Equipment Trends 2013

Last article in a two-part series


Earlier this summer, Outdoor Power Equipment’s sister publication Landscape and Irrigation asked a wide range of equipment manufacturers and suppliers to share their insights about the equipment market, and how the trends they are seeing will impact your equipment decisions.


Their observations were as follows:


What trends are you seeing with regard to equipment for the professional landscape and lawn care markets?


The lingering effects of a challenging economy have left professional landscapers looking for cost-effective ways to continue to expand their businesses and their profit margins. There has been a push to get equipment that is cost effective, yet powerful, flexible and versatile to tackle a variety of jobs. The Little Beaver earth drills make it easy to be productive and profitable without the cost and hassle of larger equipment. And a variety of attachments like the dry and wet boring kits, the soil sampling tools and our anchoring systems allow professional landscapers to branch out in new service areas without buying a new fleet of equipment.
Mike Hale
sales manager
Little Beaver


 How has this year’s weather impacted equipment sales?


Slow start to the season, but spring has arrived and mowers are selling.
— Brad Unruh
senior product manager
Excel Industries


The colder temperatures and longer-than-normal spring have helped us increase the sales of Power Edgers.
— James R. Day
managing partner
Turf Teq


Weather is a factor that nobody can plan for, and this year, to a certain extent, I think you could say almost everyone has had to deal with the weather as a factor in one way or another. But we’re working hard to consistently deliver innovations that give contractors reasons to upgrade their equipment.
— Daryn Walters
director of marketing
Exmark


Equipment purchases have been delayed due to this year’s uncommon weather pattern. Traditionally, most people purchase snow and ice management equipment before Christmas. This year, however, many purchases came later, since most of the country’s snow and ice events happened after the holidays. And because we had a longer winter, purchases of turf care equipment were delayed as well.
— James Truan
vice president of sales and marketing
for SnowEx and TurfEx products


Weather has had a significant impact on equipment sales in those areas that are experiencing a late spring. Driven by unseasonably lower temperatures and higher rainfall amounts, the season has been directly affected. The question is when and if the projects in those areas will get back on anything that resembles a normal track. How many projects will be placed on hold because of re-adjusted priorities or the inability to start and complete them within the desired timeframe?
— Dennis Von Ruden
president
General Equipment Company


It’s been a late spring this year throughout most of the country. I think everyone in the landscaping industry is feeling the effects of that.
— Ryan Moorlag
associate marketing manager
Toro


2013 had a slower start in comparison with last year. The 2012 year warmed very early, and, as a result, we had an accelerated purchase and sales increment. In 2013, as temperatures slowly started to rise, we have seen a steady level of sales. After the massive devastation that Hurricane Sandy left at the end of 2012, 2013 has been a year of rebuilding. Landscape/lawn care company owners and rental stores started to renew their fleets and move dynamically a variety of machines serving not just contractors but also do-it-yourselfers.
— Andy Van Soelen
rental solutions specialist
Vermeer Corporation


The landscape market for us ties closely to snow removal. We didn’t see a ton of snow in October, November and December, so we didn’t see a spike in snow removal in 2012. But rolling into January, February and March 2013, we got snow. Looking at our retail data, we saw some of that typical end-of-year buying trend we expected for late 2012 actually occurred in early 2013, and we saw sales go up. Rolling into the actual landscape season, we’re still seeing sales on the upswing. That’s pretty typical for us, if the weather’s really good, all the contractors are working and not buying equipment. But with the rain, contractors are focusing on growing their fleets. The expected outcome of a wet spring would be to see a lag in sales, but we’re not seeing that.
— Rob Gilles
marketing manager
Bobcat


The unusual weather patterns in 2012-2013 brought about an increase in pump sales and lawn mower sales, and wet weather paired with mild weather generated a need for both products.
— Alex Torre
lawn and garden marketing manager
Honda Power Equipment


Spring came late; however, the timing resulted in an extended season across many regions. Sales remain strong overall.
— Jeff Dewosky
vice president of dealer sales
for Husqvarna


Over last year, Mustang has seen a growing increase in sales and market share. The drought that impacted most of the U.S. last year did quite a bit of damage to existing landscapes that are now being revitalized or replaced. A fair increase in new construction also requires more landscaping work being conducted, so, naturally, the need for either purchasing or renting skid loaders and given attachments is in demand.
— Kelly Moore
product and training specialist
for Mustang skid-steer loaders


This year, we have had some impactful weather to contend with. April was one of the coldest the U.S. has seen in the past 10 years, thus generating less demand for grass-trimming equipment than in years past. We also experienced an increase in chain saw business due to the damaging weather throughout the country. This type of equipment was in high demand to help clear areas victimized by tornadoes, hurricanes and floods.
— Kelly Weeks
associate product manager
Tanaka Power Equipment


