Landscape Business recently asked representatives from equipment manufacturers throughout the industry to share their insights into market trends and what industry professionals need to know. Responses to our Equipment Trends questions are presented here in the order in which they were received.

What trends are you seeing with regard to outdoor power equipment for professional lawn and landscape applications?

Trends continue to focus on productivity, ease of use and reduced service. And, as landscapers are now navigating the COVID-19 challenges with no more than two – and often only one man – per truck, equipment that offers high productivity for getting through jobs faster with less fatigue is more important than ever. Self-propelled reciprocating aerators with hydro drive and variable hole density for single pass aerations, and overseeders that can verticut and overseed in a single pass are examples of turf renovation units that offer more productivity. Equipment offering longer service intervals for oil changes saves downtime for a landscaper trying to meet the demands of their business, which, in today’s time, may mean a smaller crew.

– Pierre Pereira, director of sales, N.A. at Billy Goat

We have seen many of our professional lawn and landscape teams paying more attention to their efficiency and effectiveness. Each owner wants to know how products make their daily operations easier and more cost effective. Some have even calculated out how a new machine saves them money and, therefore, how quickly it will pay for itself. Operators and owners are also diversifying their services. Groups that focus on one service, such as mowing, are exploring landscaping, stump removal, snow removal, or installation of hardscapes and landscapes. It has been great to watch the lawn and landscape industry grow and adapt to new needs in the market.

– Sam Williamson, a regional sales manager for Steiner, a Doosan Bobcat brand.

There is a trend around value, with a focus on “What am I getting for my money?” – in terms of the mower itself and what it can do. Landscape contractors want a durable piece of equipment that is simple to operate. Comfort is also a key motivating factor – especially when it comes to owner/operators. We hear a lot about ergonomics, so we are designing seats that eliminate the chances of ending the day with bumps and bruises. 

We are also seeing a desire for an extension of the maintenance intervals. With seasonal work, it’s important to keep contractors out there making money instead of facing downtime with their mowers in the shop. 

– Brad Unruh, director of new product development, Hustler Turf Equipment

Improved performance and efficiency continue to be on the minds of the lawn care professionals. With a continued need for labor, commercial landscapers rely on equipment that provides quick and easy service, so as to get back to the jobs at hand. Fast, DIY maintenance and cleaning access allow for more jobs done today, and less time getting ready for tomorrow. Landscaping software is also growing interest and helping contractors with improved planning for the long days ahead. With efficiency being a priority, stand-on mowers are also continuing to gain acceptance.

Reliability is also important, so that the landscaper knows that regardless of what else is happening in the world, his equipment will support his business. Battery-powered equipment is gaining a lot of attention and interest in the market, especially with all the discussions on a greener environment happening in the news.

– Ron Scheffler, senior product manager, BOB-CAT and Ryan

There’s been an increased focus on battery-powered solutions, though it’s been a slower transition for professionals than it has been with consumers. Consumers have been quick to take advantage of the options available for battery-powered equipment and the benefits of not having to deal with mixing gas and oil or the general maintenance associated with gas-powered equipment. However, right now, many professionals continue to rely on their gas-powered equipment to get most of their jobs done because electric technology has not advanced to a point yet where battery-powered tools can be a full replacement for gas. Many professional landscapers are starting to recognize the benefits of battery-powered equipment, so they’ve started to use them as supplemental tools to their gas units. For example, when a crew is working early in the morning in a residential area or doesn’t want to bother people in a commercial setting, they’ll turn to battery-powered equipment due to the reduction in noise. Crews will also turn to battery-powered equipment when they’re working in municipalities and hospitals that do not allow the operation of gas-powered equipment. 

Indeed, while the professional market is slower to adopt, those who are using battery-powered equipment are seeing the benefits right away: no gas, ease of use, less noise, less vibration, lighter weight, less maintenance, and lower operating costs.

– Tony Buxton, senior product manager for Milwaukee Tool

We’re seeing a trend of professional landscape contractors looking for multi-application-capable equipment. A lot of our landscape customers are looking at models like our RT-75 Heavy Duty for its ability to perform as a mid-sized loader for typical landscape applications, as well as demanding applications such as brush cutting and land clearing. This allows landscape contractors to get into this type of work without investing in larger, dedicated equipment.

In addition, we’re seeing more contractors take advantage of small sit-in compact track loaders instead of stand-on and walk-behinds. Stand-on and walk-behind loaders offer the same compact benefits of track loaders in terms of transportability and the ability to operate in tight spaces, but, at the end of the day, they can’t compete in terms of speed and low ground disturbance, as well as operator safety and comfort.

– Buck Storlie, ASV product line manager

John Deere Z994R

The labor shortage continues to be a top concern for our customers. As a result, manufacturers have developed equipment solutions that help enhance operator productivity. The John Deere-exclusive Mulch On Demand technology enables the operator to switch between mulching and side discharging without ever leaving the seat.

Fuel is another hot trend, driven by customers either looking for ways to decrease fuel costs or exploring alternative fuels such as diesel. To meet this trend, we’ve focused on expanding our equipment lineup to offer more solutions for customers, such as the Z955R EFI and Z994R diesel zero-turn models. These zero-turns offer professional landscape contractors the power, productivity and fuel solutions they need. With these product introductions, we are able to supply professional landscape contractors for the right solution for any application or operation.

– Nick Minas, product manager, John Deere Commercial Mowing

Battery-powered equipment continues to be an area of growth throughout the country, primarily out west, where stronger regulations have pushed many landscape contractors to add more “green”/battery-powered equipment. Mowers and handheld tools, like trimmers and blowers, effectively reduce/eliminate emissions and help to take advantage of the noise-mitigation that battery-powered equipment offers.

Larger, more productive, and more versatile machines continue to be an area of growth, where larger deck sizes – such as our 96-inch 7500-G mower – can really step up productivity, or our GrandStand Multi Force, which is an “all-season” machine with both summer (mowing, aeration, dethatching, blower) and winter applications (snowplow blade). In general, higher-horsepower engines continue to be a strong trend across multiple different product categories.

