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Equipment Trends 2016

Landscape and Irrigation magazine recently asked a wide range of equipment managers, and other industry experts, for their insights regarding the equipment market, and how the trends they are seeing will impact your equipment decisions. Their observations are as follows:

 

L&I: What equipment trends are you seeing in the professional landscape/lawn care market?

 

More interest in utility vehicles due to their ease of maintenance and lower cost.

— Donna Beadle, senior external relations specialist, Polaris Off-Road Vehicles

 

Increasingly, landscapers are turning to compact utility loaders — also known as mini skid-steers — to help kick start their business growth. Because of the large and diverse number of attachments, compact utility loaders are one of the most versatile machines on the market — the sky is the limit as far as how landscape contractors can diversify their business with the machines.

A compact utility loader is also a productivity booster. For instance, let’s say you are planting a tree as part of a project. Maybe this is a new offering by your company, or maybe you’ve been doing it, but with a tool like a planting bar or even a shovel. With a compact utility loader, a crew member can attach an auger bit to dig the hole and then haul the tree from a truck and into position with a tree fork attachment.

You’re talking about a dramatic difference in the amount of time and effort it takes to do that with a compact utility loader compared with actually hauling that tree and root ball and placing it in a hand-dug hole.

— Matt Hutchinson, product manager, tree care/rental & landscape at Vermeer

 

One trend we are seeing is an increased popularity of mini skid-steers on landscape jobs. On a job, operators get on and off the machine multiple times a day, and the ease of simply hopping on and off of the operator’s platform is much easier than climbing in and out of the cab of a larger trencher or track loader. Operators also enjoy the improved visibility and compact design of the mini skid-steers over traditional track loaders on the market. Improved worker stations keep operators comfortable for longer hours on the job, and make it much easier and more efficient to complete jobs in residential spaces.

— Andrew Schuermann, Ditch Witch product manager, compact equipment

 

The stand-on trend is still a growing trend. I believe this trend is continuing to push into the ongoing trend of better efficiency and productivity tied in with better profitability. Everyone is trying to figure out how to mow more grass in a shorter amount of time while becoming more profitable. In some markets mulching the grass is becoming increasingly more popular.

— Frank Nuss, marketing and product specialist, national accounts, Excel Industries Inc. (Hustler)

 

Market acceptance of electronic fuel injection continues to grow. All of the major engine manufacturers have EFI now, and the service training for dealers has increased in both frequency and quality. We still want to offer a variety of EFI diagnostic solutions to make sure that we’re meeting the dealer or commercial cutter wherever they’re at, in terms of comfort level. We’re also committed to working with the dealer network to help commercial cutters understand exactly what EFI does for their business, in terms of equipment performance and productivity.

— Jim Cross, marketing manager for Briggs & Stratton Commercial Power

 

Rayco is trying to offer its customers a means by which they can expand the number of services they offer without a great deal of investment. That’s the beauty of a machine like the RM27 Multi-Tool Carrier. It offers the ability to perform several tasks, from landscaping to snow removal, without the cost of owning a specialized machine for each one.

— J.R. Bowling, vice president, Rayco Mfg. Inc.

 

Contractors have realized that the fuel their equipment is running on can either hinder business or lead to new customers.

Using propane is separating some contractors from their local competition in a good way. Green messages carried by propane — like its reduced emissions and it being a clean fuel — resonate with both residential customers and commercial clients looking to gravitate away from having their green space managed by gasoline or diesel equipment. Propane mowers can also improve a contractor’s corporate image, as propane mowers don’t produce smelly fumes near homes, schools or businesses.

At the Propane Education & Research Council, we’ve heard from contractors that have even acquired new contracts because of two reasons: the cleaner fuel and reduced costs to the contractor that can be passed on to the customer. For the same reasons, one of the fastest-growing markets for propane mowers is the public sector — city governments, state and national parks services, state roads departments that mow right-of-ways, public universities and school districts. In a lot of instances these public accounts face emissions standards or ozone action days that park mowers using gasoline or diesel on the trailer. Propane mowers can keep cutting. When coupled with state incentives — or, when offered again, PERC’s Propane Mower Incentive Program — it’s easy to sell taxpayers on the finances that come with the cleaner machines.

Another trend we’re seeing is contractors not only switching their mower fleets to propane, but converting their vehicles to propane autogas. Especially for larger fleets, this option allows them to install a propane autogas refueling station on their company property and prevent any time lost during the workday filling tanks at the gas station.

— Jeremy Wishart, deputy director of business development for the Propane Education & Research Council

 

With the growth in outdoor living spaces and some of the challenging or even extreme landscape designs being built in and around developments, there still must be a way to maintain those areas without damaging the turf or the landscape objects. Cub Cadet continues to see the need and growth in the steering-wheel-controlled zero-turn market. Being able to maintain an area easier and faster with a steering-wheel-controlled zero-turn versus push mowers or string trimmers has increased the bottom line for a lot of professional cutters.

— Allen Baird, product marketing manager (professional products)

 

Over the past few years, we at Terex have seen a dramatic shift in our customer base from solely owner/operators and a more traditional distribution base to the rental market, and indicators point to this trend continuing in North America for at least the next few years. We realized that in order to play in this market, we needed to position our products for it.

Terex TC35R-2 copyA focus on providing ‘rental ready’ equipment has required us to be more customer-focused and agile. With the launch of the Terex GEN2 loaders, we adopted a new nomenclature system to make it easier for rental customers to select the right size machine for the job — this new naming scheme is based on the loader’s ROC. Because most renters evaluate skid-steer loaders and compact track loaders based on ROC, the Terex GEN2 skid-steer loaders and compact track loaders are engineered to more accurately reflect this commonly used specification, which makes it easier for equipment distributors, rental dealers and contractors to best identify the machine needed to get the job done. Many of the enhancements to our GEN2 compact track and skid-steer loader lines were aimed at increasing machine performance through additional ROC and loader breakout forces, while increasing the machine’s durability and reliability in the field, which reduces the cost of ownership during the life of the loader. These were features that rental customers repeatedly told us were most important to them.

— Gregg Warfel, division sales manager, compact, Terex Construction Americas

 

The professional landscape market has gained significant momentum and is benefiting from increased innovation and development of tools for this segment. More specifically, we are seeing the continued trend in products that increase speed and efficiency for jobs both large and small for professional landscapers. And, when referring to efficiency, we mean both operational and maintenance efficiency. For example, consolidation of fuel types so refill time is shortened — knowing that all outdoor power equipment on the operator’s truck/trailer run on the same fuel type. In this case, no consideration is needed in determining the need for mixed or straight fuel.

— William Walton, assistant vice president of Honda Power Equipment Operations

 

Some of the trends we are seeing: simple operator interfaces and controls; improved operator comfort and ergonomics; improved access for machine maintenance; slow trend to battery in some areas; and hydro-drive systems in chore product to improve productivity.

— Pierre Pereira, director of sales, North America, Billy Goat Industries

 

Contractors continue to be focused on the total cost of operation of their mowing equipment. They want to know how much a mower will cost in maintenance, downtime, labor, replacement parts, convenience, etc., beyond the purchase price.

Take the 100V Series models, for instance. With purchase prices under $6,000, they are extremely attractive in terms of initial investment. And the long-term operating costs are lower than competitive mowers, with only two grease points and transmission fluid change intervals of 300 hours. The result is equipment that saves contractors time and money, not only in the field with superior performance but in the shop with simpler maintenance procedures and longer service intervals.

In addition, ergonomics and comfort features continue to be a big consideration. Grasshopper owners say they can do their best work on every property — whether the first job in the morning or the last job in the evening — and still have energy left at the end of the day. That is because Grasshopper makes comfort a standard feature on every mower with integrated multi-point suspensions — including iso-mounted seats, footrests and operator platforms, as well as ergonomically designed controls and instrument consoles.

