Q&A with Grasshopper user Stewcare, Inc., at Power Show Ohio
Jan 27, 2012
We sat down with Michael Stewart, Jr., president of Stewcare, Inc., at the Power Show Ohio in Columbus, on January 27, 2012. Stewcare has been a loyal customer and user of Grasshopper mowers and equipment for nearly 35 years.
We asked Mike to tell us why Stewcare chooses Grasshopper over any other brand of equipment.
Grasshopper: You guys are die-hard diesel. You won’t run anything else. Why?
Stewart: The productivity of a Grasshopper diesel mower allows us to power through any condition. Whether its thick, moist grass, heavy leaves or throwing snow. The power AND fuel efficiency doesn't seem to decrease through this. We can fill up every other day and still mow 8 hours a day. Even though diesel costs more, around 50 cents more a gallon right now, we’re savings thousands of dollars in fuel costs every year, which helps us keep our mowing costs down, our prices competitive and our profits healthy.
And we routinely put 4,000 hours on a machine before selling. We'd keep it longer, but we recognize we can sell that unit and apply the revenue toward a new unit. We still see returns on mowers after 8 years and 1,000’s of hours. The engines and transmissions are still strong, the fenders still look new, the cut quality is still there, and the fuel consumption is still amazing. And there aren’t any mechanical issues. So, our used Grasshopper diesels are assets that become dependable mowers for the next owners.
Grasshopper: Equipment maintenance can be a pain sometimes, but it’s essential. What has been your experience with Grasshopper?
Stewart: We “pre-flight” all of our equipment every morning before heading out, just to make sure everything is in good working order so you don’t run into problems in the field. But you don't need to spend much time on maintenance with Grasshoppers. We put between 500 and 600 hours on each mower in a season. All we do is change the engine oil when it’s time to and sharpen blades once a week. We'll do this on a rainy day so we don't lose any mowing time.
Grasshopper: Stewcare does more than just mowing, you also provide snow removal. What is it about Grasshoppers in the snow that makes a difference?
Stewart: The fact I can sit on that Grasshopper with a snowthrower and cut through 2 feet of ice – that’s just accumulated and melted from snow buildup on a school campus – that a 1-ton truck with blade can't…that’s just mind-blowing to me. Not only that, but then I'm throwing that snow 25 to 30 feet away! I don't really like snow, but with my Grasshopper, I GET to clear paths.
We’re planning an expansion with the snowthrower attachment. I can go into a condo association or apartment complex and promote to them that we can clear the sidewalks and drives with no piles and no re-drifting. The snow is cleared to bare concrete with no damage to property. Safety and visibility won't be compromised because you've removed obstructing piles and sent that snow 30 from any walking or driving surface. It just makes sense for those kinds of accounts.
So, we are looking to add a second snowthrower. I love the ability to have one engine and one mower to expand the business and our working season. That's more revenue as well as decreased maintenance costs. It makes perfect business sense.
Grasshopper: Can you tell us more about your expansion plans, and how Grasshopper fits in?
Stewart: We are looking to add two more Grasshopper mowers because they are so versatile. We run 72-inch decks exclusively right now, but we're looking at the 52-inch decks this time so we can expand into smaller properties.
Smaller properties are usually residences, so quality of cut is going to be key for them…it’s always important to us, but especially for them. You know, I was browsing satellite images for possible new accounts and I could see the stripes made by our Grasshoppers on our existing accounts! Talk about our work selling itself…and we really can’t take that credit. The Grasshoppers make those stripes all day long!
We’re also picking up a shielded sprayer this spring. Using a zero-turn sprayer, we can spray quicker for better results. We have six Grasshoppers in our fleet to attach the sprayer to, so that gives us fleet versatility and makes crew scheduling easier.
This is just the right equipment for the job. Dollar for dollar there isn't anything better for a landscape contractor. Dependable, reliable. You know, I hear stories about other commercial operators having issues with their other brands, and sometimes I feel guilty that we don't have to experience that.
About Grasshopper The Grasshopper Company is a privately held corporation dedicated solely to the design and production of commercial and large-acreage mowing and grounds maintenance equipment. Grasshopper introduced the first zero-turn radius mower with dual swing-out levers in 1969, and other industry firsts include the first diesel-powered zero-turn radius mower in 1983 and the first electric-actuated fold-up mower deck in 2004. Based in Moundridge, Kan., the company distributes its products worldwide and is committed to lean and clean manufacturing practices reducing impact to the environment.