– Mitch Hoffman, marketing manager at Toro

While vacuum excavation is not a new technology in the landscape industry, lawn and landscape contractors are increasingly using vacuum excavators for a variety of jobs. The versatile machines are being used for irrigation installation, garden and flowerbed clean-out and tree care. Vacuum excavators can be less environmentally invasive than other machines, and can be used to remove ground cover without harming vegetation. Landscapers also are turning to soft excavation, which is using pressurized water to excavate the soil while using the vacuum to remove slurry. This practice is commonly used for excavating irritation trenches or around established trees with a shallow root network. Due to their versatility, low maintenance and minimal environmental impact, vacuum excavators are an asset to any lawn and landscape fleet.

– Chapman Hancock, Ditch Witch vacuum excavation product manager

There is definitely a trend toward stand-on mowers, as more lawn care professionals take advantage of their small footprint, maneuverability and ease of operation. Long-term, we see a slower but consistent move toward battery-powered outdoor power equipment and autonomous functionality that will help lessen the impact of labor shortages.

– Josh Sooy, business segment director, professional products, Cub Cadet

Customers remain on the lookout for ways to make their businesses and operations more environmentally friendly. This means that fuel-efficient and zero emissions products are proving to be attractive, along with battery-powered products. For example, all of Honda’s gasoline-powered mowers incorporate either the Honda GXV engine or Honda GCV engine that feature high performance, easy starting and low fuel consumption. 

Noise abatement, both for operators and consumers, is an increasingly important aspect of environmental sustainability. Quieter operation of power equipment helps reduce operator fatigue and increase productivity of crews. And as people in the community are asking for less noise from landscaping activities, quiet operation reduces sound pollution.

The landscape market also benefits from increased innovation and development of equipment and tools. Outdoor power product owners remain focused both on how to get the most value from their equipment and how to most effectively complete outdoor landscaping maintenance and projects.

Despite the business challenges presented by the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, outdoor power equipment manufacturers still operate around several constants —chiefly, knowing and understanding that the industry is a very seasonal one, and sales are driven largely by weather patterns and weather events. 

During the past few years, Honda Power Equipment has adopted the operating mantra “expect the unexpected.” Take for example the devastating Atlantic hurricane seasons, the raging California wildfires due to drought and high winds, colder-than-average springs, and warmer temperatures lasting well into November with abrupt changes to snow and ice. Regardless, what Honda Power Equipment counts on is that customers look to the reliability, efficiency and quiet performance of the full array of Honda outdoor power equipment and general-purpose engines to help get jobs done, maximizing productivity and return on investment. 

– Gary Childress, senior manager, Honda Power Equipment

Commercial users continue to place a premium on dependable tools that allow them to get their work done quickly and with as little fatigue as possible. In particular, the popularity of lightweight products with high power output continues to increase.

– John Powers, director of product marketing, Echo, Inc.

With the combination of labor shortages and rising labor costs, Exmark is seeing landscape contractors looking for ways to become more productive and efficient. Customer feedback from users of our 96-inch Lazer Z models has been overwhelmingly positive. Landscape contractors, parks and rec departments, municipalities and savvy homeowners understand that up-front cost is quickly offset by the machines’ increased productivity and reduced labor, fuel, service and maintenance expenses.

Increased productivity and efficiency aren’t simply achieved through larger mowing decks, however. The Tractus non-pneumatic tire and wheel system is a great example. Tractus practically eliminates downtime from flat tires, and operators no longer have to check and maintain tire pressure on a daily basis to maintain mower performance.

We’re also seeing increased interest in turf care products. Due to the specialization required, turf care is a more difficult category to enter than maintenance, so profit margins are typically better. Expanding into turf care can help contractors overcome low revenue from poor weather and/or economic conditions. As a result, we’re seeing a growing number of our core customers dive into the turf care and/or application side of the business.

– Lenny Mangnall, Exmark product manager

Bobcat MT100

We’re definitely seeing the need from professional lawn and landscape professionals to pack more performance and productivity into the same sized equipment they use today. We’ve responded to this trend in multiple ways.

The new L23 and L28 small articulated loaders deliver an impressive combination of heavy lifting capability and an agile, turf-friendly package, thanks to its nimble design and smooth articulation.

As the importance of compact loaders grow for landscape businesses, owners place more demands on any given piece of equipment. The recently launched R-Series loaders boast increased lifting capabilities, featuring cast steel lift arm construction for added strength. 

New R2-Series compact excavators provide the performance, durability and quality necessary to increase productivity, achieve greater versatility and maximize profitability on landscaping projects. 

Bobcat also has also recently launched its largest lifting capacity mini track loader to date. The brand new MT100 is just 36 inches wide, allowing easy access through gates and in yards, while boasting a 1,000-pound lift capacity.

– Jason Boerger, marketing manager – excavators, Bobcat Company

The biggest industry trend is still the demand for battery-powered products among the professional and consumer markets. Many municipalities and residential areas are starting to require low to no exhaust emissions and lower noise levels so the market is adapting to meet those needs.

We are prepared to support landscapers with this transition over the next few years with a wide-range of powerful professional battery equipment. In addition, a number of Stihl professional battery products are already California Zero Emissions Equipment (ZEE) certified, as well as the American Green Zone Alliance Field Test Certified (AFTC) allowing them to operate even under the most stringent emissions and durability guidelines.

The landscaping business is becoming increasingly more sophisticated with high-tech tools like robotic lawn mowers and apps to manage business operations and fleet management from a mobile device.

We are seeing more smart technology used in the landscape industry. This year, we introduced Stihl connected management system. Stihl connected brings a new level of transparency to fleet management and the world of outdoor power equipment. With the Bluetooth-enabled device and the Stihl connected portal, accessible through a phone or tablet, professionals can check the status of their tools, and when maintenance is needed. Additionally, fleet management is made easier, and productivity improved, by knowing how tools are performing and when and where they are being used.

And while battery products certainly grow in popularity, we continue to enhance our professional gas product range improving power while lowering weight, reducing emissions and improving serviceability. 