— Mike Simmon, communications specialist, The Grasshopper Company

 

The market is growing and there are a lot of good brands out there, but they lack comfort, style and the all-important quality cut. Altoz capitalized on this combination to differentiate ourselves and grow faster than the industry.

— Karl Bjorkman, director of sales and marketing, Altoz

 

Productivity and efficiency continue to be top concerns of professional landscape contractors, driving manufacturers to develop more solutions for equipment. One example is the incorporation of Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) engines. Commonly used in smaller-block engines, we are now seeing more and more options in the mid-block range and greater. Providing up to 25 percent more fuel savings, the benefits of EFI drive this trend.

Another example is John Deere’s exclusive Mulch On Demand technology. The Mulch On Demand offering enables the operator switch between mulching and side discharging without ever leaving their seat. Mulch on Demand reduces the time spent to cleaning up clippings from specific areas, like driveways, sidewalks and plant beds, by allowing the operator to easily close off the discharge chute. The Michelin X Tweel Turf, an airless radial tire available exclusively for John Deere B, M and R series ZTrak mowers, offers productivity-boosting benefits. The Tweel virtually eliminates downtime and is nearly maintenance free, unlike traditional pneumatic tires. Additionally, the Tweel minimizes cost and time spent on repairs and maintenance, and eliminates flat or damaged tires.

Also driving the development of new features is an increased focus on operator comfort. Additions like ergonomic operator controls, air suspension upholstered seats and cab machines with heat and air keep the operator comfortable throughout the workday, ultimately improving productivity.

— Nick Minas, product manager, John Deere Commercial Mowing

 

We see more users stepping up to better equipment with more features. Machines that are more accurate to get away from waste and adaptable to complete multiple tasks are where we see the most movement. No longer is it a price-only buying decision.

— Bob Petrungaro, director of sales – North America, Earthway Products, Inc.

 

The market is showing that professional contractors are demanding lower-priced units with higher component specifications. Efficiency is also a big topic. Landscapers and superintendents are being asked to do more in less time, so their equipment needs to get the job done well and fast.

Efficient equipment not only means that the landscapers and superintendents can get from job to job quickly, but it also means that the equipment itself can be maintained easily, so that the units spend the minimal amount of time in the shop being prepped for the next day’s jobs. Schiller Grounds Care brands like Bob-Cat, Ryan and Steiner are trusted when it comes to durability and ease of maintenance.

— Ron Scheffler, product manager – BOB-CAT Mowers, and Anne Marie Sanicola, product manager – RYAN and Steiner

 

Bobcat Company continues to see increased demand for landscaping attachments for use with compact excavators and skid-steer, compact track and mini track loaders. Popular attachments in landscaping include hydraulic clamps, Hydra-Tilt swing accessories, grapples, augers, trenchers and grading buckets. The idea of purchasing or renting landscaping attachments to help reduce manual labor and increase efficiencies is something that is always appealing to landscapers in design and build applications for residential and commercial installations.

— Christopher Girodat, marketing manager, Bobcat Company

 

LittleBeaver_MechanicalDrill copyLandscape contractors always look for ways to make their business more profitable, and equipment selection plays a big role in that. Choosing one machine that can be adapted to a variety of applications gives the fastest ROI.

Thanks to the many available attachments, earth drills are well-suited to that trend. By switching points, blades, augers and attachments, a contractor can move seamlessly from installing fence posts in rocky soil to boring a water line under a driveway to planting trees in sandy ground. Our mechanical drills also have an attachment for boring under sidewalks and driveways.

The faster they can make the switch, the more productive they can be, so many also are choosing quick connection options, such as snap-on augers that require no tools to attach and remove.

Small trenchers also have a strong footing in the versatile equipment trend. They can be moved easily from one jobsite to the next to quickly handle a wide array of tasks: doing landscape edging, pruning roots, installing plumbing and drainage lines, running low-voltage wiring and installing sprinkler systems.

— Mike Hale, Little Beaver sales and marketing manager

 

Technology has always been a driving force of the industry, and now it’s become more integrated with everyday professional landscape products. There is an increase in awareness of sustainability related to both fuel consumption and battery use.

— Pete Love, director of sales at Husqvarna

 

The continued growth of the compact track loader (CTL) market verses the decline in the skid-steer loader (SSL) market is most interesting. Year to date (through April), the North American CTL market is up 27.3 percent, while the SSL market is down 6 percent. The cumulative market is up 12.3% overall verses 2015. A major factor driving the overall growth is the landscape industry, which not only embraces compact track loaders, but also has enjoyed double-digit growth the past couple of years.

— George Chaney, sales manager, skid steer & compact track loaders, JCB

 

Landscapers continue to get smarter about the equipment they’re buying and how they’re using it. In general, referencing AEM data, equipment sales to the landscaping industry are up 20 percent through April compared to the same time last year, and up 52 percent over the same period in 2014. Based on how that data is classified, not all of those customers are traditional landscapers, but it signifies an increase in equipment purchases and market confidence.

Some of the biggest growth we’re seeing is in compact excavators and CTLs. CTLs, specifically, continue to take market share away from skid-steers as CTLs provide an excellent tool for landscapers in terms of accomplishing the same tasks with lower ground pressure and less disturbance.

Contractors continue to add secondary hydraulics more and more to equipment to expand the functionality of what that equipment can accomplish. This includes a greater reliance on attachments for traditional tool carriers such as skid-steers and CTLs, but also includes the increased use of more specialized equipment, such as rotational buckets on compact excavators. Attachments increase the versatility of SSLs and CTLs, assisting in completing the job faster and easier. We see a similar demand in in the growth of the compact excavator market. Zero-tail-swing excavators are particularly popular for their ability to get right up against buildings for digging in drainage systems and other utilities. And contractors are increasingly buying compact excavators with angle/push blades to avoid needing extra machines for backfilling.

— Andrew Dargatz, brand marketing manager, Case Construction Equipment

 

A lot of what we’ve been seeing has been about productivity. Professionals always want to get the best job done that they can with the lowest cost, so they are looking for equipment that performs well consistently with minimal downtime. Because of that trend, we made a lot of performance upgrades this year and added features like our constant belt tension system, which allows users to run the machine for hundreds of hours without adjusting the deck drive belt. We also changed our deck leveling system, and whittled the previous 16 adjustment points down to only four. All of these changes, while they may seem small on their own, add to the overall ease-of-use and are designed to cut down on the time it takes the operator to maintain the machine.

— Matt Medden, vice president of marketing, Ariens Company

 

Environmentally friendly/zero emissions; the ability to work a full day on a charge — 72v stands up to the challenge; and the ability to multi-task (options/accessories, etc.)/versatility.

— Raven Honsaker, director product strategy, Cushman

 

Although we still build spray equipment that reaches 100 feet high, overall the trend is to less height, usually 50 to 75 feet high, due to product innovations — whether trunk injections, trunk applications, or soil applications. The turf industry is moving toward more mechanized applications, which typically translates into less liquid carrying capacity, although some herbicide products and particularly organics still require 2 to 3 gallons per 1,000 square feet application rates. As custom builders, our in-depth discussions with a company’s PHC team enables us to build not only what it needs for today, but hopefully for many years into the future as the industry innovates.

— Gary Maurer, president, Green Pro Solutions, LLC

 

Machines are being designed to expand the use of attachments that ultimately broaden the machine’s capabilities. Contractors now look for ways to do more work with fewer machines in order to keep their overhead costs down and their productivity up. The use of multiple attachments like power rakes, rotary cutters, and tillers being powered by one machine is a common theme.

— Jorge De Hoyos, Kubota senior product manager, skid steers and compact track loaders

 

Kubota_ZD1021 copyLandscape professionals continue to focus on uptime and performance of their equipment to maximize overall productivity and profitability. Those are the same things Kubota focuses on as we continue to develop products for the landscape market. We continue to monitor all segments of the turf business and strive to provide products that exceed expectations.

