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View Full Version : Riders vs. Walkbehinds...my experience after one season


PR0 TURF
01-11-2013, 01:46 PM
I had this posted in my thread on the "Pictures" forum, but thought it would be worth posting here as well...

After running primarily riders for the past 10 years we made the switch from Exmark Lazers to the Exmark Turf Tracers. Our Lazers had 31hp Briggs engines with 60" decks. Our Turf Tracers have 20hp Kohler with 60" decks & velkes. It has been an interesting experience. I could ramble on for quite a while about this. I'll list a few of the Pros & Cons...

Cons of the Turf Tracers

-Bagging capabilities is the biggest crutch of the machines. Spring & Fall cleanups would be pretty tough with the minimal bagging capabilities of the Turf Tracers. We still own 2 Lazers that we used only in the Spring & Fall, this worked out well for us. Bagging the heavy wet grass in the spring was tough with the Turf Tracers, but it's tough with any mower at that time of the year.

-Employee complaints. Our employees were resisting the change. They had been sitting down for years on the Lazers & now had to stand on velkes. They're not paying the fuel & maintenance bills, so their complaining didn't get them very far. It was only for a few weeks and then they got used to the new routine and things have been fine since. :cry:

-Ground speed is slower (pro & con). This is good because the machine travels a bit slower than a Lazer so operators can't do as much damage when turning. It is a con when having to travel far distances back to the truck in a condo complex for example, the Lazer could move quicker in those situations.

-Grass in mulch etc. We would not bag at times and we were dealing with grass being blown in mulch beds, or on houses if our crews were not careful with what they were doing. We never had to deal with this when running the Lazers. :hammerhead:

Pros of the Turf Tracers

-Significantly less customer complaints about turf damage. In previous years we would get approximately one call per week complaining about turf damage, divots etc. With the Turf Tracers we received maybe 3 calls all season about turf damage. We actually received compliments/feedback from customers about the lack of wear & tear on their lawns this season. :clapping:

-SIGNIFICANT fuel savings. We were saving a very noticeable amount on fuel week to week. That was awesome! :drinkup:

-Lower maintenance costs. Replacement drive tires are $55 instead of $135 for the Lazers. Hydro pumps, spindles etc are all cheaper. :clapping:

-We bag much less in the summer. We work in a market that contractors typically bag all season for no particular reason, just because everyone else does it. With the Turf Tracers we found we were not running baggers in the dry summer months and that helped speed up our production rates. :walking:

-No expensive Ultra Vacs to rebuild or cloth catcher bags to replace. This goes back to the lower maintenance costs.

-We could comfortably carry 3 Turf Tracers in our trailer instead of just 2 Lazers. Plus they weigh much less, so we are pulling less weight in our trailers.

-Turf Tracers could mow over wet, soft lawns much better. After a heavy rain storm, or in the spring, there are always areas in certain lawns that hold water and make the ground very soft. With the Turf Tracers we could pull the velkes off and walk behind the mowers and they would tread very lightly over the soft turf. Our Lazers would've sunk like a ship and made a huge mess (been there all too many times) :dizzy:


To sum it all up....We will continue running Turf Tracers and we will also keep our Lazers for spring & fall cleanups only. For us, the pros far out weigh the cons. :weightlifter:



If anyone is serious about making the switch and would like to talk about it further you can contact me directly and I would be happy to discuss this further.


:usflag::usflag::usflag:

LandFakers
01-11-2013, 02:01 PM
Did your employees have trouble with quality when switching? The control are a lot different And can take a bit to get used to.
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PR0 TURF
01-11-2013, 02:19 PM
Did your employees have trouble with quality when switching? The control are a lot different And can take a bit to get used to.
Posted via Mobile Device

Most of the bugs were worked out within the first 3 weeks. We always had one Turf Tracer as a spare machine for years, so most of the guys were familiar with operating them.

The striping was also not as nice & deep with the Turf Tracers, but it was still a nice stripe. Our Lazers stripe very good.

Groomer
01-11-2013, 03:09 PM
I wonder if the 60" deck makes a striping difference? I run all 48" Turf Tracers and they stripe beautifully.

Turf Tracer
01-11-2013, 03:12 PM
Just curious why you didn't get the Vantage Stand On

And if you put on the micro mulch kit and 2 blades per spindle you won't have to bag anything
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mgoldman
01-11-2013, 04:32 PM
I have heard bout but not tried the two blades per spindle, does it really make much diff when mulching?
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Turf Tracer
01-11-2013, 04:42 PM
If you have the horses. Yes.
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gallihergreen
01-11-2013, 10:23 PM
Excellent write-up Pro-Turf! Thanks for sharing.
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94gt331
01-12-2013, 01:46 AM
Pro-turf whats the ground speed on the turf tracer been thinking about getting one. I perfer walk behinds mostly for the resedential yards but i have a few 5-7 acre properties that you just have to use a ztr on them because there much faster.

Snapper Jack
01-12-2013, 10:08 AM
[I]I had this posted in my thread on the "Pictures" forum, but thought it would be worth posting here as well...[/



-Employee complaints. Our employees were resisting the change. They had been sitting down for years on the Lazers & now had to stand on velkes. They're not paying the fuel & maintenance bills, so their complaining didn't get them very far. It was only for a few weeks and then they got used to the new routine and things have been fine since.

Having realized the pro's of walk behinds for years and also know the con's of velke's,after your employee's get thrown around and jarred like a pogo stick after years riding that velke so you could save a few bucks on gas and maintenance expenses,who's going to pay for your employee's knee reconstructive surgery as they get older? The knee's aren't meant to be used as shock absorbers and like shocks ,their life expectancy will become shortened if overly abused. You need to look at both sides of the coin here and listen to your employee complaints and hopefully a rational solution to benefit both parties will come of it,after all your employee's are the back bone of your operation .