– Nick Jiannas, vice president of sales and marketing, Stihl Inc.

Kioti CX 2510

We have seen, and will continue to see, the evolution of rechargeable and battery-powered solutions for both handheld – specifically string trimmers, blowers and trimmers – and ride-on equipment. Following the progression of the automotive industry, the adoption of these technologies will continue to spread into consumer and professional outdoor power equipment.

Tweels, an airless tire option, have increased in popularity over the years. The benefit to these tires is that they never go flat, saving on maintenance time and budget, and allowing heavy equipment to carry more weight and engage with more rugged terrain. 

We’re also continuing to see a rise in the popularity of zero turn mowers, such as Kioti’s ZXC Series, which allow landscaping professionals to get the job done efficiently and effectively.

– Steve Cathey, Kioti Tractor territory manager – Kansas, Oklahoma, and Eastern Texas

How has COVID-19 impacted design, production and sales of commercial outdoor power equipment, and/or how landscape industry professionals are approaching their outdoor power equipment needs and decisions in 2020?

Thankfully, the landscape industry has largely been deemed essential throughout North America, and has largely continued to operate uninterrupted. However, job losses will impact outsourcing of landscaping, and shutdowns of certain assets – like municipal golf courses and sports turf assets – are causing some uncertainty in the industry that are causing some landscapers, municipalities and sports complexes to be somewhat measured about their purchasing, but remain cautiously optimistic.

– Pierre Pereira, director of sales, N.A. at Billy Goat

COVID-19 has added a lot of challenges in our industry. We were certainly not immune to that. Our dealers had to shut down or change their operating procedures to accommodate for the virus, while taking care of their customers. Contrary to what we thought would happen, Steiner has seen an increase in sales in 2020. The increase in sales has allowed us to invest more into our design and production teams to become more efficient internally. We have had to increase production to keep up with the market demand. With more people working from home, the lawn and landscape teams are gaining more customers. Many homeowners, municipalities, and commercial locations are also taking this time to remodel and work on their landscape while they have less foot traffic. Lawn and landscape professionals are investing in more diverse equipment in an effort to better serve their customers and grow their business. All the while, they have adapted to contactless interactions and the use of protective gear to keep their customers and crews safe. Hats off to the professional lawn and landscape teams across the country that have worked through this difficult time and continued to service their customers!

– Sam Williamson, a regional sales manager for Steiner, a Doosan Bobcat brand.

There is no denying that COVID-19 impacted our industry. We saw a busy spring selling season slow down. Time had to be spent regrouping and helping our dealers navigate how they could sell if they couldn’t be open. As time went on, we saw our dealer network thrive – they proved they could improvise and overcome. There was a learning curve with understanding the new normal, but, in the end, they could still be there for their customers. 

– Brad Unruh, director of new product development, Hustler Turf Equipment

COVID-19 has impacted the way we do business, just like so many other organizations. Working from home has allowed our design of commercial outdoor power equipment to continue, and in some ways we have become more efficient. While our production facility was closed briefly, we have rebounded, and now production is stronger than our initial expectations. Sales, although initially lower due to closed dealerships, have grown since markets have reopened. 

Right when the pandemic warnings started, as we were gearing up for the spring season, the partial shutdowns began, which affected the spring aeration season and its corresponding sales for both ownership and rental channels. However, we are now witnessing improved growth from the previous year with the industry expecting to see a strong fall aeration season.

While you can’t replace visiting your customers in person, COVID-19 has kept us at home, which has allowed us to reach out to our customers more frequently. It has reminded us that we are all in this together.

– Ron Scheffler, senior product manager, BOB-CAT and Ryan

From my point of view, it seems the effects aren’t significant. Construction and landscaping must go on. Though people are nervous, it seems like many are still moving forward with home improvement and landscaping projects. Of course, outdoor applications have the added benefit of existing an open-air environment.

– Buck Storlie, ASV product line manager

COVID-19 has impacted everyone’s lives, but we are fortunate that commercial landscaping has remained strong throughout the pandemic. Now, more than ever, the world is moving outdoors, and the landscape industry plays a key role in maintaining those spaces. While, in general, the industry hasn’t slowed down, landscapers are closely evaluating their needs before making business decisions, such as purchasing a new piece of equipment.

– Nick Minas, product manager, John Deere Commercial Mowing

Continuing on the battery front, with so many people staying at home due to COVID-19, the noise-mitigation offered on battery solutions is more important than ever, so landscape contractors can operate during any time of the day without disturbing their customers. Once COVID-19 begins to ease up, this will also be a major benefit for operating around other commercial properties or schools.

– Mitch Hoffman, marketing manager at Toro

COVID-19 has created challenges with the sale of commercial power equipment, because conducting demonstrations and face-to-face training are more difficult in this environment. We are still following the same development processes we have in the past, with a focus on extensive in-field testing of our product as we go through the development life cycle. While we’ve had to be flexible, we’re confident in our production plan and dealer commitment.

– Josh Sooy, business segment director, professional products, Cub Cadet

Honda HRN216VKA

While Honda Power Equipment was generally optimistic about 2020 at the beginning of the year, the COVID-19 pandemic presented operational challenges for the business, particularly during March and April. Similarly, demand for outdoor products among landscape professionals waned during late spring as many businesses were faced with an uncertain economy and stay-at-home orders for non-essential businesses. However, as the economy began reopening and product production returned to more regular operations, Honda Power Equipment experienced strong gains for a number of its outdoor power products, marine outboards, and general-purpose engine lines. At the peak of the summer season in the U.S., landscape professionals continued to rely on Honda products more than ever, especially in June and July — evidenced by robust sales of lawn mowers, trimmers, tillers, pumps and inverter generators. The company even reported record snow blower sales, attributed to robust pre-season orders and immediate delivery of product.

– Gary Childress, senior manager, Honda Power Equipment

COVID-19 has slightly affected the sales process within a dealer. To help ensure staff and customers are safe, we’ve seen dealers adapt new policies and process, such as curbside pickup, methods of social distancing and offering masks.

