School district stretches taxpayer dollars with multi-purpose equipment
Oct 6, 2010
Grasshopper zero-turn mowers have been a fixture of the Austin (Texas) Independent School District
Athletic Department since 2003, and according to assistant athletic director Mike Szymarek
, that isnt likely to change anytime soon.
With more than 40 separate facilities, fields and complexes to manage district-wide, Szymarek says that their fleet of 35 Grasshopper mowers a mixture of diesel and gas, FrontMount
power units are instrumental in keeping each site in top condition.
We have football, soccer, baseball and softball fields to maintain. We also have several central facilities and stadium complexes, he says. With so much mowing going on, we need dependable equipment that works hard and doesnt quit.
Szymarek says that the 15-member maintenance crew is out mowing eight hours a day, five days a week, every week of the year.
Central Texas doesnt usually see severe cold snaps in the winter, and with our winter sports such as soccer, we plant perennial rye grass in October to keep the fields nice and green all year. So, were mowing and maintaining each field and facility year-round.
Even though the mowers endure hard use every day, Szymarek says that the maintenance and down time is minimal
. The district employs a part-time mechanic to see to the regular maintenance of each machine when needed.
That means we can be more efficient with the time that we have each day, and with as many sites as we have to maintain, it makes a big difference.
Szymarek says that for wide-open areas, their diesel Models 321D
, 322D and 725DT
with 61-inch decks handle the mowing with ease. For the areas with more obstacles and obstructions, they use their Model 616
gas units with smaller 44- and 48-inch decks for greater maneuverability.
He says that theyve stuck with diesel instead of switching to other alternative fuels
for the convenience, dependability and ease-of-use.
The Grasshopper diesel engines are tough. Theyre powerful and durable; we dont worry that they wont work. They just do. They dont require as much maintenance, and theyre built to last.
Szymarek also touts Grasshoppers versatility
. In addition to mowing, the district has a turbine blower
and a bidirectional rotary broom
that can be attached to a power unit to clear debris from parking lots, sidewalks and compact areas at the larger stadium facilities.
Those implements are best investments weve ever made, he says. A street sweeper cant get into a lot of those places, but a Grasshopper with a blower or broom is so maneuverable in tight spaces.
And even for a district with a $1 billion budget, that versatility has helped them allocate their resources more wisely and effectively.
As opposed to purchasing several separate pieces of equipment, one Grasshopper has multiple uses all year. We dont have equipment just sitting around waiting to be used. It just makes sense.
Szymarek says that the dependability and versatility keep them coming back to Grasshopper.
Weve had opportunities to switch, but why should we when we have a good thing going?
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