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Arbor Age magazine recently asked a wide range of equipment manufacturers and suppliers to share their insights about equipment for professional arborists, and how the trends they are seeing will impact your equipment decisions.

Equipment Trends 2012

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


AA: What trends are you seeing with regard to equipment and supplies for professional arborists?


Safety continues to be a primary design focus.  One trend is that other tree care OEMs are increasing their focus on providing improved operator safety features on their brush chippers and stump cutters.

Due to rising diesel prices and the increased cost of diesel-powered equipment driven by mandated emission standards, another foreseeable trend is an increase in models with the ability to utilize less-expensive alternative fuels such as gasoline, compressed natural gas, or LP gas.

— Jay Sunderman, strategic business unit manager, tree care, Vermeer


Safety continues to drive both product innovation and sales. Safety can simply mean an easier to use or more intuitive product and a product that works well with existing equipment that the tree care providers are using.

— Clay Thornton, director of marketing, SherrillTree


Multipurpose machines have become popular in all sectors due to their ability to perform many functions. These machines are durable, productive, efficient and cost effective.

— Rich Hendricks, North American sales representative, SEPPI M.


Compact equipment is becoming more popular. Professional arborists have long understood the benefits of using mechanized equipment for tree trimming, but until recently, much of the equipment on the market has been large-scale. By adding compact equipment to their fleets, arborists can increase efficiency and access many areas where larger equipment can’t.

Compact trimming and mulching equipment has improved significantly over the years, thanks in part to the advancement in the machines that they attach to. Skid-steers, for instance, now offer much better hydraulic flow and pressure than they did 10 years ago, allowing for higher-performance attachments.

— Bill Schafer, product manager, Loftness


Particularly with the advent of more trunk injectable products and the growing use of compost tea, there is greater diversity than ever in tree care philosophy and equipment needs.

Also, there is a need for scalable, high-quality, entry-level equipment.

We are often asked to make older units more flexible, more productive, or safer to use, like reconfiguring the equipment so that it can be completely operated from the ground. Another concept is multi-purpose equipment. And we are also doing more and more with industrial grade electric sprayers.

— Gary Maurer, president, Green Pro Solutions


Companies are watching their buck very carefully.  They want the best money can buy at the best price.

— Bob Dray, sales and marketing manager, Forestry Equipment of Virginia (FEVA)


Equipment Trends 2012: User Survey


While equipment manufacturers and suppliers weighed in on trends that are shaping the industry, equipment users provided us with feedback about their equipment decisions in 2012 and going forward. The results are as follows:


What new equipment do you plan to purchase during the next 6 months? (Check all that apply)

Chain saws       76%
Personal Protective Equipment  63%
Rope (climbing and/or rigging)   55%
Manual hand tools or hand saws           50%
Blowers            32%
Aerial lifts or bucket trucks       27%
Computers or software 26%
Trucks (custom)           23%
Chippers/shredders       19%
Snow and ice management equipment   17%
Spray equipment (or other chemical application equipment)       17%
Stump grinders 12%
Loaders            9%
Right-of-way maintenance equipment    5%
Grinders (tub or horizontal)       4%
Air excavation equipment          3%
Cranes 2%

During 2012, how have you approached your equipment needs? (Check all that apply)

Purchased new equipment this year to fill specific needs 46%
Purchased used equipment this year to fill specific needs            34%
Used only the equipment from our existing fleet  34%
Rented equipment this year to fill specific needs 31%

During the next six months, which of the following would you be most likely to do should a specific need arise?

Purchase replacement parts for existing equipment         41%
Purchase new equipment           26%
Rent equipment 19%
Purchase used equipment          14%

When purchasing new equipment, which of the following factors is most important to you?

Product specifications and features        54%
Serviceability / support  30%
Brand   8%
Price    8% 

AA: What outside factors have had the biggest impact on equipment design/manufacture and/or on equipment sales to professional arborists?


During the last eight to 10 years, a large industry influence has come from more and more diverse training companies offering safety training and education on equipment. Safety and efficiency have provided the motivation for companies to develop these types of training programs. Whether local, regional or at trade shows, specialized training provides many ways to inform end users on proper techniques and equipment to keep them or their employees qualified and safe on the job.