– John Powers, director of product marketing, Echo, Inc.

Our industry professionals are increasingly selective of the equipment they’re purchasing, meaning they’re ensuring they have the right equipment for the application.

More than ever, they’re using online media for information, whether that’s OEM websites, influencers via social media, industry forums or resources like Landscape Business. As a result, they’re more informed when they get to the dealer. So, whether they’re looking to increase productivity through larger decks and/or higher horsepower, or are focusing on increased operational efficiency, with fuel-injected machines and/or low maintenance requirements, customers arrive at the dealership with more information. As a result, they can better consult with their dealer on the best equipment for their applications. 

– Lenny Mangnall, Exmark product manager

Our Stihl manufacturing facility in the U.S. remains operational, and while we have seen some impacts to our supply chain, we continue to provide Stihl dealers the products and services they need to support their customers.

Over the past few months/weeks, we have seen encouraging sales activity and we have heard from dealers and landscapers that business has remained steady, if not above expectations. That being said, no one knows where the economy is headed as the potential effects of COVID have not been fully realized.

– Nick Jiannas, vice president of sales and marketing, Stihl Inc.

To help our customers during this uncertain time, Kioti launched a variety of sales and financing programs. The pandemic has not only expedited the shift of residents from cities to suburban and rural areas, but also allowed time for property owners to tackle their own landscaping needs, increasing the demand for equipment. People are finding whatever way they can to get outdoors and stay busy while staying safe. 

Due to this shift in time spent at home, landscaping professionals have been impacted in various ways. Landscaping professionals split their time between servicing their equipment, making sure it will last, and landscaping work. During the current climate, attention to detail in landscaping work has escalated significantly. With homeowners being present and vigilant as their property is being worked on, pristine work is more critical than ever. 

– Steve Cathey, Kioti Tractor territory manager – Kansas, Oklahoma, and Eastern Texas

What advice do you have for landscape industry professionals regarding their equipment decisions over the next 12 to 18 months?

This too shall pass. Manage your business accordingly during the short term, and prepare for the rebound as states move into later stages of reopening and landscape markets start to return to normalcy over the next nine months.

– Pierre Pereira, director of sales, N.A. at Billy Goat

Pay attention to your finance and lease options on equipment. Interest rates are dropping, and investing in your company now may be a smart option. If there is any way to increase efficiency and decrease your daily costs, now is a great time to investigate new equipment options and opportunities. If you have considered growing your business into offering different services, do your research with your current customers and see how many would invest more for other services. Spraying, stump removal, shrub trimming, and snow removal are examples of services that can be added without much investment from an equipment standpoint. The one thing we can depend on is grass continuing to grow and snow needing to be removed.

– Sam Williamson, a regional sales manager for Steiner, a Doosan Bobcat brand.

My advice is develop a relationship with your dealer – they are smart and are there to take care of you. In the event something happens to your mower, they will be there to help you get it back up and running. Dealers are good at servicing what they sell. I suggest making purchases through dealers, as they are in the know with what is coming, trends, and most importantly, after-sale support. 

– Brad Unruh, director of new product development, Hustler Turf Equipment

With the uncertainty of COVID-19 and in the age of social distancing, online reviews and product searches and stories have become extremely important. Utilizing these tools, as well as discussions among professional peers, will give landscapers a great start in knowing what products will fit their needs and the properties they maintain. Trying to make decisions on purchasing new equipment should not be stressful to commercial contractors, especially when navigating a business through a pandemic. 

Doing your homework up front will aid in the decision-making process, and then visiting the local dealer to review the product first-hand to ensure it’s the right fit for your company. Nothing beats the real deal.

– Ron Scheffler, senior product manager, BOB-CAT and Ryan

The shift from gas to battery powered will continue to gain momentum in the landscaping industry. We suggest that professionals stay open minded about trying out electric equipment. While the technology isn’t quite there yet for battery-powered OPE solutions to fully replace gas, the day is coming quickly where they will be able. Until then, they’re an excellent supplemental tool for professionals. As more and more government regulations come into place around noise and emissions, being prepared with supplemental battery-powered OPE solutions makes sense. After all, you don’t want your business to be majorly impacted by these potential restrictions. 

– Tony Buxton, senior product manager for Milwaukee Tool

ASV RT50

It’s important to buy equipment that can be used for more than one application. A compact track loader with extra guarding – like our RT-75 Heavy-Duty – is highly suited for your typical landscape work in addition to operating high flow attachments. Or, you can look at small compact track loaders. The smallest sit-in loaders can be outfitted with turf tracks for low ground pressures and minimal ground disturbance. Then, come snow season, they can be used to fit into tight spaces such as sidewalks and alleyways that may otherwise have required manual shoveling.

– Buck Storlie, ASV product line manager

Given all the uncertainty in the world today, landscape professionals need reliable equipment, flexible financing and a dependable dealer that’s willing to go the extra mile to keep their customers up and running. Throughout this challenging year, many John Deere dealers have been meeting customer needs with mobile service, online ordering and curbside pick-up. In addition, John Deere Financial provides customized financing options that work with your cash flow for budget flexibility.

– Nick Minas, product manager, John Deere Commercial Mowing

It’s vital for landscape contractors to continue to find ways to drive more value for every piece of equipment on their trailers. Landscape contractors can also implement equipment solutions to their fleet that can conquer several landscaping needs using one machine. Utilizing versatile all-season machines will save time, money and effort in the long run. When it comes to landscape jobs, effective all-in-one solutions are a go-to, so that landscape contractors can get more time back in their days.

– Mitch Hoffman, marketing manager at Toro

The industry saw a dip in shipments of commercial mowers in 2020, since many dealerships shut down or operated with restrictions and some landscapers took a wait-and-see approach to buying. As demand catches back up in 2021, price point, reliability and efficiency are going to be big considerations in the purchasing process for landscapers. Landscapers are going to want to purchase a machine that gives them flexibility and allows them to maximize efficiency. If they haven’t considered a stand-on yet, they really should check one out this coming year.

