MaxTorque™ diesel provides longevity and profitability
Preston Hall didn’t have to be a landscape contractor. His father owned a successful hardware store in Shelbyville, Ky., and when his father decided it was time to sell the store, Hall had the opportunity to continue the family business.
Instead, Hall decided to start his own family business: Sgt. Preston’s Lawn Care. More than 25 years later, he does not regret his decision.
“I still love to do what I do every day, that’s all that matters,” he says.
Part of the reason Hall loves his job so much is the Grasshopper mowers he uses to maintain a diverse client base of residences, cemeteries and commercial properties. The question is which he loves more: the job or his Grasshoppers.
“I’ve been very pleased with my Grasshoppers,” says Hall. “I always said, ‘Someday, I’m going to have one of those,’ and in 1994, I bought my first 721D with a PowerVac™ collector, and I haven’t used anything else since.”
He purchased his “flagship” 928D, The Old Man, new in 1999. Twelve years later, it has seen more than 8,500 hours of operation, and is still going strong. His goal is to get The Old Man to 10,000 hours before he thinks about retiring it.
“When a machine is easy to maintain and service, it lasts longer, since there’s nothing to keep you from it,” he says. “That and Grasshoppers are very well designed. I love the PowerFold® feature. You just push a button, the deck raises, you clean it out or change the blades, lower it, and you’re off to cutting grass again. It’s just that easy.”
Another benefit of the diesel engines is the fuel economy, which is why Hall chose diesel in the first place. He says he can mow nearly all day on an 8-gallon tank of fuel. Not only does he use less fuel than he would if he ran gasoline, but he doesn’t have to stop to refuel, saving him valuable time during the day.
With more than 40 regular accounts, some of which he has served since he ventured into lawn care in 1984, Hall doesn’t have time to waste refueling during the day or spending long periods of time on regular maintenance.
“My main concern is efficiency,” he says. “I’m pretty much a one-man operation. I’ll occasionally have part-time firefighters help me, and my wife, Martha, and daughter, Grace, do help me in their spare time, but for the most part, it’s just me and The Old Man.”
With Grasshopper, Hall is able to increase his efficiencies at each job site with the out-front mowing decks and zero-turn maneuverability. He is able to mow within 1 inch of obstacles including trees, fences and gravestones, which greatly reduces the time it takes to complete secondary trimming. The maneuverability allows him to move around and between older, more congested sections of the cemeteries without wasted motion or repeat passes.
Another benefit of using Grasshopper is the quality cut that the mowers provide. Hall says that even though some mower brands boast faster ground speeds, he is not convinced that faster is better.
“On a Grasshopper, I can mow at a fast pace and get a perfect cut,” says Hall. “I’ll cut a lawn at 3 inches on Monday and it looks great all week. I’ve used those other mowers, and after a couple days, the grass would look like I hadn’t cut it at all.”