PR0 TURF
01-12-2013, 12:06 PM
If you have the horses. Yes.
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How many horses we talking to efficiently run 2 blades per spindle?

2 standard blades? Mulching blades?

:weightlifter:

PR0 TURF
01-12-2013, 12:08 PM
I wonder if the 60" deck makes a striping difference? I run all 48" Turf Tracers and they stripe beautifully.

We had the striper/roller on some of our 60" decks. They seemed to lay a deeper stripe than our Turf Tracers without any roller/striper add-on. It was not that significant, but a bit noticeable to someone with "the eye"

PR0 TURF
01-12-2013, 12:14 PM
Pro-turf whats the ground speed on the turf tracer been thinking about getting one. I perfer walk behinds mostly for the resedential yards but i have a few 5-7 acre properties that you just have to use a ztr on them because there much faster.

Don't quote me on this but I believe the Turf Tracer is close to 7mph and the Lazer is closer to 12mph.

whiffyspark
01-12-2013, 12:26 PM
Having realized the pro's of walk behinds for years and also know the con's of velke's,after your employee's get thrown around and jarred like a pogo stick after years riding that velke so you could save a few bucks on gas and maintenance expenses,who's going to pay for your employee's knee reconstructive surgery as they get older? The knee's aren't meant to be used as shock absorbers and like shocks ,their life expectancy will become shortened if overly abused. You need to look at both sides of the coin here and listen to your employee complaints and hopefully a rational solution to benefit both parties will come of it,after all your employee's are the back bone of your operation .

I would be leaving if I was his employee. Keeping your employees happy should be propertiy
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PR0 TURF
01-12-2013, 12:37 PM
Having realized the pro's of walk behinds for years and also know the con's of velke's,after your employee's get thrown around and jarred like a pogo stick after years riding that velke so you could save a few bucks on gas and maintenance expenses,who's going to pay for your employee's knee reconstructive surgery as they get older? The knee's aren't meant to be used as shock absorbers and like shocks ,their life expectancy will become shortened if overly abused. You need to look at both sides of the coin here and listen to your employee complaints and hopefully a rational solution to benefit both parties will come of it,after all your employee's are the back bone of your operation .


You could use that debate for many instances in the working world. There is almost always an "easier" way to do something.

-Why did you make employees rake loam by hand when you could have use a power rake?
-Why did they have to move wheelbarrows with stone when they could've used a skid steer, who is going to pay for their back issues they might have over time?
-Why did they use a leaf rake when you could've used blowers...who's going to pay for their shoulder surgery they might need?
-Why did you use blowers when you could have used leaf rakes...who is going to pay for their hearing loss from a blower in their ear all day that might happen over the years?
-Why did you make make your office staff use a keyboard instead of speech recognition software, who's going to pay for the treatments for the carpal tunnel syndrome that they might get over the years?

It is the territory that goes along with the job, I'm sure we could come up with examples for any industry. We value our employees greatly, there is no doubt about that. No one is forcing them to work for our company, or in the green industry. It is a choice they have made as employees & we have made as employers. We are not going to run different machines because after many years of operating one of our mowers there is a chance an employee will have bad knees.

What would be worse on the knees/legs/body over the years...operating a walk-behind with a velke or without a velke?

PR0 TURF
01-12-2013, 12:43 PM
I would be leaving if I was his employee. Keeping your employees happy should be propertiy
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Whiffy...you are saying that you feel having to mow with a hydraulic walk behind mower and a velke is grounds for leaving a company? You would not work for a company unless you were sitting on a mower all day?

What would you do if your employer asked you to pick up a shovel and dig a hole to plant a tree? I'm assuming you would quit because it should be done with an auger or excavator?

whiffyspark
01-12-2013, 12:51 PM
I would not cut grass 5 days a week on a velke. Next year I'm running two lazers, 36 turf tracer, and a vantage. Turf tracer is for one property. To me that's unfair to your employees. We cut a lot of large properties though, only about 15 residentials so maybe that is the difference

As far as picking up a shovel... I sat my ass in the bobcat moving the trees. Lol
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HenryB
01-12-2013, 02:17 PM
A solid 2 wheel sulky is probably better on the body than sitting all day. Rider mowers even sitting or driving all day is hell on the lower spine (discs).

LandFakers
01-12-2013, 02:21 PM
I would have also thought that there could be some middle ground. Maybe 2 WB and 1 rider, and each week one member of the crew gets to ride instead of walk. The more I think about it the less practical it is, and the mower arguing could result from it... But im sure it would keep everybody happy

Groomer
01-12-2013, 05:49 PM
I switched back to all walkbehinds a few seasons back-no velke-all walk. So much better for my tricky properties-the turf wear and tear has disappeared. Everybody happy. They just fit my program, If I were cutting huge estate-type ground, I'm sure it would be different. Anyway, good analysis and report!

Richard Martin
01-12-2013, 07:54 PM
For my situation with bigger lawns where I can wind my Dixie up, the loss of ground speed would offset the fuel savings. It would take me much longer, especially on a lawn that I have to double cut, at a maximum of 6.75 MPH vs. my Dixie's 15 MPH. So not only would it take me at least twice as long, but I'd probably end up burning more fuel because the mower is running twice as long.

Turf Tracer
01-13-2013, 01:11 AM
So why not the Vantage Standers instead of the Tracers?

Been thinking about one is why I ask.