– Josh Sooy, business segment director, professional products, Cub Cadet

When it comes to equipment purchase decisions, landscape professionals should always take into consideration the reliability and quality of the products — being sure to evaluate factors including ease of starting, ease of use and maintenance, low emissions, high fuel economy and simple, quiet operation. Not only do these value points lead to on-the-job success and less frustration during usage, but they lend themselves to a stronger return on investment.

– Gary Childress, senior manager, Honda Power Equipment

At Echo, we always encourage a user to try a product or a new brand they are considering. They might have preconceptions about a product going into the buying process, but after a real trial, understanding important aspects such as ease of staring, weight, balance and power, that user can make decisions that are right for them and their business.

– John Powers, director of product marketing, Echo, Inc.

Exmark Lazer Z X Series

Contractors need to ensure the equipment they select best matches their needs and applications. Just because a piece of equipment has an attractive purchase price doesn’t necessarily make it a great deal. 

When there’s concern about the future, it’s easy to think short-term and buy on price, instead of considering the total cost of ownership of the equipment. The costs of labor, fuel, repairs, and necessary service and maintenance easily exceed the initial purchase cost over the life of a machine. Early in my career as a service technician, a former boss once told me, “You can pay now, or you can pay more later.” It is a sentiment that holds true on so many levels for landscape professionals today.

– Lenny Mangnall, Exmark product manager

Working with your local Bobcat equipment dealer should be your first step. Our extensive dealer network is committed to delivering industry-leading sales, service and support throughout the ownership of your compact equipment. They can help you with new and used equipment, rentals, financing, parts and service in addition to helping you decide what machine is right for the work you’re doing. If you are starting from scratch, there are some questions you can ask to get an idea of your needs before contacting the dealership. For example, what jobs will your machine need to perform? What types of surfaces will your machine work on? What climate will your machine work in? What kind of jobsites will your machine need to be able to navigate? Don’t just rely on machine specs to decide on the type and size of machine you need. Operating the machine you are considering to purchase will give you a much better idea of whether it will be able to perform the specific tasks you will demand from it. This will help narrow down your search and assist your dealer in making sure you’re matched with the right machine for you and your business.

– Jason Boerger, marketing manager – excavators, Bobcat Company

It’s funny how the more things change, the more they stay the same. We believe the most important things to consider when making buying decisions are the same as they were 20 years ago – buying quality tools from someone who provides quality service. 

Stihl prides itself on the quality, durability and performance of all our tools and with nearly 10,000 Stihl dealers nationwide, landscapers can find someone with the knowledge and experience to provide them the right tool for the job and support them when they need their equipment serviced or repaired. The importance of having a good relationship with a local Stihl dealer cannot be overstated.

– Nick Jiannas, vice president of sales and marketing, Stihl Inc.

Supporting local dealerships will be very important over the next year. While local dealers may not have as many resources to invest in social and digital marketing, a bit of research on a landscaper’s end can go a long way in ensuring they walk out with the best piece of equipment for their needs. Kioti dealers, for instance, take the time to evaluate the pros and cons and rebate options, and ultimately find the most universal piece of equipment best suited for the job. Unlike big box stores, Kioti dealers are dedicated to helping customers get the job done with the right piece of machinery rather than closing the sale.

With the current financing options available and the increase in homeowners amid the urban to rural shift, now may be the perfect time for landscaping professionals to consider investing in a Kioti zero-turn mower, which can cut mowing times significantly and provide the versatility a landscaping crew needs. Landscapers can also consider adding a tractor with loader and backhoe or expanding their fleet in other ways.

– Steve Cathey, Kioti Tractor territory manager – Kansas, Oklahoma, and Eastern Texas

What is your outlook for the commercial outdoor power equipment market for the remainder of 2020 and beyond?

Flat in 2020 with a return to GDP + growth rates as markets return to normalcy in the following years.

– Pierre Pereira, director of sales, N.A. at Billy Goat

We believe the rest of 2020 will continue to be a strong year for the OPE market. We believe our industry has learned a lot this year regarding how we react to the world market and adapt to changing work requirements. It is the job of manufacturers to design and produce strong, reliable and innovative products. These innovations will hopefully lead to aiding professional landscapers and mowers to grow their business in years to come. We see a lot of opportunity for growth and development for the OPE market that will continue for years to come. We are proud to be a part of the outdoor power equipment market, and greatly appreciate the hard work and support of all of its members.

– Sam Williamson, a regional sales manager for Steiner, a Doosan Bobcat brand.

I believe the remainder of the year will see increased strength for the outdoor power equipment market. We’re continuing to see timely rain in many areas, extending the summer season, and seeing demand for mowers throughout the U.S. For the most part, there is a positive outlook within the industry, and people are continuing to persevere. The trend toward updating outdoor living space is gaining momentum as people spend more time at home.  

– Brad Unruh, director of new product development, Hustler Turf Equipment

The commercial outlook is very promising going forward. We expect to exceed last year’s market volume, even with partial closings across the country, throughout 2020. And, beyond that, we are planning for continued growth, as the turf industry is a resilient group, just like our great nation. 

The turf market is a tough, steadfast industry, and together we are all stronger.

– Ron Scheffler, senior product manager, BOB-CAT and Ryan

As advancements in battery, motor, and electronic technologies continue, you are going to see a bigger shift from gas to electric (due to increases in power and runtime). Milwaukee’s leadership in battery-powered technology puts us at an advantage when it comes to continuing to stay in front of these advancements. Many outdoor power equipment manufacturers have a thorough understanding of landscaping tools, applications and users, but they’re running to catch up with the speed of cordless technology developments. Our extensive background in cordless technology provides solid groundwork, and our end user research process allows us to understand the professional requirements for performance, durability and ergonomics. From there, we can provide true, battery-powered productivity enhancements that utilize our leading cordless M18 Fuel technology.

– Tony Buxton, senior product manager for Milwaukee Tool

I see the commercial outdoor power equipment market steady to improving for the remainder of 2020 and beyond. 

