Grasshopper out-front decks' maneuvering key for mowing 3,500 cramped lawns every week
When you have more than 3,500 residential lots to mow and maintain every week, productivity is of utmost importance. You have to have equipment that will get the job done quickly, and employees that know what they are doing, and do it right the first time.
Not to mention, you need fair amount of equipment and a fair number of employees.
“We have 10 Grasshoppers running on a daily basis, split between two mowing crews,” says Carl Stephenson, owner of Southern Lawns in Altoona, Fla.
“It sounds like more ground to cover than it really is. We are the landscape maintenance provider a ‘chain’ of mobile home retirement communities. Currently, we mow and maintain five of these communities in our corner of Florida.”
Stephenson says each lot is approximately 75 feet by 50 feet, and by the time you add a mobile home, a deck, fencing, trees and other landscape features, there isn’t much grassy area to mow. Still, it’s enough turf that he requires a sizeable fleet of mowers, and he prefers zero-turn mowers with out-front mowing decks.
“The Grasshopper FrontMount™ mowers do a great job of mowing in, around and under things, especially in tight places,” he says. “These lots aren’t very big, so you have to be agile. Plus, they can reach under the low-hanging branches of the citrus trees that many of the residents have on their lots.”
He says regardless of the grass type – many of the lots have Bahia, and a few have St. Augustine – the cut is perfect. The Bahia seed heads can be tough to mow, but the Grasshoppers do a good job of taking the heads off on one pass.
“St. Augustine is a prettier grass, for sure, but it takes more water and maintenance,” says Stephenson. “But it doesn’t matter what we’re mowing, the Grasshoppers deliver the best cut of any zero-turn mower we have ever used.”
Another reason Stephenson prefers Grasshopper is for the diesel engine options. Running all Grasshopper diesel mowers gives Southern Lawns a big advantage over competitors in a tough economy.
“You know, we’re running from sun up to sun down in peak season, that can be 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., with an hour break for lunch,” says Stephenson. “Running that many hours, we really appreciate the fuel economy. We only burn 5 gallons of diesel, and if we were running gasoline, it would be twice that.”
With fuel prices near $4 per gallon, every cost-saving measure helps Southern Lawns keep its margins from thinning too much. Using efficient mowers to reduce fuel costs is one way to save, but Stephenson admits, it has been a hard couple years.
“We’re definitely feeling the pinch, and we aren’t making the margins we used to make,” he says. “But these communities want the job done right, and they don’t want to hassle with a landscape company that doesn’t make the grounds look good, so we focus on customer service, quality and reliability.”
It’s a recipe for success that Stephenson believes will keep Southern Lawns healthy for years to come.
“We just do the best work we can to make sure that we give them the value they need from us,” he says. “And our Grasshoppers help us do just that.”