Home > Featured Articles > Equipment Trends 2011
Arbor Age magazine recently asked a wide range of equipment manufacturers and suppliers to share their insights about the equipment market, and how the trends they are seeing will impact your equipment decisions.

Equipment Trends 2011

Arbor Age magazine recently asked a wide range of equipment manufacturers and suppliers to share their insights about the equipment market, and how the trends they are seeing will impact your equipment decisions. Their observations are as follows:


 


What trends are you seeing in terms of the overall buying habits of those in the tree care industry?


 


FEVA has benefited from a significant increase in bucket truck purchasing midway through Q3.
— Robert Dray, sales and marketing manager, Forestry Equipment of VA (FEVA)


 


The end user is looking for a lightweight, comfortable product with innovative ideas to make their job easier.
— Jim Pennefeather, vice president sales & marketing, Buckingham Manufacturing Co., Inc.


 


Folks are waiting until the last strategic moment before investing. As always, they want long-lasting tools as inexpensively as possible.
— Tobe Sherrill, CEO, SherrillTree


 


We see a continuing trend of our customers managing their equipment investments very carefully due to the uncertain economic conditions. In general, customers are delaying replacements until absolutely necessary and are being very cautious about fleet expansion. That said, when our customers do need to purchase equipment, they are choosing machines that are the right fit for their particular business needs. We are seeing less “buying off the rack,” and more focused purchasing decisions.
— Tommy Nix, VP – strategic markets, Terex Utilities


 


Purchasing versatile equipment that can handle jobs fast and efficiently is a key consideration for contractors hoping to differentiate themselves in a competitive marketplace. Traditionally, crews sent out to remove and chip trees haven’t hauled stump-removal equipment with them. We see more operators purchasing portable products, such as the SGR-6 and SGR-13 walk-behind stump grinders. With lift handles that make for easy loading and unloading, both commercial-grade models fit easily in the backs of trucks, allowing contractors to offer additional on-demand services to their customers.
— Greg Lawrence, product marketing manager for Toro compact utility equipment


 


We see that tree companies are becoming more mechanized. The goal here is to reduce the amount of labor needed to process their urban wood waste, but they also want more production at a lower operating cost. Some are investing in bigger chippers that can be mechanically fed, allowing for greater overall production with fewer employees on site. On the other end, we see many companies going to smaller chippers that can still deliver production of the larger machines they had in the past, when fuel prices weren’t such an issue. Regardless of the size, companies are now looking much closer at the quality and consistency of their end product. That’s because it can be a source of revenue used to grow their markets, whereas in the past may have been sent to a landfill or dump site.
— Christopher A. Smith, communications editor/public relations, Bandit Industries Inc.


 


Access to capital is still difficult, suppressing demand for equipment, and pushing more customers toward used equipment and rental.
— Frank Schneider, senior product manager, Terex Aerial Work Platforms (for Genie)


 


Interest continues to build around organics and compost tea. We have added more brewer/extractor sizes, now carrying everything from 12G up to 1,000G, not including our 5G homeowner version. We are working with the Rodale Institute on validating the science and brewing/extracting procedures so they can become more standardized and widely accepted. We are also marketing the only piece of ride-on equipment that can make compost tea applications — along with every other kind of application. And we continue to develop high-volume application wands (up to 15gpm), particularly for compost tea applications, that can cut application time by at least half.
— Gary Maurer, president, Green Pro Solutions


 


We’ve not seen a lot of growth in the sale of arborist saws overall. As in other industries, equipment purchases are being delayed due to the recession. There’s also a tendency toward less expensive equipment, as well. Of course, the active storm season has had an impact on sales. Also, we do see emphasis on equipment that helps tree care professionals be more productive. For instance, improved fuel efficiency extends run times between refueling, which is all the more important for aboveground work.
— Steve Meriam, manager of national sales and product development, Stihl Inc.


 


Companies are doing their homework and researching product investments much more than in the past. Every company has tightened their belts and is trying to maximize every dollar spent. This requires equipment manufacturers, distributors and dealers to be on top of their game in order to capitalize on equipment sales when the customer is ready to purchase.
Jason Showers, product manager, Morbark, Inc.