– Buck Storlie, ASV product line manager

This is a resilient industry, and despite the challenges landscapers have faced this year, we are optimistic about the future. Landscaping has been recognized as an essential industry and many homeowners are focused on improving their properties, so there is a lot of opportunity for landscape professionals now and in the future.

– Nick Minas, product manager, John Deere Commercial Mowing

Our outlook for the commercial outdoor power equipment market is very positive and promising. Grass is continuing to grow, and many property owners are taking a stronger look at their lawns and partnering with professionals to beautify their landscapes and maintain them throughout the season.

– Mitch Hoffman, marketing manager at Toro

The use of vacuum excavators is growing in the lawn and landscape market. The diversity of jobs that vacuum excavators can accomplish gives them a valuable role on a variety of jobs and in many different industries.

– Chapman Hancock, Ditch Witch vacuum excavation product manager

There is potential for a strong fall this year, as many purchase decisions were put off last spring. As the world gets more clarity on COVID-19, we expect sales to recover in 2021 since some fleets will be past due for replacement.

– Josh Sooy, business segment director, professional products, Cub Cadet

Recent indicators point to 2020 remaining strong for the outdoor power equipment market, especially as work-from-home trends are creating more demand for commercial hires. For 2021, Honda Power Equipment is hopeful trends lean increasingly more toward “return to normal” while continuing to adhere to safe operational practices. Currently, the leading indicators from the industry and retailers are that 2020 will be a good year, overall, for commercial outdoor power equipment market.

– Gary Childress, senior manager, Honda Power Equipment

The market continues to grow in virtually all segments, and we are excited to see what 2021 has to offer.

– John Powers, director of product marketing, Echo, Inc.

Much like with any economic downturn, there was some initial pull back. But, in the end, neither the economy nor COVID-19 can keep the grass from growing. As a result, landscape professionals’ services will continue to be very much in demand.

Additionally, with the extra time at home, many families have invested in their outdoor spaces, and either adopted or enhanced their sense of pride with their yard and landscaping. These spaces will require time to upkeep going forward – time homeowners may lack as they return to their physical job locations.

With that in mind, our outlook for the future is extremely positive and we look forward to continuing to be the choice that landscape professionals most often turn to.

– Lenny Mangnall, Exmark product manager

There’s no doubt that the industry will continue to grow and expand, and Bobcat Company will continue to look at opportunities to provide customers efficient, reliable solutions as they grow along with it. That includes looking at our comprehensive equipment lineup to identify areas we can grow, areas we can improve and, of course, listening to customer needs to continue exploring new innovations. 

– Jason Boerger, marketing manager – excavators, Bobcat Company

I think what we can take away from this year is that the landscaping industry is resilient and, as an essential business, will continue to flourish despite fluctuations in the market, unpredictable weather and even a global pandemic.

Stihl Connect

I encourage landscapers to remain innovative in their service offerings, stay connected with their network of suppliers, and continue to manage their business in a way that allows them to ride out any storm.

While the application of robotic and connected products is still developing in the industry, these innovations will be significant to landscapers over the next five years. 

– Nick Jiannas, vice president of sales and marketing, Stihl Inc.

Between spring and fall, retail typically begins to slow down. As sales begin to pick up in the fall, we will likely see more commercial equipment sales from property owners and landscaping professionals. Property owners will likely continue to take on outdoor projects in 2020 and invest in equipment to combat the “virtual fatigue.” Because of this, landscaping professionals will need to be strategic with pricing and offerings to keep the business demand. 

– Steve Cathey, Kioti Tractor territory manager – Kansas, Oklahoma, and Eastern Texas

What new or different commercial outdoor power equipment offerings do you have for 2020, or what new products and/or upgrades do you have coming soon that you can discuss? 

This year, we’ve expanded our cleanup line with a new 14-gross-hp. Vanguard-powered truck loader and a 6-gross-hp. Force blower with convenient folding handle. For one of the best values, and the only electric start in the market in its class, the truck loader features a 16-inch-diameter armor plate steel impeller with eight cutting points for max suction power. With this addition, we’re expecting a solid “Goatoberfest” cleanup this year!

– Pierre Pereira, director of sales, N.A. at Billy Goat

2020 has been a strong year for the Steiner brand. Thanks to our excellent dealers across the country, we have been able to get our 450 tractor to the market in a very effective manner. Even though the 450 has only been out for a couple years, we have been able to show commercial cutters how we can make their daily operation more efficient. The addition of our new canopy, 3-point hitch kit, front and rear hydraulic ports, and front and rear power kits, has allowed our customers to customize their tractor to fit their needs. These accessories also allow our customers to operate ground attachments that work on a category 1, 3-point hitch. In 2020, Steiner also released our updated Tree Farm mower. The Tree Farm mower is designed for mowing plant nurseries. Our powerful design cuts through thick grass and brush while staying between the plant rows. The Tree Farm mower also comes standard with fenders to protect plants from tire damage. We are looking forward to new kits and attachments to come out soon.

– Sam Williamson, a regional sales manager for Steiner, a Doosan Bobcat brand.

We are continuing to actively promote the Hustler Turf Super 88, which launched at GIE+EXPO 2019. This mower meets the need of commercial contractors who require the efficiency of a stand-on mower. It features the cut quality of a 54-inch deck and productivity of an 88-inch cut, allowing operators to mow faster and with a smaller crew. The Super 88 features two engine options: A Vanguard 36-hp. carbureted engine and a Vanguard 37-hp. EFI engine with Oil Guard system. It also has a 14-gallon total fuel capacity. Multiple accessory kits are also available for the Super 88. 

Our recently updated Hustler Turf TrimStar and Super 104 are also newer offerings. All TrimStar models now feature an electric start, a deep 5-inch deck, and more to enhance commercial performance. A frame upgrade means increased strength by using larger cross tubes, among other updates. Offering a 104-inch width of cut, zero-turn precision and up to an impressive 11-mph speed, the Super 104 now offers a Vanguard EFI with Oil Guard, alongside other new features.