— Tom Vachal, Kubota senior product manager, turf

 

At Stihl, we are creating products that offer solutions while reducing weight, increasing power and fuel efficiency, and reducing the carbon footprint left behind on the job. In addition to the new products we’ve already introduced, we have a number of exciting new professional products set to be released in the coming months, all engineered with the end-users in mind.

Battery-powered products continue to advance to offer more convenience than ever and to meet the unique needs of busy, hardworking professionals. Thanks to lithium-ion technology, we are well past the days of battery products offering subpar performance when compared to their gas-powered counterparts, which was the case when the outdoor power equipment industry was relying on nickel cadmium batteries to fuel products. We are now seeing and creating battery-powered products that are either equivalent or better than gas-powered models.

Stihl is consistently focused on improving the landscaping and lawn care industry by providing solutions conducive to commercial use, giving professionals the run time and flexibility they need.

— Steve Meriam, director of sales at Stihl Inc.

 

We continue to see more and more landscapers moving from sitting to standing and we also see more EFI engines selling, especially on larger mowers.

— Hal White, vice president of sales, Wright Mfg.

 

Based on feedback from our channel partners and end users of Toro equipment, we know landscape contractors are looking to do more with their equipment. As a result, manufacturers like Toro are looking for solutions to bring added productivity and versatility to customers. One example would be the new GrandStand Multi Force, as mentioned previously, in being able to accomplish a variety of tasks with one machine.

Landscape contractors are also looking for equipment with clear ergonomic benefits. The new Toro Z Master with MyRide Suspension System is a direct response to this trend in the marketplace. Built for maximum comfort, the innovative MyRide Suspension System features a fully suspended operator platform that delivers 3.6 inches of travel. This design reduces impacts, bumps and vibrations for a superior ride experience and increased productivity.

Another trend we see continuing is in regards to EFI, fuel efficiency and productivity. Toro has an extensive EFI offering on Z Master and GrandStand models, delivering fuel efficiency beyond a typical carbureted engine.

— Chris Hannan, senior marketing manager, The Toro Company

 

What are the key factors this year that are impacting equipment buying habits?

 

The weather

— Donna Beadle, senior external relations specialist, Polaris Off-Road Vehicles

 

Many contractors across North America struggle to find qualified labor to support landscape businesses. The main reason for this is the labor-intensive nature of the work. It’s physically demanding, and that, in turn, can make finding and retaining quality crew members difficult.

That’s why compact utility loaders are growing in popularity among landscape contractors. The physical labor aspect of a job can be reduced by the use of a machine that is many times stronger than a human. Also, it doesn’t get tired. It isn’t affected by the environment as much as a human is. It doesn’t show up late or call in sick.

— Matt Hutchinson, product manager, tree care/rental & landscape at Vermeer

 

Operators are expecting increased versatility with their mini skid-steers. They are also looking for equipment that helps get the job done faster and easier. Mini skid-steers offer a variety of attachments to help perform multiple smaller jobs. This saves time and money for operators who may have needed multiple pieces of equipment on one job site in the past, but now only require one. The total horsepower and the power directed to the attachment are both key factors that impact an operator’s buying habits. In many applications, the higher the horsepower, the quicker the job can get finished for improved productivity and profitability.

— Andrew Schuermann, Ditch Witch product manager, compact equipment

 

One factor this year is the financing, or cheap money. Some contractors are turning their fleets sooner and/or leasing. Leasing seems to be making a comeback for some medium to large landscape companies.

They essentially lease the mowers for the entire warranty period, than roll into another lease with several more new mowers — hence all their mowers are in the warranty period. Except for normal maintenance, any problems are covered. This helps them control costs and reduce costly downtime.

— Frank Nuss, marketing and product specialist, national accounts, Excel Industries Inc. (Hustler)

 

Interest rates remain low, and the business climate is robust. Those are two key factors that always influence buying habits. But equipment manufacturers have also improved their product offerings in the last several years. The equipment continues to get better, adding features customers want. Whether it’s performance features of the new fuel-injected engines, the popularity of rubber tracks, improved ergonomics, or the versatility of new attachments and work tools, today’s machinery is more productive and comfortable to operate than it’s ever been. The machines available today simply have features that customers feel are worth trading up to.

— J.R. Bowling, vice president, Rayco Mfg. Inc.

 

The cost of traditional fuels will always directly impact propane mower sales in some way, but we’ve been pleasantly surprised at how little it impacted sales over the last year with the cost of gasoline and diesel so low. We think this is because more contractors are realizing that the cost of propane is a byproduct of petroleum and a majority of which comes from natural gas refining. That means propane will also decrease if oil costs are down, and remain lower than the costs of gasoline, because propane can cut seasonal maintenance costs and doesn’t need costly add-on equipment parts to reduce emissions. Contractors can also work with their propane retailer to set an annual price for gallons used, which can insulate them from fluctuations in the oil market.

— Jeremy Wishart, deputy director of business development for the Propane Education & Research Council

 

Commercial contractors demand longevity and durability while pairing up with the right dealer now more than ever. Downtime and lost earnings can be avoided when the dealership is capable of doing everything possible to guarantee uptime. Having a Cub Cadet Warranty means standing behind equipment with same-day service, parts and a loaner program that will influence the buyer that your equipment is the right choice.

— Allen Baird, product marketing manager (professional products)

 

Since 2009, customers have become more value-conscious than ever. Rental has become a more popular option for many Terex customers, because it allows them to only pay for the equipment they need, when they need it most. This has required that we at Terex focus on giving these customers a more immediate return on investment in our equipment offering without sacrificing performance and quality.

— Gregg Warfel, division sales manager, compact, Terex Construction Americas

 

As with any election year, there is a tremendous amount of uncertainty over what will happen with consumer confidence. While we aren’t certain of what economic implications this election cycle will bring to the landscape and irrigation industry, we are observing that industry buying habits are somewhat reserved at the moment.

In addition, the challenges landscape companies face with the H-2B visa issue hiring seasonal workers impedes their ability to take on more work, which equates to fewer equipment purchases.

— William Walton, assistant vice president of Honda Power Equipment Operations

 

An improved economy is lifting contractor confidence, especially with low gas prices, low interest rates, a booming housing market and a strong automotive/truck sector. Good moisture and a long fall leaf season, of course, would be a bonus.

— Pierre Pereira, director of sales, North America, Billy Goat Industries

 

It seems like we say the same things every year, but it holds true this year: weather patterns have the biggest impact. If the grass isn’t growing due to lack of moisture, then contractors aren’t buying mowers; and the opposite is true, too. The weather has been up and down this year, depending on where you live, but overall, the weather patterns this year have fostered spring growth, which we’re seeing continue into the summer.

— Mike Simmon, communications specialist, The Grasshopper Company

 

Customers are continuing to look for more than just equipment from manufacturers. When landscapers purchase a piece of equipment, they are selecting a partner that will help them increase the productivity and profitability of their business. John Deere is dedicated to developing programs that help improve our customers’ bottom lines.

One example is our Parts OnSite program, which makes restocking parts simple. Through the program, the dealer works with the customer to determine the best parts inventory for their operation, and creates an easy ordering process to ensure that the landscaper can have parts quickly reordered and delivered.

Dealers have a huge impact on the equipment-buying process. Our extensive dealer network provides landscapers with a go-to resource for their equipment selection, purchasing and maintenance needs. Another benefit of the John Deere dealership is John Deere Financial, which offers landscapers a one-stop shop for the entire purchase process.

— Nick Minas, product manager, John Deere Commercial Mowing

 

Information. Making all the details of what a piece of equipment can do available so they can make an educated decision. The information can be a link to a video, showroom display or magazine advertisement explaining features and benefits. Another thing we find valuable is the participation in end-user workshops and trade shows. This allows us the hands-on “touch and feel” they may not get on the showroom floor.

— Bob Petrungaro, director of sales – North America, Earthway Products, Inc.