 


Pros have become more discriminating in their larger-ticket items. When they do decide to pull the trigger, they are choosing products that will help them increase productivity and reduce downtime. That’s why we have made it easier for pros to perform certain maintenance tasks in the field or in the shop without having to send equipment to a dealer.
John Marchionda, VP, marketing, Husqvarna


 


 


How have major world factors and events impacted our industry in 2011 from the standpoint of manufacturing, distribution and sales?


 


We have been fortunate to see increased sales for 2011, but have talked with many customers that have decided to hold off purchases until economic factors improve.
— Robert Dray, sales and marketing manager, Forestry Equipment of VA (FEVA)


 


It has become a world market; products are developed, distributed and sold globally — driving competitive innovations among manufacturers.
— Jim Pennefeather, vice president sales & marketing, Buckingham Manufacturing Co., Inc.


 


Over-stretched economies worldwide are the only significant event we’ve seen to affect the industry, and the effect has been tighter budgets everywhere. Diversified manufactures seem to be doing well, while market-focused resellers are taking advantage of niche market needs.
— Tobe Sherrill, CEO, SherrillTree


 


The global economy continues to take center stage when it comes to what is impacting manufacturing, distribution and sales right now. Customers are very stretched, and they have to carefully consider spending money for equipment. Natural disasters, like the tornadoes this spring in the southeast, as well as Hurricane Irene recently along the East Coast, do tend to spur equipment activity, particularly rentals, but these events do not impact manufacturing, distribution and sales as significantly as the overall economic conditions. As mentioned previously, a trend we’re seeing is that when customers do make an equipment purchase, they are adding equipment that meets their business objectives, whether that is to increase efficiency, enhance productivity or fit into a particular market or application. We see customers doing this more frequently in 2011 than they have in past years.
— Tommy Nix, VP – strategic markets, Terex Utilities


 


With diseases such Dutch Elm and beetles such as emerald ash borer becoming more prevalent, consumers are beginning to recognize the need to call in professional arborists to deal with damaged trees. From a manufacturing and distribution standpoint, it’s important to educate salespeople on the importance of recommending the right equipment to complete specialized jobs.
— Greg Lawrence, product marketing manager for Toro compact utility equipment


 


Mother Nature has been very impactful this year. Earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes and hurricanes have affected us this year. The storms in the southern and eastern U.S. have significantly impacted both demand and supply of chain saws. These storms definitely test manufacturers’ abilities to have the right saws in the right place. Fortunately, we have been able to support our distributors and dealers when they needed it. Another key issue was the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan. Some of our supply chain was in the affected areas. However, quick action by our suppliers and existing inventory has minimized any impact on availability in North America.
— Joe Fahey, VP, product planning, Echo Incorporated


 


Tighter credit has affected distributors and retail customers, and the general slowdown has created some supply issues for manufacturers. Bandit has been fortunate to not have lost any distributors during these tougher financial times; we’ve actually increased the number of Bandit dealers by more than 20 percent, many of them in foreign markets.
— Christopher A. Smith, communications editor/public relations, Bandit Industries Inc.


 


We have focused more on the complete value proposition for owners, not just the equipment. Creating value in each step of the path from product to customer has become more critical. In some cases this means offering new services and at other times it means creating products that are more application focused.
— Frank Schneider, senior product manager, Terex Aerial Work Platforms (for Genie)


 


Compost tea equipment requests are being received from as far away as Ethiopia. We have designed a line of compost tea brewing equipment specifically for overseas sales because of the difference in the electrical systems. There is often more interest in this type of technology overseas than in the U.S.
— Gary Maurer, president, Green Pro Solutions


 


Certainly, the value of the U.S. dollar against other world currencies, such as the Euro, has impacted global companies. Products that are manufactured in Europe may have increased in price in the U.S., while American-made products may have become less expensive in Europe. Increasing transportation costs have impacted manufacturing and distribution.
— Steve Meriam, manager of national sales and product development, Stihl Inc.


 


From the manufacturer’s perspective, we see increased costs in materials, delayed delivery of purchased components, increased logistics expenses and reduced equipment consumption. All of these factors impact equipment cost and are either absorbed by the manufacturer, or passed along through the distribution channel.
Jason Showers, product manager, Morbark, Inc.