Another factor we have seen in the industry is that more and more people are working in bucket trucks, which changes the dynamic of the type of equipment they need.

— Dick Kiefer, arborist division manager, Weaver Leather


Aside from required design work related to installation of engines to meet emissions standards, a lot of focus has been put on developing equipment that packs more power into smaller footprints.  Increasingly congested work areas and the need to increase fuel efficiency by reducing towing weight will continue to push manufacturers to design product to meet those criteria. And as the public becomes less tolerant of noise pollution, more and more focus is also going toward building quieter equipment.

— Jay Sunderman, strategic business unit manager, tree care, Vermeer


Again, safety, along with quality and retail price of goods.

— Clay Thornton, director of marketing, SherrillTree


Rising fuel costs and tight budgets have a large impact on equipment decisions. To reduce operating costs, some people are using compact equipment and doing more with the machines they already have. For instance, a person can save money by purchasing a mulching attachment for one of his existing tractors, rather than buying a dedicated mulching machine.

— Bill Schafer, product manager, Loftness


As with most businesses, the economy is a gating factor when deciding to make a major purchase such as a bucket truck. Mother Nature has a significant impact as well.  Destructive weather creates a need for our products. As for the design and manufacturing standpoint, safer and easier-to-manipulate equipment is constantly on the rise.

— Bob Dray, sales and marketing manager, Forestry Equipment of Virginia (FEVA)


Emission regulation compliance is bringing about many changes in the product portfolios offered by manufacturers.

— Brad Mace, product manager, ECHO



AA: What should tree care industry professionals consider when purchasing equipment or supplies during the next year?


Tree care industry professionals should look for dependable, well-made products from recognized manufactures that comply with industry standards. Saving a few dollars up front on products that might seem like a bargain may end up costing you much more in lost production in the long run, and could jeopardize the safety of your employees.

— Dick Kiefer, arborist division manager, Weaver Leather


They need to understand local regulations or requirements pertaining to whether or not their equipment needs to meet the latest emissions standards.  For example, are there local municipalities or other government entities that may require any equipment used on contracted work to be equipped with engines bearing the latest Tier emission standard rating?   If so, they may want to consider purchasing equipment that meets the latest emissions standards so that they increase their work opportunities.

— Jay Sunderman, strategic business unit manager, tree care, Vermeer


Safety first for the crew, and quality products that will stand up to the rigors of work in the tree care industry. And a well-trained crew. Training obtained through an authorized training outfit such as NATS, ArborMaster and ACTE.

— Clay Thornton, director of marketing, SherrillTree


Durability, serviceability and the ability to perform multiple functions.

— Rich Hendricks, North American sales representative, SEPPI M.


It’s important to purchase equipment from manufacturers that are well known and respected. In this industry, equipment is often exposed to harsh conditions, so a manufacturer should not only offer durable products, but also stand behind them with solid customer service.

— Bill Schafer, product manager, Loftness


Better, more productive equipment more than pays for itself in reduced labor costs, and usually very quickly.

— Gary Maurer, president, Green Pro Solutions


At anytime, product safety and reliability should always be top considerations when purchasing a bucket truck.

— Bob Dray, sales and marketing manager, Forestry Equipment of Virginia (FEVA)


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.

— Brad Mace, product manager, ECHO


Equipment Trends 2012: New Products

Our “Equipment Trends” respondents share some insight regarding their new and updated products for 2012.


Weaver Leather

Throw Line Storage Cube: Organize and store throw lines and weights with this roomy cube that folds down to a compact triangle. This durably constructed cube offers plenty of storage with a roomy outside pocket and two smaller interior pockets, and is great for both aerial and ground people. The end of the throw line secures with a hook and loop strap and dee ring. Cube measures 16-1/2 inches and collapses to a small triangle that is secured with a hook and loop strap. Item #08-07190.

Steel Support Pads: With sunset harness leather construction and an English toast suede lining for a no-slip grip, these support pads feature a metal insert that provides added support and helps ensure proper climber shank position. The wrap-around calf with a 4-inch-wide hook and loop strap offers a perfect fit and distributes pressure evenly while the climber shank runs through an angled bracket and leather tunnel and secures with a brown Brahma Webb strap. Item #08-97155.