 

Durable, yet simple-to-operate equipment is always desired. Besides the durability of the product, professionals continue to look at how efficient the equipment is, as they need to stand up to rigorous and fast-paced schedules day after day. This applies to each of our brands. A good price point is also high on the list, as the past winter season was fairly mild across the nation, affecting landscaper’s budgets.

Warranties, like Bob-Cat’s new Mow with Confidence warranty, are also a key factor in a final purchase. We increased our warranties on all the Bob-Cat products because we are confident that our products can take on all the tough challenges in the market, and we want our customers to be confident as well.

— Ron Scheffler, product manager – BOB-CAT Mowers, and Anne Marie Sanicola, product manager – RYAN and Steiner

 

The continued improvement of the U.S. housing market seems to play a large role when landscapers are in the market for compact equipment. As the housing market continues to improve, so do sales for compact equipment and attachments. In addition, as housing values recover from their lows during the last recession, homeowners are investing in their properties to install new hardscapes or landscape features.

It is also worth mentioning, for some landscaping professionals, leasing compact equipment is an attractive option to minimize out-of-pocket costs while gaining advantages of operating new machines that are under warranty. Monthly fixed costs with little or no downtime help landscaping professionals stay on schedule. Bobcat Company encourages landscaping professionals to visit their local Bobcat equipment dealership and consult with a sales specialist about whether purchasing or leasing is the best choice for growing an equipment fleet to meet current demands

— Christopher Girodat, marketing manager, Bobcat Company

 

Buyers this year remain focused on two key things — safety and productivity — and they’re looking for the best ways to accomplish that. At Little Beaver, we developed and patented a device that helps them accomplish both. Our torque tube absorbs vibrations and prevents kickbacks, making it safe and easy for a single operator to control the earth drill. This increases safety and cuts labor costs in half.

That same focus carries over to our mini-trencher, the Kwik-Trench. Unlike other models on the market that require the operator to walk backward, we designed the Kwik-Trench to be pushed forward. That gives the operator an optimal view of the trenching area, which also enhances productivity.

Consumers also want assurance that their investment will be safe and productive for a long time to come. That peace of mind comes with buying products backed by a strong warranty from an experienced manufacturer focused on personal customer service.

— Mike Hale, Little Beaver sales and marketing manager

 

Durability and innovation are two areas that we hear professionals talking about quite often. They are always on the lookout for the latest technologies that incorporate their needs, helping them get the job done faster and more efficiently. On the other hand, and equally as important, these products have to last longer. Products that last are worth investing in. We’re always working to anticipate these needs as they evolve by having landscapers involved throughout the design process of our products.

— Pete Love, director of sales at Husqvarna

 

Compact track loaders provide landscape and irrigation contractors exactly what they desire — increased productivity and performance versus skid-steer loaders, particularly in wet, muddy conditions where wheeled units can’t work.

— George Chaney, sales manager, skid steer & compact track loaders, JCB

 

One of the things that we’re seeing as a driver, in addition to productivity, is an increased desire for ease of use. We hear all the time from our landscape contractors that they’re looking for something that is durable, easy to operate, and comfortable. With enhancements that we made to the Pro-Turn 200s and 400s, such as improvements to the user interface, we placed operator controls at the user’s fingertips, making it easier than ever for the contractor to access the controls that they need. We also took ergonomics into account, making sure that the user doesn’t have to bend and twist to access the control panel. In addition, we improved the sightlines, giving great visibility to the trim lines so operators know right where they’re cutting when they’re maneuvering around an obstacle. Knowing exactly where the ends of the machine are also helps operators load and unload the machine from trailers more efficiently. Comfort was also improved in our seat systems on both the Pro-Turn 200 and 400. On both lineups, we redesigned the seat to include a plush high back and padded armrests. On the Pro-Turn 400, we also added an improved air ride system. Overall, we’re happy knowing that these machines are easier to use and comfortable to operate, and the market has been responding favorably to the changes.

— Matt Medden, vice president of marketing, Ariens Company

 

Trend toward environmentally friendly.

— Raven Honsaker, director product strategy, Cushman

 

The last couple of years have seen better profitability in the industry, so companies have more money to upgrade their equipment and become more efficient. Labor cost will always be the most expensive line item, so any money spent on equipment that reduces labor cost — even saving as little as 15 minutes per day — adds significant dollars to the bottom line.

— Gary Maurer, president, Green Pro Solutions, LLC

 

Customers are more knowledgeable about Tier 4 emission requirements and the after-treatment components that manufacturers use. Their inquiries during the purchase decision process are ample evidence. Most are aware, for example, that many models of equipment that were above 75 horsepower are now below that threshold so as to lower the cost solution to meet Tier 4 requirements. This is not the case on our SVL95-2s, whose horsepower went up, not down, from its predecessor. This 96-horsepower workforce power pack did not sacrifice any of its power to meet emissions. After all, the landscaping tasks did not get any easier.

— Jorge De Hoyos, Kubota senior product manager, skid steers and compact track loaders

 

Competitiveness and productivity are key drivers behind buying habits of landscape professionals. To win in the market place you have to stand above the competition.

— Tom Vachal, Kubota senior product manager, turf

 

Sales growth for the entire OPE market — including gas, electric and battery-powered products — is positive. That being said, sales of battery-powered products are growing exponentially. More and more professionals are seeing the multitude of benefits offered by battery-powered technology. For a long time, the battery market was growing as a result of the noise and emissions regulations in particular working environments such as schools, hospitals and golf courses. While these requirements certainly still dictate a need for battery-powered products and actively contribute to the purchasing habits of professionals, landscapers are now also recognizing the benefits and power behind battery products and that is really driving the market into uncharted territory.

Continued improvement in housing starts so far this year equates to improved consumer confidence and increased retail sales.

Rain is key. While we’ve had a wet and cool spring on the East Coast, slowing the start of the season, rain will be an important factor throughout the summer to ensure steady sales at the dealers. The West Coast, although still in a drought, is seeing more rain than the past few years, which will also support OPE sales in the region.

We are seeing that landscape professionals continue to buy the vast majority of their equipment from independent servicing dealers. This is one of many factors contributing to the growth of our Stihl servicing dealers.

— Steve Meriam, director of sales at Stihl Inc.

 

Because so many landscapers also rely on snow removal for income, the Northeast landscapers have taken a hit due to the minimal amount of snow they received this past winter. Additionally, the long, cold spring slowed down landscaper activity, ultimately leaving them with less money for equipment purchases during this season.

— Hal White, vice president of sales, Wright Mfg.

 

How is 2016 shaping up so far; and what is your outlook for the remainder of the year?

 

We’re going to see a lot more mini skid-steers in the landscaping industry in the coming years. A major reason is a compact utility loader’s potential to ease labor issues. Reducing the physical demands of a job can increase employee happiness, helping to recruit and retain employees.

— Matt Hutchinson, product manager, tree care/rental & landscape at Vermeer

 

2016 has started off strong. As temperatures increase, we are seeing a stronger demand for landscape and rental equipment as operators begin their spring/summer projects. Additionally, we continue to see an increase in utility infrastructure upgrades across the country, this includes utility upgrades in both commercial and residential sites where there is a need for smaller, compact equipment like the mini skid-steer. We do not foresee the market slowing down anytime soon.

— Andrew Schuermann, Ditch Witch product manager, compact equipment

 

2016 is shaping up well. All segments are performing well, surely due to the improving economy. Some contractors are finally replacing equipment after holding off for a few years. As people begin buying homes again, and moving into larger homes, the need for residential zero-turn mowers will continue, as well as the need for professional lawncare.

— Frank Nuss, marketing and product specialist, national accounts, Excel Industries Inc. (Hustler)

 

We’re really bullish on 2016. When you see things like new ZTR manufacturers entering the market, and established manufacturers executing complete product line updates like we have in the past couple of years, it portrays a general optimism for the commercial landscape industry. Our Vanguard Big Block engines continue to grow in placement on manufacturers’ top-of the line commercial products. And the Vanguard 810, since it’s launch in 2013, and the Vanguard EFI models in 2014, have continued to perform well and prove out to be a great power plant for commercial ZTRs.