One of the most important variables every year that impacts the Green Industry greatly is weather, and this year is no different. Many of the sections of the United States experienced a wet, cool spring, causing the demand for lawn equipment to be delayed until warmer temperatures arrived. Once the temperatures warmed up, demand for equipment exceeded most forecasts; and with continued moisture in many parts of the country, it could lead to an extended season.
— Blaine Fields
national sales manager
Country Clipper Mowers


Due to an extended winter and more precipitation in the spring, sales over the first two quarters are slower than Q1 and Q2 of 2012. We expect to see sales trending up as customers look to make the most of a shortened season.
— Matt Collins
product manager
compact & HD equipment
Ditch Witch


Everything has been delayed. Biggest impact is that contractors have missed a month to two months of revenue in some markets due to delayed/cold spring. Favorable growing conditions could extend the spring.
— Pat Cappucci
president & COO
Schiller Grounds Care, Inc.


The late spring created a slow start to the maintenance and cutting season this year, but with many areas receiving good rainfall, sales balanced out once spring arrived.
The continued impact of 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, coupled with Colorado wildfires and the Oklahoma tornadoes, are all events that required large cleanup efforts, and chain saws are used in that process. Chain saw sales increased due to storm preparation and in response to storm aftermath.
— Steve Meriam
director of sales
Stihl Inc.


In many areas of the country, spring was cool and very wet, but all that rain makes the grass grow!
— Steve Wilhelmi
tactical marketing manager
John Deere Commercial Mowing


Anytime a region experiences extremes — or, in some cases, natural disasters — you’re going to see an increased need for machines like ours to help with cleanup and repairs. While parts of the country experienced a very late spring, which slowed down contractor activity, things seem to be picking up nationwide. That may be due to the improved economic outlook, as well as the fact more homeowners continue to improve their outdoor living spaces, both with landscapes and hardscapes. That, in turn, causes contractors to purchase more new equipment to serve those customers and capitalize on those opportunities.
— Chris Giorgianni
vice president of product
JCB


It’s hard to determine the impact of the weather on equipment sales — especially when there are so many other factors weighing in on that right now. We do know that weather has an effect. Several years ago, hurricanes in Louisiana caused a surge in sales of our units equipped with the mobile home anchoring kit. This year, we are getting feedback in some states that wet weather has put a real damper on business and the need for new equipment. And with the building market restarting in some areas but still very sluggish in others, that has a significant impact on sales. It’s hard to separate one effect from another.
Mike Hale
sales manager
Little Beaver


What other factors are impacting the equipment buying decisions of landscape/lawn care company owners and operators?


Tight budgets. Some are trying to get another year out of the equipment if they can with some minor maintenance.
— Brad Unruh
senior product manager
Excel Industries


Pent-up demand has resulted in landscapers having to replace equipment. When they decide to replace the equipment, they are doing their research and making the buying decisions based on the ability to improve productivity and efficiency.
— James R. Day
managing partner
Turf Teq


Our customers are thinking a lot about efficiency — both in terms of increased fuel efficiency and productivity. They are also looking at the long-term cost of ownership of their equipment, so the purchase price is just a part of the equation. Quality and durability become larger factors down the road, and that’s something experienced contractors understand very well. Dealer relationships are another factor that can’t be underestimated.
— Daryn Walters
director of marketing
Exmark


Consumer confidence continues to climb higher and, in turn, landscape and lawn care professionals have more confidence that they can maintain a steady workload for the foreseeable future. Because of this trend, professionals are making more immediate decisions to purchase new equipment, rather than taking the “wait and see” approach and postponing equipment decisions.
— James Truan
vice president of sales and marketing
for SnowEx and TurfEx products


Driven by the late season and continued uncertainty with the direction of the economy, we see a large percentage of our products being purchased on a used basis by landscape contractors from equipment rental dealers; specifically, the larger national accounts, including United Rentals, Sunbelt Rentals and Home Depot Tool Rental. All are regularly selling used machines to landscape contractors. Landscape contractors are taking advantage of purchasing used equipment that is fully capable of delivering years of satisfactory service at substantially depreciated prices. The availability of used equipment is directly dependent on the purchase cycle for these same accounts. One year may have a large number of machines to be sold. The following year may see a significantly reduced number available. The prudent landscape contractor is taking advantage of the existing situation and purchasing products accordingly. We get involved when replacement parts are needed.
— Dennis Von Ruden
president
General Equipment Company


Many of the newer mowers on the market are more fuel efficient than older models; and, with fuel costs on the rise, landscape contractors are looking for ways to save at the pump.
— Ryan Moorlag
associate marketing manager
Toro


Customers need reliable machines that offer great serviceability. Fuel efficiency, minimal wear parts, and machine productivity are all vital factors impacting buying decisions.
When the customer estimates the cost of operation, they should look beyond the purchase price and see the whole life cycle of the machine.
— Andy Van Soelen
rental solutions specialist
Vermeer Corporation