– Brad Unruh, director of new product development, Hustler Turf Equipment

All of our BOB-CAT commercial zero-turn mowers now have the AirFX deep deck design with our Air-Gap baffle system that provides a great quality of cut and a cleaner deck at the end of the day. This includes our new stand-on mower platform with our larger deck sizes. Our commercial products showcase a new user-experience that is second to none. Care was taken in the design to provide the landscaper the best fit and feel of the controls and operator positioning throughout the mower line-up, which then allows more comfort throughout the day.

Ryan has launched a brand new hydraulically driven sod cutter. The Ryan Jr. Sod Cutter – Hydro provides more productivity, precision and control to help you power through the cut. Packed with easy-to-use features, it’s also designed with durability that landscape professionals have come to recognize with the Ryan name.

– Ron Scheffler, senior product manager, BOB-CAT and Ryan

Just this summer, we announced the M12 Fuel Hatchet 6-inch pruning saw. While chainsaws are typically the go-to solution for cutting hardwoods, they don’t deliver accessibility and maneuverability in tight access areas to make controlled cuts. Weighing less than 5 pounds, and featuring a compact design, the M12 Fuel Hatchet provides landscape professionals with much-needed control while delivering less fatigue. In addition, this tool completes cuts in demanding applications up to five times faster than hand saws. When equipped with the M12 Redlithium XC4.0Ah battery, the Hatchet delivers enough runtime to complete full applications, with the ability to make up to 120 cuts per charge in 2-inch oak.

– Tony Buxton, senior product manager for Milwaukee Tool

Our newest outdoor power equipment offerings are the RT-50 Posi-Track loader and our Elite line of high-performance, heavy-duty lubricants. The RT-50 is a new size class for ASV, and features an industry-leading performance-to-weight ratio. It allows users to do more in more places with best-in-class ground pressure, ground clearance, serviceability and performance. The nimble machine features serious performance for its weight, and is easy to transport. 

Our Elite line of engine oil, hydraulic oil and grease products are extensively tested for use in ASV equipment. The line reduces fuel consumption, improves efficiency and optimizes performance in ASV machines. It includes four premium products: ASV Elite 5W-40 heavy-duty full synthetic engine oil; ASV Elite 10W-30 heavy-duty engine oil; ASV Elite zinc-free 46 multi-viscosity hydraulic oil; and ASV Elite Green Grease NLGI 2. Not only does the Elite line meet ASV’s rigorous performance standards, it also meets or exceeds most other industry service classifications. 

– Buck Storlie, ASV product line manager

Most recently, we launched the new Dump-From-Seat Material Collection System, compatible with the John Deere Z900 ZTrak zero-turn mowers. With this launch, John Deere redesigned the system, moving the fulcrum of the dump lever closer to the operator for easier operation, increasing efficiency when dumping materials.

Other new offerings from John Deere include the Z955R Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) ZTrak zero-turn mower and a 72-inch mower deck option for our diesel Z994R ZTrak zero-turn mower. The 29-hp. EFI engine on the Z955R EFI model provides professional landscapers with a solution that reduces fuel use and boosts fuel savings. The new Z955R EFI supports the growing demand for higher horsepower EFI machines, along with the comfort features found in our R-spec models. The Z955R EFI model is offered with two seat choices, both of which feature the comfort-boosting ComfortGlide suspension. With ComfortGlide, the seat can travel up to two inches fore and aft, absorbing bumps for a significant enhancement to ride comfort. Additionally, the standard Comfort & Convenience package features padded, ergonomically angled control levers, and electronic controls, which allow the operator to raise and lower the deck, or disengage mower blades at the push of a button. The Brake-N-Go machine starting system allows the operator to simply set the parking brake and turn the key to start mowing.

The popular diesel Z944R ZTrak zero-turn mower is now equipped with a 72-inch deck option, increasing operator productivity. The new deck size is ideal for managing larger terrains, while still offering premium quality, enhanced comfort, lower operating costs and longer engine life. As with the Z955R EFI machine, the Z994R features two ComfortGlide suspension seat options, the standard Comfort & Convenience package, and the Brake-N-Go machine starting system. Additionally, a large, open operator station and foot platform provides plenty of legroom, allowing for multiple foot positions for increased operator comfort.

– Nick Minas, product manager, John Deere Commercial Mowing

We have several new and innovative commercial outdoor power equipment solutions for 2020. Just to name a few, we’re launching our first battery-powered 21-inch heavy-duty mower soon. We’re also continuing to expand our offerings on our ultra-versatile Toro GrandStand Multi Force in order to deliver more value to the contractor for any task, in any season.

– Mitch Hoffman, marketing manager at Toro

Our customers are always looking for more power. That’s why Ditch Witch recently released the SK3000 full-size stand-on skid steer. The SK3000 is designed to complete the same jobs that a traditional, cabbed skid-steer can do, but with the 360-degree visibility of a stand-on machine. It’s the most powerful machine its class, with an operating capacity of 3,100 pounds.

Ditch Witch recently launched the HX30G vacuum excavator as the economical option for contractors and landscapers looking to explore the benefits that vacuum excavation could bring to their operation. The HX30G provides quick ROI for landscapers, with a 31-horsepower gas engine, providing the optimal combination of power and suction for planting trees, removing mulch and installing irrigation lines. It comes with your choice of a 500-gallon or 800-gallon debris tank and several water and trailer options, catering to individual landscapers’ needs.

– Brant Kukuk, Ditch Witch compact equipment product manager (first paragraph) and Chapman Hancock, Ditch Witch vacuum excavation product manager (second paragraph)

As stand-ons continue to grow in popularity, Cub Cadet is focused on driving efficiency and comfort in our stand-on machines. By using a 12cc pump and wheel motor along with an FX801V engine on our 54-inch machines, we are delivering an optimal balance of high ground speeds and plenty of torque for tough cutting conditions. In addition to power and performance, we’re focused on developing the most comfortable suspension system in the industry. As we progress into the next few years, we have some very exciting new systems that have the potential to significantly improve cutting efficiency, reduce the time needed to mow a property, deliver incredibly precise stripes and virtually eliminate turfing.