Greyst1
01-13-2013, 01:18 AM
A solid 2 wheel sulky is probably better on the body than sitting all day. Rider mowers even sitting or driving all day is hell on the lower spine (discs).

Get yourself a Ferris and problem solved.

Great thread btw

zak406
01-13-2013, 04:30 AM
I dont think making workers use a walk behind is grounds to quit a job... Its not like he is making them walk. What did guys do years ago when there was no riders?

Snapper Jack
01-13-2013, 07:02 AM
You could use that debate for many instances in the working world. There is almost always an "easier" way to do something.

-Why did you make employees rake loam by hand when you could have use a power rake?
-Why did they have to move wheelbarrows with stone when they could've used a skid steer, who is going to pay for their back issues they might have over time?
-Why did they use a leaf rake when you could've used blowers...who's going to pay for their shoulder surgery they might need?
-Why did you use blowers when you could have used leaf rakes...who is going to pay for their hearing loss from a blower in their ear all day that might happen over the years?
-Why did you make make your office staff use a keyboard instead of speech recognition software, who's going to pay for the treatments for the carpal tunnel syndrome that they might get over the years?

It is the territory that goes along with the job, I'm sure we could come up with examples for any industry. We value our employees greatly, there is no doubt about that. No one is forcing them to work for our company, or in the green industry. It is a choice they have made as employees & we have made as employers. We are not going to run different machines because after many years of operating one of our mowers there is a chance an employee will have bad knees.

What would be worse on the knees/legs/body over the years...operating a walk-behind with a velke or without a velke?

You won't find a Physician who'll claim walking is bad for the body:nono:,you might be a little stiff and sore in the morning though but that could also indicate your out of shape.
It would be difficult for me to add up all those miles I've accumulated over the past 10 or plus years walking behind a WB and I'm still going strong,no joint ailments or arthritis nor any surgeries on the scheduling books but has someone mentioned,good topic though.

aaronmg
01-13-2013, 07:30 AM
scissors!!! its all about the pussification of america plain and simple!!!!

aaronmg
01-13-2013, 07:37 AM
greyst1 i agree 100% with you ferris is over 1hr away from me and exmark less than 10mins away but im rural...

Crimson Lawn
01-13-2013, 09:19 AM
I prefer walkbehinds. One of my reasons is I could not use a zero turn on most of my properties. I have a few slopes that a zero would fail just on the approach. If I have a employee that says they reuse to run a walkbehind because of the abuse, trimmer and edger time it is for him. Then again, I am somewhat consolidating this year and going solo most of time.
I have found the maint. is easier on walkbehinds as well.

Turf Tracer
01-13-2013, 11:59 AM
How many horses we talking to efficiently run 2 blades per spindle?

2 standard blades? Mulching blades?

:weightlifter:

biggest engine eXmark offers on whatever mower...I usually pop the engine and put on a bigger one.

2 standard mulch blades or 2x low lift...less drag.

No Bagging.:nono:

94gt331
01-13-2013, 12:44 PM
I'm sure pro-turf has it figgured out with what he feels is best for his customers yards and his buisiness model. Walk- behinds do a better job I feel and he knows it. Im sure he treats his guys good, just look at his website hes got. Zero turns aren't for everyone either. He's just stating his pro's and cons.

Kelly's Landscaping
01-13-2013, 12:50 PM
Whiffy...you are saying that you feel having to mow with a hydraulic walk behind mower and a velke is grounds for leaving a company? You would not work for a company unless you were sitting on a mower all day?

What would you do if your employer asked you to pick up a shovel and dig a hole to plant a tree? I'm assuming you would quit because it should be done with an auger or excavator?

Oh yes that would be grounds for me leaving as well. I wouldn't have been there to begin with if all you used were walk behinds so switching would be all I needed to buy my own lazer and open my own lawn care company. The walk behind controls kill your hands and is future carpal tunnel and I do speak from experience on the hand and wrist pains. I have about 4000 hours on walk behinds granted I have about 8000 on ZTRs no way I'd go back. What I notice is when I worked for an old boss that used walk-behinds we called it quits after 8-9 hours completely exhausted. With my own ZTRs I go 10-12 hours and come home less tired.

Not saying thats going to be an issue for you unless you have some capable leaders in your company in which case you may spawn some new companies.

Turf Tracer
01-14-2013, 12:23 PM
ECS is easy on the hands and wrists. You were on pistols. :nono:

whiffyspark
01-14-2013, 02:33 PM
Ecs isn't that much easier on the hands.
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elbow300
01-14-2013, 03:28 PM
Wow!!! I have always thought of the guys working in the grass business as hard working folks. Sounds like we are not exempt from divas after all! I run all walks in my business, because they are more suitable for the topography in my area. I run sulkeys on the 61 and 52 inch decks, and walk behind the 48s. I'm sure everybody would prefer to sit and ride, but its not what is best for the turf, and not what is best for our clients. I find it easy to gain accounts from those companies that refuse to stand up and work. I have run ZTR's at times when we have accounts that require them, but those accounts typically come up for posted bid every year. There is always a new guy who misses the bid or is hungry enough to work for the "crack head" price. If we do not retain the account, out goes the ZTR. After years of running both ZTRs and walks, I am picking the walk. Sure I'm tired at the end of the day, but that is a common side effect of work. The ZTR is less fatiguing, but much harder on the lumbar spine.

Groomer
01-14-2013, 06:10 PM
The health benefits of walking all day are fantastic, ask my doctor.

