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W/B vs. stand-on mowers, acceptance


LawnSite Fanatic
McMurray, PA
I know there is a recent thread on stand-on/walk-behinds, but my question is a bit different...

I now have a 36" Exmark Viking, but would like to add a 48" machine. I work solo, so the investment is large for me.

My question is acceptance by the customer base. In my area, ZTR riders were rare two years ago, some in the area last season. The same is true with stand-on mowers - only Great Dane SS machines, no Wright machines. However, the stand-on mowers are now being bought by new LCOs, not an addition to existing fleet of w/b mowers. The same is true of ZTR riders, most are new LCOs.

The problem is these new LCOs are doing a horrible job with ZTRs and stand-on mowers. The quality of work, and especially the turf tearing has not gone unnoticed by MY customers. Some have asked me about "those funny looking mowers" as they have become more popular. Their next comment is something like, "I sure hope you never show up with one of those to cut my grass."

In short, the pr problem is huge. If the ZTRs and stand-ons were being added to the equipment list of an existing LCO, they were better equipped to adapt to these mowers. However, since these mowers are in the hands of those who never knew how to mow grass to start with, they are turning the public opinion against them. These new LCOs are being productive in their mind by starting with a more productive machine, but lack the know-how of doing a good mowing job, regardless of mower.

I can explain to my customer over and over about operator control, e.g. no reason for torn turf, no reason for all the clumping, no reason for all the wandering mower patterns, no reason for the rows of clippings, etc. However, in the eyes of my customer, "those mowers are no good."

I'm concerned that if I buy a stand-on, I will be asked to leave.

Now, I'm inclined to buy another Exmark w/b, eliminating a stand-on from consideration -- just for the reasons stated. Anybody else have this situation? Thanks.


LawnSite Senior Member
I believe you about what the customer says but my goodness its 2004 and its hard to believe that ztr 's are just now showing up in your area and even the great dane ss and wright standers ? You are right on about operators who know nothing about running these machines and how make them perform right , how can anyone be productive without a w/b with a velke or a ztr , i been using a velke and a or ztr for over 8 years now and never knew how much i was being hurt production wise till i stepped and started using these, i used to use alawn tractor before and when i changed i was able to double my customer base and still have free time to do other work

Mac V2.0

LawnSite Member
Mid OH

as they say, "client's perception is reality." I have a few clients who have been dicked over by LCOs who ran Zs and then switched to me (among other reasons) becuase i walk behind my wb. I should mention that im going to upgrade to a stander this spring, but i dont think its that big of a risk. What my clients are afraid of is the "large, heavy, fast" ztr. The stander isnt necessarily any of the above, and to its benefit also apears as a walkbehind since you are still standing. If i were you, id get it and then tell any clients who have issues to give you some time becuase its still the same operator.

Doc Pete

LawnSite Gold Member
New Jersey
Originally posted by Roger
IThe problem is these new LCOs are doing a horrible job with ZTRs and stand-on mowers. The quality of work, and especially the turf tearing has not gone unnoticed by MY customers. .
Much of what you say is true. This is one reason why John Gamba and myself are using high end WB’s and a sulky. Exmark and Hustler make high-end WB’s that are as fast as a ZTR, cut just as well, are 100’s of pounds lighter than a ZTR, just as powerful as a ZTR, cost less, and will solve you turf tearing.
Also to consider is, a WB/sulky impacts your legs, which for the average healthy worker is no problem. A ZTR impacts you neck and back, and for the average healthy worker “will” be a problem as you get older. I’m solo and the advantage of a WB/sulky is you get much more for your dollar. You get a pure WB, and a rider machine for less than just one ZTR.


Lawn Specialties

LawnSite Member
central Il
In my area I hav'nt seen any standers yet but there are big Z's everywhere.New guys starting out have 60" Z's and push mowers. It's getting to the point that seeing a wb is somwhat rare and I'm one of a select few that use a sulky. We have the same problem your'e speeking of. It isn't that Z's don't cut well it's that when you cut a 1/4 acre lot at 8 mph blowing grass everywhere the lawn looks awful. I have talked to my customers and many are convinced that Z's don't cut well and can only be operated at one speed - way to fast. It isn't a big deal to me as a 1/2 acre is a big property to me and I really can't justify a Z. If you are doing quality work and you continue after you buy a stander I think they will accept it. Just make sure you get plenty of practice before you take it onto picky customers properties.Many of my customers are new to having this service and I've had few questoin my 44" wb but they seldom complain after the first cutting.


LawnSite Member
Central Florida
Mac, you are wrong. The Standers are very fast. Not top speed wise, but the cutting speed. Once you get some hours on a Stander, you will notice a big difference in every move you make with that mower, time and reflex wise. With that speed, there tends to be a lot of turf damage, turns even stops sometimes tear turf. I think with every mower, you just have to take your time. But not getting one because your customers think it will mess up their lawns, then it is up to you to change their minds about that instead of you changing your mind.

Fareway Lawncare

LawnSite Silver Member
We started using a Stander at the end of last season & I may add a GD Super Surfer this spring. They are faster than a WB on many properties but there is a longer learning curve.


LawnSite Senior Member
Sparta, NJ
My stander is very quick and easy to manuver, the key is to take your time when turning, and to actually do a k turn rather then just z turning the mower. Also wider tires with slightly low air pressure will also relieve the turff burn. This gives you more contact space with the ground, which distributes the weight of the machine more evenly over the ground. The controls do take time to learn. My helper has definatly not earned his degree in stripping or turning, but he only weighs 130 lbs. Its funny if he hits a bump and hops up on the plate on the stander the mower will actully shutdown(emergency shutdown if no ones riding it thingy) well anyways I find the rider to be much more efficient and when used properly and in the proper conditions(many forget that wet turf will rut very easily with a ztr and weight of rider) the Stander can be a very good machine. I think that the next thing we need to see is suspension systems on these machines. The daily grind of running them all day does take a toll on your body and a cushy suspension will help alliviate that discomfort.

Hope this helps