– Josh Sooy, business segment director, professional products, Cub Cadet

The past 12 months has been an active period for Honda Power Equipment, marked by successful introductions of several products that integrate versatile power, greater adaptability, excellent fuel efficiency, technological innovation and safe operation. Last year saw the launch of the all-new Honda HRN Series of lawn mowers and general-purpose engines, including the Honda GX50 mini-four stroke and Honda iGX700/iGXV700 and iGX800/iGXV800 V-Twin models. This year, the company continues the momentum, taking a bold step with the integration of safety enhancements for the Honda generators.

In July 2020, Honda Power Equipment announced that all models in its portable generator lineup will be equipped with CO-minder, a new advanced carbon monoxide (CO) detection system designed to help protect users from injury or death from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. The Honda CO-minder system continuously measures carbon monoxide levels in the air near the generator and automatically shuts down the unit before detected CO reaches a dangerous level. Currently, four Honda generator models integrate the new CO-minder technology —the EU1000i and EU3000iS Super Quiet Series inverter generators for work, home, and recreational applications; the Economy Series EG4000 open-frame unit for home backup and workplace power; and the EB10000 Industrial Series generator, the company’s flagship model. 

What’s coming next for Honda? Honda Power Equipment, the first in the industry to commit to installing CO detection systems on its full line of generator models, will roll out the CO-minder technology on the balance of its product line throughout the remainder of 2020. And stay tuned as Honda plans to introduce yet another new enhancement to its generator lineup — a technologically innovative feature that will offer even more convenient operation for industrial users, landscape professionals and consumers alike. 

– Gary Childress, senior manager, Honda Power Equipment

At the GIE show last year, we showcased 20 new products for 2020 aimed at commercial landscapers. These new offerings included the Shindaiwa EB810 backpack blower; SRM-2320T commercial trimmer; RB-100W salt spreader; and five new Echo commercial handheld hedge trimmers, including a new shafted model, the SHC-2620S. We continue to develop new products aimed at the commercial user and we’ll be announcing many exciting new products later this year.

– John Powers, director of product marketing, Echo, Inc.

In general, Exmark is focused on making our equipment more productive with less downtime from adjustments, service and maintenance.

Z Spray LTS

Customer feedback on the new Tractus non-pneumatic tire and wheel combination has been incredibly positive. Tractus is an outstanding upgrade to minimize downtime and increase the performance, productivity and efficiency of our Lazer Z models. In the year to come, you can expect to see the Tractus tire and wheel combination available as standard equipment on additional Exmark models. We’re also working on new features for our zero-turn mowers that should be very appreciated by our users.

Earlier this year, we introduced our Z Turf Equipment line of turf care products, including products such as Z-Spray spreader-sprayers, which have been very well received. Looking forward, we’re excited to introduce new features and accessories to the line.

– Lenny Mangnall, Exmark product manager

Next is truly right now for Bobcat Company. We have released several new products, as well as revolutionary new series. The following are recently launched products that will help solve the challenges that landscape professionals face every day:

• Small articulated loaders, the L23 and L28, are a new product offering from Bobcat. These two machines are perfect for landscape professionals. They provide impressive lifting capability in a compact and turf-friendly package. 

• Newly launched R-Series loaders are completely redesigned for the increasing demands that landscaping professionals place on compact equipment. Now available are vertical lift path skid-steer and compact track models: S64/T64, S66/T66, and S76/T76. Radial lift path R-Series models S62/T62 are slated to launch in September with the S72/T72 models to follow rounding out the R-Series lineup in 2020, offering a range of rated operating capacities from 2,300 to 2,900 pounds.

• Bobcat expanded its popular R-Series excavator lineup earlier this year by introducing its next excavator series: R2-Series. The first R2-Series excavators include the E42 and E50 models and come with several upgrades to performance, comfort and versatility.

• Bobcat is building off the success of its popular mini track loader line up and is expanding by adding another model. The latest offering is the recently launched MT100, offering the largest lifting capacity of a Bobcat mini track loader to date.

– Jason Boerger, marketing manager – excavators, Bobcat Company

We have a wide range of new products forthcoming in 2020 to include both battery- and gasoline-powered equipment:

As part of our continued expansion of the Stihl AP professional battery series, earlier this year, we introduced the Stihl BGA 200 handheld blower. This blower delivers a range of features that allow professional landscapers to take on almost any blowing task.

Stihl engineers are spearheading new innovations in battery product technology that improve power and extend runtimes. In 2021, Stihl will introduce several new professional battery products in the AP series that have comparable power and performance of gas-powered tools and are built in our U.S. manufacturing facility in Virginia Beach. And with the Stihl Battery Management System (BMS), landscapers get maximum tool performance through battery power depletion.

The BMS monitors individual battery cells to ensure consistent power (wattage), and communicates with electronic modules in the tool and charger that are designed to protect against system overload, tool overheating and deep battery discharge. 

Like the fuel-injected MS 500i chain saw released last year, gasoline-powered equipment will remain a significant part of our product offering, with groundbreaking design and engineering, and new products for professionals slated for release in the near future. 

– Nick Jiannas, vice president of sales and marketing, Stihl Inc.

This year, Kioti announced two exciting additions to our lineup, a new model for the popular CK10SE Series plus the all-new CX Series. 

The first Kioti product announcement this year was the all-new CX Series that comes in two ROPS models with either a manual (CX2510) or HST (CX2510 HST) transmission. This compact tractor series is the perfect workhorse for the whole property — small enough to fit into tight spaces, and large enough to handle the dirty work. We also added a new tractor to join six other models in the popular CK10SE Series. The CK2610SE HST Cab offers the same high quality and comfort the series is known for in a lower-horsepower option. 

These new products come on the heels of Kioti’s recently launched ZTR Series. Announced in the spring of 2019, Kioti expanded its product offerings to include four ZTR Series — ZXR, ZXR SE, ZXC and ZXC SE — designed and developed from the ground up for commercial and residential applications.

– Steve Cathey, Kioti Tractor territory manager – Kansas, Oklahoma, and Eastern Texas