CriderLawn09
01-15-2013, 10:42 PM
Wow!!! I have always thought of the guys working in the grass business as hard working folks. Sounds like we are not exempt from divas after all! I run all walks in my business, because they are more suitable for the topography in my area. I run sulkeys on the 61 and 52 inch decks, and walk behind the 48s. I'm sure everybody would prefer to sit and ride, but its not what is best for the turf, and not what is best for our clients. I find it easy to gain accounts from those companies that refuse to stand up and work. I have run ZTR's at times when we have accounts that require them, but those accounts typically come up for posted bid every year. There is always a new guy who misses the bid or is hungry enough to work for the "crack head" price. If we do not retain the account, out goes the ZTR. After years of running both ZTRs and walks, I am picking the walk. Sure I'm tired at the end of the day, but that is a common side effect of work. The ZTR is less fatiguing, but much harder on the lumbar spine.

Amen to the divas :cry: lol we have been running all walks since day one, we only have 2 zturns that barely get used, and i was reading all of this about how everyone would quit, and i had to laugh cause most of my guys hate running z turns, because if we had all zturns they would be trimming or push mowing 80% of our properties, as everything is hilly around here. But, pro turf thanks for your input i'm not sure you meant it to be a topic where everyone could bash you for being such an awful employer cause you make your guys work?, looks to me like your guys are pretty happy, they get to drive nice, nice trucks, run great equipment, and i'm sure you pay them all good. But, anyway great debate i guess :confused: lol

smallstripesnc
01-16-2013, 10:42 AM
Gravelys pro steer controls are super easy to use and really cut down on the hand fatigue.
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Groomer
01-16-2013, 11:49 AM
Pro turf, you better pull that ZTR pic off the picture gallery on your webpage-wouldn't want any prospective employee's thinking their gonna ride all day! LOL There's another thread on the pricing of the 60" TTHp-what are your thoughts?

herler
01-16-2013, 02:13 PM
I've always said the Ztr is the Cadillac of lawn mowers, while great to have it's more of a show boat and not very cost efficient.
When you speak of them being heavier on the truck, that also results in more wear and tear.
The trucks are harder to drive when a Z is in back, and it costs more to get it down the road, too.

The Walk behinds are a bit slower on turf but you are right, the decrease in production can be
explained away with the decrease in damage as well.

ONLY on very large properties does the Ztr truly come out ahead.
Glad to see at least one other person besides myself has noticed this.

SDLandscapes VT
01-16-2013, 03:34 PM
So we also made the switch this season as well--though this has been an ongoing process--we have three S-series turf tracers and 1 X series turf tracer with fuel injection. If they all could be fuel injected I would do it--x series burns like .9-1 gal/hour. We don't have sulkies of any flavor though we are considering a pro slide for the X series. We run a combination of two and three man mowing crews--two man crew--2 48" S series, three man crew 48" S, 52" X and walker 48" GHS (which seldom gets used other than spring and fall). The cost savings is huge and productivity is actually faster--we do mostly medium residential and small/medium commercial. The way the work gets done flows better and there is less down time for the operators--everyone is expected to perform any and all operations--you finish mowing there is a trimmer with your name on it, or an edger, or gardening tools/sprayer, or blower depending on what the progress is for the other crew members. When we had the rider the rider lagged to avoid trimming etc--in effect we leveled the playing field.

There are also some huge business ramifications that benefit larger companies (anyone bigger than solo) and this is why Brickman is big into using walkbehinds. Don't get me wrong there is a place for the zero turn, but it is a much smaller place than it currently occupies in the market.

Kelly's Landscaping
01-16-2013, 04:04 PM
Perhaps its a CT thing ZTRs are not rare nor are they the Cadillac here they are the most commonly used mower you will see here. About 8 out of every 10 mowers here is a ZTR. Now when I started in this trade back in 1989 walk behinds were all over the place and the better funded companies used scag 3 wheelers. Times changed and Exmark owns the area there are 500 plus ZTRs in my cutting area well over 150 crews with 2 ZTRs on their trailer and over half are Exmark. I have no idea what people are talking about when they claim walk-behinds are more efficient. My prices would be considered low by most of you and we do 800-1100 a day mowing per 2 man crew. How many 2 man walk behind crews out there bring in over 1000 a day mowing?

LandFakers
01-16-2013, 04:13 PM
Perhaps its a CT thing ZTRs are not rare nor are they the Cadillac here they are the most commonly used mower you will see here. About 8 out of every 10 mowers here is a ZTR. Now when I started in this trade back in 1989 walk behinds were all over the place and the better funded companies used scag 3 wheelers. Times changed and Exmark owns the area there are 500 plus ZTRs in my cutting area well over 150 crews with 2 ZTRs on their trailer and over half are Exmark. I have no idea what people are talking about when they claim walk-behinds are more efficient. My prices would be considered low by most of you and we do 800-1100 a day mowing per 2 man crew. How many 2 man walk behind crews out there bring in over 1000 a day mowing?
It's definitely a CT thing... Most guys run 2 ZTR's and a 36 for gates. Everybody has at least 1

SDLandscapes VT
01-16-2013, 05:05 PM
So KL who makes more then:

My two man crew who bills $800 for the day or your two man crew

3/4 ton truck, 84" x 14' trailer, two Exmark 48" s series walkbehinds ( the S & D setup for 2 man)
3/4 ton truck 84" x 16' or 18', 2 Exmark 60" ZTR's and one 36 Exmark walkbehind

It's not about efficiency so much as it is about margins--but the efficiency is closer than you could imagine

Kelly's Landscaping
01-16-2013, 05:13 PM
Ummm hard to say never said I run 2 60s on a crew if I did I make a lot more. No crew one is a 2003 60 inch lazer and a 2004 44 inch lazer crew 2 is a 2005 52 inch lazer and wait for it a 2005 36tthp our one walk behind. I think you can probably guess my mowers have long since paid for them selves. As for trucks we seemed to have skipped over the 3/4 ton Iv never owned one. I run 2 brand new ram 4500s but if your happy with your little truck great more power too ya.