— Jim Cross, marketing manager for Briggs & Stratton Commercial Power

 

Although the weather has been quite wet in many areas, the 2016 spring season has been busy year so far. The outlook for the rest of the year remains strong. Most of our customers report strong sales and have jobs booked out weeks, if not months, ahead.

— J.R. Bowling, vice president, Rayco Mfg. Inc.

 

It’s going to be another great year for propane. More than 20,000 propane mowers were used to mow residential and commercial landscapes in 2015, so we’re hopeful that number has increased between growing seasons. We extended our Propane Mower Incentive Program through April, so it’ll be exciting to get numbers back from that.

As far as the future, a research survey conducted by PERC at the beginning of the year showed that up to 34 percent of contractors are considering switching to propane-powered equipment. Fourteen OEMs currently offer propane mower models, increasing the likelihood that even if contractors aren’t familiar with propane outside of the grill in their own backyard, they’re familiar with the brands that manufacture propane mowers.

— Jeremy Wishart, deputy director of business development for the Propane Education & Research Council

 

We spent the past two years working with landscape contractors, designing, testing and proving every component of the PRO Z 100. The initial launch has been very successful and well received by the OPE Industry. We anticipate growth in this professional category as we expand the commercial product offerings in 2017.

— Allen Baird, product marketing manager (professional products)

 

We absolutely see the rental trend continuing, and we have more efforts underway to continue to incorporate what we have learned into all our products.

— Gregg Warfel, division sales manager, compact, Terex Construction Americas

 

We are seeing a somewhat late entry of the summer season in the northeast and upper Midwest parts of the country thus far. However, our outlook for the industry is cautiously optimistic.

— William Walton, assistant vice president of Honda Power Equipment Operations

 

Our outlook remains positive due to the strengthening economy, a fresh and innovative Billy Goat product lineup, and outstanding channel partners.

— Pierre Pereira, director of sales, North America, Billy Goat Industries

 

We’re optimistic for a strong year — not only for mower sales, but for contractor revenues, as well.

— Mike Simmon, communications specialist, The Grasshopper Company

 

2016 has been a good year for us and we expect to finish strong. We are gaining brand recognition and a reputation for reliability and cut quality.

— Karl Bjorkman, director of sales and marketing, Altoz

 

The beginning of the year has been positive for us, a trend that we anticipate will continue throughout 2016.

— Nick Minas, product manager, John Deere Commercial Mowing

 

Spring started out quickly and is maintaining a consistent level. With a La Nina on the board causing drier condition across most of U.S. this summer, we see fall seeding season being heavier than normal.

— Bob Petrungaro, director of sales – North America, Earthway Products, Inc.

 

BOB-CAT_Predator_Pro copyFor Bob-Cat, our overall mower sales are stronger than previous years, and 2016 continues to have a positive outlook for the remainder of the year. Bob-Cat has many opportunities with newer products to get into some market areas where we were not involved — especially our new QuickCat stand-on mower family, which had a phenomenal first year. Our new industry-leading Mow with Confidence warranty on our commercial zero-turn ProCat/Predator-Pro models, as well as our walk-behind models, will support our sales and outlook.

For Ryan, we’re having a strong year as well, highlighted be the launch of our new Lawnaire ZTS stand-on aerator. It’s a machine that benefits landscapers and superintendents alike, and it’s receiving a lot of great feedback in the industry so far. That combined with our existing products, and we expect to have a great year.

For Steiner, we’re focusing on the versatility of our Steiner 440 tractor. We’re exploring new markets and new opportunities to show what it can do.

— Ron Scheffler, product manager – BOB-CAT Mowers, and Anne Marie Sanicola, product manager – RYAN and Steiner

 

2016 is moving along quite well for the Bobcat Company and the entire compact equipment industry. The outlook for the remainder of the year appears to be positive for the company and the more than 550 Bobcat compact equipment dealers in the United States and Canada.

— Christopher Girodat, marketing manager, Bobcat Company

 

We received great response during Fencetech and The Rental Show, and believe that indicates strong sales for the remainder of the year. Much of that interest revolves around the versatility of applications that contractors can take on quickly and safely with a well built earth drill and some key attachments and blades. We’re ready to meet this growing demand thanks to our expanded production line, so we’re confident it will be a strong year.

— Mike Hale, Little Beaver sales and marketing manager

 

It’s been a good year so far thanks to the great results we’ve seen across categories. With this momentum and our robust product line-up, we have a very positive outlook for the rest of the year.

— Pete Love, director of sales at Husqvarna

 

2016 has been a year of opportunity, with growth in many areas. Texas, Oklahoma and Western Canada have been hard hit in the oil and gas industry, but other areas are experiencing excellent economic growth. Now that manufacturers have introduced their new Tier 4 Final-compliant models, and that dealer stock of older Tier 3 or Tier 4i models is being reduced, equipment buyers in the landscape and irrigation industry are in an excellent position to obtain new T4 Final models, with numerous technological advancements over their predecessors, at very competitive prices.

— George Chaney, sales manager, skid steer & compact track loaders, JCB

 

The continued theme is slow and steady improvement. There is no particular boom we can point to, but indicators continue to improve: Housing starts are holding steady, down in April by 1.7 percent compared to April 2015, but up considerably over April 2014. The total value of residential construction from April 2015 to April 2016 has increased by 7.7 percent, which is a good sign for the landscaping industry as the higher-valued developments typically desire a greater investment in landscaping services, both hardscape and planting/decorative. U.S. home prices and new home sales are also at post-recession high. As supply and demand narrows, home sellers will be looking to make a greater first impression when prospective buyers approach their property, and that starts with landscaping.

Similarly, if you look at non-residential markets such as lodging, office and commercial development, there are noticeable year-over-year improvements in construction value: 24.6, 20.3 and 6.8 percent, respectively. Landscaping services are key for these markets.

It’s a good time for landscapers as people and businesses are investing in their properties. And as the demand for improved landscape and outdoor living increases, landscapers are more actively investing in their equipment fleets more aggressively than the past few years. All of this creates a perfect storm that is driving many landscapers to invest in their businesses now.

We expect these trends to continue throughout the remainder of 2016, although all of these factors could be affected rather suddenly from volatility in other markets (oil and gas and related fuel prices), and consumer confidence related to the presidential election and the overall economy.

— Andrew Dargatz, brand marketing manager, Case Construction Equipment

 

By far, the best thing has been the response to our new products so far this year. We’ve really seen an incredible increase in demand for the new Pro-Turns, and that’s something that we’re excited about.

— Matt Medden, vice president of marketing, Ariens Company

 

Shaping up as expected. We have a major product launch coming up that should make for an exciting Q3 and Q4.

— Raven Honsaker, director product strategy, Cushman

 

Equipment costs have not gone up nearly as much as other segments of the economy, so now is the time to buy. Rather than waiting until year-end, many companies who are forecasting profits are moving ahead now to get the equipment on line for the fall. Also, if a company is looking to recruit talent to their organization, new equipment gives them an important edge over the competition. Green Pro Solutions is busy building equipment that makes companies more productive and profitable.

— Gary Maurer, president, Green Pro Solutions, LLC

 

The CTL market is on pace to beat last year’s numbers, which, for the first time ever, outnumbered the skid-steers volume. Our SVL95-2s and its complement of attachments have been well received.

— Jorge De Hoyos, Kubota senior product manager, skid steers and compact track loaders

 

The season has started off very good for Kubota. Weather patterns have helped to increase demand, and Kubota’s strong dealer network continues to meet the needs of customers seeking high quality turf products.

— Tom Vachal, Kubota senior product manager, turf

 

AR 3000 Action Image copyThe OPE market as a whole continues to see steady growth. While sales of battery-powered products are growing exponentially, gas and electric sales are also positive.

