2018 Green Industry & Equipment Expo
Check out all of the cool and innovative equipment CPT saw at the 2018 Green Industry Expo in, Louisville, Kentucky.
Best Outdoor Equipment
Once again, I was lucky enough to attend the Green Industry & Equipment Expo (GIE). The GIE features new equipment and products for those in the landscaping, hardscaping, and property maintenance industry. This is one of my favorite trade shows because not only do the attendees get to see all the new stuff, they actually get to try it out in a huge outdoor demo area. GIE is like Disneyland for equipment lovers. Another reason to love this show is that it’s held in Louisville, Kentucky, the home of bourbon, horse racing, and bourbon. Did I mention there’s bourbon? This year’s lineup did not disappoint. The following pages are filled with brilliant products that I thought were worth sharing.
-Mark Petersen, Senior Editor
More battery innovations
Greenworks Commercial introduced several new lithium-ion powered zero-turn mowers including both ride-on and stand-on models. It’s true that pro landscapers and property managements companies are slowly embracing more and more battery powered equipment, but I wasn’t sure how much interest there would be in full-size battery powered mowers. This year I talked with two different crews whose sole reason of attending the show was to try out these gasless machines they were considering buying. So Greenworks must have done their homework.
But it wasn’t mowers that dominated the Greenworks booth this year; it was their new UTV. The new lithium-ion powered Stealth HD UTV will have a payload capacity of 500-lbs., reach a top speed of 35 MPH and have a range of 90 miles per charge. Plus it looks downright wicked. The Stealth HD UTV will be available in the Spring 2019 with a price tag of $24,999. The Stealth UTV will be available in the Fall 2019 with a price tag of $22,999.
Caterpillar was showing off their new mini excavators at GIE. The six new mini-models are packed with features, but the two upgrades that stood out most were the new cab and the updated controls. These upgraded cabs have climate control and are sealed and pressurized to keep the operator clean and comfortable. In addition to keeping out the filth, these new cabs also block more noise. At 72dB, they are up to 10% quieter than comparable machines. These new mini’s are not only comfortable, the new Stick Steer system allows the operator to switch (with the touch of a button) from conventional lever/foot-pedal steering controls to low-effort joystick control. That’s a first!
Sidewalk clearing robot
This is one of the coolest pieces of equipment I saw this year. It’s the SnowBot made by Left Hand Robotics. It has a 4-ft. brush on the front and can clear a sidewalk of snow in one pass. Before the SnowBot ventures out into the frozen tundra, its route is marked out with a GPS Path Collection Tool. Then the robot simply follows the path with an accuracy of a couple inches. There are sensors that will stop the machine if there is something/someone in its way. It will also lay down deicing chemicals when fitted with a spreader. The testing phase is done, and the SnowBot will be available this 2018-2019 snow season. Prices start at $32,995.
I attended the Honda press event, where I drank bourbon. I ate swanky hors d’oeuvre. I laughed. I cried. Okay, I didn’t’ cry, but I did check out the new HRX. The HRX, Honda’s premium residential mower, has been upgraded with a larger gas tank that extends run time. It’s also equipped with a new engine that provides 10% more power and torque. And the new GCV200 engine is actually lighter than the GCV190 model it replaces…nice! These new mowers will hit the stores in January 2019 and will retail for $699.
Husqvarna High-Cut Robots
After the 2016 show, Husqvarna let me try out one of their Automowers. It was really easy to set up and worked great. And no, I didn’t get to keep it…rats! My only complaint was that it cut the grass a little two low. I live in a wooded area and my grass is a little wispy and doesn’t’ look great cut too low. Well this year, they have introduced a new line of High-Cut robotic mowers that will leave the grass almost 4 inches tall if that’s what you want. There will be three different High-Cut models ranging from $1600 up to $2300. They should be available in the spring of 2019.
One interesting exhibitor I met at the Husqvarna media event was Mowbot, a robot mower lawn-maintenance franchise. The franchise provides, advertising, leads, and a fleet of Husqvarna robot mowers that will eventually get dropped off at a customer’s houses or business. They keep the lawns mowed with no labor involved except a regular maintenance visit every couple/few weeks. Not a bad idea in this labor-scarce market.
The folks at ASV were showing off their new line of compact skid steers. I took a close look at the RT-40. The footprint on this one, from tip of bucket to back end of the machine, is 48.3-in. X 4.9-ft., thats about the same size as some stand-on models. It’s 75.5 inches tall, which allows it to sneak under most overhead garage doors. But even with its small profile, this machine is powered by a hefty 37.5 Kubota turbo Diesel and has an operating capacity of 1,330 pounds. And of course, like all ASV track skid steers, the RT-40 is propelled by the Posi-Track drive system.