When I look at retail trends, excavator sales are on the upswing. I wouldn’t call excavators new, but we’re seeing more people using excavators instead of loader backhoes. For the installation of ponds and placement of large boulders, the truth of the matter is that the excavator is the more ideal piece of equipment for landscapes because it doesn’t do a lot of damage, and you can get in and do those projects. People who are upgrading existing homes are driving that market. Two years ago, I heard, “I would like to buy excavators for hardscapes, but I don’t have the budget.” In 2012, people said they were going to buy excavators, and now, in 2013, we’re seeing it. We’re seeing a lot more fancy yards with water features and hardscapes. As that becomes the norm, it is driving equipment buying decisions. Now that landscapers are working on existing homes, we’re seeing higher excavator sales, and lower skid-steer sales to this market.
— Rob Gilles
marketing manager
Bobcat


Value, fuel economy and durability of equipment have emerged as some of the top buying considerations for landscape managers and lawn care companies interested in making the most of their investment.
— Alex Torre
lawn and garden marketing manager
Honda Power Equipment 


Owners and operators respond well to promotions. For example, we recently introduced a promotion wherein each P-ZT or PZ purchase comes with a free backpack blower, which resulted in increased sales. They’re also looking for a product that’s durable since issues with equipment impacts their bottom line. When a part is down, they want dealers with readily available parts that can be serviced quickly.
— Jeff Dewosky
vice president of dealer sales
for Husqvarna


New emissions and EPA regulations provide an added component to decision making. Buyers must choose between new Tier 4 models vs. older technology Interim Tier 4 models for those models in the 75-hp. to 85-hp. category. Buyers should also have a very good idea what they will be doing — job applications — with these machines to ensure that they get the right machine for their jobs. Skid loaders come in a wide variety of sizes, capacities and power; a buyer needs to be aware of these features and specifications, as well as comfort and operating options, before purchasing.
— Kelly Moore
product and training specialist
for Mustang skid-steer loaders


Utilization. With two economic downturns within the last 12 years, customers appear to be more cost conscious than ever before. When coupled with lower equipment utilization, this cost-conscious trend is driving customers to rely more heavily on rental companies to fill their equipment needs.
— Matt Collins
product manager
compact & HD equipment
Ditch Witch


The economy and reduced incomes, coupled with customers dealing with increased expenses from healthcare. This has heightened the competition for accounts and business, forcing contractors to be more efficient and tighter in their pricing models.
— Pat Cappucci
president & COO
Schiller Grounds Care, Inc.


When you are earning a living with your outdoor power equipment, you want to get the most reliable, durable equipment for your money. But the service provided by the local servicing dealer really can impact the buying decision. Landscapers should take the time to cultivate relationships with their local dealers and then support them fully.
There are several things to consider before purchasing equipment. It is important to factor in both the short- and the long-term effects of an equipment purchase. Whether landscapers are buying a fleet of new lawn care maintenance products or one product accessory, every purchase should be an investment to raise the bottom line. We recommend consulting with a local servicing dealer who can offer advice based on a customer’s specific needs, rather than generalizations, to ensure that the right tools and accessories are selected.
Potential questions to consider are:
* Are you using the equipment all day, 40 hours or more a week?
* Are you working in a noise-sensitive environment?
* Are there client or community restrictions on exhaust emissions?
That being said, customers should be concerned with getting the best value for their money, and the cheapest option is most likely not the best long-term option.
— Steve Meriam
director of sales
Stihl Inc.


Customers are looking for additional benefits from manufacturers that go beyond equipment offerings. To answer this need, we’ve created the GreenFleet Loyalty Rewards program to provide exclusive equipment discounts, substantial parts savings, preferred financing opportunities, and other member-only benefits and promotions. Loyalty programs, such as this one, encourage customers to look at the total offering they can receive from a manufacturer.
— Steve Wilhelmi
tactical marketing manager
John Deere Commercial Mowing


I think that landscapers are looking to get the absolute most out of their machines. They need equipment that’s versatile enough to accomplish the widest possible range of tasks. That’s where it’s important to have a machine that can be fitted with a broad range of attachments. The more use landscapers can get out of a machine, the greater the return on their investment.
— Chris Giorgianni
vice president of product
JCB


As noted in my response to the first question, it’s really about having the flexibility to do more jobs, in more different service areas, without a lot of additional costs. It boils down to the overall return on investment that a contractor can realize with a piece of equipment. The Little Beaver earth drills are well positioned to give a contractor maximum flexibility, the power to do multiple jobs with less labor, and a low initial investment to get started.
Mike Hale
sales manager
Little Beaver


[Editor’s note: Responses were presented in the order in which they were received.]

Advertisement

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*