Japan to participate in the symposium. After the seminar, many attendees commented that they cannot wait to try these new techniques when they get back to the salon.

Other seminar highlights from the weekend include creative grooming demos with Lori Craig and Angela Kumpe, cat grooming with Danelle German, animal health topics with Dr. Michael Fleck, and breed demos with champion groomers like Jay Scruggs, Sue Zecco, Michell Evans, and Donna Owens.

Another exciting component of the GKE schedule was the lineup of GroomTeam-sanctioned breed tournaments sponsored by Utsumi America d.b.a. B.W. Boyd Shears, Geib, Earthbath, and Wag’n Tails with Best All-Around sponsor Andis and Best in Show sponsor Nature’s Specialties. Group winners include Kenichi Tanye in Terriers, Mackensie Murphy in Sporting, Cat Opson in Freestyle, and Jackie Boulton in All Other Purebreds and Poodles. Boulton was this year’s big winner, taking home both Best All Around and Best in Show with her Poodle. For complete contest results, see page [PAGE NUMBER].

In previous years, groomers have used a Pasadena grooming salon to prepare their dogs for competition, but when arrangements with the salon fell through for 2014, Johnny Ray and Tim Kahler of Dog House North Hollywood and Dog House Studio City offered their facilities as bathing areas for competitors. Groomers coordinated shuttle schedules to take them from the hotel lobby to Dog House, starting in the very early hours of the morning. “Tim and I were so honored to be allowed to host such an amazing group of people,” says Ray. “The grooming industry is unlike many others. We as a group come together to share, teach, and inspire each other. This experience made me and Tim never feel more proud. The doors to Dog House are always open to the Groom & Kennel Expo.”

Participants in Sunday’s Lambert Kay Rescue Round-Up competition met their rescue dogs at Dog House, where they bathed and prepared the dogs for a transformation that will hopefully help the dogs find homes. “We had 18 competitors in this class,” says Cheryl Purcell, GroomTeam USA Coordinator and the rescue coordinator for GKE. “Someone mentioned to me that the quality of the dogs that we got were excellent, and I noted that it’s a shame that such nice dogs had been surrendered to shelters.” Participating shelters were Sparky and the Gang, California Miniature Schnauzer Rescue, and Beagle and Buddies. “Without the help of these wonderful people,” Purcell says, “many of these dogs would not have been with us that weekend.”

Winning first place in the Rescue Round-Up competition was Hyuk Hwon Kwon. Tina Pirtle and Amanda Payne won second and third place, respectively. Rescue Round-Up Platinum Sponsor Lambert Kay provided the cash prizes and donated their entire booth to the top three, and they also donated first aid packets and wound care products to the participating rescue organizations. Kwon, Pirtle, and Payne also received an abundance of prizes donated by vendors including Sensei Shears, Groomers Helper, Wahl, A Creative Collection, B-Air Dryers, and Madra Mor. In addition to the products won by the top three, all contestants received bows from Hot Bows and Madra Mor Mobility Mud. Kwon also qualifies for the National Rescue Round-Up Invitational at Groom Expo 2014 in Hershey, PA. The first place winners of nearly every rescue competition throughout 2014 will be invited to participate in this competition. The winner of the National Rescue Round-Up Invitational will appear on the cover of Groomer to Groomer and wins a free Barkleigh cruise.

Sunday also featured the Groomer to Groomer Creative Styling Contest, in which groomers transformed their dogs into colorful works of art–some quite literally. Sandra Hartness used her Husky as a canvas for “Bark Art,” which featured the word “ART” on one side of the dog and a replica of Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” on the other. Hartness won second place with her design. Angela Kumpe’s “Popeye” design took third place and was the crowd favorite, earning her the People’s Choice Award and the cover of Groomer to Groomer. Winning first place in the Creative Styling Contest was Lori Craig with “Phantom of the Opera.” Christine Trovato won first place in the creative novice division with an Angry Birds theme.

Adding to the usual excitement of GKE was all the activity next door at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. As groomers attended seminars and the trade show, crews set up stages, trailers, and broadcasting equipment for the NAACP Image Awards, an event that honored performers like Forest Whitaker, Kerry Washington, and recent Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o. The Image Awards also included a special tribute to the legacy of Nelson Mandela by Oprah Winfrey and Stevie Wonder, whose trailer was just yards away from the GKE registration desk. Some GKE attendees and vendors excitedly returned to the trade show hall with reports of celebrity sightings as the stars began to hit the red carpet.

For information on Groom & Kennel Expo 2015,
visit groomandkennelexpo.com or call (717) 691-3388.

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