This year, Vermeer reentered the 60-hp.-class towable stump cutter market with the SC602 stump cutter. This model has been received well by the market and features a powerful 60-hp. Tier4i (Stage IIIB) engine in a compact package. Vermeer also introduced the BC230XL 23 cm brush chipper to the European tree care market, and introduced the BC900XL 9-inch brush chipper at the ISA show in Portland.



New products available from SherrillTree include the following: A.R.T. SnakeAnchor, A.R.T. Spiderjack 2.1, RockBlock Loopie Combo, Escalator climbing rope, KMIIII Black lanyards, Single Rope Technique DVD, NATS training guide, Breakaway Bungee chain saw lanyards, Jameson Big Mouth pruner, Samson Vortex climbing ropes, New England Rope’s KMIII (green and red color versions) static tree climbing rope, Bee-line Black prusik cords for eye tails, Caterpillar Cambium Savers, Buckingham New Edge saddle, Buckingham Puma saddle, New Tribe ProGear II and Nikosi saddles, RopeGrab & Star Spangled Rope Flipline and Star Spangled 2-in-1 Safety Lanyard, Poison Ivy Lanyard, CE Lanyard, Swage-Pressed Wire-Core 2-in-1 Lanyard, Flemish Spliced Wire-Core 2-in-1 Lanyard, Singing Tree Rope Wrench, SRT Anchor Sling, New DMM carabiners, Rock Exotica Pirate carabiner, Rock Exotica Omni Swivel Blocks, CMI Giant Aluminum Block, Crane Sling Combo, MaxxDry Boot Dryers, Sugowaza Silky saw, Tsurugi Silky Saw, Genki Silky Saw, BlueStik Fiberglass pole, Timber Claw, Kindling Splitter, Smart Holder, Mingo Firewood Marker, Youngstown Gloves, Ropework XT, General Utility Plus and General Utility Lined with Kevlar, Arborwear Canopy Pants, Petzl Trac and Trac Plus double pulleys. Also, SherrillTree now carries carry the full line of Arborjet products. Also, All SherrillTree spliced goods now have heatrpress labels/write on labels.



In the municipal segment SEPPI introduced a new version of its classic side mulcher: SAV. Improvements and updates include stronger attachment hitch, stronger transmission and wider working widths. Equipped with a forestry rotor, this machine will mulch long-neglected areas with thick vegetation, up to 4-inch diameter.

The MULTIFORST, SEPPI’s multi-purpose forestry mulcher, soil tiller and rock crusher, is available with several options, including the ADAM automatic alignment system. ADAM automatically reduces drive shaft angles, extending component life. 



Loftness introduced the Tree Hammer, which is a PTO-driven horizontal drum mulcher. It is designed for tractors with 85 to 160 horsepower, and is available with two teeth options: swinging hammer and fixed tooth. The swinging hammer option features individually replaceable hammers. This patented design will significantly reduce maintenance concerns.


Green Pro Solutions

The Trinity sprayer, available from Green Pro Solutions, is ideal for injecting TGRs, root feeding, foliar spray, compost tea, turf applications and more. It transports on a 2-inch receiver, and features a 30G tank, Hypro D252 pump and a new high-flotation tire option.


Forestry Equipment of Virginia (FEVA)

The Inline Forestry Elevator is a new truck that has all of FEVA’s standard safety components, plus the addition of safer access to the bucket.

FEVA’s Backyard lift can be manipulated into places larger bucket trucks do not fit. It has all the safety components of FEVA’s trucks, reaching to the same working heights of 45 feet, but just packaged into a more compact “trailerable” unit that will fit through a 36-inch gate.



This fall, ECHO will introduce the CS-355T: The Ultimate Arborist Saw. It’s equipped with many arborist-friendly features including an ergonomic, angled handle; a palm rest; a swing-out ring; and a reduced-effort starter. Within the last year, ECHO also introduced two new lightweight saws that will help arborists conserve energy. The CS-500P is the lightest saw in its class, and features a 50.2 cc professional grade, 2-stroke engine with remarkable low-end torque. It features G-force Engine Air Pre-cleaner, a Performance Cutting System consisting of an upgraded bar and aggressive chain for professional performance, and an aluminum handle with rubber over-mold for lightweight comfort. ECHO also introduced the top-handle CS-271T which, at 6.6 pounds, is the lightest gas-powered saw in the market.

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