SDLandscapes VT
01-16-2013, 05:17 PM
No i know you have bigger trucks--I held that the same for comparison to level all the other variables. The bigger truck eats further into the margin in cost of ownership, fuel, insurance, etc. I have bigger trucks too, but not for mowing.

Even still you have larger zero turns--they cost more to purchase, they cost more to run, they cost more to replace which leads me to if you could make more money with 2 60" mowers why haven't you replaced and upgraded--every day you don't is lost opportunity if the business is truly there.

whiffyspark
01-16-2013, 05:27 PM
We pay less than 6k for new 60" lazer zs. S series, no need for the x series in our properties.

Costs are closer than you think. Turf damage is irrevelant if people know how to cut grass. The argument about a truck towing lazers vs. walk behinds is laughable. Walk behinds have their place. Just not as a main mower in a large company

Granted, we have 6 or 7 mowing crews adding 2 more next year. We will be adding 3 more lazers I believe and we're going to try some Standers as well
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SDLandscapes VT
01-16-2013, 05:48 PM
Whiffyspark

During graduate school I had the opportunity to work at a company that had over 20 mowing crews out of two shops and I argued and argued for more Z's for all of the above reasons--less fatigue, "faster," more "efficient" etc. And we would spar back and forth about this issue. They took care of all commercial and multi family sites all on the larger end of the spectrum. They had over 20 years of equipment data on cost of ownership and ROI and frankly it's damning. I completed school and returned to VT where we ramped up the business I left before school. I was convinced that a fleet of riders was the way to go, but I found that it was eating up too much time and money for the little bit that they saved in "efficiency" We jumped in with both feet, conceded to the data, and couldnt be happier with the results both in quality and to the bottom line. What I am saying is this is a big trend--Brickman uses a high percentage of walkbehinds, Prescription (www.rxlandscape.com) made the switch, Proturf made the switch, and many other companies are making the switch.

And you talk about people who know how to cut grass--we have such a labor shortage that we need to make all the processes bulletproof and minimize damage potential as we are lucky to get breathing employees.

The takeaway here is not to use Z's or not to use Z's but to know what your operating costs are so that you are charging accordingly for recovery and profit.

BigGreen1
01-16-2013, 05:54 PM
ProTurf,

I have a 60" TT with a 20 hp Kohler. The twenty will turn double blades fine. This year I grabbed a mulch kit for my mower. The difference in cleanup time is significant. The wavy mulching blades leave grass that is 3/8 inch or so. The grass does not spray everywhere either. I have to wait until the heavy wet grass of spring is gone before I install the kit. I also suggest washers to fine-tune your height adjustment. I adjust in 1/8" increments.

Tim

Groomer
01-16-2013, 06:22 PM
It's funnd SD mentioned Brinkman. While at my dealer this morning he showed me all the mowers he had put together for them. What were they? About 10 (or more) 60" Turf Tracer WB's.

LandFakers
01-16-2013, 06:34 PM
I haven't broken down any of my fuel usage, efficiency ratio, but seeing as I only have a small operation, I need the ZTR for the bagging abilities alone! The only complaint I have with the Zero is that it's almost impossible to mow on a wet and soft lawn. You can make a lawn look like cornrows real quick

P.Services
01-16-2013, 07:41 PM
We pay less than 6k for new 60" lazer zs. S series, no need for the x series in our properties.


Posted via Mobile Device

I find that really hard to believe that your paying less then $6,000 for a S-series.
I can get top level fleet pricing and i know i wont be close to 6k.


If your sure of that can you pm me your dealer ?

EquityGreen
01-16-2013, 08:05 PM
biggest engine eXmark offers on whatever mower...I usually pop the engine and put on a bigger one.

2 standard mulch blades or 2x low lift...less drag.

No Bagging.:nono:

Is this hard on the spindles? I would love to try. Especially in the summer when it should be mulched anyways.
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TriCountyLawn
01-16-2013, 08:13 PM
ECS is easy on the hands and wrists. You were on pistols. :nono:


No actually they aren't :drinkup:

StanWilhite
01-16-2013, 08:26 PM
A solid 2 wheel sulky is probably better on the body than sitting all day. Rider mowers even sitting or driving all day is hell on the lower spine (discs).

I was thinking the same thing while reading this.

Snapper Jack
01-16-2013, 08:45 PM
Whiffyspark

During graduate school I had the opportunity to work at a company that had over 20 mowing crews out of two shops and I argued and argued for more Z's for all of the above reasons--less fatigue, "faster," more "efficient" etc. And we would spar back and forth about this issue. They took care of all commercial and multi family sites all on the larger end of the spectrum. They had over 20 years of equipment data on cost of ownership and ROI and frankly it's damning. I completed school and returned to VT where we ramped up the business I left before school. I was convinced that a fleet of riders was the way to go, but I found that it was eating up too much time and money for the little bit that they saved in "efficiency" We jumped in with both feet, conceded to the data, and couldnt be happier with the results both in quality and to the bottom line. What I am saying is this is a big trend--Brickman uses a high percentage of walkbehinds, Prescription (www.rxlandscape.com) made the switch, Proturf made the switch, and many other companies are making the switch.

And you talk about people who know how to cut grass--we have such a labor shortage that we need to make all the processes bulletproof and minimize damage potential as we are lucky to get breathing employees.

The takeaway here is not to use Z's or not to use Z's but to know what your operating costs are so that you are charging accordingly for recovery and profit.