It is looking like another great year for Stihl Inc. Sales are strong across the board and we’ve seen significant growth within the battery segment. We credit this success to the work of our more than 9,000 servicing dealers who continue to take market share from the big-box retailers.

Research and development continues to be a high priority for Stihl as we strive to provide professionals solutions and improvements to their time spent on the job. While battery is a huge focus for us right now, this does not discount the need and value of gasoline-powered models. It’s important to us to remain at the forefront of the outdoor power equipment industry as a whole, meaning that gas-powered equipment will remain a significant part of our investment in groundbreaking design and engineering.

— Steve Meriam, director of sales at Stihl Inc.

 

Due to the slowed activity in the Northeast, we expect retail to remain relatively flat.

— Hal White, vice president of sales, Wright Mfg.

 

Responses are presented in the order in which they were received.

 

Equipment Trends: New Products

Our Equipment Trends respondents also shared information on their new equipment offerings for 2016, as well as new products/upgrades that are coming soon.

 

Polaris

We have a new Ranger EV Li-Ion. The Ranger EV Li-Ion Polaris Pursuit Camo offers more than three times the total battery lifespan of traditional acid batteries and more than twice the range on one charge (up to 50 miles) to ensure the vehicle spends more time in use. Due to having fewer, lighter-weight Lithium-Ion batteries, the vehicle is 462 pounds lighter, and accelerates faster than Polaris’ lead-acid battery option. To complement the Lithium-Ion battery technology, the pure electric Ranger EV Li-Ion Polaris Pursuit Camo features a refined electrical architecture and a single 48-volt, high-efficiency, AC-induction motor. The driver can select from three modes of operation: High for everyday use, Low for hard work and Max Range for greatest distance.

— Donna Beadle, senior external relations specialist, Polaris Off-Road Vehicles

 

Vermeer

The Vermeer S725TX mini skid-steer can accommodate a wide range of attachments, enabling landscape contractors to handle an array of projects, from irrigation systems and hardscape projects to tree care removal and fiber-optic installations — making the S725TX one of the most versatile machines a landscape business can have.

The S725TX has a 750-pound SAE-rated operating capacity with a 2,145-pound tipping capacity. A 24.8-horsepower Kubota Tier 4 Final engine features four cylinders, producing more torque than models with three-cylinder engines for improved productivity in tough ground conditions.

Its compact size and choice of track width makes the S725TX ideal for landscape professionals and do-it-yourself homeowners who need the ability to maneuver through gates and other tight spaces. The S725TX is available with either the standard 9-inch track or the narrower 7-inch track option.

— Matt Hutchinson, product manager, tree care/rental & landscape at Vermeer

 

Ditch Witch

The Ditch Witch factory released its SK850 Plus at The Rental Show in February. This mini skid-steer is powered by a 37-horsepower Yanmar diesel engine, and has a 1,062-pound operating capacity, providing more power and capacity than previous models to help rental companies and landscape operators conquer a variety of projects. At the Ditch Witch factory, we listen to customers and rental partners to continually update and adopt our models to meet the needs of the evolving market.

— Andrew Schuermann, Ditch Witch product manager, compact equipment

 

Hustler

New for 2016 season, Hustler introduced the Super S, a stand-on commercial mower with 36-, 48-, 52-, and 60-inch decks with Kawasaki engines as well as Kohler EFI.

The Raptor Limited was also introduced. The Limited is a feature-enhanced version of our popular Raptor 52-inch entry-level zero turn mower. For a few more dollars, the Raptor Limited offers wider tires front and rear, high-back deluxe seat with a thicker cushion, rear bumper, and hour meter.

The full commercial Hustler Super Z models are now offered with Kohler EFI engine options.

The Hustler Hyperdrive Super Z, our premium performance commercial mower, also introduced a 5 + 5 industry-leading warranty. This is an industry first as well as industry best. All Hyperdrive Hustler mowers now carry a 5-year engine warranty (with no hour restriction) and a 5-year/3,000 hour transmission warranty. The Hyperdrive Super Z now comes exclusively with Vanguard Big block engines offering 36-hp. and EFI 37-hp. and carries the Hustler-exclusive 5-year engine warranty. The Hustler Super 104 wide area mower also is using the Vanguard Big Block engine options and will also carry the Hustler-exclusive 5-year engine warranty.

— Frank Nuss, marketing and product specialist, national accounts, Excel Industries Inc. (Hustler)

 

Briggs & Stratton

We’ll continue to innovate in the area of enhancing productivity. In the past two years, we’ve been able to deliver a complete line of Vanguard EFI engines with an automotive-style closed loop EFI system that delivers up to 25 percent fuel savings over our comparable carbureted engines, in addition to providing better starting, load governance, and stale fuel resistance.

I feel like the next wave of innovation will center around extended maintenance intervals and reduced downtime. We already have an extensive network of support that includes everything from on-engine service information to a dealer network dedicated to servicing commercial cutters, and some of the best service education in the industry, all of which contributes to reducing downtime. We’ve got some really innovative productivity-based products and features in queue that we think will really make a difference for commercial cutters.

— Jim Cross, marketing manager for Briggs & Stratton Commercial Power

 

Rayco

For 2016, Rayco is introducing the new RM27 Multi-Tool Carrier to the landscape and rental markets. The RM27 is a track-based tool carrier, capable of powering a variety of work tools and attachments. Equipped with a 26.5-hp. Kohler fuel-injected gasoline engine and a powerful hydraulic system for powering work tools, the RM27 is a highly effective and lower-cost alternative to mini skid-steers. Rayco offers a variety of attachments, including a stump cutter, brush mower, tiller, trencher, power broom, and more.

— J.R. Bowling, vice president, Rayco Mfg. Inc.

 

Cub Cadet

Cub Cadet has taken the direct feedback and requests from hundreds of landscape contractors to design and qualify every component on the PRO Z 100 series. Cub Cadet has given the small-to-medium landscape contractor a better understanding that industry-leading features like durability, comfort and performance don’t always come along with an outrageous price tag. With the options of lap bar or steering wheel control, a contractor can equip his mowing crews with the right mowing machine for all types of jobs, whether it’s challenging slopes and hillsides, or bagging grass on a ribbon-smooth lawn.

— Allen Baird, product marketing manager (professional products)

 

Terex

New developments in the Terex compact equipment line, which includes excavators, wheel loaders, backhoe loaders, skid-steer loaders and compact track loaders, include four ‘rental-ready’ excavator models, an owner/operator excavator model and two Gen2 compact track loaders:

Terex’s four ‘rental-ready’ models TC16-2, TC22-2, TC35-2 and TC35R-2 compact excavators incorporate the Schaeff heritage, conventional design, Knickmatik cylinder and top-mounted cylinder. New exterior design, operator-focused workstation and modern excavator controls are also highlights of these new excavators. The results are in these machines’ digging performance, workstation features and productive operation.

The new Terex TC85 compact crawler excavator is built for demanding excavation jobs and space-restrictive trenching work, featuring the perfect combination of a short radius tail-swing and a Knickmatik boom offset that allows operators to dig alongside the machine’s own tracks. This new model’s deep digging capability makes it an ideal machine for landscaping, general construction, water and sewer, electric and utility, as well as municipal applications.

Featuring a 120-hp, turbocharged Tier 4 final Cummins QSF3.8 diesel engine, the new Terex Generation 2 (GEN2) R350T and R350T Forestry compact track loaders offer operators powerful productivity and quick cycle times. Boasting 360 foot-pounds of peak engine torque, high-flow auxiliary hydraulics, a high-capacity cooling system and a two-speed hydrostatic drive system that allows travel speeds up to 10 mph, these models are ideal for demanding site preparation, construction, infrastructure development and demolition applications, including brush cutting, mulching, cold planing and more.