If you haven’t’ had a chance to check these unique tracks out, you really should give them a look before making your next skid steer purchase. The Posi-Track drive system is flexible, which delivers a smooth ride. And that flexibility means there’s more rubber on the ground on rough terrain providing more traction. Also, more rubber on the ground means less impact on turf. This machine exerts 3.5 psi on the ground. Compare that with a fully loaded freight train, which clomps down a punishing 90,000 psi (not sure why one would want to compare the two, but I just did). The RT-40 was designed for landscapers who need to operate in tight spots and move heavy stuff across finished lawns.
I saw a few “Why didn’t you think of that earlier?” features on the new Stihl backpack blowers. Don’t get me wrong, Stihl might make the best blower out there, but why did it take them so long to install a hook (instead of a Velcro strap) near the carrying handle to secure the blower tube so it doesn’t flop all over the place while transporting? Along those same lines, they installed a recess near the handle so it can be more easily hung on a hook in a trailer.
But the coolest new feature is on the BR 800 C-E MAGNUM. They located the pull-start handle down on the side where it can be reached while still wearing the backpack. Admit it, you’ve all tried to reach around like a contortionist in an attempt to reach the handle on your current blower. So now you can shut down to have a chat with a customer and not have to remove the pack to get it started again, or walk back to the trailer without having to hold the tube up in the air so you don’t blow stuff all over the place, stuff you don’t want blown all over the place. Come on Stihl, what took you so long? Although in their defense, as far as we know, Stihl was the first to offer these options. These blowers will be available soon at Stihl dealers.
Mixed material and staggered lines
For several years now, the trend in building materials like siding, decking, countertops, and hardware has been to mix and match both colors and materials. The same trend has come to the landscaping world. As you can see here on this display at the Belgard booth. There is a combination of stone, pavers, and slabs. And no longer do intersections have to be a straight line. Just like the trend of staggering tile and wood floor intersections, staggering line where slabs and pavers meet the turf is also becoming popular. Hooray for variety!
More battery candy
We’ve all seen those USB charging port adapters that can be plugged into a battery designed for a cordless tool. Some batteries even have a USB port built right in. But here’s something new from EGO. The Nexus Escape is a 150W power inverter that’s fueled by one of EGO’s powerful 56V batteries. The Nexus Escape would be perfect to run a laptop on the go, or power a 42-in. television (up to ten hours) during a power outage. And what could be more important than a tv during a power outage? It could even be used to charge other cordless batteries. Is that irony? The Nexus Escape costs $99.99 (inverter only) at Home Depot.
Big news from Mercedes-Benz
Are you a fan of Sprinter Vans but not a fan of diesel engines? Well, 2019 is your year because the new Sprinter Vans will now be available with a gasoline engine. Gas powered Sprinters will cost less, making them more price-competitive with domestic models. And all of the new North American Sprinters will be manufactured at the new state-of-the-art factory in North Charleston, South Carolina.
Cut steeper slopes
The new Cub cadet Pro Z 972 SD is a commercial mower that can tackle steeps slopes most other machines can’t. Extra weight in the front, an additional set of tires in the rear, and a sprinkle of secret sauce allows this machine to handle slopes up to 25-deg. Most zero turn mowers are restricted to 15 degrees or less. Don’t worry about creating ruts with those aggressive rear tires because this machine is equipped with a unique four-wheel steering system that’s easy on the turf. And the larger tire footprint also spreads out the weight, which reduces impact when mowing over wet conditions or soft soil conditions. The Pro Z 972 SD will retail for $15,999.
A lot of zero turn mowers have some sort of suspension that the manufacturer claims to be revolutionary, so when I first heard about the Toro MyRide suspension, I admit I was skeptical. But I actually got a chance to try it out, and all I can say is, “Wow!” The big difference with the MyRide suspension is that the operator is almost totally isolated from the rest of machine. Both the seat and footrest are part of a cradle like platform that moves independently of the mower’s frame. In addition to being amazingly comfortable, the MyRide suspension does not affect the mowing deck. Other machines have springs that allow the wheels to go up and down but this can cause the deck to bounce more on rougher terrain producing a choppy cut. MyRide is available on the Timecutter, Titan, and Z Master machines. Prices start at about $4,000.
It was a great show
In addition to showcasing serious equipment, there are always a few booths at GIE that have a little fun and display anything from the “some day,” like this this Briggs & Stratton concept mower, to the “no way” like this turf assault vehicle from Spartan. This year my wife joined me after the show, and we spent the weekend enjoying the sights, sounds and tastes of Kentucky. Our travels took us to the Maker’s Mark bourbon distillery and on a tour of Churchill Downs. Can’t wait for next year.