I don't know what ranking"Landmark" is but they use a mix of WB's and Z's due to the vast differences in the mountainous terrain in my region.

Kelly's Landscaping
01-16-2013, 08:52 PM
I haven't broken down any of my fuel usage, efficiency ratio, but seeing as I only have a small operation, I need the ZTR for the bagging abilities alone! The only complaint I have with the Zero is that it's almost impossible to mow on a wet and soft lawn. You can make a lawn look like cornrows real quick

Same here we pull out as much as 25 yards of grass a week in early spring and while that drops to less than 10 a week in summer the ZTR is a necessity.

Hence the reason for me and big trucks do I need 4500s no I could work with 3500s but nothing smaller I need the ability to carry 5 yards of clippings with the trailer. And dumping has massively improved my time savings over the years from when we started with 1500 pick ups and got to spend 30 mins a truck emptying it with pitch forks. But we don't just mow and we do need at-least one truck that can carry 3-4 yards of top soil at a clip. It may sound expensive to run 2 big mowing trucks but its cheaper than running 2 smaller ones and having to own a 3rd that sits idle for most of the time. Also I bought my trucks with resale in mind at around 75000 miles with the lessons I have learned over the years on what trucks come up for sale and what trucks never do.

Side bagging on a walk-behind is 3-5 times slower than bagging with a trac vac on our ZTRs. And when one of vacs goes down I get a nice does of reality and how much of an advantage having the vac is. And we see our income drop too 500-600s per day on that crew so the use of the bagger for us can not be over stated.

SDLandscapes VT
01-16-2013, 09:08 PM
We did bag exclusively as well--still do on certain properties or portions of properties because of landscape features, the house etc, and we just can t let clippings fly. We stopped as we realized how much time handling clippings was taking in our day as well as the injury potential for employees flinging full 9.5/10 bushel tarp loads into the one ton (I do have a one ton). We have seen a huge jump in turf health since we stopped bagging and have taken the heavy mowers off. We do have a walker for bagging and depending on growth will probably pick up a navigator--machines for exclusive bagging and that spread the weight of the bagging out and reducing compaction--as fast as a Z--depends on the situation--wide open a Z will destroy a 5-wheel mower. We don't have many wide open areas.

But for the bulk of the season and for the long term (season after season) as Pro turf listed the walkbehinds are money makers. I m not saying what you are doing is wrong--I m just encouraging everyone on this board and in this industry to know exactly what everything costs and to price work accordingly. Armed with that information somethings that seem counter intuitive (like walking) suddenly make a huge amount of financial sense

Snapper Jack
01-16-2013, 09:09 PM
Same here we pull out as much as 25 yards of grass a week in early spring and while that drops to less than 10 a week in summer the ZTR is a necessity.

Hence the reason for me and big trucks do I need 4500s no I could work with 3500s but nothing smaller I need the ability to carry 5 yards of clippings with the trailer. And dumping has massively improved my time savings over the years from when we started with 1500 pick ups and got to spend 30 mins a truck emptying it with pitch forks. But we don't just mow and we do need at-least one truck that can carry 3-4 yards of top soil at a clip. It may sound expensive to run 2 big mowing trucks but its cheaper than running 2 smaller ones and having to own a 3rd that sits idle for most of the time. Also I bought my trucks with resale in mind at around 75000 miles with the lessons I have learned over the years on what trucks come up for sale and what trucks never do.

Side bagging on a walk-behind is 3-5 times slower than bagging with a trac vac on our ZTRs. And when one of vacs goes down I get a nice does of reality and how much of an advantage having the vac is. And we see our income drop too 500-600s per day on that crew so the use of the bagger for us can not be over stated.

Would it not be more efficient in cost savings just to double cut rather than bagging and dumping all the clippings? or is it cuz you have high end cliental that demand this servive?

SDLandscapes VT
01-16-2013, 09:11 PM
we double cut

Snapper Jack
01-16-2013, 09:35 PM
we double cut

Read your post above and I agree,bagging seems to rob the turf of nutrients. I have one customer who had her lawn bagged and since I've taken over with double cutting, she's commented that her lawn look's much healthier.

jbell36
01-16-2013, 10:58 PM
ok, so i don't understand why a stander hasn't been mentioned much? and why it isn't the hands down answer here...

i agree that ztr's are a little overkill, production wise and financially...but if you need them for bagging they are a must, like KL said there is nothing like a ultra-vac...we had a trac-vac on a walk behind but it just wasn't quite as good, it had an independent engine that you have to start and stop every time you were ready to, and it was one more engine to maintain and fuel...we keep a few exmark ztr's around strictly for bagging purposes (spring/fall)

i too had this question years ago but it was ZTR vs Stander, walk behind was never really in the equation...i didn't like how bulky the ztr's were on most of our residentials...i went with toro grandstands and couldn't be happier...next season we are most likely going to trade those in and go with the all new JD (wright) stander...

SDLandscapes VT
01-16-2013, 11:10 PM
J-bell

I agree there is a place for standers--we demoed them along the way and agreed if we were mowing cookie cutter commercial properties I would add one to the fleet--but for residentials with mature landscapes we found that having the mower out front--like a walkbehind allowed us to get closer and save significant trimming time and labor.

jay12
01-17-2013, 12:17 AM
I'm interested also about that price on the exmark s series?
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maelawncare
01-17-2013, 12:26 AM
I went from walkbehind to rider to walkbehind. Now I run walkbehinds 90% of the time. I only have 2 lawns bigger than 2 acres and I put the riderr on the trailer for that day, one is 12 acres and other is 5 acres. The added speed is a plus for those. All mowers are 60"ers.