— Gregg Warfel, division sales manager, compact, Terex Construction Americas

 

Honda Power Equipment

Honda Power Equipment is excited about our award-winning lineup of lawn and garden and industrial products for 2016. In October 2015, Honda entered the split shaft trimmer market with the introduction of the VersAttach multi-purpose split shaft trimmer system. The VersAttach system combines the power and reliability of legendary Honda 4-stroke engines with a robust lineup of tools to fit a wide range of lawn and garden needs. It can tackle just about any residential or commercial landscape need by offering two power heads and six attachments.

The VersAttach system offers two powerhead models, the UMC425, powered by a Honda GX25 mini 4-stroke engine, and the UMC435, powered by a GX35 mini 4-stroke engine. Each model can be paired with an optional interchangeable edger, line trimmer, blower, hedge trimmer, pruner and cultivator that fit quickly and securely into the attachment shaft by way of Honda’s SureLoc joint locking system, saving time and effort for the user.

— William Walton, assistant vice president of Honda Power Equipment Operations

 

Billy Goat

In 2016 Billy Goat continues to promote and educate customers on the benefits its recently introduced full line of reciprocating aerators. This new aeration technology features reciprocating cam-driven tines vs. tradition drum-style drum aerators that not only improves hole quantity and quality, but also allows for in-ground turning for unmatched operator maneuverability, operator ergonomics (no lifting) and improved productivity. The machines feature only a fraction of the tines found on traditional drum machines, which saves money and drives fast tine service. In addition, the hydro-drive machines can create variable hole patterns up to 10 times more dense than standard drum units, depending on speed, for better quantity, as well as quick patch and repair opportunities. Commercial customers are seeing significant productivity improvements and happier operators with this new technology — a game changer for commercial aeration.

— Pierre Pereira, director of sales, North America, Billy Goat Industries

 

Grasshopper

New for 2016, select 100V mowers will be equipped with 61-inch cutting decks capable of mowing up to 4.5 acres per hour, making the V Series the perfect entry point for commercial contractors looking to step up from walk-behind or stand-on mowers. In addition, all 2016 100V Series models (including 48- and 52-inch decks) feature single-fill, 6.5-gallon fuel tanks located under the seat for a lower center of gravity, enhanced traction and longer mowing intervals between fill ups. For added convenience, the fuel gauge is located in a visible location in front of the operator seat. These compact power units are powered by professional-grade engines and feature fully hydraulic, “no gears” pump-and-wheel-motor drive systems for smooth operation, powerful performance, long-lasting durability and lower operating costs.

— Mike Simmon, communications specialist, The Grasshopper Company

 

Altoz

For 2016, Altoz offered more engine packages from the 4 major brands — Honda, Kohler, Kawasaki, and Briggs & Stratton — than any other manufacturer. We know professional users have preferences, and we wanted to be able to provide the engine they want. 2017 will be an exciting year for Altoz with the introduction of new models in new segments targeted specifically to the commercial cutter.

— Karl Bjorkman, director of sales and marketing, Altoz

 

John Deere

New to John Deere’s line of commercial zero-turn mower offerings is the Z960M ZTrak mower. Launched in January, the Z960M provides professional landscape contractors with a powerful, reliable machine at an affordable price point. Boasting 31.0 horsepower, the Z960M is available in three deck offerings — 60 inch, 60 inch Mulch On Demand or 72 inch.

Additionally, the existing Z970R is now available with two additional deck options — 60-inch side discharge or 60-inch Mulch On Demand, offering more deck options on the most powerful machine in the Z900 Series lineup.

We also introduced two new Gator models, the XUV560 and XUV590i in both two-passenger and 4-passenger configurations. Both Gator offerings provide landscapers with a solution for tasks that require a vehicle, like moving materials, spraying or carrying items through difficult terrain. The four-passenger versions are a great way to transport crews to difficult-to-reach worksites. Additionally, more than 75 attachments are available that transform the utility vehicles, offering contractors an unparalleled balance of performance and work capability.

— Nick Minas, product manager, John Deere Commercial Mowing

 

Earthway Products, Inc.

The SideSpred-Control is a new innovation that eliminates the need to use a side deflector, which can adversely affect your application rate, to prevent material from being spread into flowerbeds, on sidewalks, or driveways. Instead of just hitting the deflector and falling straight down or trying to steer the material back into your path, the SideSpred-Control not only limits the area being covered but also the amount of material flowing to ensure proper spreading rates.

— Bob Petrungaro, director of sales – North America, Earthway Products, Inc.

 

Schiller Grounds Care

We’re always looking to innovate and improve on our products throughout all of our brands, which is why this is an especially exciting year for Schiller Grounds Care. We have all-new products hitting the market, like the Ryan Lawnaire ZTS stand-on aerator, and we’ve upgraded some of our core products as well. The new Lawnaire ZTS is a first from Ryan, but it has decades of expertise built into it. It brings productivity, quality, and efficiency to aeration projects from lawns to golf courses.

We’ve also added exclusive Zero-T drive tires to our commercial Bob-Cat mowers, enhanced our DuraDeck cutting systems, and added key features like a trim side deck guard, and a larger discharge chute for improved grass disbursement.

We are continually working to develop new attachments for Steiner tractors and make our tractors with the quality and versatility Steiner is founded upon.

We stand behind all our new products and updates in our continued effort to make the best equipment we can. Nothing is off limits or too “tried and true.” If we can make it better, we do.

And that’s not just a sentiment. On our entire line of Bob-Cat mowers, we stand behind them with a new industry-leading Mow With Confidence limited warranty on all our commercial mowers — 6 years or 2,750 hours on our larger zero-turn Predator-Pro and ProCat models, and 3 years or 2,500 hours on our walk-behind models.

— Ron Scheffler, product manager – Bob-Cat Mowers, and Anne Marie Sanicola, product manager – Ryan and Steiner

 

Bobcat

In 2016, Bobcat Company released two new loaders in its equipment lineup — the S595 skid-steer loader and T595 compact track loader — increasing the number of Bobcat compact loader models to more than 20. Both new machines are the largest and most powerful skid-steer and compact track loader in the Bobcat 500 loader frame-size class. The new loaders feature a 74-horsepower, non-DPF diesel engine and a 2,200-pound rated operating capacity to help increase loader performance and improve operator productivity in landscaping applications.

The S595 and T595 are 68 inches wide when paired with a standard Bobcat construction/industrial bucket. The machines’ narrow widths allow them to work in confined or tight spaces, move confidently within a congested worksite or travel between homes.

The S595 comes standard with 2-speed travel, while the feature is available as an option for the T595, helping landscaping professionals transport materials faster to work more efficiently. In addition, the T595 is designed with the new Bobcat compact track loader undercarriage for improved operator comfort and simplified maintenance.

Also available for the T595 in landscaping applications are non-marking turf tracks. Non-marking turf tracks minimize marks left on finished concrete as the loader is lifting and carrying landscape supplies from a street to a jobsite. The tracks also cause minimal ground disturbance to help reduce damage to established yards and repairs when a landscape project is finished.

— Christopher Girodat, marketing manager, Bobcat Company

 

Little Beaver

We’re always looking at ways that we can improve our drills to make our customers more profitable. A key component is having the infrastructure in place so we can continue to innovate. We recently completed an upgrade and expansion project to update our turning machines and software systems to replace outdated equipment used in the manufacturing process. This new equipment means we can produce new earth drills and trenchers 25 percent faster, getting customers the machines they need more quickly and leaving more time for innovation.

— Mike Hale, Little Beaver sales and marketing manager

 

Husqvarna

For the professional space, we’re very excited about our professional battery series. Battery technology has gotten to the point where it can provide the power that pros need without the long-term costs of buying fuel, and we’ve brought that innovation to a line of battery-powered handheld products.

We’re also planning to provide a new fleet service technology in 2017 that will help landscaping businesses optimize the performance and profitability of their operations.