Case Mini Excavator
CASE Construction has released the C Series, a new line of mini excavators, each with slightly different features designed to fit almost any light construction or landscaping project. One of the coolest things we saw at GIE was the CX17C model’s ability to expand and retract the tracks (see video below). This feature makes the excavator very maneuverable, letting you fit through garden gates and easily move around cramped job sites. Check out the CASE website for more information or to request a quote on the CX17C or any of CASE’s other new mini excavator’s.
Spider Remote Slope Mower
Spider released their first radio-controlled lawn mower designed for maintaining grassy slopes in 2003. Since then the company has added a few more mowers to their line of remote-controlled mowers and developed new mowing technologies, resulting in a pretty impressive mowing machine. The mowers are nimble and highly maneuverable thanks to Spider’s DANCE STEP steering configuration, which allows all wheels to be steered together in 360 degrees. For more information on SPIDER Remote Control Slope Mowers check out the Spider website.
Briggs and Stratton Compact Pressure Washer
Pressure washers can be a bit of a chore to lug around. So when we got a look at Briggs and Stratton’s new electric pressure washer, the compact size immediately stood out. These new pressure washes would be ideal for a construction pro, as they can fit pretty easily in the back of a truck or a trailer without taking up too much precious space. The electric motor is quiet and has Briggs and Stratton’s Instant Start/Stop System, so the unit only runs when the spray trigger is pulled. The new line of pressure washers from Briggs and Stratton are available now online and in home centers starting at $199.00
Altoz Track Zero Turn
Finally, a rider lawn mower you can go to war in! All joking aside, the Altoz TRX mower is one heavy-duty machine. The chassis is made from laser cut heavy gauge steel and the wheels are flat proof, meaning that pretty much nothing should be abe to stop this beast of a mower. The TRX’s track system gives the machine great stability and traction and helps it navigate softer terrain, making this a great mower for wet areas. Plus, it’s just one mean looking machine. For more info on the Altoz TRX go to https://altoz.com/products/trx/ .
DriBond/Belgard Paver System
The DriBond system allows you to lay down thin pavers over existing concrete without raising the surface level more than a couple/few inches. Just lay down and smooth out an even layer of DriBond powder on top of the old concrete. Install1-inch. pavers over that, and then wet the whole surface down. The DriBond adheres the pavers in place creating a surface that has a PSI strength much higher than the concrete by itself, which makes it a viable option for driveways as well as patios and walkways. Check out the video here.
STIHL cut-off machine with Quickstop brake
Cut-off saws are powerful tools, and when it comes to cutting a relief cut/expansion joint in a slab of concrete they’re extremely effective and relatively safe. However, the guards on cut-off saws can get in the way when cutting down low and when cutting from underneath, the position the demo guys often find themselves in. The guard isn’t the only problem when cutting in odd, chainsaw-like, positions: kickbacks can be a real danger. To provide users more flexibility STIHL has developed a cut-off machine with expanded guard adjustability. And to keep the operator safe, STIHL has invented an impressive braking system that will instantly stop the blade when it senses a kickback. This new saw really is an impressive engineering feat, but it does have some pros and cons:
- Costs more
- Cuts a bit slower (due to lower RPMs)
- Weighs more
- Special abrasive blades necessary (regular diamond blades work fine)
- Requires more maintenance
PROS: Operator’s skull remains gash-free
The TS 440 STIHL Cutquik Cut Off Machine is available at authorized STIHL dealers.
Avant electric loader
The Full Electric Loader from Avant is completely battery powered. Its zero-emissions means you can safely use it inside and in poorly ventilated spaces. The battery lasts for up to 4 hours depending on type of use. Among the 100-plus attachments are buckets, forks, booms, blades, brooms and even a cement mixer. See video below, and click here for more information on the Avant E-series.
What’s the next best thing to a car that turns into a boat? A trailer that turns into a boat? A company out of Canada has come up with the Tetra-Pod, a trailer that transforms into a jon boat. As a trailer the Tetra-Pod is fully enclosed and has dumping capabilities. As a boat, well, it floats! There’s an on-road and off-road version; either one could be a great option for hunting, fishing and camping outings. To learn more about the Tetra-Pod go to http://tetrapodtrailer.com/. And see, it’s not all work and no play at the GIE.
IQ Dustless Masonry Saw
There was a bunch of excitement over IQ Power Tools’ new IQ360x Dust Control Table Saw. This 14-in. saw allows you to cut bricks, pavers and stone veneer without breathing in a bunch of dangerous silica dust. IQ claims the saw collects an impressive 99.5% of the dust, and because there’s no water, there’s no sloppy slurry to deal with or scrambling for a water source. Now you can cut right where the action is, eliminating countless long trips back and forth to the saw. Go to the manufacturer’s website to check out their convincing video and to find out where to buy.