For the rest of my lawns, no way in hell am I only using a rider. They are either too small or too many islands. We can wait on rain days and watch the rain. As soon as it stops we're out mowing. Guys with ztrs have to wait for the water to soak in. I can even mow right over standing water. The walbehinds with the proslide sulkeys just slide right over. Plus all the other added benefits.

One thing no one else has mentioned. They are half the price! Well, maybe 90% the cost of a ztr. So you can practicly buy 2 walkbehinds for the price of one rider. And they dont fall apart near as much.

And are you seriously bitching about making employees use walkbehinds. Grow up man. I stand behind my walkbehinds all day, and so do my other employees. Walkbehinds are the only way to go for small-med yards. They will work great for some and not so much for other. If you would rather sit you fat butt on a rider and screw up your customers small lawn, be my guest.

LandFakers
01-17-2013, 08:45 AM
If I could have all 3... A WB, stander, and ZTR, I would. But I use what I got. For you guys with larger companies... How often do you cycle your equipment for new stuff? 5 years? Earlier?
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Groomer
01-17-2013, 10:59 AM
All this talk about wet turf reminds me of the time I had to use a walkbehind to help pull a ZTR out of some soggy spring ground. lol

whiffyspark
01-17-2013, 11:16 AM
I'm interested also about that price on the exmark s series?
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It helps to buy a lot of equipment and be friends with an owner. This company tries their hardest to make sure employees are happy. We do a couple million a year. I'm probably leaving this company, but for other reasons not related.
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P.Services
01-17-2013, 01:25 PM
I dont think you know the true numbers. I dont care how many you buy they are not paying anywhere in the 5 thousand range for a rider.

I know fleet pricing, i know what these dealers pay for these mowers.

BLenno
01-17-2013, 01:49 PM
I also want to mention standers. I recently visited my ex mark dealer looking to purchase a 48 inch or 52 inch turf tracer. They cost around $ 6-7 grand. Then he showed me a demo unit. It was a exmark vantage 52 inch deck with the 26 hp kal only 25 hours. He is only asking $ 7200. A brand new Vantage is around $ 8,500. In this case does anyone think I would be better off purchasing the stander. ? He claims that the vantage is the best of both worlds.

SDLandscapes VT
01-17-2013, 01:53 PM
not entirely true.....

jbell36
01-17-2013, 07:02 PM
I also want to mention standers. I recently visited my ex mark dealer looking to purchase a 48 inch or 52 inch turf tracer. They cost around $ 6-7 grand. Then he showed me a demo unit. It was a exmark vantage 52 inch deck with the 26 hp kal only 25 hours. He is only asking $ 7200. A brand new Vantage is around $ 8,500. In this case does anyone think I would be better off purchasing the stander. ? He claims that the vantage is the best of both worlds.

depends on what you mean by best of both worlds...if you mean it's a stander AND a walk behind then no, it's not the best of both worlds...you will use it as a stander unless there is a reason you must use it as a walk behind, the walk behind function is almost worthless, not traction at all, would probably cause more damage than riding...if you mean it's the best of both worlds because it's technically a rider (same category as a ztr) and a walk behind, a hybrid if you will, then i would agree...it's lighter than a ztr but can go as fast and is much more nimble...i switched mainly because our customers would rather see us on a stander than a ztr, a ztr scares off a lot of people...

i like the idea of a velke behind a walk behind, but it's basically the same concept as a stander but a stander is one unit and is much shorter, and not a whole lot more $...if you look at wrights they are pretty simple and easily accessible...buy a bunch of the same machine and buy common replacement parts, streamline it

Kelly's Landscaping
01-17-2013, 08:04 PM
Would it not be more efficient in cost savings just to double cut rather than bagging and dumping all the clippings? or is it cuz you have high end cliental that demand this servive?

Cool season grasses we get to double and tipple cut all the time here. The real fun is when you need to double cut while bagging. I know it's hard for some to believe but grass here can grow over a foot in a week. I can cut you on Friday at 3.5 inches come back next Friday and the lawn is 18 inches. It's kind of hard to make that disappear. Now are they all that bad no but enough are to make owning a ZTR with a bagging system a necessity. This may seem warped and a tad mean but we do love coming to a lawn when the lawn next door is being done by walk-behinds and they have half done already and we beat them and leave before them. Always brings a smile to my face watching some one drool.

Now do I care weather you use walk-behinds, standers or ZTRS nope thats every ones personal decision. I just don't like when one side starts claiming moral high ground and claiming they and they alone know the best way to mow a lawn. I never will understand the maneuverability arguments, say my mower is 60 inches and I'm bagging with a trac vac that has a shoot on the side that sticks out about 8 inches. That means anything 6 feet wide or wider I can pull in and back out with out any clippings going anywhere but in my barrel. How is that not maneuverable?

Now on to the ESC handles yes they are better than the pistol grips but only on the hydro, the belt drive mowers with them suck. Yes iv had both and most of my hours were with pistol grips but that said ESC still hurts your hands you can not compare squeezing the grip to simply holding a foam rubber coated control stick. And you can not steer a walk-behind one handed you can with a ZTR and I do it all the time in fall with the other hand holding a rope to keep the leaf plow from buckling.

Chilehead
01-17-2013, 09:02 PM
Whiffy...you are saying that you feel having to mow with a hydraulic walk behind mower and a velke is grounds for leaving a company? You would not work for a company unless you were sitting on a mower all day?

What would you do if your employer asked you to pick up a shovel and dig a hole to plant a tree? I'm assuming you would quit because it should be done with an auger or excavator?