 


There is a fair amount of uncertainty out there as it relates to the economy and there has been an up-tick in people taking on tasks that they might have hired out for in the past. This has a domino effect that ripples throughout the supply chain. Outdoor power equipment has seen some of this but, not to the same level as other industries. As a manufacturer, we can only produce products that our audiences are looking for and continue to support the channel.
John Marchionda, VP, marketing, Husqvarna


 


 


What factors should tree care company owners/managers keep in mind when adding equipment or supplies during the next year?


 


The most important factor in purchasing new aerial lift units needs to be low cost of ownership. This certainly includes initial pricing, but most definitely needs to include the maintenance/parts pricing and availability for the unit.
— Robert Dray, sales and marketing manager, Forestry Equipment of VA


 


Use a trusted brand with industry depth and experience; someone that builds safe, quality products, provides world-class service, and always stands behind their products.
— Jim Pennefeather, vice president sales & marketing, Buckingham Manufacturing Co., Inc.


 


The reliability — or not — of tools they added last year.
— Tobe Sherrill, CEO, SherrillTree


 


Regardless of whether a customer is a major tree care company or an owner a small family-owned business, customers need to know that the company they are doing business with will be here for the long haul.
— Tommy Nix, VP – strategic markets, Terex Utilities


 


A desire to quickly bring equipment close to where the jobs are will continue to influence purchasing decisions as contractors look for more productive ways to tackle tree care projects. Companies should look beyond purchase prices and focus the reliability and long-term cost of ownership of any given tree care equipment.
— Greg Lawrence, product marketing manager for Toro compact utility equipment


 


Emission regulation compliance is bringing about many changes in the product portfolios offered by manufacturers. Many popular chain saws have been redesigned to meet emission regulations, and this has impacted weight, performance, and price. Tree care companies should understand these changes and evaluate competitive options before making a purchasing decision.
— Joe Fahey, VP, product planning, Echo Incorporated


 


EPA Tier 4 engine emission regulations are going to add significant costs to machines through 2012, and we expect this to be the biggest issue for companies looking to upgrade or expand their fleets — not just next year but in years to come. Some of our suppliers are indicating price increases could be as much as 75 percent on some engines. The availability of less expensive engines next year will be limited as Tier 4 enters the marketplace; so anyone considering equipment upgrades within the next few years should plan to buy as soon as possible. Doing so could ultimately save companies thousands of dollars.
— Christopher A. Smith, communications editor/public relations, Bandit Industries Inc.


 


Utilization rates are always key when adding equipment. A realistic estimate of your anticipated use should steer the decision between purchase or rental.
— Frank Schneider, senior product manager, Terex Aerial Work Platforms (for Genie)


 


Owners need to look for efficiency and productivity. A company’s most expensive asset is labor. Any amount of money invested in capital equipment that reduces labor cost pays for itself very quickly. Even 30 to 60 minutes per day of time saved turns into big money. Our equipment often adds hours of productivity per day. A number of arborists still have not learned the huge economic difference that purchasing the correct equipment can make to their bottom line. It also makes sense to buy equipment especially designed for your operation. One size does not fit all. We are building convertible units that can physically be configured differently depending on need.
— Gary Maurer, president, Green Pro Solutions


 


Does the equipment I am purchasing have reduced emissions? How fuel efficient is the product? Will the fuel cost of this product be higher or lower than products currently being used? Will this product or products improve my efficiency because it is lighter, has less vibration, etc.? Will my employees be less fatigued when using this product? Are these products ergonomic in their design? Are they comfortable to operate? Are the supplies being purchased of good quality, and do they meet any applicable regulatory standards? Are the suppliers of your products local businesses that offer service facilities on site when you need it?
— Steve Meriam, manager of national sales and product development, Stihl Inc.


 


It is important that a company’s core business remains in focus while looking for ways to strategically diversify their offerings. This strategy allows the company to offset a downturn with another product or service, maintain positive cash flow, discover new markets, or penetrate existing markets with their expanded product and service offerings. In addition, a company should perform a fleet analysis on current equipment downtime and maintenance costs, and compare with replacement cost and new warranty. This type of analysis will allow a company to utilize a fact-based approach when exploring new equipment purchases.
Jason Showers, product manager, Morbark, Inc.