Pull Starts are for Suckers
Stihl was showcasing their new BR450C-EF backpack blower, which features a quiet 4-stroke engine and air speeds faster than its predecessor, the BR550. But the feature that really sets it apart is the electric start. Think of it: You’ll never have to take it off your back to restart. Now there’s no reason to waste fuel idling the engine walking long distance to your next spot. When you need to talk to a customer or coworker, just hit the kill switch on the handle; say your piece, and hit the start button to get back to work. This is a great move by Stihl.
Honda 4-Stroke VersAttach
Honda introduced its new VersAttach line of lawn and garden equipment. One power head can operate six different attachments, including a string trimmer, pole saw and hedge trimmer. The engine powering all of these attachments is a lightweight, mini 4-stroke. Besides meeting the environmental requirements for all 50 states, the benefits of 4-stroke engines are many: no pre-mix fuel, cleaner and quieter operation, better fuel efficiency, and very little exhaust fumes. The best part about running the Honda 4-stroke is the low vibration, which means longer working time with less fatigue.
A Tailgate Your Kid Can Lift
Does the tailgate on your trailer seem to get heavier every year? Gorilla-Lift might have the solution. They make spring-assisted cables in low-profile housings that attach to the top of a trailer’s side rails and to the tailgate. It makes lifting a tailgate virtually effortless and won’t interfere with the functionality of the trailer. It works on most utility trailers with 12-in. to 24-in. side rails and 4-ft. to 6-ft. gates. Go to the manufacturer’s website to find a retailer near you.
Eliminate the Excavation
What’s the worse part of installing a paver patio or walkway? It’s the excavation of course. Hauling out soil and hauling in base is messy, difficult, time consuming and expensive. Alliance makes a polypropylene mat called Gator Base that can be laid down on a 1/2-in. bed of sand instead of your typical 4-in. to 6-in. of base. It’s easy to cut, easy to install, and it transfers loads similar to 6-in. of crushed stone. It also insulates against freeze/thaw cycles the same as 18-in. of crushed stone! There doesn’t really seem to be a downside. Check out Gator Base at your hardscape supplier.
That’s One Smooth Ride
Here’s what you’ll get operating the new Ferris Zero turn mower equipped with four-wheel independent suspension: faster mowing speeds, and a smooth cut that hugs the contour of the ground. Here’s what you’ll lose out on: metal fatigue caused by frame flex, and an aching back. Enough said.
Ok. Here’s a product that’s specifically designed to put you groundskeepers out of business, so we apologize up front. Battery-powered robotic mowers have been around for a while, but Husqvarna had their Automower on display at the show, and we got a chance to actually use one last summer on a real-life lawn. It worked great! The guide wire that runs around the perimeter of the yard was held down with stakes, so no trenching was necessary, and programing was simple. The whole set up took less than 90 minutes. After that, all we had to do was remember to look out the window once in awhile to admire our mechanical groundskeeper hard at work.
A primary feature that makes this machine excel is the retractable, razor-like cutting blades. They’re just a fraction the size of thick steel blades, which makes for clean cuts, longer run times, and super-quiet operation. We ran ours three times a week. The grass always seemed the same length, and because the clippings were so small, they quickly broke down into fertilizer, and the grass actually looked healthier than usual.
It worked, rain or shine, for the few months we used it, even on the hilly parts of the yard. And because of the random cutting pattern, it left no tracks around trees or against the fence. Find a dealer near you, and check out the cool video at the manufacturer’s website. While the Automower may be a job killer, you have to admit—it’s still pretty cool.
Cut Faster With Less Fatigue
Oregon, the world’s largest manufacturer of chain saw bars and chains, has just introduced their new narrow kerf SpeedCut System. The narrow kerf removes less material with the same amount of force, reducing cut times by 10%. And because the bar and chain are thinner, they weigh 20% less, which is great when sporting longer bars. Oregon was able to achieve this feat with a lightweight aluminum core and by laminating the bar rather than riveting or spot welding the two halves together. The new SpeedCut System should work with your existing saw. Look for it in 2016.
Good News for the Foot Guys
Which is the best way to control a skid steer, with your hands, or with your feet? The controversy has been raging for centuries (ok, maybe a few decades). Case skid steers have traditionally been equipped with hand-operated joysticks, leaving the poor foot fanciers in the lurch. Foot controls, which control the bucket and boom, have been available on the Alpha series Case skid steers for three or four years. But as of March 1, 2015, the foot control option was made available on ALL Case skid steers, including the large frame models.