:laugh::laugh: I thought the same thing reading Whiff's statements. Getting back to your original point, I have used walk-behinds since my company's founding. Don't forget one more benefit for using a WB--you can mow significant slopes with one.

THORNTON SERVICES LLC
01-18-2013, 02:37 PM
I think to truly be the moest efficient you need both , we run a 60 zero turn a 52 walkbehind with sulky and 2 30" toro timemaster push mowers , use to run the 20 till last year when they came out with the 30 , this setup all fits on a 14 ft trailer and will cover most needs unless you are cutting soccer fields or something big and open , those accounts we take a 72 zero turn and the 60 zero turn. just my opinion I think you should have both. never used the standers yet demoed one from gravely , the old model pro stance , not the one with a folding platform , did not do well on slopes at all so we did not mess with them.

Realslowww
01-18-2013, 04:19 PM
I have pretty much owned it all over the last 25 to 30 years and each type of mower has pros and cons but overall for doing all types of mowing a 36 WB with a 52 or 48 stander ( A good lighter weight design ) model and a fast 72 ZTR is the most productive setup I know of.

A 72 Z a good fast one $ for $ is the best mower I have ever owned by far. It cuts more grass and makes more money with the least amount of cost.

PR0 TURF
01-20-2013, 09:18 AM
I've thoroughly enjoyed reading everyone's thoughts in this highly opinionated thread. We don't all mow the same exact type of properties, in the same conditions, with the same operators and get paid the same rate by our customers. There are many unique factors that we each face and it is our job as business owner's to do the research and determine which will work best for our company. It's not all about which is the fastest way to get it done, or which is the cheapest way to get it done. We each need to make the decision on which is the BEST way to get it done for our company & clients. What is working well for a contractor in New Hampshire may not work well for one in Cleveland, and vice versa. At the end of the day we are all basically fighting the same battle so it's nice to hear how others are handling it, it helps spark some new ideas. There are some smart people on here, I'm learning a lot reading everyone's thoughts.

:usflag::usflag::usflag:

jrs.landscaping
01-20-2013, 04:11 PM
Great thread. We don't run WB's because we bag almost everything, properties that don't get bagged are usually larger than 5 acres. Both sides have a point, as for an employee quitting because of the way I do things.... They know where the door is :waving:

d.klas
01-24-2013, 04:14 PM
Oh ya.. Ferris is the best

thelawnman
01-24-2013, 07:24 PM
Scag Pro V is the best on your hands and it a great mower.

Chilehead
02-26-2013, 05:46 PM
Scag Pro V is the best on your hands and it a great mower.

I agree with you on that point. Quick question: there has been alot of talk on Lawnsite about Scag pulling the plug on the Pro-V. Have you heard anything from your dealer about this? I thought of getting one, but then again.....

GMLC
02-26-2013, 05:56 PM
I agree with you on that point. Quick question: there has been alot of talk on Lawnsite about Scag pulling the plug on the Pro-V. Have you heard anything from your dealer about this? I thought of getting one, but then again.....

The Scag Pro-V is officially no longer in production. Late last year Scag was selling 52" Pro-V's for $4600 and 0% financing!! I believe this deal is still good until all remaining are sold.

On a side note I demoed a Pro-V and loved it. It felt like power steering!! Scag thought this would change the industry. I am very surprised it didnt catch on. It really is effortless to operate, even with one hand.
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Chilehead
02-26-2013, 06:00 PM
The Scag Pro-V is officially no longer in production. Late last year Scag was selling 52" Pro-V's for $4600 and 0% financing!! I believe this deal is still good until all remaining are sold.

On a side note I demoed a Pro-V and loved it. It felt like power steering!! Scag thought this would change the industry. I am very surprised it didnt catch on. It really is effortless to operate, even with one hand.
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Thanks. I heard there were issues with it, namely leaky seals. had you heard the same?

GMLC
02-26-2013, 06:09 PM
Thanks. I heard there were issues with it, namely leaky seals. had you heard the same?

Scag had a run of bad or pinched hydro o-ring seals. Updated seals were designed and put into production. The rest are changed under warranty. The only bad problems I heard about the Pro-V were the controls wear out quick.
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Chilehead
02-26-2013, 06:16 PM
Scag had a run of bad or pinched hydro o-ring seals. Updated seals were designed and put into production. The rest are changed under warranty. The only bad problems I heard about the Pro-V were the controls wear out quick.
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:dizzy: No, man.....don't say that. I hate to think that Scag--an American company known for making durable machines--made a mower with quick-wearing controls. Oh well, the V-ride is my second choice.

GMLC
02-26-2013, 06:21 PM
:dizzy: No, man.....don't say that. I hate to think that Scag--an American company known for making durable machines--made a mower with quick-wearing controls. Oh well, the V-ride is my second choice.

Thats what I heard here on LS. So I honestly dont know how true it is.
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GMLC
02-26-2013, 06:22 PM
I would start a thread and ask some owners.

thelawnman
02-26-2013, 08:44 PM
I agree with you on that point. Quick question: there has been alot of talk on Lawnsite about Scag pulling the plug on the Pro-V. Have you heard anything from your dealer about this? I thought of getting one, but then again.....

I was talking to a dealer yesterday and he said they were not selling them becuase who would buy a walk behind for 7 grand when you can get a stand on mower. I got mine dirty cheap last year and thank god i did because its a amazing mower.

GrassGuerilla
02-26-2013, 10:38 PM
Love my old Hustler super walk behind. Wish they would make me a new one. I picked up a low hour one last season. Should be good for several more years. My dealer leaves a lot to be desired, and there aren't many others around. But it sure beats most other WB's in my book.
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