 


Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” A number of companies have been able to effectively get the most from their equipment purchases by keeping them in top running condition, and it is important that they do the same with new equipment.
John Marchionda, VP, marketing, Husqvarna


 


Equipment Trends 2011: New Products

Our “Equipment Trends” respondents share some insight regarding their new and updated products for 2011.


 


Bandit Industries, Inc.


Bandit Industries recently unveiled a new small disc chipper called the Model 75. It slots just above Bandit’s popular Model 65 as a 7-inch-capacity machine, and it’s available with a variety of gas or diesel engines up to 44 horsepower.


Bandit introduced its Model 490 4-inch-capacity drop-feed drum chipper late last year. Previously available as a gas- or PTO-powered machine, Bandit has now added a self-propelled and all-electric version to the Model 490 line.


Bandit’s new heavy-duty infeed trays are designed to deflect limby material away from the control bar. This design is now available on every Bandit hand-fed chipper with a 12-inch capacity or greater. Bandit has also added loader options to its larger hand-fed chippers; these loaders utilize a greater swing arc and a specialized brush grapple, which caters directly to the needs of tree services handling urban wood waste.


The 17-inch-capacity Model 1590XP is Bandit’s most popular hand-fed drum chipper. For 2011 Bandit made it even more capable thanks to a new 180-hp. engine option, and an optional large-capacity feed system that utilizes 25-inch-wide feed wheels (standard feed wheels are 20 inches wide.) These two options will allow the 1590XP to easily compress and break down limby material that would otherwise require extra chain saw work.


 


Buckingham Manufacturing Co., Inc.


Buckingham introduced economic ergonomically designed saddles and tools.


 


Echo Inc.


Echo introduced two new lightweight saws to help arborists conserve energy. The first is the CS-500P, which is the lightest saw in its class. It features a 50.2cc professional-grade engine with remarkable low-end torque, as well as features such as a G-force air cleaner, a professional cutting system bar and chain, and an aluminum handle with rubber over-mold. Echo also introduced the CS-271T, which, at 6.6 pounds, is the lightest gas-powered saw in the market.


 


Forestry Equipment of VA (FEVA)

FEVA is building and assembling its own Tracked Carrier for a 45-foot working height insulated backyard unit. It will fit in a 3-foot opening, and has proportional hydraulic controls.
FEVA worked with TigerCat to construct a 75-foot working height skidder-mounted right-of-way clearing unit. This unit has a travel height less than 11 feet 6 inches when carried on a standard lowboy.
FEVA is also working with Terex to introduce a new lightweight elevator that has reduced the overall weight by over 1,000 pounds. This allows FEVA to add other requested options, while keeping the unit under federal bridge law axel ratings.
FEVA started stocking 4WD chassis so it can meet customer needs for quick delivery, and has built complete custom units in less than 2 weeks.
A new urban unit has been a great success for FEVA in 2011. FEVA assembles an LT40 (45-foot working height) squirt boom on a Ford F550 or Dodge 5500 chassis. This unit is available with a 7-cubic-yard chip box or with a flatbed-type setup. Both options incorporate tool boxes and other options as requested.
FEVA’s new line of service trucks includes a lightweight aluminum service body, crane, ultrasonic welder and many other features to help tree customers meet their maintenance needs.

 


Genie


Genie launched the S-45 Trax, a boom lift that provides the performance needed on various tree trimming work sites. The height, articulating jib and the Trax system allow arborists to reach locations that are otherwise difficult to access. The Trax system allows the boom to operate in areas with soft or sensitive ground conditions without causing surface damage.


 


Green Pro Solutions


Green Pro Solutions is rehabbing and reconfiguring older equipment to be more productive — or transferring existing spray equipment to new chassis. Green Pro Solutions is also building new spray equipment on pre-owned chassis, saving companies tens of thousands of dollars.


For start-up operations, Green Pro Solutions designed several modular systems starting as low as $2,500 that one or two people can load and un-load. This enables companies with no cranes or skid loaders to quickly and easily make a pick-up or other truck or trailer available for another use on any given day.


