not much has changed in 13 years

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by jeffex, Dec 10, 2006.

  1. jeffex

    jeffex LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,933

    I've been at this awhile now and not too much has realy changed about this business in my eyes except Zero turn mowers .They are all the craze and their price has reflected the demand . Bigger motors , bigger decks, and faster speeds. I think the only real innovation on them is the OCDC and all the major mfgs.still don't make them standard. I still use 48" toro walkbehinds with the belt drive. They are only 3-5 hundred dollars more then when I bought my first one 10 years ago. I installed OCDCs on them myself. The trimmers I have used over the years are priced slightly higher to keep up with costs but nothing drastic. I bought a br400 for $369 in 1996 [still in use today]and in 2006 a br420 is only $30 more. My lawns don't warrant the use of a z-turn since they are mostly 1/4 acre. I can buy any mower I want but as a business decision I stick to what has produced good solid profit for me. I have seen many of the lawn guys in my area purchase their first z-turn mower and then go after big lawns. In my market that is where all the competition is and the price per cut has come down on 1 acre lawns to what I get for 1/4 acre. As I see it I could buy a 36 and a 48" new walkbehind , new trimmer and blower, as well as a new trailer for the price of one 60" lazer. Just mow it has gone old school even farther. Back to the days of 21" mowers. They have been very successful as far as I can tell. What do you think? Am I crazy , have there been big innovations that this dinasour has missed that have changed they way we do our trade.
  2. crzymow

    crzymow LawnSite Senior Member
    from Pa
    Messages: 378

    Ive only been in this business about 7 years, but I was in the golf course business for 14years before. I agree with a lot that you have to say, especially the price of larger lawns, at least in this area. I do own a zero turn mower, but that is because a do a few places over a few acres, one is actually about 6 acres. The only you may consider just as a time saver is a hydro drive mower, but thats what i started out with, then tried a belt drive, swore I'd never buy one of those, but a lot is just what you are use to. I've said I may never buy another walk behind because for what you pay for them I can save a lot if I just put a little money into what I have. Even if i have to buy a hydro pump or motor, its still cheaper in the long run. The only thing i would want differnt about my walk behinds is something other then the pistol grips.
  3. jeffex

    jeffex LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,933

    I like the t-bar better than pistols. I'm not trying to start another ford vs chevy battle. I just don't see a lot of innovation that has changed they way we mow. I agree a rider is required on large propertys and they ARE better than walk behinds. I have used zero turn mowers on a large 4 acre property. It was a guy I work with who wanted me to cut his lawn while he was on vacation . He was paying his lawn guy $80 per cut in 2004 and the guy quit on him just before his vacation. He paid me $120 to cut it . I borrowed a scag 62" z-turn mower and my son helped me with the 48" toro . I can't remember exactly how long it took but it was over an hour and I just remember thinking how we could have cut 4-5 1/4 acre lawns in the time without all the expence of the lazer. I had used them before so there was no huge learning curve. This propertywas mostly up and back stripes flat out while my son cut in around with the 48". I watched his regular guy cut one day while I was powerwashing the deck and they had 2 60" exmark lazers and one guy trimming and they took 1hr from unload to load for $80 . My friend told me the competition had driven the price per acre down to $20 per. I figure an hourly cost of $5 per hour for my equipment but a zero turn has to be much higher. No wonder the guy quit!!!
  4. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,373

    After 18 years in the business, you're mostly right. I HAVE to use the larger mowers, the area where I'm in, it's mostly 2+ acre lots.

    I do see though, especially with commercial properties, such as banks where the building / parking lot / hard surfaces take up the majority of the property, that it would be feasible to still just run a 48" or so WB.

    I do agree though, that a hydro is better than a belt, but that's just my opinion as well.

    Anyways, I suppose there's innovations out there that work, such as a trimmer mounted on the side of your mower deck, but they're not fine tuned enough to work on every property, or enough for that matter to where they're even worth the hassle of putting on your machine.

    Other than that, it's just cutting grass you're talking about, once the mower went power, instead of a push reel mower, it's pretty much just "bigger is better" mentality, even though alot of times that isn't the case.
  5. jeffex

    jeffex LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,933

  6. greenbronco

    greenbronco LawnSite Member
    Messages: 31

    i was wondering , can you also put a bag on sometimes with this in the case that u want to bag... when in open position? also does this kinda make for those who sidedischarge with mulching blades on kinda like a mulch on demand? thanks
  7. greenbronco

    greenbronco LawnSite Member
    Messages: 31

    oh forgot to say i was asking about the ocdc
  8. brucec32

    brucec32 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,403

    I agree that there hasn't been enough innovation in mowers, rather than just going the "bigger is better" route. For example, I bet someone could design a mechanical linkage and transmission design to allow a better reverse system on gear drive mowers if they tried. Those peerless units haven't changed much in 15 years. But most of the design dollars seem to be going into bigger machines that can mow faster in a straight line over wide areas, and cupholders and stuff like that. I am shocked that nobody (other than the Deere method on very large machines) has yet designed a quick and effective way to switch between mulching and discharging w/o tools.

    I do find that you can use the right (light, compact) ztr on the right (flat, tough grass, no bare spots) 1/4 acre props with few damage problems. Grass type, terrain, and weather conditions determine if you need to switch to a wb. I still use belt drives some, but they are not as energy efficient for the operator. Ask a scientist. It takes more energy to stand or walk than to sit. Day after day, week after week, that adds up. Even on props where you might technically finish faster with a wb, you're going to do more work in a day with a ztr due to the fatigue factor. I love mowing with wbs, but I can't afford to use them all the time.

    As for those who prefer to use man power and what are basically hardened homeowner style machines, instead of technological advances in mowers, I would just caution you that sometimes things are not always as they appear on the surface. Being slick or "big" is not always the same as being profitable or efficient, and it can take years and years to run a business into the ground if you start with enough working capital. A company with deep pockets or good borrowing power can go on for decades w/o making much money. GM has been losing money for years doing things less efficiently, and can survive for many more even if they don't turn things around. Their labor costs rose and their technology wasn't quite as good as the competition's, and it hurt them. This business isn't any less vulnerable to that. Yet if you walk into a GM facility you'd be amazed at the impressive equipment and buildings they have. The management's offices are quite spectacular. But that doesn't mean they're profitable, does it? Or that they always will be.

    I also wouldn't exactly swell with pride if my workers made $14,000/year, then ran down to sign up for free healthcare, food, housing, daycare, unemployment, and education benefits, etc, even if I made a lot of money.
  9. desert rose gardening

    desert rose gardening LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 387

    You think Toro could figure out how to come up with a better wheel adjuster for their 21 proline! :hammerhead:
  10. Flex-Deck

    Flex-Deck LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,845

    Innovation in mowing systems is a wonderful thing. That is what has allowed my wife and I to be able to mow a 22 acre property, trim one mile of curbs, and be loaded back up in 3 hr. 15 min. with two JD Garden Tractors.

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