— Pete Love, director of sales at Husqvarna

 

JCB

Earlier this year, JCB introduced new MyChoice operating software, which provides operators with three operating modes for travel, as well as for loader functions. Mode 1 is precision, for operation in very tight, confining areas. Mode 2 is for general operation, and Mode 3 is for fast, high-duty cycle/high-production applications. The operator can select whatever mode they prefer in travel, as well as for loader functions, thereby satisfying a wider range of operator preferences.

— George Chaney, sales manager, skid steer & compact track loaders, JCB

 

Case

We’ve got a significant new product launch that we’ll make at GIE+EXPO 2016 that fits in line with general market trends we’re seeing, but we can’t announce the specifics yet.

In the last year and a half, we’ve brought our entire line of skid-steers and compact track loaders (CTLs) up to Tier 4 Final compliance. In some cases, this has included maintenance-free emissions solutions and the first industry skid-steers and CTLs with selective catalytic reduction technology available to the landscaping market. We also introduced a lower horsepower (74 horsepower) version of our popular 580N backhoe, the 580N EP. This model features a maintenance-free Tier 4 Final solution and a base model setup that is ideal for landscaping and residential construction contractors who have thought about getting into a backhoe in the past, but didn’t need that extra horsepower and all the bells and whistles.

— Andrew Dargatz, brand marketing manager, Case Construction Equipment

 

Gravely

For 2016, we’ve had a lot of good response so far on our new product launches. We launched the redesigned Gravely Pro-Turn 200 and 400 zero-turn lines and the Pro-Stance stand-on zero-turn mower, which are not only great-looking products, but also include significant enhancements to performance. They’ve been received really well so far, and we’ve pressed our operators to keep pace with the high demand.

— Matt Medden, vice president of marketing, Ariens Company

Cushman

We will have a major new product launch coming later this year, but that’s about all we can say right now. Our new 72v product lines, the Hauler Pro is really changing the way operators think about electric vehicles. The all-day charge and power output are causing a lot of companies to look again at electric.

— Raven Honsaker, director product strategy, Cushman

 

Green Pro Solutions

Our new Sprinter models for turf and/or trees are getting great reviews. With different configurations, they can carry up to 500 gallons of liquid, a pallet of fertilizer, a ride-on spreader/sprayer and any other tools you may want, along with a surprising amount of storage. It combines fuel savings of 25 mpg with excellent maneuverability. The sprayer still has all of the flexibility and efficiency of the larger units plus the marketing options and risk management benefits of a fully enclosed spray system, and at lower cost.

We have also redesigned all of our spray systems to provide optimum performance out of a pump, which typically translates into at least a 10-foot gain in spray height.

— Gary Maurer, president, Green Pro Solutions, LLC

 

Kubota

Kubota recently introduced its new SVL95-2s compact track loader. The new model offers greater multi-tasking capabilities, more powerful hydraulics and more class-leading comfort upgrades than ever. The SVL95-2s takes the place of the SVL90-2 compact track loader in the Kubota product line-up, and is currently available at Kubota dealerships nationwide. With its more powerful engine, 3,200-pound rated operating capacity and quiet, radio-ready interior, the new SVL95-2s offers customers unparalleled levels of utility and refinement.

With five hydraulic flow presets available for the operator to choose via an in-cab control, the SVL95-2s, when equipped with the optional high flow, is ideal for landscaping jobs that require running more than a single attachment. Furthermore, with is closed center hydraulics and a parallel loader control valve, operators can utilize up to three hydraulic circuits in parallel, which control the loader, the bucket and an auxiliary device such as an auger or drill, making the SVL95-2s capable of performing all three functions at once without sacrificing performance. Pushing down or pulling up with the loader arms while spinning the auger won’t be a problem. Opening and closing grapples or 4-in-1 buckets while exercising the loader or bucket circuits will also be very user friendly.

Kubota recently introduced three new commercial walk-behind mowers: a 36-inch gear drive model (WG14-36), a 48-inch hydrostatic drive model (WH15-48), and a 52-inch hydrostatic drive model (WHF19-52), each powered by reliable Kawasaki V-twin gas engines. The WG14-36 uses a five-speed gear drive transmission, while the WH15-48 uses proven Hydro-Gear variable displacement pumps with Parker wheel motors. All models feature fabricated welded steel decks, maintenance-free spindles, electric clutches and adjustable cutting heights ranging from 1-3/8 to 4-5/8 inches, making them ideal for all common grasses. With this introduction, Kubota is now an all-under-one-roof turf equipment provider.

In addition to introducing the commercial walk-behind mowers, Kubota also introduced the all-new ZD Series zero-turn diesel-powered mowers — the ZD1000 Series and the ZD1200 Series — featuring Kubota’s latest patented innovation, an Aerodynamic Cutting System (ACS), which provides for more efficient use of power resulting in better fuel efficiency and faster cutting performance.

— Jorge De Hoyos, Kubota senior product manager, skid steers and compact track loaders; and Tom Vachal, Kubota senior product manager, turf

 

Stihl

A number of battery-powered products are among the latest and greatest products from Stihl Inc. The new Stihl AP 100 and AP 300 Lithium-Ion batteries feature enhanced power-to-weight ratios in light and affordable packages, offering users an unparalleled outdoor power equipment experience. In addition to our newest handheld batteries, professionals can now get gas-powered performance from their Stihl battery products with the 36-volt, 1148-watt hour Stihl AR 3000 backpack battery. Interchangeable with all handheld tools in the Stihl Battery Line, this sleek, high-performance battery has 25 percent more capacity than the Stihl AR 900 backpack battery, running for up to 13 hours and eliminating exhaust emissions and fuel costs.

In spring, we launched the Stihl FSA 90 R straight-shaft battery-powered trimmer. The lightweight, easy-to-use trimmer comes standard with the Stihl Autocut 25-2 loaded with .095-inch Quiet, has a 15-inch Line cutting width and starts with a squeeze of the trigger. The control handle is equipped with EcoSpeed “soft” stop trigger setting, which can extend the amount of work done on a single charge.

Last fall, we welcomed the lightest and most powerful handheld blower into the Stihl family of products. The Stihl BGA 100 battery-powered blower was designed for professionals, boasting higher quality and better ergonomics than many other battery products on the market and performance superior to many gas-powered models.

We have also introduced an assortment of gas-powered products to our ever-expanding line of professional equipment. The Stihl BR 450 C-EF backpack blower is the world’s only professional backpack blower with electric start.

We also upgraded two of our professional gas-powered chain saws, Stihl MS 201 C-EM and MS 201 T C-M with the latest in intelligent engine management technology, Stihl M-Tronic. This intelligent engine management system results in a reliable and fuel-efficient machine that performs optimally in a variety of conditions.

— Steve Meriam, director of sales at Stihl Inc.

Wright Mfg.

Our newest products are the Stander Intensity and the Sport Intensity. The Sport Intensity is the sit/stand version of the Intensity. The Sport gives operators the option to stand when cutting uneven terrain, or the option to sit in order to increase traction or while cutting large areas for an extended amount of time. We are also adding more Briggs and/or EFI engine options to several of our product lines, including the ZTO and the Stander X.

— Hal White, vice president of sales, Wright Mfg.

Toro

One exciting product now available is the new GrandStand Multi Force. With two new models, it brings all-season versatility to landscape contractors by combining the productivity of our proven, low-maintenance GrandStand stand-on mower with the ability to add attachments, such as a 5-foot Boss snow plow. The GrandStand Multi Force offers all the advantages of Toro’s current GrandStand stand-on mower, including a large, comfortable operator platform with smooth suspension, outstanding visibility and a small footprint that can get in and out of tight spaces, and is easy to transport. Both new Multi Force models are equipped with Toro’s 7-gauge steel Turbo Force mowing deck, which delivers a pristine after-cut appearance. Additional attachments to enhance the machine’s versatility are coming soon.
— Chris Hannan, senior marketing manager, The Toro Company

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