Another start-up unit is built around the Trinity “Go-Anywhere” sprayer. The 30G unit fits into a receiver hitch, is great for injecting TGRs, but handles everything from ornamental foliar sprays to root feeding to turf applications.


Green Pro Solutions continues to improve its product line to include advanced technology in mycorrhizal and tree growth regulator products.


Bio-Tree & Shrub is a comprehensive nutritional product that offers a complete nutritional program for the plant, nutritional program for the soil biology, and soil conditioners to improve soil quality and reduce compaction — all in one low-cost product that does not require custom mixing.


Green Pro’s sister company, Prescription Soil Analysis, LLC continues to fine tune its horticultural (not agricultural) soil testing service.


 


Husqvarna


This year, Husqvarna offered several handheld products including a new telescoping pole saw and the completely redesigned 555 and 562 XP chain saws. Also, Husqvarna launched a whole host of hand tools designed for pros.


 


Morbark, Inc.


Morbark recently released the Morbark G 42 SP stump grinder, a cost-effective, entry-level, self-propelled stump grinder that features a 42-inch boom swing, fingertip controls, 2-speed ground travel, choice of Kohler 27-hp. or Kohler 38-hp. gasoline engine, and 3 cutting system options.


 


SherrillTree


SherrillTree introduced a wide range of offerings in 2011 (too many to list here). For all that is new from SherrillTree, visit www.sherrilltree.com/New-Tools-in-2011-From-SherrillTree


 


Stihl, Inc.


Most recently, Stihl introduced the MS 201 T top handle chain saw for “in the tree” use. The MS 201 T reduces exhaust emissions by up to 70 percent compared to the previous model, and improves fuel efficiency by up to 20 percent. Arborists will like the longer run times between refueling and up to 30 percent longer intervals between filter maintenance with the improved air filtration system, as well. The MS 201 T also has more power.


Stihl also introduced the MS 201 C-E, a rear handle chain saw, which offers the same reduced emissions, increased fuel efficiency and improved ergonomics as the MS 201 T, but also offers the Easy2Start starting system.


Other introductions from Stihl include the 63 PS3 saw chain, a chain with “Full Chisel” style cutter tooth; Stihl MotoMix, a proprietary formulation of ethanol-free premixed fuel mix (it is a 50:1 ratio, and is made with Stihl HP Ultra engine oil); and the Stihl HS 46 C-E & HS 56 C-E hedge trimmers with improved fuel efficiency for longer run time, lighter weight and less exhaust emissions as compared to previous models.


 


Terex Utilities


Terex will be introducing a new, lightweight elevator for its XT Series of aerial devices this fall. This lighter-weight elevator allows for better weight distribution and for additional options to be up-fitted on the chassis. Also, it can be mounted on a lighter chassis with a 12,000-pound front axle. The lighter weight elevator means better fuel savings compared to its heavier predecessor.


The new transverse hydraulic lift for the Terex XT Series aerial device, launching at ICUEE in October, is engineered with higher-strength, lower-weight materials for faster operating speeds and reduced fuel consumption. Increased boom speeds enable the operator to reach the worksite in a more efficient manner.


The Terex LT40 aerial device is now offered as an urban forestry unit, mounted on a Ford F550 or Dodge 5500, complete with a 7-cubic-yard forestry chip body.


Another development for Terex in the arborist market was the recent acquisition of Woodsman, LLC. Through its Terex Woodsman product line, Terex now manufactures and distributes an extensive range of hand-fed/arborist and biomass chippers for the green waste reduction industry.


 


Toro


Toro introduced the STX-26 stump grinder, which has two simple controls that operate all traction and grinder functions, and will fit easily through standard 36-inch gates. For those smaller stumps in hard-to-reach places, Toro launched the SGR line of handlebar stump grinders. Toro also introduced the B-25 brush chipper that features a gravity-feed system with a 23-inch-by-20-inch feed opening, 6-inch capacity and two single-edge cutter blades. This unit is lightweight and compact, making it easy for the operator to bring the chipper to the job instead of having to carry the job (branches) to the chipper. 


 

About The Staff